We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Panda Stream co-founder, Damien Tanner to learn more about their newly launched paid, cloud encoding solution and where they’re heading in the future. The new service, built on AWS, enters into an increasingly popular space with the likes of Encoding.com, Hey! Watch, mPoint, and others offering on-the-fly, simple encoding solutions in the could for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Panda launched an open source version of the service back in early 2008 (pandastream.org) helping people to easily add user video uploading and streaming into their applications. As they watched demand and the space grow they quickly realized that they needed to further develop their one-click solution into something that could meet large scale demand, hence the birth of Panda.
VidCompare: Tell us about the new Panda Stream service.
Damien: At its heart Panda Stream is a highly scalable cloud based video encoding service. Our technology started its life over two years ago as an open source offering which helped people get video encoding systems setup and running on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure. As we developed the platform we realised that many people would benefit from a completely managed solution, which has brought us to where we are today.
VidCompare: Does the service focus primarily on encoding in the cloud or are you also offering other online video services?
Damien: Early on we made a decision to offer one thing, and do it well. We chose encoding as it’s such a fundamental part of the video ecosystem. Looking at what was already on offer, we felt that although many services provided simple solutions for video publishers, none fully addressed the need for a powerful, configurable encoding system which is cost effect for large volumes.
Although we’ve started by tackling the encoding side of things, this is only the start. Currently we are hard at work on several new features and additional products including a video manager and HTML5 video player.
VidCompare: What does the new service offer that is unique to other services today?
Damien: A big differentiator for us is the cost per video when dealing with a large volume of media. Instead of charging our customers per video, we offer plans which allow you to process an unlimited number of videos for a predictable monthly fee. This type of pricing is particularly well suited to social networks, creative agencies and anyone else who is processing a large number videos per month.
The platform is driven by our elegant REST API and offers a many encoding options. We can encode to and from a huge number of formats. But there are also are handy presets which allow you to add new output formats with only a few clicks. This means the platform is very easy to get started with, but as your requirements change you’ll find that the system is incredibly flexible and powerful.
A great example of this is the iPhone and iPad adaptive HTTP streaming presets we launched last week. With one click you can have all of your videos encoded to five different qualities and packaged to stream to Apple devices. If want to tweak something though, you can dive in and modify every single H.264 encoding parameter.
VidCompare: Panda appears to be a workflow management service allowing customers to utilize certain aspects of your services within their preexisting systems.
Damien: Correct, we started with the API, so the service is very well suited to integrating into existing web applications. Adding in the Panda video uploader plugin doesn’t take long. Once it’s in your users can upload video from within your web application, but the video uploads are in fact sent directly to Panda behind the scenes. This means you don’t have to worry about handling large file uploads. The API stays out of the way of your users, but lets you easily create a seamless video uploading and streaming experience for them.
VidCompare: What’s next for Panda?
Damien: We’re certainly keeping our finger on the pulse and always look for places to make improvements. For example when Google announced the new WebM format, we jumped into action and deployed support within a day!
There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Right now we’re hard at work on a new video manager. We have a little something special up our sleeve for that. It’s going to cater for video publishers as well as people with a large number of assets to manage. Our aim is to help people and companies move their video data into the cloud and have it accessible in any format from anywhere.
We will also be doing more in the HTML5 video space with a player in the works to kick things off.
Finally, we’ve been working with the Ruby hosting platform Heroku (http://heroku.com/) to develop a Panda addon. It’s currently in private beta but will be available to everyone very soon!