AWS Elemental Blog

Video Processing Perspectives

AWS Elemental Blog
AWS Elemental Blog
Submitted by Heidi on September 16, 2016

Just one week before the Red Hot Chili Peppers took to the stage at Kraftwerk Berlin for their “Getaway” World Tour as part of the Deutsche Telekom’s Street Gigs concert series, producers determined they were not equipped to deliver Germany’s first-ever 360˚ virtual reality live streaming concert. The event was staged and the VR capture was set. But there were concerns that the solution in place could not encode the output to get a reliable, solid stream at a reasonable bit budget. Producers called in Elemental for its proven VR encoding to ensure that fans at the venue and beyond in Germany, Austria and Switzerland would enjoy an unprecedented look at this iconic group of rock stars.

The September 6 concert went off without a hitch. It was captured by four Nokia OZO 360˚ virtual reality cameras placed on stage with the band, in the first row, and above the audience to provide panoramic concert views. Each of the cameras included eight 2K x 2K video sensors to produce full spherical output. An Elemental Live encoder produced the live stream for delivery to YouTube. Viewers could access the 360˚ stream on an array of devices including the Samsung Gear VR or iOS and Android phones using Google Cardboard and the YouTube app. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge browsers all supported viewing in 360˚.

Thousands of fans beyond the concert hall tuned into the VR experience as the band premiered new songs from their Getaway album and played long-time favorites, including Snow, Californication and Under the Bridge. An interview with lead singer Anthony Kiedis in 360˚ ahead of the show gives insight into his thoughts about performing in VR and the full concert is available on demand in HD on YouTube.

To learn more about how Elemental and Nokia work together to enable real-time VR experiences, register for the webcast, Virtual Reality Goes Live: Moving Beyond the Hype on September 21 at 8am PDT. 

Submitted by Sam on September 7, 2016

Last year, Elemental was among 23 Portland technology companies to sign a pledge to improve diversity in our industry. Underlying the TechTown Diversity Pledge is the belief that collective action and accountability are needed to address the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the local technology workplace and to foster a more inclusive community. One key component of the pledge is, together with our peer companies, sharing data about our demographic representation as a way to measure progress against our goal. The longer term vision is that a more diverse and inclusive workforce will provide a competitive advantage that will help establish our region as a leading technology center. 

The Portland Development Commission recently released the first year of data on the demographics of the pledge-signing companies. The data shows that the employee bases are still heavily young (25-34 years of age), white and male, especially in technical roles. Among the collective new hires in the participating companies, 43 percent have been female, 13 percent LGBTQ, 18 percent people of color and two percent veterans. Elemental’s updated demographic data is available for your review here.

As the data demonstrates, it will take some time to substantially move the diversity needle. The roots of gender and race underrepresentation in technology go deep into our education system and society. Nevertheless, the efforts of rising tech companies in Portland to bring these issues to the surface and quantify progress are important. They are also the start of a sustainable process to follow through on our commitment to change.

I wanted to share with you the specific actions that Elemental has taken to date, which I consider our “stake in the ground” as we move towards achieving more profound diversity changes both within our workforce and the broader technology employee base across the city.

  • We have hired a dedicated Community and Diversity Program Manager, Nancy Garcia, who will report directly to me and oversee our efforts in this area.
  • We have incorporated a diversity and inclusion session in our New Hire Orientation so that all new employees are aware of our efforts and feel a sense of ownership.
  • Thanks to the generous policies of our parent company, Amazon, we are now offering up to 20 paid weeks of leave for new parents who have been at the company for more than a year. This consists of 4 weeks of paid pre-partum medical leave for pregnant employees, followed by 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and 6 weeks of paid parental leave.
  • We offer a series of workshops for employees on unconscious bias and cultural agility.
  • In partnership with SummerWorks, we offered, for the second year in a row, high school internships for students from underrepresented populations, which provides a rotational learning experience.
  • We continue to set an example for our industry in hosting the 4K 4Charity Fun Run three times a year to support charitable giving. We are proud that the series has raised, to date, more than a quarter of a million dollars for global and local charities, including Rosemary Anderson High School here in Portland. Please join many of the other Diversity Pledge companies and sign up to run with us on October 12!

Bottom line: we recognize that world-class innovation stems from inclusion, equality and transparency. While we’ve got a long way to go, our goal is to create a workplace with a diverse, inclusive culture that attracts, develops and retains talents of all backgrounds. 

Submitted by Alyssa on September 6, 2016

Receiving one’s favorite television show via satellite requires the seamless integration of multiple service providers. STN (Satellite Telecommunications Network) provides a vast array of service solutions, one of which supports the on-the-ground technology needed to broadcast content over satellite to multiscreen devices.

As a teleport operator, STN plays a crucial part in the satellite television workflow, offering essential uplink, downlink and turnaround capabilities to help its customers deliver premium content to consumers and to make content widely accessible on connected devices.  STN is a global service provider that was named independent teleport operator of the year and is renowned for its quality of service and attention to client requirements. The company’s state-of-the-art technical facility based in Slovenia also provides channel distribution in SD, HD and UHD, media services, playout, point-to-point IP backbone, IP trunking and data service solutions.

“We perform an increasing amount of transcoding to stream our output in various profiles. At STN, we are always technically prepared to meet customer requirements and we needed to choose our system wisely when it came to supporting OTT services for our clients,” said Anver Anderson, General Manager, STN. "Elemental is a company that has considered the needs of teleports and broadcasters and provides a high grade, efficient and adaptable system to deliver OTT services."

The Slovenian teleport uses Elemental video processing solutions to power a unified headend for delivery of broadcast and over-the-top (OTT) TV content using high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265). For STN, increased investments in both physical capacity and software-defined video solutions from Elemental have built a solid foundation for highly efficient content distribution to millions around the world.

Learn more about how STN uses Elemental solutions to power the delivery of more than 650 broadcast and OTT channels in this video, captured at STN headquarters in Ljubljana, Slovenia.