The Ten Challenges of Video Distribution (And Why They Don’t Actually Pose a Challenge)
June 18, 2019
You are a self-declared foodie, and you’ve always tremendously enjoyed cooking. You especially love hearing about what your friends are cooking: all their new ideas and the specific nuances that add flair to this dishes. You wish everyone had this opportunity to share delicious thoughts and ideas, so you create a platform for people to share the recipes that are close to their hearts. Classic, right?
So you build out this platform, that is available on web but also on mobile, with the foundations for a large database and a lot of traffic. And to make things interesting, you decide to give the “Culinary Experts”, which is the cheesy name you’ve chosen for the chefs of your platform, the ability to add videos of their cooking process, which could be a whole lot more useful than the photo of the finished product that you usually get on recipe sites. Your vision of short, fun, informal videos will hopefully put your platform in a cool niche between traditional cooking shows and more modern recipe blogs.
You’re really excited for this until you start looking into video options for your platform. Your excitement dies as you discover that it’s not as simple as you thought, and if you want to let your Experts take full advantage of these new video capabilities, there are going to be a lot more steps than you imagined, from uploading, to captioning, to security.
1. Upload and Storage
Let’s start with the basics. To feature video on their recipes, your Experts obviously need the ability to upload video. They’re going to do this from their computers or from their mobile phones, although we all know it’s most likely from the latter. And there are those who will go the extra mile and create really fabulous video productions, so it should be possible to upload video of any size or format, right? But what happens after they’ve uploaded the video? It’ll need a home, some sort of cloud storage where all the videos of your platform will live.
And what if they also want to do some basic editing on their video? Shorten it maybe, to fit the ninety second length that you’ve recommended? Or perhaps they want to break it into small clips for each relevant step of their recipe. You’ll need to give them those post-production capabilities that will allow them to replace what was, or create new segments from the original video.
You probably haven’t considered the whole world of transcoding. Maybe you’ve heard it referred to as encoding? Either way, it is the process in which video files are converted into different file formats, to make them available for viewing on different types of devices. Your 55 inch TV doesn’t play the same video you’d watch on your phone – you can imagine how grainy that would look on your TV, or how long it would take to load on your phone. These videos are transcoded using “codecs”, which are like algorithms that determine how the files will be compressed using optimized quality and bandwidth consumption – a process that requires a whole lot of server resources. Add that to the list of things you’ll need: a bunch of really strong processors that’ll convert each uploaded video to a bunch of different formats resolutions and qualities.
4. Thumbnails (Cover Photos)
Have you ever uploaded a video of yourself to YouTube, and when it was finally ready to watch, you noticed that the thumbnail for the video is a really unflattering shot of you? Well, you really don’t want that to happen to your Culinary Experts; their video thumbnail is essentially what’s going to attract viewers to that specific post, so you want to give them the ability to select the best frame in their video that will display in their recipe gallery, or even more importantly, on social media.
Then there’s the whole topic of accessibility: captions and subtitles, which are important for viewers in different countries, or with disabilities, giving them the ability to watch any of this content or listen with screen-readers. Captions are especially useful when Experts are talking about ingredients that not everyone is familiar with. Oh, and providing caption abilities is not just about video playback – all that text can be added to the indexed metadata included in each of those videos!
…Bringing us to the world of searching. Imagine the user searches for the word ‘Italian’: you’ll want them to get results with classical Italian dishes, like pizza and pasta. You’ll want them to see recipes where the word Italian appeared in the name or description. But you also want them to give them results where the Expert maybe mentioned an Italian Seasoning in the video. You want to surface *anything* that might be relevant. Synonyms and partial matches, categories, and hashtags… For this you need really really good search capabilities.
Even more importantly, you must protect your user content. You need to make sure those videos aren’t just floating around the internet, available for anyone to see. You need to make sure that paid content is only viewable to those who have paid for it. You need to make sure that only those approved by the Experts can edit or delete their content. Enter the whole world of permissions and privileges, tokens and authentication, logins and passwords.
