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Video API: Better Interactive Broadcasts and Recordings

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Video API: Better Interactive Broadcasts and Recordings

Improving Interactive Broadcast With More Participants Streams, Better Layouts and Longer Recordings

At Vonage, our Video API has long offered the ability to compose video layouts for broadcasting and recording in real-time as the video conversation occurs, rather than a post-processing service that attempts to recreate the conversation later. The two go together - broadcasting lets you share live video sessions with many viewers while recording (aka archiving) preserves the valuable video content for future replay. 

Our technology offers real-time interactive broadcasts and composed cloud recordings of video sessions with video layouts that adaptively change based on published streams rather than requiring post-processing. Our APIs allow users to customize the video layout and even dynamically adjust the video layout while recording or broadcasting.    

When it comes to privacy and security concerns related to recording, we also offer encryption features to ensure that your recorded data can be stored securely, maintain privacy and comply with regulations like GDPR. 

Still, we continue to look to provide more recording and broadcast capability and flexibility to our developers. With this latest update, we have enhanced our broadcasting and recording capabilities by 

  • expanding the number of participants in composed broadcasts and recordings, 
  • increasing the number of video streams in the layout,
  • adapting layouts for mobile device orientations,
  • providing additional layouts that prioritize screenshare streams for presentations, 
  • improving the audio fidelity of the composed streams, and 
  • expanding the length of recordings.

Broadcast Interactive

Virtual events companies grew like mushrooms last year as organizations needed smart ways to securely connect people with events and enable them to take part, whether in person or virtually. A virtual event typically combines a live stream with audience participation. This interactive element helps maximize opportunities for member engagement and meeting attendance, whether members are attending in person or online.

Last year demonstrated that anyone could benefit from attending a virtual event. Remote events, when done thoughtfully, can be very effective. The purpose-built experience allows for specialized stage environments with text-based audience interactions like Q&A and voting, while the breakout rooms allow for networking and open exchange of ideas.  

The move to virtual services during the last year has necessitated rapid digital transformation. Virtual town halls became one of the trademark features of corporate and civic organizations attempting to stay in touch with their people.

“With Vonage’s Video API, we are able to keep users within our ecosystem, allowing us to ensure that both local authority employees and members of the public can join meetings, communicate, and view secure and easily accessible information from any device.” - Steven Garratt, CIVICA Modern.Gov.

Keeping Records

There are many reasons to commit video sessions to machine memory. Some work teams regularly record their team meetings to give everyone the benefit of the same piece of information. 

That is our practice here at Vonage, and we are not alone. Nearly 11% of  Vonage Video API archival minutes come from our business customers leveraging the archiving feature for greater organizational transparency and compliance reasons. About 15% of recordings are generated by virtual events and gaming - creating engaging on-demand content at live events, and another 18% share is with healthcare providers. Most archives - almost a half - are created by the EdTech providers to record group lectures and tutoring sessions.  

Vonage Video API Archive Minutes

These Times... They Call for More

As with the rest of our lives, the global pandemic impacted our use of video, be it broadcasting or recording. As more of your customers are joining video sessions, these sessions got longer with more participants and with various devices - the recordings and broadcasts needed to keep up, too! The world our platform was initially designed for has changed, and we threw ourselves into identifying the features most needed to keep up. 

More Video and Audio Participant Streams

In our recent platform update, we increased the maximum number of video and audio streams in a composed recording or live interactive broadcast for all customers. To accommodate more video participants and video streams in the composed layout, we increased the maximum number of supported video streams from 9 to 16. Similarly, we increased the number of audio-only participants from 9 to 50 total participants in recordings and broadcasts.

For example, our Best Fit layout type will automatically increase to a 4x4 grid layout, and customers have the option of customizing it to display up to 16 video streams. For audio, the first 50 audio streams published to the session will be included in the recordings and broadcasts. 

Developer Guide: Learn the best practices of broadcasting interactive sessions via HLS and/or RTMP streams.

Longer Recordings With Better Sound Quality

The Vonage Video Recording API has been updated to double the maximum video recording time to 240min so users can record longer meetings and video sessions. Automatic recording sessions will restart recording at 4hr length files. Additionally, audio in the recorded files and broadcasts is now recorded at a higher bitrate, MP4 files encoded with AAC at 128kbps, allowing higher fidelity audio to benefit application use cases.  

 Picture-in-Picture, Vertical Presentation and Horizontal Presentation Layouts

Enhanced Screen Share Layouts and Stream Prioritization

Our new Screen Share Layouts prioritize screenshare streams so that the user’s presentation or content share always takes precedence in the recording or broadcast. Customers can use this feature and Layout Stream Prioritization Rules to make sure presentations, screen shares, and selected streams get priority in recordings and broadcasts. 

Developer Guide: Learn how to build a JS application for multiple screen share streams.

Portrait Layout 

As people adapt to their remote environments, we also saw the need to support vertical compositions suitable for mobile devices in portrait orientation. To that end, we added support for portrait layout resolutions, portrait SD (480x640) and portrait HD (720x1280) for both recording and interactive broadcasting. Our predefined layouts have been optimized for these portrait orientations to adapt automatically for mobile orientation views. 

Portrait Layout

Cloud Recording and Broadcast Quality

Lastly, we also updated our video platform with a number of optimizations at our real-time cloud composition servers to improve video synchronization and resilience of real-time composed recordings and broadcasts under poor network conditions. These improvements ensure that sessions are recorded or live streamed properly, even when publishers find themselves in adverse network conditions.

Getting Started

We are very excited to put the power of improved recording and broadcasting into the hands of our customers to ensure they can keep up with today’s communications demands. The features are already available in the Vonage Video API Standard and Enterprise environments so customers can gain immediate access to these improved capabilities. 

If you liked this Video API update, check out the latest in our Client SDK 2.19 release, including specifying a video source, more audio processing controls, and much more!

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