The video annotation capabilities of OpenAnnotate have been updated for multiple clients over the past 6 months. This post will share those updates along with a demonstration of the new capabilities.
MP4 for Video Renditions
OpenAnnotate focuses on supporting MP4 and leverages conversion tools to turn just about any video format into MP4 rather than building in support for many other video types. This is similar to our approach for document renditions where we convert all documents (Word, Excel…) into PDF renditions for annotations. The rendition approach allows for a quicker, consistent and slimmer annotation product as well as less need for the annotation tool to support/debug different video formats. For converting different video types, we recommend clients review the following alternatives:
- OpenSource Libraries – For converting standard formats to MP4, we have found multiple libraries including FFmpeg helpful. If a client has control of their accepted video formats, the libraries can be a cheap and easy way to convert to MP4.
- Alfresco Media Management – Alfresco provides for conversion of videos for Alfresco users.
- Amazon Elastic Transcoder – Growing up in the media space, Amazon provides a very robust media transformation service. Combined with the ingestion capabilities of Amazon S3, we are typically recommending this approach if clients are comfortable with a cloud based solution. Amazon is always adding new transformation sources. The Elastic Transcoder takes content from one S3 bucket, transcodes it and stores the result in a second S3 bucket. We will typically link the S3 bucket to the ECM as a rendition. See a complete list of videos supported here (add list)
Issues with Large Video Files – Amazon S3 and Aspera
One major issue of any type of video is the ability to upload typically large files as well as stream the video content rather than having to download the entire video. For many customers, we are recommending leveraging Amazon S3 and potentially Aspera. Some advantages of these tools for dealing with large files
- Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration allows for high speed ingestion from public sources. Transfer Acceleration takes advantage of Amazon CloudFront’s globally distributed edge locations. As the data arrives at an edge location, data is routed to Amazon S3 over an optimized network path. Rather than funnel video through the firewall, cache it on the ECM server and then finally store it in a SAN or object Store, Amazon S3 allows for the video to be directly uploaded through Amazon’s very large ingestion capability optomizing upload time.
- Amazon CloudFront/S3 allows for content streaming. Typical ECM systems require the video to be retrieved the video from the SAN/Object Store, copied onto the cache on the ECM application server and an additional streaming application added to the application server. With a typical ECM approach, the playing of the video can be affected by the activity of the application server and can result in slow playing or jerky streaming playback. Amazon CloudFront/S3 provides for native video streaming without the need for additional software or the application server.
- Aspera – Back in August we posted on how to improve large file uploads by up to 95%. Leveraging their own FASP transport technology, Aspera moves content quickly and securely over existing WAN infrastructure that is often hundreds of times faster than FTP and HTTP. Much like bittorrent, Aspera breaks a file into small parts and quickly and redundantly sends them across network to the server leveraging the underlying components of the network. For our internal tests, we really found that network speed was the limiting factor.
Single Video Annotation
Our basic approach it to provide annotation for a single video with a browser based (no plug-in) approach similar to our PDF capabilities. In the demonstration below:
- Video is played within the browser.
- When a moment in the video is selected, an annotation is added with an image of that frame in the video. The annotation can be used as a bookmark to quickly navigate to the moment in the video.
- The video annotation provides text comments as to what is important in that part of the video.
- OpenAnnotate also provides the ability to mark up the frame image with drawing tools as part of the annotation.
Multiple Video Annotation – Future
We are currently working for a client for a multiple video annotation capability. In this scenario, more than one related video are stored together from an event. Examples include security cameras as well as dashcam video. While often times the video comes from one source (example – dash came of the driver, view of the driver and view of the passengers), other times video will come from multiple sources (example – crash video from the car, other car, security camera and cell phone). We are currently working to organize these videos together to play one story and allow annotation and navigation between the different videos.
In addition to the multiple video annotations highlighted above, additional capabilities may include:
- Clipping Videos – between annotations, the ability to build a new video from one or multiple videos based on clipping between the different annotations.
- Overlaying Annotations – ability to overlay annotations on the video while playing based on time frames.
If you have other thoughts or things you would like to see in our product roadmap – please free to add below.