Amazon Launches New Elastic Transcoder for Easy, Affordable Video Streaming

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by MATT GALLAGHER, Red Herring

Streaming video across multiple devices is far from the easy breeze it looks. With the launch of its new Elastic Transcoder service, however, Amazon not only makes it a synch, but much more affordable than other options currently offered on the market.

Launched this week, Amazon’s Elastic Transcoder service is designed for cloud video. It’s marketed for video services, cable networks, and professional video producers who want to convert video into formats compatible on a variety of devices, such as tablets, iOS, Android, PCs, and smart TVs.

Until now, publishers had to use expensive and complicated hardware and software formats for such a conversion. Through its new service, Amazon can offer pricing tiers based on video format and length starting at $0.015 for SD or $0.030 for HD per minute, a considerable bargain over industry standards such as Brightcove’s Zencoder, Encoding.com, and Microsoft’s recently launched Azure Media Service. Comparatively, Zencoder offers a pay as you go option starting at $0.05 per minute of output.

“Our customers told us that it was difficult and expensive to transcode video due to the explosion in the number of devices they need to support,” said Charlie Bell, Vice President of Utility Computing Services. “They had to be both experts in the intricacies of video support on different devices and manage the software required to run the transcoding jobs. None of this work had anything to do with their goal: getting a high quality video that would look great on the devices they wanted. We built Amazon Elastic Transcoder to give our customers an easy, cost effective way to solve these problems.”

Previously, video producers would need to use costly video transcoding services, which required complicated settings for specific devices that took a lot of time and were prone to error. Plus these programs could heavily weigh down computer systems. Amazon’s service is specifically designed to have minimal digital draw on publisher’s systems.

Plus, traditional transcoding services don’t allow for much scalability, a serious hindrance in the digital age when video can suddenly go viral and swamp publisher’s capacities. By providing “web-based console or APIs to create a transcoding job that specifies an input file, the transcoding setting, and the output file,” Amazon eliminates complexity with a scalable solution, as it explains on its website.

“With Amazon Elastic Transcoder’s pipelines feature, customers set up pipelines for these various scenarios and ensure that their files are transcoded when and how they want, thus allowing them to seamlessly scale for spiky workloads efficiently,” Amazon stated on its website. “For example, a news organization may want to have a ‘high priority’ transcoding pipeline for breaking news stories, or a User-Generated Content website may want to have separate pipelines for low, medium, and high resolution outputs to target different devices.”

Naturally, the service compliments Amazon’s other cloud services, including the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, also know as Amazon EC2, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (aka Amazon S3).