Reshaping video distribution … again

Since we launched Flash Access 2.0 at Streaming Media East on May 10th, things have been extremely hectic. During the weekend I was able to catch up on my blogging and wanted to provide a quick update for those of you following this space.

I’ve been spending some time on the road, and will continue through the month of June, helping people understand how Flash Access can help them with content monetization. This included a week in Hollywood meeting with the major studios and some online service providers; we walked away with a strong sense of support for the technology being used for premium content. Requests for information continue to pour in from around the world. Frankly, the level of interest in Flash Access has exceeded our expectations.

But it isn’t just about Flash Access. Adobe is, once again, changing the content distribution landscape with a number of technologies that are becoming available this month. Last week we put the finishing touches on HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Adobe’s technology to enable streaming experiences (fast start, trick play, network DVR and multi-bitrate support) using standard open source HTTP servers for both live and video-on-demand services. This technology, which will be supported by the major Content Distribution Networks, enables massive scalability by leveraging the existing installed base of HTTP servers.

We also released version 1.0 of the Open Source Media Framework. By creating a standard framework for development of video-rich applications on the Flash Platform, we are making it easier for content providers to monetize content while reducing the development time. Perhaps more importantly, OSMF enables easy integration of plug-ins from the ecosystem of partners offering everything from ad placement, measurement, optimization, etc.

And then of course there are Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0, both in final stages of beta. These new versions of our runtime are taking Flash Player to a whole new level of content protection, with built in support for Flash Access on PCs/Macs. In addition, there’s a big push to bring the power of Flash to other devices, including smartphones, tablets and TVs.

So how does all this come together and what does it mean to you? Flash Access 2.0, Flash Player 10.1, AIR 2.0, HTTP Dynamic Streaming and OSMF 1.0 can be combined to create a rich and secure experience, with low cost and high revenue potential. Who would say No to that?

One question I keep getting is whether Adobe is discontinuing RTMP/RTMPE. That’s not the case. For a lot of people, Flash Media Server, SWF verification, RTMP (Real Time Media Protocol) and its secure counterpart RTMPE will continue to be the best solution, eg to create interactive experiences with data flowing in both directions.

A concern I’ve heard from some people is that Flash Access is “too heavy” when all you need is some sort of “lightweight protection”. I think this is at least in part a perception issue based on people’s experience with traditional DRM systems. It is also important to consider that in order to enable access to ever more desirable content (eg higher resolution, earlier release windows), content owners expect a higher level of robustness.

One of the reasons for the widespread adoption of RTMPE to protect premium streaming content has been its simplicity, scalability and user experience. We have taken steps to make sure that remains the case when using Flash Access, whether it’s used for streaming of live content with HTTP dynamic streaming, for VOD or for electronic sell-through models requiring download with local playback. But that’s the topic for another blog post some other time.

Florian Pestoni
Principal Product Manager
Adobe Systems
Twitter: @florianatadobe

Open Source Media Framework now!

The first release of Adobe’s Open Source Media Framework (OSMF 1.0) can be downloaded for free today from www.osmf.org. If this isn’t enough, social media start-up KickApps now offers an online service (www.osmfappstudio.com) available starting today. That certainly makes my Friday!

OSMF was started over a year ago to simplify the development of media players by allowing developers to assemble components to create high-quality, full featured video playback experiences. Key service providers such as Omniture, Akamai, Conviva, Eyewonder and many others have completed plug-ins or submitted code to be included as part of OSMF. OSMF 1.0 also supports the latest Flash Platform initiatives such as Flash Player 10.1, Flash Access 2.0 and HTTP Dynamic Streaming.

In addition to this fully tested, production ready version of OSMF, the team also posted the first prerelease of Strobe Media Playback. Strobe Media Playback is a compiled swf that allows a web developer to get up and running quickly and easily with an OSMF based media player. It basically will look and render the same in every browser (One of the issues with HTML5 video I have worried about is the problems for web developers to ensure a consistent look and feel across all browser/platform combinations and maintain it over time). The out of the box player looks like this:

The team has created a interface that gives the customer a terrific “out of the box” experience. Every group at Adobe who is interested in an easy to use web video experience should talk to the Strobe Media Playback team. The team is working to make SMP even easier to use through a hosted version that can be integrated on a customer’s web page as easily as an HTML 5 video tag, but with much more power and flexibility.

