An Introduction to Vantrix Video Transcoder in IBM Bluemix

By Kjell Kolstad - November 15,2016

Wondering how to transcode video in the cloud? Here is the walk-through guide. Also published here

Overview
The Vantrix Transcoder offers a proven broadcast-quality video transcoding solution with ultra-high performance, an intuitive user interface and a rich API. Simple and powerful to use, video asset managers can set up their own presets and quickly transcode large jobs. Developers can integrate complex video workflows with an open API.

Proven
The Vantrix Transcoder is built on the same architecture as our proven carrier-grade system that has been used by many video service providers for years. It offers graphics acceleration for ultra-fast video transcoding and supports the most common video formats, protocols and codecs. 

Key benefits
With Vantrix Transcoder, you gain the advantages you need to thrive in today’s demanding video marketplace:

    1. Ultra-fast speed: Get the benefit of graphics acceleration to maximize video transcoding throughput and minimize latency.
    2. Multiscreen capability: Benefit from wide support for different input and output formats, and codecs for delivery to any device.
    3. Flexible control: A software defined engine with rich configuration options lets you create your own presets and change advanced parameters, ensuring control of your output.
    4. Cloud economics: By doing your transcoding in the cloud, you avoid the need for additional capital investment.
    5. Future-proof solution: The Vantrix Cloud solution is prepared for new video formats such as 360 Virtual Reality, giving you the agility to meet changing demand and capitalize on new opportunities.

New customers can easily try out a transcoding workflow without any commitment, and can scale dynamically to larger server configurations on demand.

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Introduction to the Vantrix Transcoder UI

To start this orientation to the Transcoder UI, let’s review some basic concepts.

Transcoding involves changing the format or other properties of a media file or stream so it can be best played, stored or otherwise used in a particular context.

To transcode media in the Vantrix Transcoder, you create a transcoding job. A transcoding job specifies the URL of the media input; the properties or characteristics of the output, such as the format, codecs, resolution and bitrate; and one or more outputs (or target locations).

Vantrix Transcoder for Bluemix gives you two ways to create transcoding jobs:

  • The Transcoder UI leads you step-by-step through creating a transcoding job. The Transcoder UI is an easy and intuitive way to get started transcoding.
  • The Vantrix Transcoding API lets you create job definitions and presets and send them directly to the transcoding service. It also allows you to integrate the transcoding service into your application.

Presets are templates of the property values desired in the output of a transcoding job. As their name implies, presets must be defined before inclusion in a transcoding request. They are convenient because they can be reused.

Presets are required when you create transcoding jobs in the Transcoder UI but they are optional when you use the API because all the output properties can be included in the transcoding job request itself. In fact, any property value in a preset will be overwritten if the same property is set to a different value in the transcoding job definition.

Welcome to Vantrix Transcoder for Bluemix 
The first step is to login to Bluemix and choose the Vantrix Transcoder service, located in the Application Services category.

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Next, click on Vantrix Transcoder and create a Free plan. Please note the Free plan limits the functionality to Video-on-Demand (VoD) only, storage is max. 10GB, the number of files are max. 10, and max. 1 output job limited to 1 minute. You will get full access to both the GUI and API.

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Next, open the Dashboard. When you add a Vantrix Transcoder service in the Bluemix dashboard, you are directed to the Vantrix Transcoder UI.

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You land on the Library page for File Transcoding. To get started, let's add a file to the Library.

Adding a file to your library
Just click Add File. Then browse to the file, click Open and then click Add to Library. Note that the HTTP, FTP and S3 options will be available soon.

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When you add a file to the Library, you are adding the file to your personal sources folder for the Vantrix Transcoder. Any file in the Library can be selected as the input to a transcoding job.

The file appears in your Library displaying a thumbnail/file name plus the playtime, format, and audio and video details.

You can even play any file in your Library if the format is supported by the built-in player: just click the thumbnail/file name then click the image in the window that opens. (Note that this window also shows you the file size.)

Now let’s create a transcoding job with the file you added.

Creating a first transcoding job
Note the top of the Library page: interlocking arrows show four steps for creating a transcoding job in the UI.

To select the input, click anywhere on the row of the file you added (except the thumbnail/file name). Then click Next - Step 2.

