FlipFactory Automates Converting, Distributing Video

Telestream’s FlipFactory is software for flipping (converting) video and audio from original formats into alternative formats. If you stream and transcode video and/or audio on a regular basis, then it is likely FlipFactory could automate some of these tasks and make your life simpler.
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Telestream’s FlipFactory is software for flipping (converting) video and audio from original formats into alternative formats. If you stream and transcode video and/or audio on a regular basis, then it is likely FlipFactory could automate some of these tasks and make your life simpler.

If you want niche or interactive program distribution then Internet video is for you. The difficulty with transcoding video for Internet distribution comes from the labor-intensive nature of the process.

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FEATURES

In the past, each format to be transcoded required manual intervention. FlipFactory automates transcoding to many different streaming formats and delivers the resulting encoded media to the specified destination servers and also to local computer systems.

Since this is a new class of product, let’s start by getting some context for use of the FlipFactory.

Regularly aired video can be flipped on an automated schedule. For example, a nightly TV broadcast could be set for transcoding and forwarded to portals immediately after the show airs.
Fast FactsApplications: Streaming video/audio

Key Features: Automates conversion and distribution of Internet video streams

Price: Starts at $10,000

Contact: Telestream, 530-470-1300

www.telestream.net
Once on a server or editing system, the fresh video file can be set for automatic transcoding, optional signal processing and immediate distribution to remote video or streaming servers of all types. This can be scheduled and automated within FlipFactory.

Another example of FlipFactory usage is a remote production that requires content approvals from a distant office. FlipFactory could be used to overnight videotapes for approval. Again, FlipFactory automates the transcoding and forwarding of media files.

In this remote production scenario, FlipFactory transcodes any number of incoming files into different formats and then sends the resulting video files to a list of destinations. The software then e-mails the results of the process to a select e-mail address.

Each of the new transcoded files resulting from flipping could be sent to different remote users. This automated process could be built to support a variety of users with different connection bandwidths, each one receiving the quality of video that the connection permits.

FlipFactory can also be used as a Web portal to post content from a variety of sources. The software could automate the conversion to the portal’s formats.

FlipFactory runs on a Windows server. You, the client, operate the FlipFactory from your desk where you use a browser to control the software -- the same browser used to access the Internet.

After logging in, the next screen offers Factory options. Some items need to be set initially and are unique for each factory user’s workspace.

The setup options include 1) selecting encoders, 2) defining sources, 3) defining destinations, and 4) creating factories. A Factory is a selection of multiple encoders (file converters) that will be applied to incoming media files and an associated destination for each of the resulting files.

Once the options are set and saved for a particular user, they show up as selectable lists in future sessions.

Input formats supported include MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DV, Windows Media, QuickTime and Flash. Encoders can be selected and set for each of the output streaming formats, including Windows Media, RealVideo and QuickTime. AVI, DV native, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 outputs are available as options.

Also optionally available is transcoding between different broadcast media servers, such as EVS, Grass Valley Profile, Leitch, Omneon, Pinnacle, SeaChange and Sony.

Advanced transcoding can include signal processing, such as de-interlacing, temporal and spatial interpolation, anti-alias filtering, noise reduction, color space conversions, cropping, gamma correcting, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpening, blurring and overlays. Optional audio processing includes level shifting and track mixing.

IN USE

Once setup, I used the factories for flipping. Flipping involves identifying or selecting the source file(s) to be flipped, selecting the "factory" (the formats to be encoded) and selecting your destination(s).

Status screens can be used to check on the server to see what it is flipping. The status reporting screens show what work is in progress and what is completed. The in-progress indication gives a percentage complete indication as well. Details of the process are available from these status screens and from e-mail notification.

Reporting is an area where it would have been nice to receive more information and perhaps a graphical view of what is happening and what happened. When checking the status of a server handling lots of files, a graphical chart with details could be helpful. According to Telestream, this will be available in the next release.

For my tests I integrated FlipFactory with a Telestream ClipMail Pro digitizing station, an FTP server and my e-mail server. This let me use the system from end-to-end, testing an automated process of forwarding, transcoding and delivery.

Network knowledge is required to install FlipFactory. If you have a network administrator, he or she will likely find the installation thorough and mostly automated. I found the support team at Telestream to be both knowledgeable and helpful.

As you know, transcoding a large file can take a long time. Telestream suggests running this software on a Pentium III or faster computer with dual processors and 1 GB or more RAM. Obviously the more metal you run it on the faster it will flip your media.

I was able to run it on a Pentium II at 600 MHz with 256 MB RAM. It never crashed or hung in any way under Windows 2000 Pro. The system must have IIS installed and cannot be an SMTP server since FlipFactory itself acts as a SMTP server.

I used the software to transcode a few videos, then forwarded them to systems in my Intranet and also to remote systems on the Internet.

After configuring a complete system, I was able to generate and forward a set of video clips with a few clicks on Telestream’s ClipMail capture device. ClipMail generated an original MPEG file that was automatically forwarded to FlipFactory, where it was transcoded into multiple output files at various bit-rates.

The output files included MPEG, QuickTime, Windows Media and RealMedia formats. These were forwarded to a receiving server after the factory created them. I let it run for a few days and the system operated flawlessly.

SUMMARY

FlipFactory is sophisticated software that helps automate jobs that are normally tedious and time-consuming. When I combined it with Telestream’s Clipmail Pro, the result was a tightly integrated and very automated system for capturing, transcoding and distributing video streams.