The Magic Bullet of Web Gaming

There are plenty of reasons to come to MAX, and at the top of the list are the outstanding sessions led by the most innovative minds in the industry. This year at Adobe MAX, don’t miss legend Richard Hilleman, Chief Creative Director at Electronic Arts and his session  The Magic Bullet of Web Gaming where he talks about the importance of controller design for game play learning curves and how it affects a audience size of a game.  He’ll also explore the links between positive reinforcement in a game and a games audience size with emerging innovations in various platform technologies. See our latest Q&A with Richard here.

Join Adobe evangelist Andy Hall and Enrique Duvos as they talk about how game developers and publishers around the world push the limits of what’s possible on the web and on mobile devices with Adobe Game Developer Tools during their session “Best of the Best:  International Flash Games Showcase

Learn more about the game developer session

Register Now: https://www.adobe-max.com/portal/newreg.ww?trackingid=KDCBO

Burrito Bison Revenge Takes Home Mochi Players Choice Award

BuffaloAfter the big win at FGS5, we checked in with Juicy Beast Studio, creators of Burrito Bison, about their game, inspirations and insights.

The team originally attended Cegep de Saint-Jerome in Quebec and studied Multimedia Integration. After graduation, they decided to pursue their own studio. “We simply had an interest in video games and decided to go for it. It was pretty risky, considering it was our very first job after college,” commented Co-founder Yowan Langlais.

The team feels that most of their game design knowledge comes from their experiences as gamers. They learned using ActionScript, Photoshop, Flash and After Effects. “We basically had all the tools to make Flash games, we just needed to push the game development aspect ourselves,” said Langlais.

Their mission is simple: To work on games they love – and have faith that other people will enjoy playing them.  “We also put a lot of effort into polishing our games so things look good and feel right.”

Langlais suggests that students who are interested in game development, “Start small. REALLY small. And finish the game completely, with sounds, music, a beginning and an end. By making a complete game, you’ll learn what it takes. If you want to aim for something bigger for your next game, you’ll already have a good idea of how ambitious it should be.”

Congrats to all the Mochi Award winners!

*reposted from Adobe Education Community Game Developer Newsletter

The Changing Web Platform Landscape: More Fragmentation?

The Web is an ever changing place and the first half of the year has been rich in surprises, big announcements and industry shifts! A diversity of implementations is good for many reasons we will discuss. But a more fragmented web could be the price to pay. Will it be the case?

About Implementation diversity

A few weeks ago Opera announced they were stopping work on their Presto rendering engine and switching to Chromium. They have already started contributing code to the project. Then, earlier this month, Google announced the Blink project, essentially a new fork of WebKit. And now Opera announced they will contribute to Blink!

Reactions were interesting as we went from WebKit monopoly concerns to worries about web platform fragmentation in a matter of weeks. Quite a 180 degrees turn!

At Adobe, we actively contribute to Web standards and browser implementations (historically mostly WebKit and Chromium, even though we also make some contributions to Gecko). As such we are delighted to see Opera join one of the projects we contribute to. Their considerable web expertise will undoubtedly be an asset.

There was some debate before the Blink announcement about whether or not we were heading for a WebKit monoculture: a web where content can be written with the assumption a WebKit-based engine is most likely to render it. While WebKit browsers share much core layout code they also differ in many ways at runtime: different JavaScript engines and graphics libraries, even different sets of features enabled by default. This makes it difficult in practice to write once for WebKit and run everywhere.

So we were not too concerned about a WebKit monoculture. But…

… there was a but in that view. The web is bigger than any one of its leading browser implementations and too important to be limited to a single code base even if that implementation has variations. The web is even growing to be an OS platform (e.g., ChromeOS, FirefoxOS, the new Windows Runtime), the core technology behind packaged applications (like PhoneGap applications). And ongoing innovation across HTML, JavaScript (in the TC-39 group at ECMA) and CSS needs validation, testing, consolidation.

As Brendan Eich says in his blog about “why Mozilla matters”:

“The web needs multiple implementations of its evolving standards to keep them interoperable.”

I believe this tenet to be central to delivering on the promise of the Open Web. A single implementation does not establish a standard. The W3C process even recommends two implementations in order for a specification to reach completion.

