AWS Elemental Blog

Video Processing Perspectives

AWS Elemental Blog
AWS Elemental Blog
Submitted by Alyssa on September 13, 2017

France’s Molotov TV has quickly positioned itself among the leaders in over-the-top (OTT) video services that are changing the way consumers enjoy TV. Since launching its subscription-based offering less than a year ago, Molotov has attracted more than a million subscribers to its high-quality content and engaging user experience.

Prior to launch, the company accomplished an impressive feat, securing agreements with all major French TV networks (pay and free TV channels) to aggregate and distribute their programming as live and video-on-demand (VOD/Catchup) content through the Molotov.tv app. Well-known for the quality of their programming, French networks invest more than $6 billion dollars annually in fresh content, putting an abundance of first-rate entertainment in the hands of Molotov’s users.

While its content catalog draws users to Molotov, an innovative, user-friendly viewing experience helps keep them engaged. The app offers users an at-a-glance view of all live, on-demand and upcoming programs Molotov has to offer at that moment, with an easy-to-navigate menu and search function that invites exploration. Smart design carries through to the viewing experience; users can watch the shows of their choice live, restart from the beginning or catch up to real time, and for programs they’ve already started, viewers can pause and resume from wherever they left off, across any of their devices. Molotov also incorporates cloud-based DVR functionality.

To power its dynamic offering, Molotov depends on high-performance, highly efficient video processing. Since the service launched, its viewership and content offering have grown, and its AWS Elemental deployment has expanded as well. Today, Molotov has multiple AWS Elemental Live encoders in operation, with AWS Elemental Conductor software managing the encoder cluster.

“To deliver the experience our customers demand, we can’t have any downtime,” said Sébastien Faure, Molotov’s head of video and deputy chief technology officer. “At the same time, we want our technical experts focused on driving innovation, not managing infrastructure. We’ve continued to expand our AWS Elemental deployment because their technology is ‘set it and forget it’; we don’t have to fuss with our encoders to keep generating well-formatted, high-quality streams for every viewer we serve.”

The Molotov.tv app is available for computers, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs running iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux as well Apple TV, Android TV, LG and Samsung Smart TV services. A free version offers 35 channels, while paid subscribers gain access to more than 70 channels for less than 10 € per month. 

Submitted by Alyssa on September 1, 2017

ITV is an integrated producer broadcaster and the largest commercial television network in the UK. It is the home of popular television from the biggest entertainment events, to original drama, major sport, landmark factual series and independent news. It operates a family of channels including ITV, ITVBe, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 and CITV, which are broadcast free-to-air, as well as the pay channel ITV Encore. ITV is also focused on delivering its programming via the ITV Hub, mobile devices, video on demand and third party platforms.

The 2015 relaunch of the ITV Hub meant significant growth in viewership for ITV’s streaming content – and became the catalyst for a new technology platform. According to Tom Griffiths, director of broadcast and distribution technology for ITV, “Our simulcast services had been growing organically, but the relaunch pushed us towards a tipping point where the volume of viewers and their expectations of quality meant our old technology was no longer viable.”

ITV set clear priorities for its new streaming video architecture. As a premium broadcaster, quality of experience on any device was critical. ITV’s commercial success means a great deal of its content is also syndicated through partners to other platforms, burdening systems and staff: the new solution needed to make this simple. Above all, the new platform had to align with three key business objectives: risk reduction, operational efficiency, and business agility.

The network turned to AWS Elemental, an Amazon Web Services company, to modernize its streaming video capabilities. AWS Elemental Live software is now deployed in ITV’s two playout centers, encoding high-quality streams to two ITV data centers where ITV online services originate. There, AWS Elemental Live encodes the high-quality streams into multicast streams for online and connected devices before being provided to the content delivery network, with streams for syndication partners created and delivered at the same point in the workflow.

With AWS Elemental at the center of its new technology platform, ITV considers its ambitious requirements met. Our old streaming technology was risky and prone to failures; the new platform’s inherent resilience largely eliminates that risk,” explained Griffiths. “We now have a system which is largely automated, and readily responsive to changes in requirements, which addresses our operational efficiency concern.

“The advanced capabilities afforded by AWS Elemental-powered video infrastructure position ITV to make the most of future opportunities as the network plans initiatives such as cloud adoption, dynamic advertising, high-efficiency video encoding and MPEG-DASH streaming,” added Griffiths.

