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Amazon Elastic Transcoder (amazon.com)
242 points by chrisacky on Jan 29, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 148 comments



It's quite an interesting business decision to jump into this market.

Take Zencoder for example (which is one of my favourite players in this field)... if you are to compare the prices with say Zencoder [1] AWS is much more cost effective (by several factors). Even if you were operating at scale and spending $2000 per month with Zencoder, you would only get 50,000minutes worth of HD Video. (You pay 2 minutes worth of credits for HD video on Zencoder).

If you spend $2000 with AWS, you would be getting 33% more value. (Remember, this is operating at scale. The savings can be even larger)... and this is really the best case scenario for Zencoder.

If you are "just getting started", the savings are immediate. On Zencoder it's $0.10 for HD video, compared to $0.03 on AWS.

I'd be really worried and slightly confused by Amazon took this step? There are several video encoding companies that operate on AWS already, and they all just got sandbagged.

    [1] : http://zencoder.com/en/pricing


Looking at the fact that you can do encoding across a lot of different regions seems to me to indicate that there isn't any special capabilities required for Amazon to implement this other than just a custom AMI.

If I had to guess, this is all part of a strategy to figure out ways to utilize their idle fleet. Spot instances are often used for these sorts of batch offline compute-intensive jobs, but if you're a third party you are hostage to the market dynamics (changing prices of spot instances). Since Amazon owns the market, they can just take capacity out of the fleet of available as spot instances instantaneously for free and be immune to pricing changes in the spot-instance market - something no competitor could ever do.

So if you were to ask - what is a common batch-style workload that requires a lot of computing power that a lot of people need who would otherwise not be using our spot instances and that can consume our idle capacity? I can't think of a better market than video encoding.

This is certainly scary for companies like Zencoder, and feels somewhat anticompetitive (IANAL so speaking practically rather than legally), but it makes otherwise good sense as a business strategy.


I'm not sure how it's anti-competitive, unless in six months Amazon tries to shut down Zencoder's or some other competitor's Amazon account, which I can't really see happening.


It's more implicit due to the underlying economics than explicitly so. As long as Zencoder runs on AWS, barring some magic encoding technology, it can never be cheaper than Amazon could theoretically go. This assumes that transcoding services are competitive primarily along price (which may be an incorrect assumption - I'm not in the business). The bottom limit of the price Amazon can charge is a function of their dominant (but admittedly not monopolistic) position in the cloud computing market.


There's no question that this new service will be a huge problem for Zencoder. However, I'd argue that many companies build on top of competitors and survive. For example, in the cellular world, we get companies like StraightTalk and Simple Mobile who are doing nothing other than reselling service from one of the major carrier, but are often selling for cheaper. With AWS itself, Engine Yard resells instances on top of EC2.

Zencoder's pricing has been high to say the least. For example, for a Medium High-CPU instance (about 2x 2.5GHz processors) I should be able to encode video faster than real time (encoding a minute of video should take under a minute). At $0.165/hour, that's $0.003/minute. Zencoder is charging 10x that amount for many people (Zencoder charges 2-5 cents per minute depending on whether you commit to a large package of minutes or not). Plus, Zencoder can possibly combine spot instances and reserved instances to get better. Now, that's not to say I haven't been a happy Zencoder customer - for the volume of video that my company does, it wouldn't pay for us to run a server ourselves. Zencoder is immensely cheaper than rolling our own solution. However, it seems like it's also a place where another company could come in and disrupt Zencoder a bit. Even if you weren't Amazon, if you built up enough of a customer base, you could likely have undercut Zencoder's rates.

I think one thing to note is that companies don't offer the lowest price they can. In fact, in an oligopolistic market like this, economics suggests that the price (if services were undifferentiated) would drop to the Nash equilibrium. Looking at Amazon's pricing, it seems clear that they want to provide a good value proposition compared to Zencoder, but they're still charging nearly $1/hr which certainly allows competitors to match that price on EC2 hardware and shows that Amazon isn't offering the bottom of the barrel price.

It's never fun to compete with your infrastructure provider (or any well-run company like Amazon even if you aren't relying on them). However, we see these things happen and companies on both sides survive.


