What is Amazon Elastic Transcoder?

A Gentle Introduction to Amazon Elastic Transcoder

Storytime! I once had a project requirement where I was supposed to convert some of the videos taken by CCTV cameras to various images in a thumbnail format. The entire process was supposed to be automated, and because the camera captured videos frequently it was like a streaming input that needed to be processed as soon as it was captured. At first, it didn’t seem like a very complex project.

Implementing the Requirements

But, when I started coding I realized the complexity involved. First, I thought to write the processing logic in Java, but then later decided to move to another language. I was using AWS S3 to store the captured videos. Because they needed immediate processing as soon as they are stored in S3, I used the S3 notification feature. This is what the workflow looked like:

  1. CCTV captures video and stores in S3;
  2. S3 triggers a notification and puts the video object in SQS;
  3. My custom application that’s listening to the SQS picks up the object and converts it to a thumbnail (this can be any other format and not only thumbnail, of course).

This workflow was fine and it’s not the only way to accomplish this goal. But, the issues I faced are worth discussing – and let’s see how AWS Transcoder made my life easy.

  1. Writing the logic was a pain and as mentioned if tomorrow you are planning to use some other language to write the same, you need to spend more time reimplementing it.
  2. Changes in the video input type may force you to change your logic
  3. Processing the frequent videos seamlessly can be tricky.
  4. Moreover, using a message bus can result in extra overhead.
  5. Licensing of audio and video codecs also needs to be considered.

Introducing Amazon Elastic Transcoder

AWS Transcoder can be a life savior in these types of scenarios. AWS transcoding can be used to process and convert media files’ format, size, or quality. According to AWS:

AWS Transcoder is media 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”) media files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.

AWS Transcoder frees you from all kind of administration, scaling, performance tuning and managing of transcoding infrastructure. Moreover, it supports most of the popular output formats.  Amazon Elastic Transcoder supports transcoding to the following output formats:

  • HLS using a MPEG-2 TS container to house H.264 video and AAC or MP3 audio
  • Smooth Streaming using an fmp4 container to house H.264 video and AAC audio
  • XDCAM using MXF container using MPEG-2 video and PCM audio
  • MP4 container with H.264 video and AAC or MP3 audio
  • WebM container with VP8 video and Vorbis audio
  • FLV container with H.264 video and AAC or MP3 audio
  • MPG container with MPEG-2 video and MP2 audio
  • MP3 container with MP3 audio
  • MP4 container with AAC audio
  • OGG container with Vorbis or FLAC audio
  • OGA container with FLAC audio
  • FLAC container with FLAC audio
  • Animated GIF

The Three Major Components of AWS Elastic Transcoder

I am sure you might have started thinking about the complexity involved while using AWS Transcoder. But don’t worry, it’s very simple to use. At a very high level, AWS Transcoder:

  • Grabs your input file from an S3 bucket.
  • Processes it.
  • Stores the transcoded file in a target S3 bucket.

The three major components of Amazon Elastic Transcoder are:

Pipelines
These pipelines are like queues that manage your jobs. Transcoder processes jobs in the order in which they’re added to the pipeline. Pipelines can be one of two types – standard priority jobs and high priority jobs. From the name itself it’s clear that if you want the file to be transcoded immediately you can place the job in high priority pipeline, otherwise, you can put it in a standard priority pipeline

Jobs
While creating jobs you can specify the settings regarding the location of the input/output file. From the documentation:

You can configure Elastic Transcoder to notify you when the status of a job changes, including when Elastic Transcoder starts and finishes processing a job, and when Elastic Transcoder encounters a warning or error condition.

Presets
Presets can be considered as templates specify most of the settings for the transcoded media file. Amazon Elastic Transcoder has pre-defined presets for various devices that remove the need to find the right settings for different devices through trial and error. Some of the existing presets provided by AWS transcoder can be seen in below diagram
Presets
Now let’s get back to my original issue discussed at starting and see how Transcoder helped me to create thumbnails from a video file.