Have a great weekend!

The Future of Web Publishing and Media Playback

Today Adobe announced two exciting new Flash Platform open source initiatives that will help media companies and publishers reinvent themselves and jumpstart innovation on the Web. Specifically, we have released as open source the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), previously part of the “Strobe” project, and the Text Layout Framework (TLF). Both are now freely available under the Mozilla Public License as part of our broader strategy called Open@Adobe, which Dave McAllister describes below.

OSMF gives developers standard video player functionality, like playback controls, video navigation, buffering and Dynamic Streaming, including an API that partners can use to drop in plug-ins to add advertising and reporting features. The flexible OSMF framework embodies best practices for media player development, allowing the developer more time to focus on the overall user experience. With OSMF, content publishers can build advanced and feature rich media players, along the lines of what Hulu has created or CBS TV player, with much less work than it takes today. It is now available for free at www.opensourcemediaframework.com

TLF is an extensible ActionScript library that runs on the new text engine in Flash Player 10 and AIR 1.5. Leveraging the publishing expertise of the Adobe InDesign team, TLF offers a level of typographic control and sophistication that goes well beyond what can be done with HTML and CSS.

TLF is being used today in The New York Times TimesReader 2.0 and The Boston Globe’s GlobeReader Adobe AIR applications, and represent an excellent use of TLF’s reflowing text, multiple columns, and top notch typography features. The new text layout features in AIR are enabling the New York Times and Boston Globe to create an experience like the real paper and opening up new types of apps and subscription models.

makebook has built a community content creation, collaboration and collection platform that makes extensive use of TLF, BlazeDS for remoting to a Java backend, the Flex framework for the frontend, and other open source technologies. With this online authoring network, makebook users can create content and write stories using advanced text capabilities, add multimedia content, and publish content to a library or share content with friends–all within the browser. Subscriptions are available for collaboration and co-authoring.

makebook application.png

Adobe is also practicing what we preach by using TLF for all text objects in the new Acrobat.com Presentations service that provides a great way for people to collaboratively create and share presentations.

I look forward to seeing the next generation of Web applications that the OSMF and TLF projects will enable.

Flash-based media player standards are here!

Today we made the announcement that Strobe is now called Open Source Media Framework (OSMF) and is now available! OSMF will help standardize media players that use the Adobe Flash Platform for media delivery.

I’m really excited about this collaborative, industry effort to help not only make video perform better in Flash, but will enable a larger ecosystem of media services to be easily incorporated into your player development… and, just because I didn’t blog about it earlier – Flash Player 10 is now at 86% adoption (7 months after release) and continues to be the number 1 platform of choice for video on the web.

osmf_com_snap.tiff

Media players on the web today do much more than your television screen in your living room.   Media players are responsible for rendering the video, managing playlists, integrating targeted advertising, content protection, tracking and error correction. I spoke about this last year at Streaming Media West (download here).

OSMF is a flexible architecture to help developers create custom playback experiences while leveraging a potentially huge range of services made available through a common plug-in architecture. This plug-in approach will allow multiple CDNs, Advertising, reporting and much more to be easily added to the media player. You can look at some of the inaugural partners committed to building plug-ins to help you get rolling.

osmf_diagram.gif

Put simply, OSMF lets you focus on the business of delivering video, not the player development – but will not prevent you from adding your own spin to keep your users engaged longer. As Adobe continues to innovate new features like Dynamic Streaming or DVR you can easily update your player with the new code so you can take full advantage of all the cool stuff we have up our sleeves as soon as we ship!

The website www.OpenSourceMediaFramework.com has been setup as the source code repository and home for all the pluggable components that people will make. The source code is available under Mozilla Public License.

Akamai who founded the Open Video Player initiative is also helping by contributing to OSMF through a strong collaborative relationship with Adobe. Tim Napolean, Chief Strategist at Akamai is quoted in the release:

“Open Source Media Framework complements and solidifies Akamai’s Open Video Player initiative,” said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, of digital media at Akamai. “OSMF leverages code from Akamai’s Open Video Player and Adobe’s expertise and resources to assist media companies and publishers in redefining the benchmarks for online video experiences that are powered by standards based workflows.”

For details about the release

For the product page

The OSMF Wiki on Adobe.com

For more information about Open Video Player