That's not anticompetitive though, it's purely competitive. Amazon has better underlying economics (because it has deployed capital to build infrastructure) and therefore is able to offer the same service at a lower price.


Not saying this is the case. But there is such a thing as a vertical monopoly. Anticompetitive and illegal.


It's very hard to imagine a situation in which Amazon could lock new entrants out of the video encoding market. All you need to enter this market are a fast connection and a server farm, both of which you can get for yourself or rent from numerous IaaS providers.

Amazon might very well have a price advantage, but other parties that can offer better quality of service or better L10n or whatever will still attract customers. This is how markets are "supposed" to work.


It would be shady if Amazon set their prices for video encoding below the price of raw EC2, because then competitors would be in trouble. But they haven't done that.


Why (on Earth) would it be shady?!


    >As long as Zencoder runs on AWS, barring some magic encoding technology, it can never be cheaper than Amazon could theoretically go.
Nobody is forcing Zencoder to stay on AWS, if it no longer makes business sense to stay there then they need to move. If Zencoder believes that isn't feasible they need to find different value adds to make themselves more attractive than Amazon. This isn't anti-competitive at all.


Zencoder here. Amazon has done a good job of making their pricing look simpler/cheaper than ours, and for some customers, it is. Two quick comments.

1. Our larger customers don't pay more than this already.

2. Paying 33% less doesn't necessarily mean getting 33% more value.

We'll be writing up an analysis today. Off the record (ahem), we've known about this for a long time, and we aren't worried.


I've been using Zencoder for a little over a year now and it's been a great experience. We're definitely not one of your larger customers, paying about $100-$120 a month (and rising) on HD transcoding jobs.

At our level, switching to AWS would reduce our per minute cost from $0.08 (HD costing 2x normal minutes) to $0.03 (62.5% cheaper). So our $120 bill would go down to $45.

As a small startup, every $1 makes a difference and the price discrepancy will only increase as our usage increases.

I'm curious if you're concerned about erosion of your low-volume customer base eventually leading lost revenue from future high-volume customers.


Well of course not. Paying 33% less means 50% more value!

But in all seriousness I look forward to the post.


> and we aren't worried.

So are you working on designing them out? Or are you counting on them never giving your AWS account short shrift?


I think Amazon is smart enough to know that they can't give anybody short shrift.

The only reason they're the leading computing platform is trust. Trust is the biggest factor in a platform decision, and they'd be foolish to put all their other business at risk for a temporary advantage in one small slice. Especially since they are still making money on every Zencoder job.


> The only reason they're the leading computing platform is trust.

Is there a lot of that left since they knocked Netflix offline on Christmas eve?


Plenty left.


> I think Amazon is smart enough to know that they can't give anybody short shrift.

Really? One example: When states threatened sales tax (before CA), they cut off retailers in those states.

They can and they have given people short shrift when it's in their business interest. To be fair, that just means they know how to increase sales by selecting who gets thrown to the lions, which is necessary in any business.


Sorry, I am speaking specifically of the AWS business.

I think most people making platform selections are mainly focused on AWS. I'm sure they pay some attention now to Amazon proper, but their affiliate programs were a peripheral thing, and


Jon- How does this effect your relationship with EC2?


Not really. Amazon just builds what they need instead of depending on others and then sell it as a service to the larger market. Remember, they're playing for the long-run. Maybe they needed it to convert their videos on LoveFilm.com or maybe another future service connected with their Cloud Drive.

What is also means is that if your company provides a service to other developers you might well be in competition with Amazon in the future.

EDIT: Maybe I should mention that I work at PandaStream, another video transcoding service. We're still cheaper with 100% utilisation but our pricing model and target market isn't exactly the same.


>>>Amazon just builds what they need instead of depending on others and then sell it as a service to the larger market

Yes. But I don't recall reading anywhere that Amazon would or even could offer this. It makes me wonder what else there is they will sell. Warehousing software? Shipping logistics? Anyone have a list?


Amazon already offers warehousing and shipping as a service, even if you don't sell your products on Amazon: https://developer.amazonservices.com/gp/mws/api.html/180-311...

You ship them a pallet of stuff, and then use a web API to ask items to be delivered to addresses.


