February 1, 2013

Amazon Wants a Bigger Piece of Cloud Video with New Elastic Transcoder Service

We may only think about transcoding in terms of dropping a file in into a batch converter and coming out with maybe a dozen file formats at most, but for really big jobs, especially those that need streaming video, letting another specialized company take care of the workload is far more efficient. So when a giant corporation like Amazon, who is at the forefront of cloud computing and servers, decides to get into video transcoding, it's nothing to take lightly. Click through for more on Amazon's new video transcoding service, Elastic Transcoder.

Amazon's description of how the service actually works:

Amazon Elastic Transcoder is video transcoding in the cloud. It is designed to be a highly scalable, easy to use and a cost effective way for developers and businesses to convert (or “transcode”) video files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Amazon Elastic Transcoder manages all aspects of the transcoding process for you transparently and automatically. There’s no need to administer software, scale hardware, tune performance, or otherwise manage transcoding infrastructure. You simply create a transcoding “job” specifying the location of your source video and how you want it transcoded. Amazon Elastic Transcoder also provides transcoding presets for popular output formats, which means that you don’t need to guess about which settings work best on particular devices. All these features are available via service APIs and the AWS Management Console.

This is the cost for the service in the US Northeast region, followed by the US Northern California region:

  • Standard Definition – SD (Resolution of less than 720p) $0.015 per minute
  • High Definition – HD (Resolution of 720p or above) $0.030 per minute
  • Standard Definition – SD (Resolution of less than 720p) $0.017 per minute
  • High Definition – HD (Resolution of 720p or above) $0.034 per minute

The service is capable of ingesting a number of different file formats, including 3GP, AAC, AVI, FLV, MP4 and MPEG-2, and then spitting some of the most common formats on the web: H.264, AAC, and MP4. This probably isn't something you're going to be using for small jobs or very small files -- but this could be tied directly into your content delivery network which you may already be utilizing Amazon for. The advantage for Amazon here is that they are undercutting their competitors, and users have a huge incentive to use the service: you only pay for the exact amount that you're transcoding, there is no minimum fee, and it's relatively simple to get up and running.

With content moving to many different screens and in even more resolutions and file formats, services like these are becoming more important. It's clear Amazon wants to own this space, and Elastic Transcoder is a compelling and relatively inexpensive service that might have more than a few companies jumping ship from their current providers.

If you want to try out the service for free, Amazon has a deal for you:

To help you test Amazon Elastic Transcoder, the first 20 minutes of SD content (or 10 minutes of HD content) transcoded each month is provided free of charge. Once you exceed the number of minutes in this free usage tier, you will be charged at the prevailing rates. We do not watermark the output content or otherwise limit the functionality of the service, so you can use it and truly get a feel for its capabilities.

To learn more about Elastic Transcoder, head on over to the website using the link below.

Link: Amazon Elastic Transcoder

Your Comment


Cool! Personally don't have a use for it, but good idea

February 1, 2013 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Great post Joe. We're in development of a new platform and will be using this service. It won't be long before this expands into render farms that make processing power a non-issue.

February 1, 2013 at 7:33PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Wow. I'm in. ...working on a startup content delivery project this sounds great.

February 1, 2013 at 9:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Who needs this when computers are faster and can encode efficiently? Apple Compressor is $14. Adobe Media Encoder is free with the Creative Suite. Is this a joke?

February 1, 2013 at 10:10PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


yeap. u was thinking same. when v have powerful worstation why pay extra for encoding and most of world have really slow upload speeds.

am i missing a point?

February 2, 2013 at 2:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


You are. This isn't for encoding your short film for Vimeo. This is for mass, batch processing jobs, like when you have to encode something over 100 times (see: http://nofilmschool.com/2012/12/netflix-watch-instantly-encoding-passes/) and you need your computer to do, well, anything else for a long time.

February 2, 2013 at 7:15AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

David S.

i worked for a production studio that had to rovide around 40 different encodes per video - with batch video projects ranging in the 100's of short 1min to 2min videos. With 3 machines running episode, and eventually switching over to AME, this service really seems like a cool idea - though we did charge similar rates to our clients so we were making money while we encoded.

February 2, 2013 at 8:41AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Right.. I'm looking at this for a solution for encoding dozens of 10 -12 minute videos on a weekly basis into multiple formats and uploaded to a CDN - not Vimeo or Youtube. For that kind of need - it looks to be a pretty good deal.

February 2, 2013 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


People are not good at video, they will not upload a HiQuality video to Amazon because they don't understand it, just like most people upload heavily compressed video to YouTube, they will upload heavily compressed video to Amazon, and the result will look crap.

I still use QuickTime 7 Pro rather than Compressor, If you are not a geek, QuickTime X has some great presets for H264 and YouTube.

February 2, 2013 at 5:33AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


When you say "people" you mean "most people". Because some people know how to encode video well - and this Amazon service is intended for professional encoding, when the workload becomes too much even for your Xeon workstations. The people using this service will most likely know exactly what they are doing.

By the way I only use Compressor for MPEG2 and ProRes conversions, Handbrake is my weapon of choice for h.264 for the web. It does a pretty good job and it is open source and cross-platform (there's a Mac and PC version)

February 8, 2013 at 3:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I won`t use it if Amazon`s not using some kind of Apple hardware...I can`t work/exist without a Mac...

February 2, 2013 at 6:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


what? apple hardware? i don't understand

February 2, 2013 at 10:21AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Lol. Oh, the laughs I get from comments on NFS...

February 2, 2013 at 11:06AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Christian Anderson

I think this would be great from a location production standpoint. Say a production has several teams in different areas shooting; each of them could upload their footage, have it transcoded and sent to its destination, whether it be transcription or to the production house for offlining or archiving (or both). Its effectiveness would be weighed on whether it would be simpler to have it all done in-house and the upload speeds from the contact point. If it's going to waste several hours in uploading and downloading, it may not be worth it, but at least it's something to investigate.

February 2, 2013 at 6:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM