Dalet Updates AmberFin for Better Performance – An Interview

Posted on by Larry

Last week, Dalet AmberFin announced significant updates to their Amberfin software. Since many media creators use this tool – or are interested in learning whether it can help them, I contacted Eric Carson, Director, AmberFin Product Strategy at Dalet via email to learn more.

NOTE: Eric’s comments have not been edited.

Larry: How would you describe AmberFin?

Eric Carson, Director, Amberfin Product Strategy, Dalet

Eric Carson: Dalet AmberFin platform is the standards-bearer in image quality for transcoding. For creatives, Dalet AmberFin is what delivers the original artistic intent. For studios, broadcasters and OTT providers, AmberFin is the indispensable enterprise media processing platform with a scalable transcode and workflow engine thanks to its unparalleled image and captioning accuracy.

Larry Jordan: Last week Dalet announced key updates to their AmberFin platform. What was announced?

Eric: Dalet AmberFin transcoding engine received a 30% performance boost, offering customers an even faster speed-to-market for high-quality conversions. It also has a new web-based conversion profile editor which provides engineers a modern interface for managing day-to-day configuration. Additionally, Emotion System’s advanced loudness normalization capabilities enhance Dalet AmberFin’s best-in-class video conversion capabilities with loudness correction and global delivery compliance requirements.

Every feature of the Dalet AmberFin platform, including the improvements in the latest release (v11.9), are available both on-premises and in the Dalet AmberFin Cloud Transcoder Service. Dalet AmberFin customers can control their on-premises and cloud transcoding resources from the same workflow engine and API, and natively use the same conversion profiles and workflows for both fixed and elastic capacity without the use of a cloud port or service team.

Larry: Dalet has a well-established reputation at the enterprise and studio level. Why should smaller shops or individual producers consider using AmberFin; is it even affordable?

Eric: Dalet has made a considerable effort to price AmberFin at a point that small and medium sized shops can bring this level of quality and automation into their environments. We offer pricing for on-premise customers that has been reduced by over 300% since the Dalet acquisition of AmberFin, and our Dalet AmberFin Cloud Transcoder Service allows shops to use a monthly subscription (with usage credits) to use every feature of the platform with a minimum amount of spend.

Amberfin screen shot (Image courtesy of Dalet.)

Larry: There are many stand-alone media compression packaged on the market – Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, ffMPEG, to name a few. Why should someone consider using Amberfin?

Eric: Many AmberFin shops started with Compressor or AME, and found, as they grew, and the number of deliverables increased, that they needed an additional level of automation and tracking to continue to meet the demands of their customers. AmberFin’s BPM workflow engine allows shops to build and execute cost-effective workflows on generic hardware or machine instances, and the AmberFin dashboard provides a single pane of glass view for the state of each conversion, normalization or packaging process. Our customers tell us that the AmberFin API makes augmenting their conversions from FFmpeg (adding packaging, normalization, QC, distribution, cloud movement or even handling camera ingest formats) quite simple.

Larry: One of the challenges in working in media over time is the constant need to support legacy media. How does AmberFin handle interlaced standard-definition video?

Eric: Dalet is proud of the AmberFin standards conversion capability, as it has long been the industry standard. The available deinterlacer can handle telecine conversions, nearest frame conversions, and optional components can even add motion-compensated conversions.

Larry: Another feature of AmberFin is support for audio normalization. What is this and why is it important?

Eric: Most countries have introduced legislation governing the average loudness and peak audio levels, so normalizing audio intended for public distribution has become a requirement. AmberFin’s integration with Emotion Systems enables measurement and correction for any of the 1770 family series of standards, including those used in the US, Europe and Japan.

Larry: Media files are HUGE, and AmberFin is Cloud-based. Unless we have an extremely fast upload link to the web, it seems like we would spend far too much time waiting for files to transfer to make using AmberFin worth while. True?

Eric: AmberFin is available both on-premise and as a cloud service. Customers who already store and deliver their media in the cloud can take advantage of a transcoder with low overhead and variable costs based on usage. For those customers who work with their media on-premise, the same capabilities are available for use within the customer’s environment. AmberFin also operates seamlessly in a hybrid environment, with one workflow engine able to control and interact with on-premise and cloud transcoders.

Amberfin screenshot (Image courtesy Dalet.)

Larry: What type of computers – and operating systems – are recommended for AmberFin?

Eric: For on-premise deployments, Dalet recommends the use of 4-8 CPU cores for SD conversions, 8-16 cores for HD conversions and 16-32 cores for UHD conversions. Our best input on the type of computer is that higher clock rates on the processor are preferable. The current release of AmberFin is designed for Windows deployment on-premise, although our cloud transcoder, and the next major release of the on-premise transcoder will use a mix of Linux and Windows hosts (with our ultimate plan to be 100% Linux in the future).

Larry: How is AmberFin priced?

Eric: On-premise, AmberFin has a license cost & annual support for the control & design environment (including the BPM workflow engine) and a separate cost per transcode node (each node processes one transcode job at a time). Optional features, such as audio normalization, carry their own license cost.

Eric: In the cloud, AmberFin has a small monthly subscription fee which includes a number of hourly usage credits, and usage over the credit value is charged per content minute, with rates that adjust based on content resolution and features used.

Larry: How is installation handled; can this be installed by the end user, or do we need extended support to get this running?

Eric: Most of our customers can install AmberFin on their own in less than 30 minutes, and be running the same day. Our standard support service includes advice on your first conversion profile, and we have sample workflows for our customers to start from. Additional service is available for those customers that have more complex needs.

Larry: Take a minute to write a one-paragraph commercial for AmberFin, what would you say?

Eric: AmberFin is well suited for shops that need a cost-effective transcoder and workflow engine to add automation and tracking for their growing businesses, especially those that have grown tired of the ever increasing costs (and decreasing feature developments) of alternative solutions. Customers that value low costs of deployment, with the ability to use generic hardware and virtual machines love the fact that every feature of AmberFin can be used without requiring GPUs or proprietary hardware. The wide range of format & packaging support (from raw camera formats to IMF) in a continually developed and supported engine means that you can be comfortable knowing that your investment will continue to pay dividends in the future. Finally, remember that all features of AmberFin can be used on-premise or in the cloud; any profiles or workflows you configure for one environment can be seamlessly used in the other, since one workflow engine can control both the cloud and your on-premise transcoders.

Larry adds: Thanks, Eric, for your time. Here’s the link to the Amberfin website.

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