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Attention Video Manager

The most complete tool for handling video and audio in Cumulus.

Attention Video Manager – White Paper

Introduction

The Attention Video Suite is the complete solution for automated video and audio processing including streaming to all kinds of devices using Canto Cumulus.

Any video or audio file can be prepared to be played using Canto Cumulus Sites automatically. There is no plugin necessary in the browser to play a video which makes it compatible to almost all devices available. The video player can also be embedded into any web-page, for example produced by a CMS, using a really simple API. In addition each video file optionally can be provided in multiple quality levels to accommodate different bandwidths available for consuming users. This gives you the power to support high bandwidth desktop users but also small bandwidth mobile devices without having to think about it. The provided player provides a control for the end user to select the appropriate quality level.

When using Sites the Attention Video Solution also supports clip markers which allows one to jump to specific parts of a video, for example the interesting situations in a football match or certain speakers in a longer discussion and these clip can also be discussed by users. Given enough permissions a user can also download that exact segment of a video file. This download functionality also supports the different quality levels a video might have.

After the initial setup these features do work automatically and do not require the manual work of an administrator or (cataloging) user.

Workflow

  1. Catalog an audio or video file.
  2. Automatically the Attention Video Suite generates all required version and formats to stream this file to all modern browsers and end devices.
  3. Use the Sites application to stream or download the file or embed it into your own web-page by using one line of html code.

Architecture

The Attention Video Suite contains different modules. The main preparation and conversion of video and audio files is done by a standalone service that needs to be installed on at least one machine but can be installed on as many machines as required. The preparation of files is either started manually using a provided add-on for the native Client or automatically by a trigger action that is also provided by the Attention Video Suite. For Sites the Attention Video Suite offers a customization that replaces the standard video and audio player with a HTML5-based media player supported by almost all modern devices today. This video player also provides a simple API to enable customers to embed generated media files into their own web-pages. The original media assets which should be made available in the web can be stored in Vault but also on a local file server.

Installation

The Attention Video Suite requires one ESP add-on installed at the Cumulus server installation, one EJP add-on installed in the client used by the administrator and all clients that should be able to manually prepare a media asset for streaming. There is one customization that needs to be installed into your Sites installation which provides the modern media player and the API for external web pages. And you need to install at least one instance of the Attention Video Suite Render Station which prepares the media files for streaming in the web.

Configuration

For configuration the Attention Video Suite ships an add-on for the ServerConsole of the native Client. As you can see in the screenshot below there are different configuration sections.

Global Options

The Global Options configure the central asset location for the generated media files which is required for assets residing in Vault and optional for original assets stored on a file server. We recommend to always use a central asset location as this provides a clean separation between the original assets and the generated files. If no central asset location is configured the generated files are stored next to the original source assets.

Video Formats

This section starts with a configurable query which specifies which records should be treated as video assets that should be processed and supported by the Attention Video Suite. Records not matching the configured query are ignored.

The table below provides the exact conversion parameters used for the given format and quality. This enables an administrator to choose between required quality and maximum file size.

Audio Formats

The section also starts with a configurable query which specifies which records should be seen as audio assets that should be processed and supported by the Attention Video Suite. Records not matching the configured query are ignored.

The table below provides the exact conversion parameters used for the two different audio formats. Unfortunately to support all kind of browsers and devices audio files need to be converted into both formats.

Render Station

The render station is the standalone service running on a machine executing the conversion of a media file. The table shown allows to spread the conversion load onto different render stations and therefore different machines by selecting the format a render station should support to convert. It’s possible to have different render stations supporting the same format. In addition each render station has a list of catalogs to work on. Other catalogs are ignored by a render station when looking for files to prepare.

Automated Processing

To enable the Attention Video Suite to process the wanted files automatically you have to set-up a catalog wide trigger action that is started whenever a media file is cataloged. The configuration of the trigger action specifies which formats should be generated. After this step the entire Attention Video Suite no longer needs any manual intervention and runs hidden in the background providing all users with streamable versions of your media files.

API for external Web Sites

It’s really simple to embed a media file into your static web page or a page generated by a CMS by using the provided API. To embed a video you need to provide an IFRAME with the wanted width and height as shown in this example:

< iframe width="400" height="300" src="http://publicSitesServer/sites/embed/CatalogName/RecordID" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

The player loads into that IFRAME by using all space available. The used Sites installation needs a valid configured directURLUser that has access to the given record. In addition to make things secure the record needs to be enabled for a direct Preview URL. The RecordID is either the plain id or a randomized ‘encrypted’ non-guessable value for the given id. That secret ID is stored in the sub-table as external ID for all internal formats.

The API also supports playing a specific segment. In this case the URL gets a parameter ?t=segmentID The URL can also be retrieved by clicking the little share icon in the list segment icons.

Time Segments

User with permission to create user comments can create a time-segment comment in Sites. Such a comment consists of a headline, a longer description text and a start time and duration for the media file. Such a comment can be used to mark specific segments of a video which might be of special interest for a consuming user. For example you could mark the interesting events in a sports game or a specific speaker talking in a longer discussion. If the logged in user has permission to create comment replies it’s possible to reply to such a time-segment comment. This gives users a possibility to provide feedback for your selected segments or the entire video.

Format Support

Virtual any media file can be processed by the Attention Video Suite to provide a web-compatible streamable version. For video files there are four different quality levels offered, ranging from an MP4 with 360p resolution up to high quality MP4 with 1080p resolution. This enables you to stream to all kinds of devices, small handhelds with low bandwidth and high end devices supporting high resolution videos. When using the provided media player the end user can switch between the different quality levels on the fly. Audio files should always be converted into the two different formats MP3 and OGG which have the same quality but each of these formats is only supported by some of the available browsers and end devices. To support all browsers it’s recommended to always provide both MP3 and OGG at the same time.