Sorenson Media, a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for Video Encoding, Sets Course for Web-Based Service
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accelerate literally before our very eyes,” Quanstrom said. “But at the end of the day, all a customer cares about is how [well] the video plays,” The problem—aside from the babble of competing technologies and standards—is that different customers have different requirements. “We see the needs of a lot of different verticals, and what Warner Bros. wants is really different from what Harvard wants or what the Social Security Administration wants,” he says.
Sorenson says that professionals with titles like “producer,” “video editor,” “videographer,” and “technical director,” use its video encoding application to create digital video content for all three aforementioned customers, as well as Hulu, HBO, Fox, and Qualcomm. But the proliferation of different video formats means a video created to play on an iPhone won’t necessarily play just as well on an iPad, says David Dudas, Sorenson’s vice president of product management.
To help manage the multiplying complexity, Sorenson says its Sorenson Squeeze 7 encoding application “takes the pain and drudgery out of the encoding process” by speeding up the GPU (graphics processing unit) processing and by automating all aspects of adaptive bit rate encoding. The company also expanded its support of new video formats, adding MPEG Transport Streams, WebM, and Ogg to its capabilities. “We’re generally viewed as the Swiss Army knife of video because of the variety of input and output formats we support,” Dudas says.
One key feature the company is touting is its new adaptive bitrate encoding capability, which dynamically adjusts in real time to the bit rate of the device that a consumer is using to watch streaming video content. In other words, the technology enables the video stream to automatically adjust to a delivery network’s fluctuating bandwidth capacity. (To do this, Sorenson says its technology encodes multiple renditions of videos at varying data rates to files and uploads them to the network that delivers the content. Dudas says it is a streamlining technique that frees video producers from a previously labor-intensive, detailed, and time-consuming process.)
It’s also worth noting, as Quanstrom puts it, that “all the encoding goodness that is incorporated in Squeeze 7 is also in Squeeze Server,” a Web-based video encoding service that Sorenson launched in November. Quanstrom says the company increasingly sees operating software-as-a-service, which is both customizable and scalable, as a logical solution to the growing—and seemingly intractable—complexity of competing video formats and related technologies.
By coincidence, I saw yesterday that San Francisco-based Encoding.com announced the launch of Vid.ly, a Web-based service that creates a short URL for any video. The two-year-old startup says the short URL can be shared by text messaging, Twitter, or Facebook, and enables users to access and play the video across 14 different browsers.
In reading Encoding.com’s announcement, I realized it makes a lot of sense to move all the complexity into the cloud, and then simplify the problem with something everybody can use. I also noticed that Encoding.com licensed Sorenson’s Spark video codec in November, adding Sorenson’s software to the catalog of codec’s that Encoding.com is using to encode and decode video files.