8. Delivery and Playback
When you’ve figured out who gets access to the video and who doesn’t, how does that video get to the end user without letting them wait too long? Well, you need a CDN, a Content Delivery Network, which places cached versions of the video in servers that are distributed globally, to help avoid latency, which is what happens when you load a page and you need to wait for some of its elements. And once that video gets to where it needs to go, viewers will need a video player to play it in. You thought that part just happened, didn’t you? Nope. The video player is that frame you watch videos in, the one with the buttons and the scrubber and all the different options of how you can watch your video.
That player needs to be able to phone home, so that you can give your Experts the ability to see how their videos are doing: do people find them too long? Are they dropping off halfway through? Or are they pausing and rewinding a lot because the video is too quick-paced? How many times are they watching and at what hours do they prefer to watch? You want all this data to be available in a coherent UI or dashboard that’ll make it easy for your Experts to gain insights on how successful they are, and even for you to see things on a higher level. Especially if you want to introduce monetization.
At some point every product, like this one, hits a point where it makes sense for users to start earning money. Enter the deep dark world of Ad-Tech. The options here are vast: you might chose to easily implement some banners, or maybe you want to help your Experts go all out and create sophisticated video campaigns that earn them a little more, but are harder to manage. In either case, you want to give the best options to your Experts, while also creating an experience for their users that is seamless and not very intrusive.
Before You Give Up
Once you’ve considered all these various elements, adding video capabilities to your recipe sharing platform is seeming like a bigger headache than it’s worth. Nobody needs video anyway, right?
When done right, video can enhance your platform and take it to a whole other platform. When done right, video can be engaging, fun, and highly profitable.
There may be a lot going on, but here’s the good news: there is a real live service, that exists, that will handle every single step mentioned above. One service, one platform, one API – call it what you may.
Personally, we call it VPaaS (Video Platform as a Service) but you can call it a Video Platform, or a magic toolbox. It features a really big API that includes capabilities to solve every single one of those steps.
All you need is a developer, really.
You can make it really simple for anyone on your platform to upload video, no matter from where or what kind. The video will go straight to its new home in our cloud. Once it gets there, the transcoding process will automatically begin and create videos of different preset formats. The users will be able to do some basic cropping operations on their videos, and select the preferred thumbnails for their gallery. And hey, if none of those frames are good enough, they can upload a separate image to feature as the video’s cover photo.
If your Experts want to be over-the-top, they can create in-video quizzes that will stop at specified points in the video and ask questions like “What is the difference between convection and bake?” just to make sure the viewers are paying attention. To help route the viewer to the right recipes, the Experts can also add hotspots to their videos, which are essentially just links on specific spots in the video.
Videos can be added to categories, for the different types of recipes that might be available. But categories are especially useful for handling security and access management: for example videos be be split into groups for paid versus unpaid, content or maybe long version and short version, where each category is given different rules about who can view those videos, who can edit those videos, and in which context.
The world of categories and security goes beyond that however; what if some of the Experts collaborated on specific content and wanted to give each other the ability to manage all of that content? With rules and permissions, all of those details could be easily put into place.
Once the content is ready to go and the first viewer requests it, the CDN kicks into action and distributes that video globally, ensuring that all viewers receive it quickly and efficiently. The video is shown in our Player, which is fast, customizable, and built for web pages or native iOS and Android apps, which makes it super easy to embed. Most importantly, the Player can send events that have happened, so that you and your Expert never miss an important moment that happened in the video playback. Lastly, the player features a collection of plugins, which include various options for monetization and server-side ad stitching, which means your Experts can become total influencers on your platform!
All this in one API, which you can use by downloading a Client Library in any of eleven programming languages! And to make the learning curve even easier, it offers a thorough [documentation portal] that could get you running within minutes so that you and all your friends can quickly and seamlessly share delicious recipes and content.
Kaltura's mission is to power any video experience. Our wide array of video solutions are deployed globally across thousands of enterprises, media companies, service providers, and educational institutions, leveraging video to teach, learn, communicate, collaborate, and entertain.