Oh, they really have an API for everything. That's awesome. Now... I wonder if there are companies in China that have an API to order a pallet of stuff?


Everything that counts are infrastructure. If you're providing a service that other developers build on you're going to compete with Amazon in the future.


Not only developers. They are also upending all intermediary businesses between manufacturers and consumers (inventory, shipping, etc).


This is a strange question - Amazon can offer anything that can be thought of by the human mind and can be shown to make some money. It's a competitive world. I'd fully expect Amazon to do anything and everything their staff can come up with. Perhaps in a few years when the space industry takes off maybe even run a space / orbital freight service. It makes sense for them.


Re: could

Amazon has offered streaming video for years now. This is just a guess on my part, but they probably don't receive video from studios in a stream-friendly format. Their streaming format has also likely been updated over the years.


> There are several video encoding companies that operate on AWS already, and they all just got sandbagged.

Yep, they put a potential competitor into their critical path. The business lesson is: Don't do that.

Nothin personal, jus business.


A potential competitor, yes, but who expected Amazon to offer a video transcoding service? I certainly did not. Do you think that offering any compute-based service using Amazon's infrastructure is a bad business decision?


If you'd asked me a few years ago, I wouldn't have expected Amazon to provide a CDN. Or a DNS server. Or a giant MySQL instance in the sky.

I think the general lesson here is that if it is a server-based operation that can be made more cost effective in bulk, Amazon are interested in doing it.


> that can be made more cost effective in bulk

I assume the Heroku guys have noticed by now. Hopefully they're working on designing Amazon out.


It is interesting that Amazon never seem to go down the acquisition route- if they did, Heroku could be a target.

I really want someone to make an RDS-like service for Postgres. But I don't blame people for not trying right now, I'm sure Amazon will do it eventually.


Are you saying Amazon would buy Salesforce, or that Amazon would buy Heroku from Salesforce?


I actually forgot that Heroku had been bought out by Salesforce- but the point remains that before they sold, Amazon could have been tried competing in any buy out.

I can't quite believe Amazon has never acquired anyone, though- are there any high profile ones out there?


eh? From the bottom of the Amazon.com homepage ...

---

AbeBooks

AfterSchool.com

Audible

BeautyBar.com

Book Depository

Bookworm.com

Casa.com

CreateSpace

Diapers.com

DPReview

Fabric

IMDb

Junglee.com

MYHABIT

Shopbop

Soap.com

Vine.com

Wag.com

Woot

Yoyo.com

Zappos


Most of those look like online retailers and not iaas or compute services companies.

No one builds services like amazon. They aren't interested in bolting on someone else's idea company.


Plus defunct operations like cdnow.


Amazon bought Zappos and Kiva


Someone already did, like a year ago: http://www.enterprisedb.com/


> but who expected Amazon to offer a video transcoding service?

Anyone who has used their instant streaming service. They have a boatload of video to transcode to zillions of devices. The fact that they would take that in-house was not a particularly big leap.


I never would have guessed it before they released their Simple Workflow Service. Once I saw that, though, game on.


I'd expect anything that allows them to sell more instances without having to increase cost of sales. They have unique edge in being able to see what types of services would do well under this model, including live competitive analysis on the instances they currently run.


"I'd be really worried and slightly confused by Amazon took this step?"

This happens. Look at the operating systems companies. Apple introduced iTunes or Time Machine, and the sales of third-party music players and backup systems goes down. Microsoft includes a web-browser and the sales of third-party browsers goes down, or to go back 20 years, MS introduces DoubleSpace and sales of Stacker go down.

It can be a balancing act. If Amazon starts picking off the businesses of its most profitable cloud customers then there will be an uproar. If Amazon sticks with the features which make it a better cloud provider, then it's more to be expected. This fits into the latter. Hopefully the video encoding companies that operate on AWS already have considered this possibility.


> I'd be really worried and slightly confused by Amazon took this step?

I'm not so sure I'd be worried. Amazon has certain advantages in the market. But they are not into handholding at all. I think you can easily out-compete them on ease of use, support, and community. You can also do much better marketing, and make much more interesting partnerships.