The Web needs Mozilla’s Gecko and Microsoft’s Trident engines to nurture an open, innovative environment. Historically, both companies have done a lot for the Web  – think of XHR which Microsoft invented (among other key contributions) or WOFF from Mozilla –  and they continue to innovate:  Microsoft and Mozilla co-edit the CSS Grid specification, which provides much needed and improved layout flexibility to CSS.

I trust that the addition of Blink will strengthen an already healthy browser competition. Over time, the Blink code base will diverge from WebKit’s but no harm to the web occurs if both engines implement the same features in different ways. Only significantly different feature sets could result in harmful fragmentation. Making sure that WebKit, Blink and other browser engines interoperate is more important than it has ever been.

About testing, fragmentation and experimental features

As the founders of Test the Web Forward, we have come to appreciate the mutually reinforcing benefits multiple independent implementations bring to standards. Historically, testing has been key to the success of web standards. For example, the focused testing effort on CSS 2.1 has shaped that specification and its implementations in the corner stone CSS has become. A single implementation would leave a lot of stones unturned.

It should also be noted that the Blink policy regarding prefixes is really good for standards and compatibility across browsers:  draft standard features can become truly experimental features that will not be used (and abused) in production. This should help avoid browser compatibility headaches down the line and I hope this example will be followed by all browsers.

About fragmentation and Adobe’s contributions

In this new web platform landscape, what about Adobe’s contributions to open source browsers? What impact does additional browser fragmentation has on Adobe’s efforts?

Adobe contributes to standards in open browser implementations for many reasons.

One of them is that our new generation Edge tools use a ‘web design surface’. For well over a year now, we have chosen to use the Chromium Embeded Framework (CEF) to provide this ‘web design surface’. So naturally, we will contribute to Blink since it is now the core engine that powers CEF.

Another reason for contributing to open browsers is to accelerate the availability of new features on the web. This is why we collaborate with Mozilla on a number of standards and contribute code to Gecko (like this patch on masking for canvas). And this is why we will also contribute to WebKit, in addition to Blink, now that the two are separate projects.

An open, innovative and tested web!

So yes, I think it is good to have multiple browser engines and Blink is a welcome addition to the web platform landscape. It is bringing a healthy diversity that I hope will help keep the web open and foster innovation as long as all browsers strive to implement ‘the same web’.

And this is where testing efforts are key to achieving diversity without fragmentation. I hope testing activities (of browser code of course, but of standard test suites as well and major initiatives that the W3C is driving) will be a major focus for all the browser vendors going forward, in particular for Google with its new Blink implementation.

Adobe Primetime Wins “Best of NAB” Award

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We’ve been busy at NAB this week speaking with partners and customers about the future of television and the general availability of Adobe Primetime – our TV publishing and monetization platform for programmers and pay-TV service providers. Fresh off our announcement, we’re excited that Adobe Primetime has been presented with a “Best of NAB” award by Streaming Media. The award recognizes innovative online video technologies shown and demonstrated at the conference. Judges from the Streaming Media staff selected the five most innovative and best equipped technologies (no specific categories) that solve major industry challenges. We’re thrilled to be honored alongside four other companies  – Canon, Envivio, Matrox and vMix.

Adobe VP of Video Solutions Jeremy Helfand (right) and Adobe's Jens Loeffler (left) with Streaming Media's "Best of NAB" Award for Adobe Primetime

Adobe VP of Video Solutions Jeremy Helfand (right) and Adobe’s Jens Loeffler (left) with Streaming Media’s “Best of NAB” Award for Adobe Primetime

We believe 2013 will transform how consumers view and engage with TV content online and across devices, and how programmers and pay-TV providers respond to that shift. This award validates our work and the belief that the next big industry transformation since the introduction of cable television 30 years ago is upon us. We’re convinced that Adobe Primetime will play a major role in turning every screen into a TV.

Watch the video below of Adobe’s Jeremy Helfand, VP of video solutions, accepting the “Best of NAB” award from Streaming Media editor Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen.

 

Video streaming by Ustream

Adobe Partners are Ready for Adobe Primetime

When you start something new in life be it a company, a project or something personal – it is exciting.

