Guide to Azure Media Services Encoding

Azure Media Services provides cloud-based video workflows to support live or on-demand video management, transformation, and delivery. The media workflows are advanced and complex in nature – best utilized by organizations with an experienced tech-savvy IT team. The scalable platform provides workflows for encoding, streaming, indexing and content protection. Our focus today is on just one of these workflows; Azure Media Services Encoding.

In this blog we talk about what Encoding is, and how you can use Azure Media Services for encoding in the cloud, and lastly, we discuss how you can started on using it in Azure cloud for your videos.

What is Encoding?

Encoding compresses a raw video file or converts it into a differentformat for better device or browser compatibility and improved efficiency.

Encoding Vs. Transcoding

Encoding and transcoding are terms often used interchangeably as they are very similar processes.

Transcoding actually comes under the umbrella of encoding. It is the process of re-encoding files into various renditions of different formats and sizes to ensure broad compatibility and support multi-bitrate streaming or adaptive bitrate streaming. Hence, transcoding is encoding done several times. The multiple versions are created based on different resolution levels, bitrates and file formats.

Why is it needed, you may ask. Well, how else would you be able to watch a feature film on your smartphone? Or imagine trying to stream at your holiday resort up in the mountains with an extremely unstable bandwidth connection. This is where the compressed versions come in handy!

Every viewer has a different internet speed. Transcoding allows you to optimize the streaming experience, adapting to each viewer’s network speed. Adaptive-bitrate streaming automatically adjusts to the available network speed and delivers the best possible video quality without viewers facing any buffering.

What is Azure Media Services Encoding?

Encoding and transcoding are just a tiny part of the whole streaming process. Azure Media Service Encoding is an advanced workflow for video encoding and transcoding. The studio-grade encoder converts your video into one or more standard formats, providing the following benefits:

  • Compression for creation of smaller sized files catering to lower bandwidth speed
  • Transformation into multiple formats for greater device and browser compatibility

Here are the most common import and export formats supported by Azure Media Services Encoding.

AMS supports batch processing of these transformations at scale on its high-performance computing infrastructure. Hence, you can run multiple encoding tasks at one time. You can even build complex media decision logins, utilizing tools like Azure Media Explorer and Workflow Designer. The process can turn out to be highly complex – it is critical to have the right know-how to design these encoding workflows.

Azure Media Services Encoding also allows you to deliver your video in two main ways:

  • Progressive Download:Original mezzanine videofile is converted into a single MP4 file. Under this video delivery process, viewers can watch the video alongside it being downloaded onto their device. As you may have guessed, viewers need to have enough storage space on their devices for the video file.
  • Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR):Original mezzanine video file is directly encoded as a set of adaptive bitrate files.ABR is a type of streaming that adapts to the viewer’s bandwidth conditions to deliver the best possible video quality. Streaming is a video delivery format that only downloads chunks of video as it is being viewed and then deletes it as soon as that part has been displayed. Hence, viewers do not need appropriate storage space. They can view as much as they want. Adaptive bitrate streaming makes the process even more convenient for them as they don’t have to suffer through buffering.

Build Vs. Buy: Why Buying a Ready-Made Enterprise Video Platform is Preferred?

Setting up the streaming infrastructure is more hassle than you could think of. AMS Dynamic Packaging (another workflow) can then be utilized to deliver the stream via a modern streaming protocol like HLS or MPEG-DASH. You would need the proper technical knowledge to create a streaming locator and build the streaming URLs.The cost of the AMS itself might not seem so high; combined with the resources, time and effort required, the cost comes out to be a lot more than what you may have anticipated.

Don’t believe this claim? Here is an article discussing when to build and when to buy an enterprise platform.

Why not opt for a ready-made enterprise video platform that seamlessly handles all your video streaming and content management requirements, including transcoding? VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube is one such Gartner-recognized intelligent enterprise video platform that is also a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Create a YouTube-like video portal (or more than one for your different brands or departments) on VIDIZMO for live and on-demand video streaming and a ton of video management capabilities, including automatic transcoding, indexing, extensive searchability, content organization, detailed video analytics, secure sharing capabilities, access controls, robust security, comprehensive compliance coverage, optimized playback, and much more.

The best part of it all is that VIDIZMO provides deployment options in the Azure Cloud and allows you to benefit from all the various Azure Media Services workflows without needing to design the whole infrastructure.