I also think Amazon's massive scale constrains them some; they can't be as flexible. In Zencoder's shoes, I'd be looking to see if I could get a pricing advantage through specialized hardware that covers my base computing load. I've see people drop their AWS bills by a factor of 10 when a good sysadmin designs a workload-specific setup.


OTOH, Amazon's service looks like the most basic possible transcoder. At this point many competitors have moved on to offering full-fledged video CDNs with more sophisticated features.


Does this mean we will see Zencoder and all of the other competitors in the cloud transcoding space start to lower their prices to match amazon?


Or even Microsoft's Azure. They officially announced their entrance into the encoding game about a week ago.

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/home/scenarios/media/

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/01/22/announcing...


Welcome to markets & capitalism.


The thing that annoys me about both this and Zencoder is that for people who are actually experienced with video encoding, there is absolutely no way to tweak eg. the underlying x264 settings. There's quite a few settings that have no effect on decoding in any way but are pretty important in getting the most out of the video at a given bitrate (most notably the strength/mode of AQ and psychovisual optimizations). In case of AWS, there doesn't even seem to be any kind of "general" tuning (like whether the content is film, animation, extremely grainy or so - x264 has --tune settings for these among others - Zencoder at least allows you to access this option[1]) options available, making it pretty much "one size fits all". I could always rent a generic server and use that for my encoding needs, but it'd be much more convenient if these cloud transcoding services simply offered advanced configuration for people who know what they are doing.

Also, even for a "simple" cloud transcoding service, Amazon's offering is pretty limited in what it can do right now[2] - you can basically only encode H.264 & AAC in MP4, define the profile, level and bitrate, and that's about it. Zencoder has much more options in comparison and has generally more transparency in regards to what their encoding software actually does (sadly when I asked them about getting access to x264 settings directly, they replied along the lines of "they could change and things might break for users!" - which I don't think would be an actual issue since the direct settings ought to be for advanced users only, and they should be aware of things changing - plus Zencoder could just notify users of direct settings before they upgrade so they have time to adjust their settings if necessary).

[1] https://app.zencoder.com/docs/api/encoding/h264/tuning

[2] http://docs.aws.amazon.com/elastictranscoder/latest/develope...


As is the case with every part of AWS, we add additional features and options over time based on customer feedback and requests. Please feel free to let us (or me -- jbarr@amazon.com) know what you need and I'll bring it to the team's attention within 30 minutes.


A really simple way to obtain very high quality per bit per second, given prior knowledge of the nature of the material (film or not, grainy or not, cartoon or not, etc) and the type of output desired (AVCHD, Blu-Ray, etc) is to install MeGUI, then pick one of the community-built encoding profiles for x264.

Choosing the right profile for the job is absolutely crucial. The combinations of x264 parameters can be pretty arcane, and they sometimes change from one x264 version to another. There's a pretty active community on forum.doom9.org maintaining collections of profiles for MeGUI, some of those are excellent.

E.g., it is totally within the realm of possibility to put two hours of 1080p content on a single-layer DVD (4.4GB), in a format compatible with any Blu-Ray player out there (AVCHD, a subset of the Blu-Ray standard that accepts DVD as the storage layer), while keeping video quality at a very high level - basically indistinguishable from commercial Blu-Ray discs. But using a good encoding profile, feeding the appropriate parameters to x264, is the single most important factor in achieving that goal.


>MeGUI profiles

MeGUI is hardly necessary - x264 has a good set of presets and tunes built in to begin with. --preset veryslow --tune film/animation/grain will already get you very far, beyond that pretty much the two most important things to possibly tweak are the strengths of AQ and psychovisual optimizations (--aq-strength and --psy-rd).

>it is totally within the realm of possibility to put two hours of 1080p content on a single-layer DVD (4.4GB), in a format compatible with any Blu-Ray player out there (AVCHD, a subset of the Blu-Ray standard that accepts DVD as the storage layer), while keeping video quality at a very high level - basically indistinguishable from commercial Blu-Ray discs.

You might get away with an hour of almost-transparent content if it's not particularly bitrate-demanding, but two hours of live action will not look "indistinguishable from commercial Blu-ray discs". 5 Mbps High Profile L4.0 H.264 just won't look as good as ~30-40 Mbps H.264 High Profile L4.1 H.264 commonly found on BDs (unless the BD is really screwed up). At 720p you'd get pretty good results, though.