Today, we announced Adobe Primetime – a complete multi-screen video solution that enables broadcast programmers and pay TV service providers to capitalize broadcast video across every connected screen.

Many times, you find yourself dreaming about success and how you might change the world – and if you’re smart, you will build on strong and solid foundations from your history that accelerate your success – and that is just what we did with Adobe Primetime.

Adobe has developed very strong and trusted technology partnerships in the video delivery ecosystem that drive many of the videos watched online today. It is these partnerships and technologies that make up the ecosystem that enables the future of multi-screen video with Adobe Primetime.

While our name is new, Adobe Primetime is built on a strong foundation of encoding, delivery, playback and protection ecosystem.  Adobe Innovations such as RTMP, H.264, and Adaptive bitrate have enabled the world to engage with video in new ways developed by our customers that challenged how we consumed video.

Look around in your home, at your kids in your office and notice – the world consumes video differently today than five years ago and behind the scenes, Adobe innovation is there and that is the basis of Adobe Primetime.

Over the past 10+ years of video innovation, Adobe has partnered with the early visionaries and innovators in video preparation and delivery. As a result, Exabyte’s of video is delivered or prepared every month and consumed using Adobe technologies that are integrated into network, hardware, software and cloud solutions.

From video ingest and encoding using RTMP, to HTTP output and H.264 across every device – Adobe technologies are integrated into the very core of virtually every component in the video workflow.

Adobe Primetime was built from the ground up combining many different technologies into one and leverage existing partner solutions so that broadcasters can deliver a robust, rich live streaming or HD video on-demand experience to global audiences. The video industry is undergoing a shift towards standardization and interoperability, and it is that interoperability that will catapult the volume of video available to consumers.

This week in Las Vegas, the NAB Show is a perfect example of the evolution of video. In nearly every booth, video innovations are demonstrated on devices of many shapes, sizes and connectedness.

Okay – let’s look at the ecosystem (from our eyes), and how Adobe Primetime customers can leverage their existing hardware and services contracts to quickly address the screens of now and the future.

ENCODERS: There are two classes of encoders – those that enable live streaming and those that enable VOD streaming. Encoders can live at a broadcaster data center or in the cloud. Encoders are where video starts its journey to the device. These powerful workhorses consume one video stream or file and in real-time output 20-40 different versions at various shapes and sizes optimized for devices. Encoders also convert embedded video signals for advertising, closed captioning and entitlement then transport it to Adobe Primetime-enabled players. Encoders also package content into HDS or HLS format (both supported by Adobe Primetime) and also apply DRM and Protected Streaming using Adobe Primetime DRM (formally Adobe Access). Many encoding companies are also innovating smart origin and packaging services to provide additional scale to meet the coming demand.

Cisco_ElementalVisionary companies like Cisco and Elemental have led the way with innovative live streaming technologies that are quickly leveraging cloud infrastructure to meet the scale and capacity required to quickly produce the quality and multiple format requirements. These industry-leading companies are present in many broadcasters’ data centers today. Adobe has also partnered with Envivio, Harmonic, and RGB Networks – whose devices and services are ready for Adobe Primetime today. We are working to enable all of our encoder partners with Adobe Primetime technologies.

DRM & PROTECTION SERVICES: DRM protection is extremely complex technology to deploy due to security and robustness requirements. When coupled with the various support across devices, connected TV’s, game consoles and PCs, DRM adds a lot of barriers to multi-screen video streaming. DRM service providers make it easier to implement license delivery, subscription entitlement and event transactional services for rental or pay-per-view services. DRM service providers operate Adobe Primetime DRM license services, and can easily integrate into encoding workflows to encrypt video content. Adobe Primetime Player uses a single DRM across desktops, Android, iOS and connected TVs – with full support for industry standard Ultraviolet Common Encryption.

Irdeto

Companies like Irdeto have gladly taken the responsibility of hosting Adobe Primetime DRM license servers so it doesn’t have to be managed by broadcasters or distributors. They provide an innovative and robust protection service that can reduce the complexity for protecting content streaming to Adobe Primetime-enabled video players. Adobe has also partnered with Vualto, Authentec, CSG and other popular DRM services. Content encryption can be done when video is encoded through encoding partners, or dynamically using cloud service providers such as Level3 or Akamai.

CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORKS (CDN): Think of CDNs as the 21st century’s video antenna. Without them, we literally would not have the ability to deliver HD video across such a wide array of networks, like mobile, WiFi, office or home Internet connections. CDNs provide the transport and caching technologies vital to video delivery. CDNs are expanding what they can do by operating encoders, live ingest, encryption and other services to make video publishing easier.

Akamai_Amazon_Level3

Companies like Akamai, Amazon Web Services and Level3 provide the global scale and reach required to bring video experiences to consumer devices that are uninterrupted by network buffering. Nearly every top broadcaster globally makes use of one or many of our delivery network partners. Adobe Primetime is an HTTP-streaming based solution supported by the HDS and HLS streaming formats which can pass and scale through CDNs easily. These CDNs can also dynamically prepare videos that can be watched within an Adobe Primetime-enabled video player.   Adobe partners with more than 25 CDNs globally, and we are working to certify them all to support Adobe Primetime customers.

LIVE EVENT SERVICES: Today there are more Live events and 24×7 linear streaming being watched than video on-demand. Webcasting is not what it used to be and Adobe’s partners have made perfecting professional live video streaming their business. From satellite, fiber or IP signal acquisition, these professional services companies bring the world’s major events such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Cup and more to every screen imaginable. By deploying the world’s most advanced live and linear facilities along with operating encoders, teleports, payment systems and large data centers – consumers now experience full HD live events that do not fail – and are enhanced with live highlight clipping and advanced performance telemetry.

iStream_AEG_Deltatre_Atos_Origin_NeuLion

Companies like iStreamPlanet, AEG Digital Media, Deltatre, ATOS Origin, Origin Digital and NeuLion all partner with Adobe to enable Adobe Primetime customers with integrated signal acquisition, protection and engaging video player experiences that drive extremely high volumes and advertising opportunities. By combining Adobe Primetime ad insertion technology into their workflows, our customers can monetize their content through advertising and authentication. This is hard work, and it requires a masterful hand to make sure events are successful because as a friend of mine often reminds me, “If you are delivering an Internet-only stream, and it fails…you don’t have an event!”

Adobe Primetime may be new, but we have been working to pre-enable an ecosystem of technologies to provide a premier broadcast video experience across screens and more innovation is on the way!

Adobe Primetime and the Single Publishing Workflow

Today there are different video formats to target various platforms, which invariably lead to increased storage and delivery costs, redundant workflows, and reduced scale due to caching inefficiencies. Complex workflows boost operating costs, which can prevent reaching all potential users.

For example, if it’s required to deploy four DRMs, three streaming protocols, three ad insertion technologies to reach all devices and users, and the video playback itself on the devices is not consistent due to fragmentation, it can become too expensive to deploy and maintain. The compromise is to settle on a subset of devices, which will limit your reach.

Adobe Primetime, now generally available, is committed to helping programmers and distributors reach, monetize and activate audiences across screens. This is due to having a single publishing, protocol, DRM, CVAA-compliant closed captioning, and ad workflow to reach all users across all major devices.

To simplify delivery workflows, we are enhancing our protocol support with Adobe Primetime: 

  • Adobe Primetime Player will support HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), in addition to the existing HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) on the desktop
  • HLS will be available on all Adobe Primetime Player mobile platforms
  • Support of  MPEG-Dash in the future

All platforms and protocols support all Adobe Primetime Player features, including:

  • Seamless Ad Insertion
  • Digital rights management (DRM)
  • Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) compliant closed captioning
  • Enhanced video analytics

Desktops / Android

Desktops and Android devices will both include a full HLS (v4) video stack. It will specifically address the video playback fragmentation challenges on Android with its low-level integration, and provide high-quality video playback on all Android 2.3 and 4.x devices with the Adobe Primetime Player.

iOS

Adobe Primetime uses the native HLS video stack on iOS. Adobe Primetime DRM and Ad Insertion are fully compliant with Apple’s video guidelines.

Other

Future mobile and digital home support will offer all Adobe Primetime features, and can be targeted with a single publishing workflow.

We are very excited to help simplify the publishing workflow with Adobe Primetime, and provide the best possible reach and user experience for the next generation of online video content.

