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AWS and FOX team up to reinvent media content delivery

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that Fox Corporation has signed a multi-year strategic collaboration agreement with AWS to use their portfolio of services, highly reliable infrastructure, and professional services organisation to enable a new cloud-based media production and delivery platform. The integrated platform for broadcast and digital video services will distribute FOX’s leading sports, news, and entertainment television content to multi-channel video programming distributors, to more than 200 affiliate stations, and to over-the-top (OTT) providers, marking the first time that a single platform will be used to deliver both traditional broadcast and direct to consumer streaming services. It will also underpin FOX’s production facilities in Tempe, Los Angeles, New York, and Charlotte.

In addition, FOX will be using the first AWS Local Zone within its operations, a new type of AWS infrastructure deployment that places compute, storage, database, and other select services closer to customers for applications in particular locations where their customers expect single-digit millisecond latency.

The strategic collaboration agreement will include:

·         FOX will use AWS Media Services to deliver its linear broadcast workflows to cable television systems, direct broadcast satellite operators, and telecommunication companies, and to distribute its internet-based over-the-top (OTT) content directly to consumer streaming services. This will allow the enhanced delivery of live sports, news, and entertainment to hundreds of affiliate TV stations, FOX’s pay TV partners, and streaming media companies across the U.S. The depth of native media capabilities available in AWS Media Services means that FOX can underpin its business with more adaptable, elastic and efficient workflows that are fit for the integrated future of linear TV and video streaming to consumers.

·         AWS Outposts, fully managed and configurable compute and storage racks built with AWS-designed hardware, will enable FOX to run compute and storage on-premises in FOX production facilities for video processing, including linear video editing and picture graphics workflows. This will enable FOX’s creative teams to have the lowest possible latency, which is critical for video production delivery.

·         By using AWS analytics services, including Amazon Kinesis, and machine learning services such as Amazon SageMaker to enhance live video streams and enable a real-time data capabilities, FOX will deliver new and innovative products and services in addition to providing enhanced user experiences and improved operations.

“Our extended partnership with AWS will strategically underpin our video and data workflows with a world class, adaptable, reliable, and scalable set of platforms that will extend and evolve to power our business well into the future,” said Paul Cheesbrough, Chief Technology Officer and President of Digital, Fox Corporation. “Across our facilities, we’re enabling our organisation to create a platform that will respond to real-time data that enables us to deliver the best programming.”

“FOX’s media platform is pioneering the delivery of live content using AWS’s unmatched breadth of functionality and highly reliable infrastructure to usher in a new model for content delivery that will drive operational efficiency and greater agility,” said Dr. Werner Vogels, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Amazon. “The platform will serve as the nerve center for FOX distribution and operation capabilities, supporting the most demanding needs of live broadcast television production and distribution with plenty of capacity. We look forward to working with FOX on this unique, green-field opportunity to unify and transform the delivery of reliable and innovative content to millions of viewers.”

New Accelerated Transcoding from AWS delivers up to 25X faster VOD processing

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Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, recently announced availability of Accelerated Transcoding, a new feature within AWS Elemental MediaConvert that enables broadcasters, over-the-top (OTT) distributors, and other premium content providers to complete their video transcoding projects up to 25 times faster. EPIX, a 24-hour premium TV network, now uses Accelerated Transcoding to convert 4K UHD content for streaming to approximately 70 million U.S. pay-TV homes. Accelerated Transcoding was demonstrated publicly for the first time during the 2019 NAB Show, which ran from 8 to 11 April.

Whether on home theaters with dedicated projection, TV sets in living rooms, or mobile screens, multiscreen viewing is proliferating. As the range and resolution of device displays increase, more complex video encoding methods are needed, resulting in long content render times. These delays present challenges for cable networks and streaming content providers. For example, a full-length 4K feature in high dynamic range (HDR) could take more than a day to render using traditional video workflow infrastructure for all of the formats required and the myriad of consumer players available today. With the scalability, elasticity, and flexibility of cloud processing and the advent of new technologies such as Accelerated Transcoding, these compute-heavy workflows can be processed with dramatically reduced turnaround times, allowing customers to meet studio’s requirements for transcode and quality assurance with time to spare. In addition to significantly reducing the transcoding time, AWS Elemental MediaConvert includes Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate control (QVBR) which can reduce file size by up to 50% by automatically adjusting bitrate on a frame by frame basis. Both QVBR and Accelerated Transcoding are available in AWS Elemental MediaConvert with no additional cost.

“We were looking to transcode large volumes of film and original television content into 4K Ultra HD for on-demand streaming to our customers,” said Jon Dakss, Chief Digital Officer, EPIX. “AWS Elemental MediaConvert is a flexible solution that doesn’t require any on-premises hardware, runs in the cloud, and with Accelerated Transcoding ensures faster delivery of the best 4K streaming experience across multiple devices.”

4K 4Charity Fun Run at IBC 2018

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AWS Elemental, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) company, has announced that the fifth annual 4K 4Charity Fun Run at IBC Show will take place at 07h00 a.m. local time on Saturday, 15 September at Amstelpark in Amsterdam. Click here to register.

Among the non-profits supported by the 4K 4Charity Fun Run at IBC Show is Amsterdam-based StichtingNewTechKids, which provides computer science education for girls, minorities, and economically challenged youth in the Netherlands. The organisation supports a computer science teacher training programme for primary school teachers with proceeds from 4K 4Charity. Also supported is Iridescent, a global education non-profit that empowers underrepresented young people to become innovators and leaders through engineering and technology. Through their two programmes, Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge and Technovation, Iridescent introduces under-served communities to new technologies and empowers and equips them to apply those technologies to solve the real-world problems they face.

