Product Feature - Ad Removal Workflow

June 21, 2021

A lot can be achieved in a week, maybe you start a new job, maybe you prepare for a big presentation. For Simplestream and Unified Streaming, a week is how long it can take to build, test and release a brand new streaming workflow.

The task seemed simple enough, take a live stream and create on-demand for catch-up for every programme. The complexity, of course, lies in the detail as the live stream was both a downlinked satellite feed and an RTMP PUSH. The catch-up had to be available to stream and download, plus all linear ads had to be removed.

To begin with, the live stream sources were both directed to a Unified Live Origin, this provided a consistent output no matter the incoming feed.  With the feed in place, every five minute segment of live TV was to be stored on a storage location, in this case S3.

We set up Unified Capture to take the live stream and every 5 minutes we converted the previous 5 minutes into a .ismv file, a form of MP4.  These files were then stored and could be referenced by any other service, which was exactly what was required.

To create a full on demand program, schedule data was ingested that included both ad markers and programe parts.  Using this information we created an .smil.  A SMIL file is essentially a playlist, telling downstream services which video chunks to use and what filters to apply, the video segments were those previously stored by Unified Capture and clip in/out times were applied according to the ad markers, all in an automated fashion.

With the .smil file autonomously created, these could then be sent to Unified Remix, which converts the SMIL into a reference .mp4, essentially a small file which can redirect services to the actual video, still stored on S3.

As a final step the reference mp4 was copied and converted to an ISM, a type of video manifest which is easiest to read for a video origin, with the video ready, users could make a request to the CDN, which in turn made a request to the Origin, which made a request to the ISM file, finally calling the original video chunks and packaging a complete output with the ads removed.  A similar call can also be made to request a downloadable, single bitrate .mp4 file for use with 3rd party websites.

In just 5 days, Simplestream managed to create a new, custom workflow, using incoming data and content to run automatically.  Using the Unified tool set allowed for easy implementation of even the most complicated video manipulation.