New Primetime Logo

Adobe Primetime Ad Serving with IAB VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 Support

Adobe is continuing to invest heavily in our core ad serving capabilities with the general availability launch of Adobe Primetime. As part of our ongoing efforts to lead the industry in video monetization for content programmers and distributors, we’re rolling out significant enhancements to Adobe Primetime Ad Serving (fka Adobe Auditude) to comply with the latest VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 standards. We’re excited to be the only video ad server in the market today that’s capable of both generating and reading VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls.

The IAB’s Video Ad Serving Template, or VAST, was developed to provide publishers and advertisers with a common language for video player technology. In parallel, the Digital Video Multiple Ad Playlist, or VMAP, was created to detail ad insertion possibilities in instances where a programmer doesn’t control the video player or end-point distribution channel for content it owns.

The purpose of these two standards is to make video advertising more scalable and straightforward for industry participants, and Adobe is happy to announce that our Adobe Primetime Ad Serving is fully VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 compliant. It is capable of both generating and reading VAST 3.0 ad calls, and allowing for inventory rights sharing among programmers and distributors with VMAP 1.0.

Before the introduction of VAST and VMAP, publishers using different players for different playback environments required advertisers to create unique ad responses for each site or device they wished to target. This created significant operational headaches, and limited the amount of money that media buyers were willing to spend on digital video. While earlier versions of VAST allowed advertisers to address these challenges, the standard also laid the groundwork to enable content programmers and distributors to communicate among themselves more efficiently. VAST 3.0 builds further on this foundation.

The latest versions, VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0, add a number of features and enhancements, including new details for the ad response format and how video players interpret and return signals to and from an ad server. According to the IAB:

With VAST 3.0, video players now have the ability to declare which ad formats they support. Five formats are provided as options: Linear Ads, NonLinear Ads, Skippable Linear Ads, Linear Ads with Companions, and Ad Pods (a sequenced group of ads). Skippable Linear Ads and Ad Pods are new formats offered with this release. Some video players choose to only support certain VAST ad formats in accordance with their publishing business model. With VAST 3.0, the guesswork of which VAST ad format a player supports is eliminated.

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s system to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s system to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

And:

With VMAP, video content owners can exercise control over the ad inventory displayed in their content when they can’t control the video player, to capitalize on advertising while maintaining the integrity of their program content. VMAP enables the content owner to define the ad breaks within their content, including the timing for each break, how many breaks are available, what type of ads and how many are allowed in each break.

A simplified example of the VMAP serving process (Image credit: IAB)

A simplified example of the VMAP serving process (Image credit: IAB)

The primary advantage of VAST 3.0 is that it enables monetization of breaks with multiple ads via a single ad call. This third-party ad server can control the entire ad experience for the break. In combination with VMAP 1.0, this is ideal for full-length TV episodes, which typically have several breaks with more than one ad, and for which inventory splits between the programmer and the distributor are common. With the prior versions of VAST, the ad server could only request and respond to one ad at a time – it wasn’t possible to efficiently support breaks with more than one ad. VAST 2.0 was built for short clips, but VAST 3.0 has been designed for true broadcast-to-IP TV.

Without a VAST 3.0-compliant ad server, a broadcaster will typically have to manually traffic ads against individual ad positions in a single commercial break to prevent an ad from appearing more than once. Implementing competitive blocking and enabling robust analytics and forecasting are similarly labor-intensive. This presents a trafficking nightmare for ad operations – and doesn’t scale.

VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 are especially important for driving broader adoption of TV Everywhere because these protocols enable shared inventory rights between programmers and distributors. Inventory rights sharing requires interoperability between partners’ video players and ad servers, which VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 provide. A distributor who deploys and controls the video player typically has to call a programmer’s ad server to insert ads that the content partner has sold. For example, a programmer may give two of every 20 minutes of ad space to a cable operator for local spots; this type of inventory sharing is made possible with VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 redirects between the content programmer and distributor’s ad servers.

Global broadcasters and distributors like NBC and Comcast are increasingly turning to Adobe Primetime for its unified workflow across publishing, advertising and analytics. Adobe Primetime now features the industry’s only video ad server that can both generate and read VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls, making the process of fully monetizing broadcast video even simpler for both content programmers and distributors.