Follow the below link in YouTube to see how easy it is to use AWS transcoder to generate transcoded videos or thumbnail.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwSPg1ovqWs

 AWS Transcoder Pricing Details

Now, if you are confident that AWS Transcoder is right for your project, it’s very important to know about its pricing structure so that you don’t get last minute surprises with monthly bills, and this will also help you to be sure if you really want to go with this service or not. Here’s what you need to know:

  • There is no minimum fee, you pay for only what you use
  • AWS Transcoder offers monthly free usage tier, which comes with 20 minutes of free audio-only output per month, 20 minutes of free SD output per month and 10 minutes of free HD output per month
  • The pricing changes from region to region. For example, in N. Virginia the price for transcoding normal videos to Standard definition can cost you $0.015 per minute and to high definition $0.030 per minute. More details for each region can be found here.
  • Amazon S3 storage and data-transfer charges still apply for both input and output files.
  • Amazon Elastic Transcoder does not charge for failed transcodes unless the number of failures becomes excessive

Next Steps

Now that you have a solid grasp of the basics of AWS Transcoder, why not take a course on the technical fundamentals of AWS from Cloud Academy? We offer a 7-day free trial to get your feet wet in this exciting and fast-growing industry, so be sure to sign up today and upgrade your cloud engineering skills. Let’s get started!

Avatar

Written by

Vineet Badola

Working as a cloud professional for last 6 years in various organizations, I have experience in three of the most popular cloud platforms, AWS IaaS, Microsoft Azure and Pivotal Cloud Foundry PaaS platform. Having around 10 years of IT experience in various roles and I take great interest in learning and sharing my knowledge on newer technologies. Wore many hats as developer, lead, architect in cloud technologies implementation. During Leisure time I enjoy good soothing music, playing TT and sweating out in Gym. I believe sharing knowledge is my way to make this world a better place.


Related Posts

Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— April 3, 2020

Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online

Remote proctoring for all AWS certifications Cloud Academy is an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, and we are happy to announce all AWS certification exams are available online!  What does this mean for you? You can stay focused on your certification goal. Or you can start a certifica...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • AWS Certifications
Connie Benton
Connie Benton
— April 1, 2020

How To Build a Career with AWS Certifications

From Iaas and PaaS solutions to digital marketing, cloud computing reshapes the world of technology. As the influence of this technology grows, so does investment. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on cloud computing-related services each year. This influx is continuing to inc...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Certifications
Vijayakumar Athithan
Vijayakumar Athithan
— March 27, 2020

What is Cognito in AWS?

Web applications usually allow a valid username and password combination for successful sign in to the application. Modern authentication flows incorporate more approaches to ensure user authentication. When using AWS, this is no exception, thanks to the abilities and features offered b...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Cognito
  • Solutions Architect
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— March 20, 2020

The 12 AWS Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?

As companies increasingly shift workloads to the public cloud, cloud computing has moved from a nice-to-have to a core competency in the enterprise. This shift requires a new set of skills to design, deploy, and manage applications in cloud computing. As the market leader and most ma...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 17, 2020

Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: How Do AWS Certifications Increase Your Employability, How to Become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer, and more

With everything going on right now, it's likely that the only thing you've been reading lately is related to the coronavirus pandemic. It's important to stay informed during these times, but it's also good to jump into something that can take your mind off of the current situation for j...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— March 13, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 6, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— March 4, 2020

AWS Certifications: How Do They Increase Your Employability and Progress Your Career?

AWS certifications are no walk in the park. They’re designed to validate in-depth, specialist knowledge and comprehensive experience, often requiring months of dedicated studying to earn even for those already working with the cloud platform. But the rewards that AWS professionals ca...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • certification
Avatar
Chandan Patra
— February 21, 2020

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: AWS Cloud Search Choices

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: What's the main difference? Let's compare AWS-based cloud tools: Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch. While both services use proven technologies, Elasticsearch is more popular, open source, and has a flexible API to use for customization; in comparison, CloudS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloudsearch
  • elasticsearch
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— February 13, 2020

Cloud Academy Content Roadmap Updates

Welcome to our Q1 2020 roadmap. This is the content we plan to build over the next three months, between February 1 - and April 30, 2020. Let's look at some of our roadmap highlights. Atlassian Bamboo for CI/CD We had a lot of requests for practical guides on how to apply DevOps tool...

Read more
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kubernetes
  • Machine Learning
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— February 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Git Labs, CKA and CKAD Lab Challenges, AWS and Azure Learning Paths, AGILE, and Much More

We just kicked off our first Free Weekend of 2020. This means we've unlocked our Training Library for just 72 hours. Until Sunday at 11:59 pm (PST), you can get unlimited access to our industry-leading learning paths, courses, certification prep exams, and our most popular hands-on labs...

Read more
  • agile
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Linux
  • OWASP
  • programming
  • red hat
  • scrum