AWS Elemental Blog
AWS Elemental Blog
Submitted by Mark on January 11, 2017

MegaFon, a leading telco and mobile operator in Russia, has recently experienced a staggering 140-fold increase in users for its over-the-top (OTT) TV service MegaFon.TV. Since its launch, the service has seen users grow from approximately 10,000 to more than 1.4 million. Video solutions from Elemental have helped make that growth possible.

The second largest mobile phone and telco operator by number of subscribers in Russia, MegaFon was the first company in Russia to launch a 3G cellular service, and first in the world with a commercial LTE-Advanced (4G) service. The company has a goal to be the leading OTT video service in Russia. This was a driver behind the company’s decision to evaluate its technology platform.

MegaFon moved into the OTT market with MegaFon.TV in 2012. Since then, it has built a video infrastructure that includes encoders and transcoders from a variety of vendors, along with some ad hoc management tools and processes. To meet its goals and to serve the ever-growing number of connected devices and formats on the market, Megafon leaders recognized that they needed a more sophisticated video platform.

The company talked to a number of vendors, but only Elemental was able to address better ways of working and an integrated solution. MegaFon recognized the need to support large numbers of end-user devices, with better quality and more content. The company also needed to add catch-up TV and start-over TV services to launch its video-on-demand (VOD) offering and the ability to increase revenues through enhanced advertising.

The MegaFon.TV workflow includes a suite of Elemental video processing and delivery solutions. Elemental Delta just-in-time packaging brings content together at the point of request and ensures maximum efficiency of content servers and content delivery network. Elemental Live is gradually replacing existing transcoders as they become life-expired, resulting in improved image quality while future-proofing the MegaFon infrastructure to accommodate new formats and technological advancements, such as high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265). Elemental Server efficiently transcodes VOD content to rapidly expand the MegaFon.TV video library.

The Elemental solution meets MegaFon’s goal of a single solution that is cross-platform, scalable and reliable. It also provides better functionality and a more efficient workflow than legacy solutions. During major seasonal promotions which generated a huge increase in simultaneous connections for MegaFon.TV, Elemental video processing and delivery supported a significant growth in the number of paid subscriptions, all the while providing subscribers with consistent premium quality streaming video.

Submitted by Heidi on December 14, 2016

An interview with Gil McIntire, Videographer

Gil has been making video professionally since 2008. In this interview, we discuss with him the creation of Elemental’s 2016 holiday video in 360-degree virtual reality and the fun and challenge in planning, filming and producing in this new medium with a cutting-edge Nokia OZO camera.

What does it take to plan, shoot, act and produce a 360-degree video?

Gil McIntire: In this medium, the sense of storytelling has changed. Directors and writers have traditionally had a very controlled means to explain a narrative to the audience with selective cuts while editing, manipulating image insertion, and by using focus. With 360-degree video, most clips are filmed in one take and the audience has control of the viewing experience from all angles. Creatives now have to work overtime to be doubly sure the experience is just as moving to the viewer despite this power shift. 

Because 360-degree video offers no place to hide, the videographer has to think: Where is the best place for me to be while I film? In this video, I chose to jump out from behind a curtain to blow the starting horn. That way I could keep an eye on the Nokia OZO in case anyone came too close. A co-worker watched the monitor to ensure we were recording without error. As the director, not standing next to the camera was unnerving.

How is creating video with a Nokia OZO different than working with a traditional camera? 

GM: Capturing with the Nokia OZO is notably different because there are no camera settings on the rig to check except for the physical power switch, a record button and a signal for WiFi strength. Instead, the Nokia software monitor offers a great deal of information in an aesthetically pleasing and coherent way.

Any other considerations? 

GM: Because there are eight lenses on the Nokia OZO, the camera has a few blind spots that the Nokia software has to ‘stitch’ together. I had to make sure that there wasn’t anything distracting on scene that stretched from one camera view to the next – it was difficult to mark that on set without having the camera capture the marking tape – which you can see in the final video.

How do you keep the Nokia OZO safe, especially with 25-plus people on set? 

GM: When filming with the Nokia OZO, you have to trust the tripod or monopod, and even more importantly, the actors who work all around the camera. One misstep and they could knock the camera over!

What camera features are especially fun to use? Especially challenging to use? 

GM: The fun – this is a whole new way to make and experience videos. The challenge – the recommended focal length for each of the eight cameras required that I shoot between eight and fifteen feet away for best results, and this meant coming up with an idea that performed well within these constraints.

Any tips or tricks for those interested in creating VR video? 

GM: As with any camera, go out with your new toy and use it as much as possible. And invest in a good, self-standing monopod. There are no set workflows yet, so get creative and have fun!

Finally, a pro tip: This video is best experienced using VR gear. Regardless, if you travel to the north and south poles during the action, you’ll find Easter Eggs from the Elemental 2014 and 2015 holiday videos in this most recent installment of our season greetings series.

Submitted by Heidi on December 12, 2016

Elemental cultivates relationships and works with a wide array of industry partners, including technology and channel partners, to develop end-to-end video processing solutions for customers around the world. The Elemental Technology Partner program includes leading vendors that provide best-of-breed content acquisition and production, content viewing, preparation, packaging, and distribution solutions. The Elemental Channel Partner program has more than 100 active channel partners.

DVB, or digital video broadcasting, is a suite of international standards for digital television distribution. DVB offers a broadcast platform for cable distribution (DVB-C), satellite transmission (DVB-S), and terrestrial transmission (DVB-T). According to the DVB consortium, television services using DVB standards are now available on every continent with more than one billion DVB receivers deployed around the world. 

Get an inside look at Elemental technology and channel partners as executives discuss how their organizations work with Elemental to create and drive revenue opportunities that comply with DVB standards. In a video snapshot with Nevion, Janne Morstøl, Chief Strategy Officer, describes how her business partners with Elemental to provide a unified headend solution that enables terrestrial operators to deliver DVB-T2 compatible video to primary screens and multiscreen devices. In a video snapshot with Teleste, Julius Tikkanen, Vice President, Video Service Platforms, describes how his company’s DVB-C and DVB-S2 expertise complements Elemental’s deep video processing experience to enable cable and satellite providers to deliver video content beyond primary screens to multiscreen devices.

Learn more about the history of DVB and how Elemental video solutions comply with the latest generation of DVB standards in this white paper, Digital Video Broadcasting.