On May 19, millions of viewers from across the U.K. and Europe will flock to TVs and connected screens to witness the solemn ritual and gilded tradition of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. For Sky News, the historic event has become a singular opportunity to bring viewers a powerful, interactive experience and a world first in the way it uses machine learning to enhance the user experience of a live-streamed news event.
To achieve this functionality, Sky News has collaborated with Amazon Web Services and AWS partners GrayMeta and UI Centric to bring machine learning-enhanced live video at scale to 23 million Sky viewers.
“Sky continuously searches for ways to innovate and bring better coverage to its customers. This new functionality allows Royal Wedding viewers greater insight into one of the biggest live events of the year, wherever they are. We’re excited by the software’s potential and ability to give audiences new ways of consuming content,” said David Gibbs, Sky’s Director of Digital Sports and News Products.
As Sky News announced today, users of the Sky News app will see much more than a procession of guests as they arrive at the castle. The app’s “Royal Wedding: Who’s Who Live” functionality will automatically highlight celebrities as they appear on screen and immediately present details about their connection to the royal couple with on-screen captions and graphics. Users can navigate the celebrity data without leaving the app and keep the primary video content on-screen, enjoying a self-guided, hands-on experience for every celebrity sighting.
A video feed from an outside broadcast van located near St. George’s Chapel will capture faces of arriving guests and feed the signal to an AWS Elemental Live small form factor appliance located nearby for real-time ingest to an entirely cloud-based workflow. Video processing is handled with the AWS Elemental MediaLive service. AWS Elemental MediaPackage integrates digital rights management for secured distribution over the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN). Sky News will also use the AWS Elemental MediaPackage service for live-to-VOD applications such as catch-up TV.
In parallel, Sky News is combining the GrayMeta data analysis platform with the Amazon Rekognition video and image analysis service for real-time identification of celebrities and tagging with related information.
Finally, Sky News is using the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network to unify the content for faster distribution to viewers. UI Centric has designed and developed the front-end application and video player to enhance the viewing experience and to leverage the Sky machine-learning workflow.
“We’re excited to have helped Sky News successfully build and deploy the Royal Wedding: Who’s Who Live app,” said Alex Dunlap, General Manager, AWS Elemental. “The high visibility and unpredictable audience size for this type of event made AWS cloud services, including those for media, a great solution by giving Sky the ability to test quickly, only pay for what was used, and produce a reliable, high-quality experience in a matter of weeks. Sky News is making their content even more engaging to viewers by enriching content with AWS machine learning services.”
Arrivals for the Royal Wedding will begin at 9:30 a.m. GMT and continue until the ceremony begins at 12:00 p.m. GMT. The Royal Wedding: Who’s Who functionality is accessible at Sky News online or via the Sky News app for mobile devices.
For more information about AWS Media Services, visit https://aws.amazon.com/media-services/
Quality-defined variable bitrate (QVBR) control is a new rate control mode designed to deliver consistently high-quality video viewing experiences that keep your audiences coming back for more, and your budget under control – saving you up to 50% on storage and delivery costs in the process.
If you’re interested in learning how QBVR works, watch our on-demand webcast for a detailed explanation of the technological and business benefits. You can watch the QVBR webcast here.
In the meantime, this short, visual summary illustrates how QVBR improves video quality when compared to constant bitrate and variable bitrate modes:
Figure 1: How constant bitrate affects video quality
- Using bits when not needed, because you've already met video quality requirements
- Not having enough bits when needed, resulting in lower video quality
- Different types of content require different bitrate choices
- Operator must take a best-guess approach when selecting the bitrate
Figure 2: How variable bitrate affects video quality
- Encoder uses as many bits as required to hit average bitrate, even if not needed for video quality
- Operator needs to pick the average bitrate per asset
- Selecting average to peak ratio is not straightforward
- Different settings needed for different content types
- Can’t get to optimal bit savings unless you encode multiple times and iterate to get lowest bitrate required by asset
Figure 3: How quality-defined variable bitrate control benefits video quality
- Bitrate control that automatically adjusts to different kinds of content and scenes
- Encoder automatically adjusts actual quantization
- Built on statistics developed for perceptual encoding such as AQ, MD, and RC
- Save bits when quality level is reached (don't use what you don't need)
- Use more bits to maintain quality level for complex scenes get
At the 2018 NAB Show, NewBay Media’s Video Edge magazine honored QVBR with a best in show award. AWS Elemental is pleased to be recognized, but what’s most gratifying is knowing our customers are using QVBR to address complex but very common operational problems in ways that save them time and money. You can get more info about the specific video quality problems QVBR solves, its advantages, and its simple set up and operation here: What is Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate (QVBR)?
TVNZ is New Zealand’s leading free-to-air TV provider, bringing news and entertainment coverage to more than two million New Zealanders every day through TVNZ 1, TVNZ 2, TVNZ DUKE, online entertainment destination TVNZ OnDemand, and 1 NEWS NOW. Throughout April, TVNZ will bring New Zealanders official coverage of the XXI Commonwealth Games, commonly known as Gold Coast 2018, an international multi-sport event featuring world-class athletes from 70 territories and nations.
TVNZ will offer viewers unprecedented coverage and viewing choice across TV, mobile, and connected devices. TVNZ 1’s Commonwealth Games coverage gets underway at 6:00 a.m. with Breakfast each weekday and from 9:00 a.m on weekends. Coverage continues until 1:00 a.m. TVNZ DUKE will offer live and delayed coverage on air 24/7, while pop-up channel TVNZ Games Extra will show live and delayed coverage on air 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The TVNZ Games Online channel will stream live and delayed event sessions from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily.
TVNZ OnDemand, TVNZ’s online Commonwealth Games hub, will bring together all channels and coverage in one place, allowing viewers access to live streams and to replay key moments.
TVNZ OnDemand’s live streaming of the games will be powered by Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) suite of AWS Media Services and Amazon Content Distribution Network services, for live event streaming to mass audiences, including:
- AWS Elemental MediaLive – a broadcast-grade live video encoding service that is designed to generate high-quality adaptive bit rate live video streams;
- AWS Elemental MediaPackage – an advanced live streaming origin service providing comprehensive control over live stream packaging and digital rights management that supports enhanced user experiences with features such as catch-up and start-over viewing of live events in progress;
- Amazon CloudFront – a global content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to viewers with low latency and high transfer speeds.
“The AWS team, were able to work with us to demonstrate a robust solution for delivering high quality live video streams to our audiences at scale using the AWS Elemental Media Services and the Amazon CloudFront CDN,” said Andrew Blakey, TVNZ Development Manager.
“Using other AWS services, such as Amazon CloudWatch, will provide us with detailed monitoring, reporting, and streaming analytics throughout the duration of the Games. The AWS Elemental MediaLive video encoding service will also allow us to deliver each live streaming channel in multiple different bit rates and resolutions, to serve mobile devices, connected TV’s and even the connected shopping mall displays throughout New Zealand. This partnership is vital in helping us realise our ambition to bring New Zealanders the biggest free-to-air sporting event ever.”