How Video Optimization Works
By and large, the companies in this space are attempting to differentiate themselves through tweaks made to the quantization of the video. In video compression, quantization is a process that attempts to determine what information can be discarded safely without a significant loss in visual fidelity. Primarily this work is done as a pre- or postprocess step to the actual encoding of the content (though as you will see below, this is not always the case). Because of this aspect, the benefit of optimization will be much more relevant to on-demand assets than live streaming content. In the case of a live stream, either there’s not enough material available to make a good analysis, or the process itself is too labor intensive to be done reliably in a real-time or faster scenario.
It can become hard to precisely calculate the benefit reaped by work done in this area. In part, this is because many of the improvements in user experience are more subjective than objective. In short, optimization falls under quality of experience (QoE). QoE provides an assessment of human expectations, feelings, and perceptions about a particular product, service, or application. Video playback over the internet becomes subjective because of all the various moving parts. Obvious ones, such as type of device, connection to the network, and the resolution of the source content, are easy to attribute to the viewing experience. But more subtle issues, such as the specific CDN and its traffic at the time of playback, as well as the overall resources available to the device attempting to playback, also impact the viewing experience significantly. The fuzzy nature of QoE means results delivered in optimizing the content are hard to measure and hard to guarantee across all content.
Beamr has perhaps the most traditional offering. The company touts itself as a provider of media optimization, powering some of the world’s top web publishers, social networks, and media companies. It offers patent-pending perceptual video solutions, which reduce the bitrate of H.264 and HEVC streams by as much as 50%, preserving their full resolution and quality. It takes files that have already been encoded, including files that are encoded in several layers for adaptive bitrate streaming, and optimizes these files. The Beamr Video output files are in the same format as the input (MOV or MP4 container, H.264 or HEVC video, etc), so they remain compatible with any player that supports the original files.
By Andy Beach
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