Sent a mail your way with more detailed impressions and thoughts.


There has to be webm output support, firefox and chrome don't support mp4. And as always, it would really be helpful if s3 supported notifications, so you could automatically put a message into SQS or add a job to this new transcoding service when a file is uploaded to a bucket.


Chrome still supports MP4 as far as I know. They mentioned dropping support a couple of years ago but didn't.

Firefox is getting MP4 support. Firefox OS and Firefox for Android on some devices has it already. Support on some versions of Windows is in nightly builds hidden behind a preference setting. Linux support is hidden behind a build switch. At some point when these backends are stable they'll be in normal builds.


I thought chrome did drop it and microsoft released a plugin?

Firefox getting mp4 support doesn't change anything, people are already using firefox right now, and it doesn't support mp4 right now. The fact that the marketshare of non-mp4 firefox will eventually end up small enough that most people ignore it doesn't mean mp4 is all people need right now.


Check out GridVid.me....we allow for FFmpeg tweaks in your API calls.

https://gridvid.me/documentation/advanced-ffmpeg-directives


Zencoder has one of the nicest APIs I've ever used, it would take more than price for me to switch.


While this makes me (as a developer) happy, my customers don't care. They want encoding, they want it cheaper, and they want it better.

I am still tinkering, but for our purposes, it looks like Amazon's Transcoding service is going to be cheaper and of good enough quality to get the nod over Zencoder.


This needs more upvotes so it remains visible to all the people in at the top of the discussion who think Zencoder lives and dies on price alone.


While Amazon's service has a price advantage, there are some differences that could justify Zencoder's premium for some customers.

Amazon gives you a maximum of 4 encoding pipelines. These operate like queues. If you are processing many jobs simultaneously, and encoding multiple versions of each video, then those queues could start to build up. With Zencoder, all your jobs are processed in parallel, no matter how much you throw at it. In my experience, queue times with Zencoder have averaged <10 seconds.

For batch jobs, that aren't sensitive to encoding times Amazon's queues shouldn't be a problem (ex - a media company encoding a huge library into a bunch of different formats). Business video services or online video platforms may want to optimize around keeping queue times low to get client videos out quickly.

Zencoder also seems to be working on premium services like closed captioning (an FCC rule says that programming that is shown on TV must have closed captioning when it is shown on the web), live streaming, and packaging HLS streams. Finally, Zencoder supports formats like ProRes 422, that Amazon may not (I haven't seen a list of input formats yet). Zencoder also has great support and a great API.

I'm a Zencoder customer and don't have any vested interest in the company. In fact, I'll be taking a look at the service to see if it meets our needs. I just wanted to highlight that if you are making a decision around transcoding, you need to define your requirements, understand the trade offs, and test the different options.


Does anyone with experience using Zencoder (http://zencoder.com/en/) see advantages/disadvantages of this new Amazon service compared to Zencoder, which has been around for a while? Zencoder is owned by Brightcove and I'm sure they will be fully capable of putting up a good fight, but I can't imagine this won't take a significant amount of business away from them...


I have been using Zencoder in our product for about 2 years and have loved it. Super easy to setup through their API and I have run into very few issues over the last couple years.

However, we are running 10k minutes a month through there and cutting our monthly encoding bill in half is pretty hard to pass up. AWS definitely has less features, but the feature set they do support is exactly what we are using Zencoder for. Probably going to wait a couple months to see if Zencoder decides to lower their pricing and if not take a look at switching.


I'm thinking about the same. Give it a few months, to see if Zencoder lowers its pricing. But yes, half price to have the same features we use with Zencoder is tempting.


AWS only supports MP4, zencoder supports a whole host of them,significant being TS files for HTTP Live streaming needed by IOS devices.


I transcoded it in to FLV and it worked www.cloudshoring.in


Surprisingly, Elastic Transcoder doesn't look to be very price competitive with Zencoder at scale. Zencoder is $0.02/minute, while this is $0.015 (stdef) and $0.030 (hidef).

If you're doing hidef content, Zencoder is a clear (pricing) win.

