Ravensbourne University London is using Amazon Web Services (AWS), including AWS Elemental Media Services, to bring live broadcasts of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) productions to schools across the United Kingdom. Designed to encourage interaction with young audiences across a range of viewing platforms, such as classrooms and auditoriums, the RSC’s free Schools’ Broadcasts are generously supported by Virgin Media and feature real-time Twitter questions and answers and graphic overlays.
Ravensbourne University London is a specialist creative university, dedicated to preparing its students for successful careers in digital media and design. It offers courses that give students experience using modern broadcast technology in real-world production scenarios. Since its collaboration with RSC began over six years ago, the university has streamed Shakespeare’s works to hundreds of schools, including those in remote locations with varying bandwidth accessibility.
“Both students and schools are responding positively to the program, and it is a great example of what’s possible when technology, creativity and education converge. AWS cloud services have been instrumental in bringing this experience to students,” Richard Manning, Associate Senior Lecturer, BSc (Hons) Digital Television Technology, School of Media. “With AWS Elemental solutions and cloud-based media services at the center of our streaming workflow, we no longer receive reports of buffering issues, even in rural areas where Internet connectivity has historically been patchy or broadband access unavailable. We now expect to bring the experience to even more schools, including those that may have initially given up due to connectivity challenges.”
In a collaborative workflow, RSC provides Ravensbourne with captured live content of theatre performances, while second-year television students at Ravensbourne are responsible for turning the performance into three parts including live Q&As with the crew and actors across a range of viewing platforms and regions.
Earlier this year, after finding its existing setup could be improved with consistent quality and detailed viewership analytics, Ravensbourne turned to AWS for its greater scalability and ability to deliver multiple high-quality versions of each stream. The university introduced AWS Elemental Media Services, the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN), and Amazon CloudWatch monitoring and management service into its streaming infrastructure.
“The AWS team met with us and spent a lot of time diving into our workflow and challenges. They proposed a number of solutions, helping us find a more efficient and affordable way to get this content to schools while also giving our students exposure to the kinds of technology they’ll be working with in the field after graduation,” shared Manning. “Their team was incredible, and took an authentic interest in what our students were working on and trying to achieve. The intuitive nature and functionality of the technology were also high points.”
AWS Elemental Media Services play an integral role in the program, providing affordable access to cloud-based services that support the creation and delivery of high quality streams to each school, and the flexibility to scale, without the traditional upfront capital investments required for similar productions. The AWS Elemental MediaLive service supports the creation and delivery of video streams. The AWS Elemental MediaPackage service is used to create a playlist for each school’s CDN and automatically adjusts video quality to match each school’s connection.
Beyond the broadcasts, the workflow has also proven a valuable instructional tool for Ravensbourne professors. Instructors can easily set up a stream and demonstrate how the system works, showing monitoring points via Amazon CloudWatch.
“It’s a fantastic resource to have at our disposal on so many different levels. Our students are able to dive deep into the workflow to get real-world experience, and we can give them a more holistic understanding of the process and technology from a theory point of view,” said Manning.
Pac-12 Networks, the sports media production arm of the prestigious Pac-12 Conference, is on a mission to transform the sports fan experience – reaching more viewers, at more locations, and on more devices. Their new approach takes advantage of AWS cloud technologies, including AWS Elemental Media Services, to re-imagine core master control production workflows as well as content archive, personalization, and monetization. The innovations demonstrate that higher-quality services can bring greater fan engagement and enhanced advertising revenue. By tying together a standardized video encoding source that feeds a comprehensive cloud production workflow and distribution network, Pac-12 Networks stands at the forefront of a fundamental change in how colleges produce sports media.
AWS is powering live broadcasts of 850 games for Pac-12 collegiate sports over the 2018-19 season. By moving the Pac-12 broadcasts onto a standard cloud platform powered by AWS, every aspect of the media workflow can be enhanced and made more flexible for production and syndication. Pac-12 Networks is connecting its 10Gb multi-venue contribution network to AWS using a 1Gb AWS DirectConnect. AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaPackage services prepare all live streams for delivery in Apple’s HLS format to IOS, Android, Web, Chromecast and Apple TV devices.
