Buyer’s Guide to Live Video Encoders 2015

Streaming Media by Jan Ozer Screen Shot 03-17-15 at 11.56 AMCongratulations, you’re buying a live encoder. In 2014, Ooyala released survey results showing that live videos are watched, on average, 11 times longer than VOD videos. So taking your presentation, webinar, or other production live is a great move, and if you’ve just started shopping for an encoder, you’re in the right place. After setting out some basics, I’ll run through the questions that you should ask when shopping for an encoder in 2015. Along the way, I’ll identify the major categories of products you should be considering and discuss some features you should use to differentiate products within each category.

The Basics

You probably already know the basics, but they always bear repeating. The first step is to identify the number of streams and formats you’ll need the encoder to produce. There are two basic live streaming paradigms: the first is to encode all streams onsite and push them out to your streaming server. The second is to produce a single high-quality stream onsite and push that to a cloud transcoding facility to create your adaptive streams. If you’re producing multiple streams onsite, you’ll need a very powerful encoder, particularly if you’ll be supporting multiple formats. That requirement limits your purchase options. If you’re producing a single stream, either for single file delivery to your viewers or for live transcoding, you’ll have more encoders to choose from. Once you know the stream and format count, you should identify the ancillary requirements of your streams, including DRM, caption support, advertising insertion, Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act support, and so on. For the most part, only high-end encoders offer these features, so if you need them, make them the first items you check for when considering an encoder. Next, identify the required camera or mixer-related connectivity. This is usually HD-SDI or HDMI, but could also include DV or analogue. Most encoder manufacturers offer multiple models differentiated by their I/O, so pay close attention when choosing the specific model to order. read more...

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