EDIT: Never mind... Zencoder charges double for hidef content too.


Zencoder charges double the normal rate for HD videos, so it is $0.04 for HD


I am also curious about the how fast the AWS service will be. Zencoder is pretty fast. http://blog.zencoder.com/2011/10/18/zencoder-benchmarked-2x-...


I was under the impression Zencoder already runs on the AWS infrastructure:

* https://aws.amazon.com/solution-providers/isv/zencoder

* http://gigaom.com/2011/04/12/zencoder-raises-2m-for-cloud-ba...


Yes, they do,they use the cluster compute instances:http://blog.zencoder.com/2012/07/23/first-look-at-google-com... I doubt if amazon is going to use them.


We've done some preliminary testing, and this AWS Transcoding service is very fast. It's good enough to the point where I don't even care to consider this a factor in our AWS vs Zencoder comparisons.


Can you share any numbers? How long did it take to encode a 30 minute HD clip?


As someone who worked until a couple of years ago in this field, I should point out that the larger area of value in the industry is the capacity to customize content for the consumer scenario (available bandwidth, CPU, resolution, available buffer size, CODEC support, etc.) and to do so automatically.

The notion of precomputing various versions of a piece of media is not a new one, nor a particularly valuable one, since consumers rarely know which option to select.

What users really need is something that perfectly matches their viewing scenario and their device (largely mobile). The knowledge of what works well on each device (with default settings) is the real gem here, and the capacity to deliver it ASAP (eg. transcoding in real time) is the service to supply.

There are far more codec options than you can shake a stick at, and they do affect playback quality - especially during higher and lower bitrate portions of the media, and especially on lower end mobile devices (essentially today's global internet access norm).

While the standard tool in this area is ffmpeg, one should note that not all of its algorithms can be parallelized, so real time delivery is a thornier problem than you might expect. Also, while there are device databases that can tell you resolution from an HTTP User Agent string, none of these will tell you CODEC support and functional bitrate limitations. The manufacturers, hastily throwing together devices from third party chip SDKs, often don't know these specs themselves.

Throw in subtitle stream rendering support and the corresponding font problems, and things get really fun really quickly.

Good luck to anyone in this area, I for one am glad to have left!


Only hard problems are worth solving. I for one find it a very interesting field to be working in.


I am glad to hear that you are interested in your work, as pleasure in work can be hard to find. Apologies for being in a philosophical mood: I contemplated not responding, and responding otherwise, but finally thought that offering this anecdote might be interesting. Please, take from it what you will.

A Buddhist I know said that the thing that troubled them about the digital media field was how it conflicted with their great respect for some of the ideas that are central to that philosophy. They said that they identified much modern media consumption as intoxication of the mind with what may amount to trivial experiences tangential to achieving happiness and peace, which they viewed as quite apart from the endless sensory experiences of the world. (For a simple example, they pointed to Youtube)

After some searching, this seems to be the reference: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma...

A [lay person] should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.

Personally my friend's perspective did make me feel a little guilty about my work, since I am also (if sporadically) very interested in Buddhist philosophy and because encouraging people to spend their time "in earnest" (from a Buddhist perspective) is no doubt a personal failure as seen by the Buddhist teachings, in so far as I can grasp them myself. Yet, Buddhism also teaches that we should respect the treasure of conscience as a means to change our ways, and it is certainly true that communications of any kind can certainly be a bringer of good ... as well as thoughtless trivia.


A good, thoughtful post. Cheers for it.


Here's my blog post with some additional info:

http://aws.typepad.com/aws/2013/01/amazon-elastic-transcoder...


Only h264/AAC/mp4 output though. I wonder how well they handle embedded subtitle streams, too (I don't even know if they're supported at all for mp4). Seems OK for the most basic of web video streaming, but then again, I guess that's the majority of the use cases they're targeting. (more concretely, this doesn't look to be suitable for digitizing dvd collections).


Well well well, 2 weeks after Azure announces their transcoder, look what happens :)


There's no way that Amazon heard Azure's announcement and shipped this within two weeks from scratch.


The announcement 2 weeks ago was just for public availability. Its been public knowledge for much longer. See this from last April: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2012/04/16/announcing...