The 4K 4Charity Fun Run at the 2017 IBC Show recorded more than $39,000 donations from 540 registrants and 14 corporate sponsors, making it the most successful 4K 4Charity at IBC Show to date. Confirmed sponsors for the IBC 2018 event include Cisco Systems, Inc., Arqiva, Verimatrix, Dolby Laboratories, Brightcove, Irdeto, ChyronHego, SVG Europe, the Munson-Simu Gift Fund (in honour of Sam Blackman), and Raz PR.

“Increasing diversity and inclusion in media and entertainment means educating and supporting the next generation of industry professionals as well as building organisations in which everyone can thrive,” said Laura Barber of AWS Elemental and co-founder of the 4K 4Charity Fun Run Series. “We’re humbled to see our industry’s technology community come together once again at IBC Show to help Stichting NewTechKids and Iridescent make a meaningful impact for children from communities in need.”

To register for the 4K 4Charity Fun Run at IBC Show, or to view sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Teraco is the Amazon Cloud on-ramp for sub-Saharan Africa

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect is now live in South Africa and located at Africa’s only vendor neutral data centre, Teraco. AWS Direct Connect enables clients to directly connect to their AWS resources in an AWS region. The service is accessible via a direct cross-connect within Teraco or from the Teraco Cloud Exchange platform in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Andrew Owens, Teraco technical manager, Interconnection & Peering, says that Teraco’s Cloud Exchange is a robust infrastructure platform, located in Teraco’s colocation facilities providing access to AWS Direct Connect: “This enables clients to build and manage private, SLA governed, connections to multiple clouds over a single physical connection. The Teraco Cloud Exchange, is Southern Africa’s only truly neutral switching platform between clients and multiple cloud on-ramps.”

Owens says that the benefits of AWS Direct Connect include dedicated connectivity to AWS regions, consistent network performance, and reduced bandwidth costs: “Reliable and predictable network performance are essential ingredients for the successful implementation of a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy, as applications are expected to seamlessly operate between private and multiple public cloud environments. Through the addition of AWS Direct Connect, via the Teraco Cloud Exchange platform, enterprises and service providers can now establish predictable, high performance, SLA based connections in South Africa.”

In addition to launching AWS Direct Connect, Amazon also announced the availability of Amazon CloudFront in South Africa. Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) offered by Amazon Web Services. Content delivery networks provide a globally-distributed network of proxy servers which cache content, such as web videos or other bulky media, more locally to consumers, thus improving access speed for downloading the content.

Amazon is hosting the AWS Summit Cape Town this week on 12 July 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Owens is optimistic about the increased Amazon activity and says it shows increased interest in the potential of the continent: “Teraco is privileged to be the local interface to AWS Direct Connect and are looking forward to both attending, and presenting, at the Summit.”

Owens will discuss AWS Direct Connect and how to extend an on-premise network to AWS locations over Ethernet: “The Summit is a great opportunity for both experienced and those new to AWS to understand the platform. I am looking forward to sharing our experience and knowledge of AWS Direct Connect with our local community.”

 

Formula 1 selects AWS as official cloud and machine learning provider

On 29 June, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that Formula One Group (Formula 1) is moving the vast majority of its infrastructure from on-premises data centres to AWS, and standardising on AWS’s machine learning and data analytics services to accelerate its cloud transformation.

Formula 1 will work with AWS to enhance its race strategies, data tracking systems, and digital broadcasts through a wide variety of AWS services — including Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed machine learning service that enables everyday developers and scientists to easily build and deploy machine learning models, AWS Lambda, AWS’s pioneering event-driven server-less computing service, and AWS analytics services — to uncover never-before-seen metrics that will change the way fans and teams enjoy, experience, and participate in racing.

Formula 1 has also selected AWS Elemental Media Services to power its video asset workflows, enhancing the viewing experience for its 500 million plus fans worldwide.

Using Amazon SageMaker, Formula 1’s data scientists are training deep learning models with more than 65 years of historical race data, stored in both Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon Glacier. With this information, Formula 1 can extract critical race performance statistics to make race predictions and give fans insight into the split-second decisions and strategies adopted by teams and drivers.

For example, Formula 1 data scientists can predict when the window of opportunity is opening and closing for teams to pit their cars for maximum advantage, as well as determine the best timing for changing tires.

By streaming real-time race data to AWS using Amazon Kinesis, Formula 1 can capture and process key performance data for each car during every twist and turn of the Formula 1 circuits with unmatched accuracy and speed. Then, by deploying advanced machine learning via Amazon SageMaker, Formula 1 can pinpoint how a driver is performing and whether or not drivers have pushed themselves over the limit. By sharing these insights with fans through television broadcasts and digital platforms, Formula 1 is improving the fan experience, allowing them to dive deep into the inner workings of their favorite teams and drivers.

Pete Samara, director of Innovation and Digital Technology at Formula 1, said:
“For our needs, AWS outperforms all other cloud providers, in speed, scalability, reliability, global reach, partner community, and breadth and depth of cloud services available. By leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS’s machine learning services, we are now able to deliver these powerful insights and predictions to fans in real time. We are also excited that the Formula 1 Motorsports division will run High Performance Compute workloads in a scalable environment on AWS. This will significantly increase the number and quality of the simulations our aerodynamics team can run as we work to develop the new car design rules for Formula 1.”

Mike Clayville, vice president, Worldwide Commercial Sales at AWS said:
“Leveraging the cornucopia of services offered by the world’s leading cloud, Formula 1 will engage with its growing global fan base in unique ways. Formula 1’s years of valuable historical race data analysed against the real-time information that is collected in every race using AWS’s machine learning, streaming, and analytics services will uncover new racing metrics and insights that were unimaginable in the past. And, with AWS Elemental Media Services, they will engage their audience through truly differentiated experiences that will thrill generations to come.”

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