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Telestream Episode 6.2 Opens New Doors in Encoding

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Telestream Product Manager Kevin Louden
Telestream Product Manager Kevin Louden
Telestream recently announced the release of Episode 6.2, a new version of the multi-format video encoding software. Although a dot release is often a minor event, Telestream upped the ante with version 6.2. "A lot of our development is customer driven," explains Telestream Product Manager Kevin Louden. "We try to stay as close to our customers as we can."

SYSTEM LAYER IMPROVEMENTS
Much of the improvement in 6.2 is in what Louden calls its "system layer" application. A new XML-RPC interface for Episode Engine and the faster Command Line Interface expand third-party integration and control capabilities. "If you look at Episode 6, it's actually a client-server application," he says. "It's a little server that communicates with other machines and passes files around. With 6.0, we added a Command Line Interface. Now, with 6.2, we rewrote and expanded it and made it more robust and responsive."

The new Command Line Interface adds new functions and speed improvements when submitting jobs and requesting job status. Overall, the improvements maximize Episode system integration and increase responsiveness and stability, positively impacting high-volume video transcoding. The new XML-RPC interface offers a standards-based network interface for easy integration with third-party systems. "With the new XML-RPC interface and the enhanced Command Line Interface, Episode 6.2 expanded control to work in larger environments and with larger workflows and be controlled by custom code," says Louden.


DEVELOPER API KIT

Telestream also released the Episode Developer API Kit, a new service that gives Episode Engine users access to technical engineering support for their API integrations and also provides early access to the newest Episode features. Among the new features is the ability to execute custom scripts, which opens the door to numerous encoding workflow scenarios. "We've had a lot of interest from customers. ASSIMILATE, Farmers Wife, Route 6 and similar companies are interested because of the integration capabilities."

Nicholas Stokes, founder of XPlatform Consulting, which focuses on digital asset management for businesses in the advertising and entertainment industries, notes the advantages of Episode 6.2. "With its more robust API, version 6.2 is a lot more feature rich than previous versions," he says. "It enables a software developer or a technology consultant like me to really configure very specific workflows for a customer. Without an API, the usage and application is limited to the buttons you can select in the GUI or application."

As part of the 6.2 beta program, Stokes says he demonstrated the advanced uses of the new API to some of his customers "and got them excited about the possibilities." One of his clients, Thomson Reuters began using features of the new API while it was still in beta. "They had very specific technical requirements as to how they wanted video to be processed that they couldn't do previously," Stokes explains. "The first is EDL sources, which enables a software developer to programmatically tell the Episode Engine which in and out points of a video file you want to extract. Before 6.2, an editor had to manually edit out the commercials. Now, with EDL sources, we can program and specify, based on timecode, which segments to extract...without a person intervening. The ability to submit EDL sources eliminates the need to use legacy tools and middleware to remove slates and counter from master sources." Stokes says he has also used the new Uploader, Mail and YouTube API tasks to automate encoding and distribution. "Everything worked perfectly," he says.

NEW FORMATS
Also available through the Developer API Kit, Episode Engine users have newly added support for HTTP-based adapative streaming formats Microsoft Smooth Streaming and Apple HLS streaming formats, including encoding, packaging and automated delivery.

The new version update adds native Apple ProRes 4:4:4 input support for all Episode products, plus output support for Episode Mac OS products. Telestream has also added AVC-Intra 50/100 input and MOV output for all Episode encoding products, and AVC-Intra MXF output format support for Episode Pro and Episode Engine.



Episode 6.2 UI for PC. Please click on image above for larger view.


Also new on the format support side, new image sequence input capability enables submission of DPX, TIFF or TGA image sequences for transcoding to the range of output formats supported by Episode encoders. Image sequence input support is available to Episode Engine users via the Developer API Kit.

Other new features include a Timecode Conversion filter that allows Episode to carry timecode through to encoded outputs, even when complex conversions have changed the encoded output frame rate. Users can choose different methods of timecode calculation including scale, round off and keep count. Episode Engine can also be used in more advanced packaging workflows with new EDL conforming capability including playlist conforming, ad insertion and removal and other tasks.

CONCLUSION
Telestream Episode logo"We've greatly expanded our integration capabilities both with the Command Line and XML-RPC interfaces," says Louden. "We've expanded formats, for both the high end and also the distribution market."

"We've always said that post production is a good fit for us because we have a high fidelity encoding system," he adds. "Expanding into more professional formats and DPX sequences, we're further addressing that post production market and expanding the rich support we've had for distribution/end product encoding, our core customer base."

Telestream has clearly listened to its customer base in creating the kind of expanded toolsets that open up Episode to third-party developers and file formats. Louden's assertion that Telestream Episode makes a good match for post production seems right on the money. With the Developer API Kit, Telestream Episode customers will re-invent the tools for their own uses and, in the process, make it more appealing to more potential customers.

Episode 6.2 is available as a free update for existing customers and is available for online purchase here as well as from Telestream's worldwide network of resellers and distributors. The Episode product line includes Episode, priced at $495; Episode Pro, priced at $995; Episode Engine, priced at $3,995.









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