Everyone look at this guy! He's got logic!


I'm sorry for the above comment everyone. Reddit has infected my humor. I shouldn't have brought it here. :(


I couldn't find a link to this announcement. Could you point me to it?



Thanks!


Azure has no shot at this market....none.


Curious...why you say that?


Azure, in general, is just burning money with no significant uptake. Friends who work there say there aren't even significant internal uses. Just based on that I'd be dubious of any new Azure service dominating their segment. Maybe they'll buy themselves another Xbox situation, but I don't see it yet.


How about audio transcoding? At my music startup we're building a transcoding backend that will take in FLAC, AIFF, or WAV and spit out MP3, FLAC, AAC, ALAC, and OGG files for people to download, and I'd kill for a transcoding service with a robust API that can deliver those formts.



Nope, video only. Audio is a logical step though. Go bug your friendly neighborhood rep/support person with a feature request.


build it


No need to build it - Zencoder already does it.

--

Edit: looks like they only support these audio codecs: aac, ac3, amr, eac3, mp3, vorbis, and wma

https://app.zencoder.com/docs/api/encoding/format-and-codecs...


We've thought hard about Opus, FLAC, and ALAC. Don't be surprised if you see those soon...


love that


+1


Damn pretty smart move.

They place themselves in the 'lowest common denominator' of the industry.

Whilst the smaller companies and startups compete and struggle to find the right combination of factors for their awesome video/web/cloud/storage/etc product at the end of the day they all need the same kind of thing to operate on and Amazon is often the cheapest option to start with and it serves the whole industry making little cents tick tick tick one after another...


Interesting. Are there any consumer facing apps using these services (aws transcode competitors/zencoder)?

Could this be used to stream live video?


Zencoder recently came out with live transcoding. Its only a transcoding service, but I guess using brightcove you can stream live videos. AWS has only announced file base transcoding.


Amazon should complement this new transcoding service and their existing media streaming (via Cloudfront) with a full media server, along the lines of Red5 or Wowza or Adobe Media Server, that would allow you to do more advanced stuff, such as capturing video from users, hosting video chatrooms etc.

You can already run Wowza instances on EC2 but the premium on top of standard AWS prices is too high, if this functionality can be commoditized there will be an explosion of innovative new uses.


I agree. We have been trying to scale our Wowza on EC2 setup for live video streaming, but after looking at our options it was about the same price to just go with a VDN like Edgecast that managed the server complexity for us.

If Amazon could support live streaming through Cloudfront I think they could undercut the existing VDNs on pricing and have a big opportunity in that market.


Ah yes. Remember if you run services that compete with what Amazon might do you may have a problem. There are many businesses in this space running on AWS.


Idea: build a pretty web based UI or software downloadable UI for this and mark up the costs to be just under zencoder's pricing. Would that be viable? for people who need 1 off transcoding they load up $20 of credits minimum or something.

If someone wants to do it, I have a domain I've been sitting on which would be good for this.


Precisely what I was thinking... I'm probably going to jump on to this... do a 2-4 week hack at it and launch it. If anyone wants to partner, let me know (I can design and play full stack- either one).

Let me know what the domain is, I may be interested.


Be careful. You are playing the price game. Long term winning strategies don't start with undercutting.


encloudit.com just have a dummy wordpress site on it.


The Porn industry just took a huge step forward. :)


Nah, porn companies are generally too cheap to use services like aws.


Amazon doesn't allow porn content on its servers ..


I just checked their AUP, and it doesn't seem to say that [1]. This makes sense since AWS is pretty much a content agnostic system that you pay for by the hour and otherwise have no interaction with amazon staff.

[1] http://aws.amazon.com/aup/


It will not be surprising that in fact Amazon Elastic Transcoder is in fact what Netflix with Amazon's help may have work on in the past few years. Netflix is well known to use Amazon web services not only for the streaming part but even for doing all the movies encoding for all different devices they need to support. So I will not be surprise that it has now become a mature project that Amazon is now opening up, similar to the other service for S3 where you can ship your hard drive to upload directly on S3 without wasting bandwidth: from what I recall that service was in fact created initially for Netflix but later on open to third party.


