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ThePlatform integrates smart workflow with transcoding vendors

Tue, 12/18/2012 - 3:08pm
Mike Robuck

The sheer volume of multi-screen videos, along with the proliferation of the devices used to watch the content on, can be overwhelming at times, but Comcast-owned thePlatform has added “smart workflow” features to its mpx offering to help solve those issues.

Several months ago, thePlatform started working on a plug-in for its mpx video publishing system that works with transcoding engines from the likes of Elemental Technologies and Harmonic.

“One of our core value propositions for our customers is around workflow management, and obviously the need for workflow management is only increasing as our customers really look to create video and setup video to successfully reach game consoles; Smart TVs; and tablets, PCs, etcetera,” said Marty Roberts, senior vice president of sales and marketing for thePlatform. “What everyone recognizes is that need is going to continue to grow. What we’re now taking advantage of is the partners that we work with out in the market today have really advanced their capabilities for processing and transferring content and making this workflow much more efficient.”

Smart workflow is based upon integrations with leading vendors in the multi-screen space. It helps enable next-generation transcoding, faster file transfers and smart ingest services. Currently, smart workflow is integrated with Elemental and Harmonic on the transcoding engine side, Aspera for faster file transfers, and Akamai Technologies for its latest HTTP ingest technology that’s part of its new Sola Media Solutions.

Roberts said the initial round of companies that were selected for integration were based on previous relationships and customer demand, but future integrations over the coming months could include RGB Networks, Digitalsmiths and Envivio.

Roberts said that transcoding engines used to work a serial fashion with one file in, one file out, but now companies such as Harmonic and Elemental are able to do one file in and numerous files out. Along with the increased transcoding efficiencies, smart workflow also provides intelligent multi-file transcoding, so if one file fails, only that file is transcoded again instead of all of them.

“The other thing that is really nice about our integration is that we can really reduce redundancy,” Roberts said. “As our customers come up with a new device, it used to be we’d go back and say, “Let’s start with that big mezzanine file and transcode it for that particular device. What we’re now doing is saying, “Well, you actually have a video that’s an intermediate step that might be the right bit rate or the right aspect ratio, so instead of transcoding the whole thing over again, we’ll start with that intermediate video, and we’ll just package it up for Smooth Streaming to get it to an Xbox, for example. So you really reduce the redundancy there.”

Prior to smart workflow, media and entertainment companies would have to make a phone call to their respective vendors to help set up new device publishing profiles. With smart workflow and the integrations, the companies can set up encoding profiles from their own mpx consoles.

“They don’t have to reach out to us at all, and that’s really our goal,” Roberts said. “As our customers decide they want to target the next Smart TV, they can set up these profiles and reach those endpoints very efficiently without having to talk to anyone at thePlatform. So it’s a very efficient and easy process for our customers to use.”

Roberts said mpx smart workflow is already in use in thePlatform’s own transcoding farm, which about 40 percent of its customers use. Starting today, thePlatform’s customers that use Harmonic or Elemental can take advantage of using the plug-in on their own transcoding farms.

In addition to Comcast, thePlatform’s cable operator customers include Rogers Communications, Cablevision, Liberty Global, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and RCN. On the content provider side, thePlatform counts A&E, Fox Sports, USA Network, E! and Shaw Media among its customers.

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