“We’ve chosen to go all-in on the world’s leading cloud to drive digital transformation across the entire organization, and to enhance our innovation and workflow processes so that we can bring new offerings and better experiences to market faster,” said Mark Kramer, Vice President, Engineering & Technology at Pac-12 Networks. “Video quality has been absolutely gorgeous during the game for linear broadcast and TV Everywhere audiences. It was a huge positive transition for us – a new level of experience, years in the making.”
Taking the new cloud-centric approach, master control – the brains of Pac-12 Networks’ operation – uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon Glacier as petabyte-sized primary archives for all recorded content, and as the basis of an automated ingest workflow. The ability to call on unlimited amounts of Amazon S3 storage as required liberated other aspects of the production workflow, to enable, among other things, the creation of a new live-to-VOD capture feature. Because of the seamless use of this cloud workflow, AWS Elemental MediaTailor now provides a straightforward option to perform server-side ad insertion for both live and on-demand content, creating a whole new basis for content monetization. Other AWS services at play in the Pac-12 cloud infrastructure include AWS IAM, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon EC2 Autoscaling, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) and Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to provide a secure, highly effective backbone for TV everywhere service delivery.
In the future, automated processing of the same assets with AWS Machine Learning services adds the potential for a whole new range of service enhancements, including automated gameplay highlight clips, and real-time closed captioning for broadcasters. Another potential future application involves AWS Lambda, a serverless application model that uses less compute for processing clip and highlight generation. In this workflow, the second a game is over, Pac-12 Networks would have all assets, such as game highlights, directly accessible for streaming and syndication partners. As a result, a wide variety of highlight options could be made available to fans, offering a much richer post game experience.
“As we standardize on AWS machine learning and media services, we’ll be able to usher in a new era of entertainment for collegiate sports enthusiasts,” continues Kramer. “Our fans will benefit from highly reliable and personalized viewer experiences, even in times of rapid traffic spikes like conference championships or rivalry games, and our internal teams will be able to experiment with ease using AWS services to rapidly test new ideas. The unmatched breadth of functionality, agility, and security that AWS provides has been, and will continue to be, instrumental to our success in the cloud. The way viewers expect to consume games is completely changing. Without AWS, we couldn’t meet our fans’ needs.”
In February, AWS Elemental shared an update from the growing ecosystem of software solutions developed by our technology partners. Since, many more vendors have achieved integration and interoperability with AWS Elemental Media Services, further extending the selection of available tools for building cloud-based video workflows. Following are some of the software solutions recently made available by members of the AWS Elemental Technology Partner Program to support live or on-demand video using cloud infrastructure:
- Videon completed interoperability with AWS Elemental MediaLive for its Greylock and Sonora encoder/decoder products.
- BuyDRM debuted API integration between the KeyOS multi-DRM platform and AWS Elemental MediaConvert and AWS Elemental MediaPackage;
- EZDRM completed API integration with MediaConvert and MediaPackage for its KeyZ server and Universal DRM solution;
- FriendMTS announced interoperability between its Distribution iD watermarking service and MediaConvert as part of an anti-piracy solution;
- Revenue security solutions vendor Verimatrix announced the launch of Viewthority, a new content distribution platform built on AWS with support for the AWS Elemental Media Services.
- For media asset management, Cantemo has completed API integration between its Cantemo iconik cloud video hub and MediaConvert;
- Vidispine announced API integration between MediaConvert and the Vidispine API through the Vidinet media services platform.
- Accedo introduced API integration with AWS Elemental MediaTailor and the Accedo One video platform to deliver targeted advertising for augmented reality video experiences;
- Crystal announced integration between MediaTailor and its Crystal Connect solution for dynamic ad insertion and digital rights enforcement;
- Telaria has announced interoperability with MediaTailor and its Video Management Platform to enable server-side ad insertion.
- Espial launched its Elevate Cloud IPTV Platform on AWS along with support for AWS Elemental Live and AWS Elemental Server;
- Insys announced API integration with AWS Elemental Media Services for its InsysPLAY and InsysGO over-the-top video solutions;
- StreamShark publicized its API integration between the StreamShark Encoder Management Solution and AWS Elemental Live for live streaming to social media platforms;
These innovative offerings from our technology partners join a comprehensive set of solutions designed for fast, simple deployment as part of video workflows with AWS Elemental Media Services. This growing ecosystem lets video providers customize their live or on-demand video infrastructure, choosing the products and services that best suit their business requirements and content strategies. To learn more about our technology partners and their solutions, visit https://www.elemental.com/about-us/partners.