We're using Encoding.com right now which works off the AWS infrastructure. We pre-paid and got our pricing down to $0.018 per megabyte. The drawback to this method is that encoding charges you for MB in AND MB out, whereas Amazon and Zencoder are charging just by the minute of output.

I'm pretty happy with Encoding.com but after running some test files through AWS, I have to seriously consider switching - AWS seems much faster (not a controlled test, more is needed) and in our case it's much easier to predict costs by going with a per minute model than a per MB in/out. An added bonus - boto already has support for it.


EDIT: I made one of my typical decimal blunders - we are paying $0.0018 per megabyte. Big difference.


Hm, I havn't used Amazons Web Services earlier - since most of their services looks to be priced in a good range, when suddenly you read the fine print about the bandwidth charges.

I've been trying to read through about Amazon Elastic Transcoder (AET?)'s pricing - but I can't figure out the total. I assume you need to pay to get the video out of S3? Do you have to pay on the way in, as well?

What would it cost to encode a 20 minute HD video that's like, 500MB?


Data transfer in to S3 is free. First 1GB/month transfer out is free,after that it is 0.12GB for the next 10TB. These rates would apply if you store your video on S3 and use another service like zencoder too. The transfer between EC2 and S3 in same region is free though.


Ah, alrighty. Thanks!


Why is the pricing tier so static?

  $0,030:
  1920 x 1080 @ 62500 kbps  
  ...  
  1280 x  720 @ 17500 kbps


I'm sorry to say this but doesn't this mean the end for Zencoder, TransLoadIT and other video encoding services?


Using that logic, all the other cloud storage services would be out of business right now.


Transloadit doesn't do video only, it does much more.

Not sure about Zencoder and Pandastream.


Am I reading this right, in that there is no support for WebM/VP8? If so, I'm a bit confused as to who this product is supposed to be for, it seems not suitable for generic web video. Is this intended to be for mobile only?


Wow, that product page is just massive. It tires me so much just looking at it that I'd rather just browse along. I'd like to see what designers looking to build up their portfolio could do with the Amazon AWS products.


I think the problem may be your lack of interest. As somebody who has used AWS a fair bit, I love those massive pages. It's easy for me to jump around, and being able to use in-browser search to rummage through the whole thing is great.


In contrast, see http://gridvid.me


Pricing this per-video-minute seems pretty smart (not familiar with the space so I'm not sure if this is how it is generally done).

As their CPUs get faster, they can transcode the same video for the same price for less cost to Amazon.


Pretty standard way to price....Zencoder pioneered it a few years ago.


Why haven't they started pushing these jobs down to distributed clients? I'd love to run an Amazon Transcoding app on my PC and earn credit that I can spend toward other Amazon services.


1, privacy - they would have to send you a copy of someone's video for that. 2, I expect the end user bandwidth is worth more than the CPU time you'd provide, so the credits they could give wouldn't be worth it to you.


Well, there are ways around #1. It seems they could split a video up into enough chunks to make the bandwidth minimal for each party involved (it may not be worth it for /them/, however).


Video encoding tends to rely heavily on previous frames so it's not trivial to split a video into small chunks for encoding and still get a good result.


Or they could use homomorphic encryption. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homomorphic_encryption


Do you seriously think you can get any kind of reasonable compression using only operations that are data-independent?


Because they have gigantic, low-cost datacenters. They just don't need you. What they need is to use up the extra capacity on the machines they already have.


You might be insulted when you saw how little they could afford to pay you. The idle time on random PCs is worth less than the overhead cost of managing it.


The cost and time of pushing them out over the public internet rather than as internal network traffic, for one.


We are working towards something similar at CPUsage....


The most interesting part of this move is what it says about their relations with EC2 customers. Most cloud encoders that ET will compte with, run on EC2.


I wouldn't be surprised if Netflix assisted in this.


Could this be a trend for Amazon that they'll expand vertically? If that is the case they'll be competing with their customers eventually.


Who's the market? Surely crappy upload speeds and download caps stop this being used by 'consumers'.


Wow, they really are tailoring their service for Netflix specifically these days.


no way Netflix would use this service...they'll stick with EC2 and do their own encoding.


great news for customers....


I love aws




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