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Announcing the general availability of Media Encoder Standard

Posted on July 16, 2015

Senior Program Manager, Azure Media Services

We’ve fielded asks on a regular basis from customers for an on demand media encoder that is more agile – one that is able to support more input and output formats, and one that is more tolerant to how the  input file was created. Today, I have a solution for those asks – a new file based media processor, named “Media Encoder Standard”. This new encoder, when compared to “Azure Media Encoder”:

  • Has support for more file formats & codecs
  • Has a better quality H.264 encoder
  • Is built on a newer and more flexible pipeline
  • Is more robust/resilient

Over the next several months, we will be updating this new encoder regularly and introducing additional features, such as additional file format/codec support, thumbnail support, ability to trim a live archive Asset, and much more. Over time, the new "Media Encoder Standard" will replace "Azure Media Encoder". Consequently, this new encoder has the same pricing as Azure Media Encoder (see the column labeled ENCODING here). In this blog post, I will introduce the capabilities of the initial release of Media Encoder Standard, and provide a quick example for using it. Please visit our documentation center to learn more details about how to use this encoder.

Capabilities of Media Encoder Standard

In its initial release, Media Encoder Standard targets two use cases:

  1. Transcoding a variety of source formats into single bitrate H.264 video and AAC audio, and package into either an ISO MP4 container, or an MPEG2-TS container. The output Asset can then be delivered to various devices/platforms via progressive download
  2. Transcoding a variety of source formats into multiple GOP-aligned H.264 video streams, and AAC audio, packaged into ISO MP4 containers. The result can subsequently be streamed via Dynamic Packaging.

You can transcode the entire input source, or you can select a portion (i.e. clip) of its timeline. The following table gives you an idea of the most significant differences between Media Encoder Standard and Azure Media Encoder  

Feature Media Encoder Standard (New!) Azure Media Encoder
Supported input file formats Adds support for F4V, MXF, GXF, Matroska/MKV, and DVR-MS, QuickTime (New!) See this for the details
Supported input video codecs Adds support for DNxHD, DVCPro/DVCProHD, JPEG 2000, MPEG-4 Part 2, Theora, (New!) Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 LT, Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Apple ProRes Proxy, Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 4444 XQ See this for the details
Supported input audio codecs Adds support for FLAC, Opus, Vorbis and (New!) AMR See this for the details
Supported output file formats ISO MP4 and MPEG2-TS ISO MP4 and ASF/WMV
Supported output codecs H.264 only H.264 and VC-1/WMV
Supported audio codecs AAC (AAC-LC, AAC-HE, and AAC-HEv2; up to 5.1) only In addition to AAC, also supports Dolby Digital Plus and WMA
Thumbnails Supported Supported
Clipping the input video Supported Supported
Stitching together multiple inputs Supported Supported
Audio and/or video overlays Coming soon Supported
Metadata about input Asset Supported Supported
Metadata about output Asset Supported Supported
Support for two-pass encoding Supported Supported

 

Using AMS Explorer to encode with Media Encoder Standard

The easiest way to submit encoding Tasks to this encoder is to use the Azure Media Services Explorer – you can read more about this excellent tool in this blog. To encode a video that has been uploaded into your Media Service account, first select that Asset: 2015-07-09_00h15_02   Select the asset, right click and select “Encode asset(s) with Media Encoder Standard…”: 2015-07-09_00h20_37   The dialog box for specifying the encoding preset opens up. You can select the default, which encodes the input to multiple bitrate ISO MP4 files, starting at a resolution up to 720p:   2015-07-09_00h22_18 Click on “Launch encoding” to submit your encode Task. You can refer to this blog for descriptions on how to publish the output Asset, and stream it to a browser. Note: Additional encoding presets, and detailed description of them, are available here.

Sample Code

In this section I will provide sample code to submit the above Task using our .NET SDK. Note that code in this topic uses Azure Media Services .NET SDK Extensions.  The Media Services .NET SDK Extensions is a set of extension methods and helper functions that simplify your code and make it easier to develop with Media Services. Start with a preset that you need, from the list here. Note the name of the preset. Following is the relevant code snippet (you can incorporate this into the full example in this blog):

            // Declare a new job.
            IJob job = _context.Jobs.Create("Media Encoder Standard Job");
            // Get a media processor reference, and pass to it the name of the 
            // processor to use for the specific task.
            IMediaProcessor processor = GetLatestMediaProcessorByName("Media Encoder Standard");

            // Create a task
            ITask task = job.Tasks.AddNew("Media Encoder Standard encoding task",
                processor,
                "H264 Multiple Bitrate 720p",
                TaskOptions.None);

            // Specify the input asset to be encoded.
            task.InputAssets.Add(sourceAsset);
            // Add an output asset to contain the results of the job. 
            // This output is specified as AssetCreationOptions.None, which 
            // means the output asset is not encrypted. 
            task.OutputAssets.AddNew("Output asset",
                AssetCreationOptions.None);

            // Use the following event handler to check job progress.  
            job.StateChanged += new
                    EventHandler<JobStateChangedEventArgs>(StateChanged);

            // Launch the job.
            job.Submit();