Submitted by Laura on August 31, 2017

Samuel Saunders Blackman, 41, died peacefully surrounded by his family on August 27, 2017 after experiencing cardiac arrest the previous day. 

Sam will be remembered as a loving husband and father, a visionary and humble leader, an inspiring advocate for the community and environment, and an avid Ultimate Frisbee player with a keen ear for pop tunes. But it was his love of family, his kindness to all, and his ability to instantly connect to each individual he met that will leave an indelible footprint on the hearts he touched during his life well-lived.

Sam was born in Portland, Oregon to Susan and Marc David Blackman on July 3, 1976. He attended Duniway Elementary in SE Portland and graduated from Lakeridge High School after the family moved to Lake Oswego. He took to electronics classes at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) from an early age. He was six years old when he learned his first programming languages, Logo and Pascal, on an Apple III and became hooked on computers and coding. Sam ultimately earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Brown University, an M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.B.A. from the University of Oregon. Sam became an engineer with an analytical mind, as well a deeply thoughtful, reflective, and civic-minded man. 

After working in engineering roles at Pixelworks, Silicon Graphics and Intel Corporation, Sam co-founded Elemental Technologies in 2006 with Jesse Rosenzweig and Brian Lewis, and led the company as CEO. During his tenure at the helm of Elemental, Sam guided the company in developing pioneering technology behind internet-delivered video and ultimately ushered the company through one of the most successful start-up exits in Oregon history, via an acquisition by Amazon Web Services in 2015. Sam then became the CEO of AWS Elemental under the Amazon umbrella.

Sam had a remarkable ability to engage with people, developing intense personal connections in virtually all his interactions. While busy growing his company, he also forged enduring bonds with people in every corner of Portland and the world at large. He was easy to talk to and could speak knowledgeably on a vast number of topics, from the environment and public pensions to the struggles of the less fortunate and the plague of income inequality.

Sam greatly valued the city in which he was born. As a champion of Portland, Sam helped make the city the best it could be via the platform he and his team built; it intersected his business, civic, and community passions. During his career, Sam was recognized by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters as a Volunteer of the Year in 2006, by 1000 Friends of Oregon as one of “35 Innovators Under 35" in 2010, and by Oregon Entrepreneurs Network as the recipient of the Tom Holce Award for Individual Achievement in 2011. Sam was also named one of Forty Outstanding Leaders Under Forty in 2011 and the Most Admired CEO in Technology in 2012 by the Portland Business Journal, Startup CEO of the Year by GeekWire in 2013, Technology Executive of the Year by the Technology Association of Oregon in 2015, and Entrepreneur of the Year in the Pacific Northwest by EY in 2016.

Through all of this, Sam’s greatest passion was for his wife, Adriane, and his sons, Abe and Solly. Mutual friends attending Lewis & Clark's M.A. in Teaching Program with Adriane introduced the two in 2002. They were married on Sauvie Island in August of 2005. Both Portland natives, Adriane and Sam loved their hometown and believed it was their duty to give back, supporting public schools, the environment, and many other causes. They both inspired each other to serve humbly and to live with gratitude. Sam and Adriane loved to travel together and took their sons on countless adventures. They climbed Mayan ruins in Belize, watched the midnight sun in Sweden’s Lapland and most recently flew across the rainforest canopy, zip-lining over the Costa Rican cloud forest.

Despite Sam's demanding work schedule, he was up early on weekends to make blueberry pancakes or buttermilk waffles, sit by a city pool and watch his boys learn to swim, throw the frisbee at a park or score his sons' baseball games by hand. The family took a weekly Sunday walk to reflect on recent days and the week ahead. Sam read to his sons at night, often falling asleep alongside them. He shed everything else in his life in those and other private moments to be there just for them. 

Sam is survived by his wife of 12 years, Adriane; sons, Abe and Solly; brothers, Amos (Shannon), and Eli (Haley); his mother Susan; and his niece, Hannah.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations may be made in Sam’s name to the Oregon Food Bank, The Forest Park Conservancy or Rosemary Anderson High School. Each of these organizations was close to Sam’s heart and received many hours of his time in volunteer work.

He will be greatly missed.

A commemorative service will be held at 10 am on Sunday, September 10 at the Portland Art Museum in the Kridell Ballroom.

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