Presets are groups of properties that describe the output of the transcoder. The Transcoder UI has several System Presets already configured for you. Click the down arrow to see the list. Each item includes a summary of its properties, and the details of the selected preset are displayed below: the Settings section shows the main details, and you can expand the Stream section for details about the audio and video tracks.

For now, just select a System Preset and go to the next step. (Click Next - Step 3.)

For now, just the Default destination is available, so just click Next - Step 4.

Transcoding is under way, and the Transcode Status page gives you live feedback, including the transcoding time and status of the job, the name of the transcoder doing the job, and a progress bar. The Realtime Factor gauge tells you how the transcoding time compares to the actual video duration. Note that a higher-end plan will provide better performance than the limited resources of the Vantrix Transcoder free plan.

When the job is complete, you can play the output in a small format by clicking the thumbnail. Even better, you can download and Save the output locally or simply open it and view the full-size output in a player!

Managing your files and transcoding jobs in the Transcoder UI
Let’s look at the landing page again – the file transcoding Library.

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All the items are displayed in a table, which can become multi-page. You control the number of items per page and can easily move between pages.

Each item in the Library has a thumbnail and filename which link to the source file, the play length, format and some audio and video properties. You can quickly delete an item by clicking the trash can in the Actions column. Watch a source video in the built-in player by clicking the thumbnail or file name and then clicking again in the popup window. Select and deselect any items by clicking anywhere on the row. Multi-select to run a batch transcoding job.

You can search for any string, and all matching items are displayed immediately.

By default, the table displays items in alphabetical order by file name, but you can sort the table on any column in ascending or descending order.

The page management features of the Library apply to the Job History and Live Transcoding pages as well.

File transcoding jobs appear on the Job History page as soon as the transcoder starts processing them. For example, when you run a batch of jobs and leave the step 4 Transcode Status view, you can continue monitoring in the Job History view.

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All jobs are shown individually with a status, and each job has a progression bar if it’s not completed yet. Once transcoding is completed, you can preview the output on the Job History page too; or from the Actions column, download or open the transcoder output and play the full-size video. Just as for step 4 in a file transcoding job, you get a single file non-zipped for single-file content, or a zip file for multi-file content such as HLS.

Jobs stay in the Job History list until you delete them or an auto-cleanup job removes them. The default setting of the configurable cleaner runs the autocleanup every hour and removes jobs that are older than 24 hours.

Live Transcoding
The Live Transcoding Dashboard (not available with the free plan) is the place to set up live transcoding jobs. You can create a channel from a live feed or simulate a channel by looping a file source. Click Create Channel to open the definition page, and then set it up.

Preset Manager
Presets tell the transcoder what property values to use in the transcoder output.

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The Preset Manager has separate tabs for the System Presets, which are read-only and managed by the system administrator, and User Presets, which you can create, edit and manage.

To examine the details of a preset more closely, select it. Its settings appear below, and if you expand the Stream section, you’ll see the video and audio track details.

You can use System Presets as they are or save them under a different name and use them as starting points to create your own custom presets. Click Save Preset As to rename a selected System Preset, save it in the User Presets list and make it editable. If you leave a System Preset selected and go to the User Presets tab, the System Preset stays selected so you still see its properties and you can still save it under a different name.

Click the User Presets tab to edit and manage User Presets. You can also save any User Preset under a new name and delete any User Preset (just click the X beside it and then confirm the deletion).

Account
On the Account page, the Quotas sections displays your plan details. The Vantrix Transcoding API (VTA) section displays your personal API URL and access key, and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) section displays your storage URL and SFTP user name and password.

You need the API URL and access key to interact with the API. In the FTP URL you’ll find your personal sources and results folders for your transcoding jobs inputs and results.

API
The Transcoder UI provides a great way to start experimenting with the Vantrix Transcoder API. The API page provides Swagger documentation that shows and lets you try all the API calls. You’ll find your X-VTA-Key access key on the Transcoder UI Account page so you can try it out.

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That's it!

We hope you like the Vantrix Transcoder in IBM Bluemix. 

We want to hear from you - contact us at http://vantrix.com/contact/ or marketing@vantrix.com 

 

About Vantrix
Vantrix is a global leader in next generation video services for transcoding and 360 virtual reality systems. Since 2004, Vantrix products have been deployed across 75 networks, serving over 1 billion subscribers worldwide.

Topics: video transcoding, ibm bluemix

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