February 26, 2020

Synchronized playback on multiple devices with SLDP

Playing a live stream simultaneously on multiple devices often requires synchronized playback.

The cases look simple:
  • One big screen shows something and viewers need to have the same audio on their individual devices.
  • A second screen application need to be in sync with ongoing live stream on TV.
  • Multiple screens in the same room show the same content with single source of sound.
  • A number of surveillance cameras need to be shown on the same page.

You probably know other cases where you might have the same requirement.

With traditional delivery protocols like HLS ad MPEG-DASH it's very hard to achieve without dramatically increasing the latency.

SLDP live streaming protocol allows delivering streams real time with low latency, adaptive bitrate and small zapping time. Now it also allows synchronizing the playback among devices and browsers for all the cases which you can see above. It's supported on both server side and client side.

Take a look at sneak previews below.

Here are two browsers running the same stream, with one of them catching up with the playback.



Here are iPhone and iPad running the same stream. In the first scene, the video is catching up with counterpart, in the second scene, the audio is catching up with the video.



Let's see how you can using this feature with SLDP.

Notice that all implementations use additional buffer to make proper synchronization which will increase latency. This buffer must be the same across all platforms. Check each player platform for parameter setup.

Enable feature in Nimble Streamer


We assume you are already familiar with Nimble Streamer setup and you have a working SLDP live stream. If not, please read SLDP setup and usage article to make it work.

On your server, edit nimble.conf to add this parameter and re-start Nimble Streamer:
sldp_add_steady_timestamps = true

You can visit Nimble Streamer parameters reference to learn more about operating that config file.

Once you re-start the server, every SLDP live stream will have a steady clock timestamps needed for playback adjustments. If the connected player doesn't request the steady clock time, Nimble Streamer will not have it in the output stream to avoid any overhead.

Playback in HTML5 SLDP player


If you want to have a synchronized playback in web browsers, use our freeware HTML5 SLDP player.

By default, the feature is turned off. To enable it, add sync_buffer buffer parameter which specifies the buffer size in milliseconds. Recommended values are from 1000 to 5000 and it needs to be the same in all players.

Playback on iOS


SLDP Player for iOS allows enabling and using synchronized playback.
  1. Install SLDP Player via AppStore.
  2. In connection setting, enable Steady clock flag as shown on the screenshot below.
  3. Use Buffering field do define the buffer for this feature. As mentioned above, it needs to be the same in all players.



Playback on Android


Android SLDP Player will have that feature soon.



Once you start playback on multiple devices and browsers with that feature enabled, your playback on all devices will catch up.

Let us know how it works for you and what improvements you'd like to have for it.

Related documentation


SLDP technology overview, SLDP support in Nimble Streamer, Softvelum playback solutions,

February 17, 2020

Fallback of published RTMP, RTSP and Icecast streams

RTMP, RTSP and Icecast live protocols can be pulled by Nimble Streamer for further processing, and in order to improve robustness each pulled stream can have fallback streams. So if a primary stream cannot be pulled for some reason from the origin, an alternative stream is pulled to do a failover. The playback is not stopped so the user experience is not harmed much.

The aforementioned protocols are often used in publishing mode when the stream is pushed into Nimble Streamer for processing. In this case there is no built-in way to cover that.

Nimble Streamer provides another reliable mechanism for covering fallback of RTMP, RTSP and Icecast published streams, the Live Transcoder hot swap feature set. It allows shifting to secondary stream if the primary one is down for some reason, while maintaining the playback output  for video and audio.

The following steps allow setting this up.

1. Install Live Transcoder


Hot swap feature set requires Live Transcoder premium add-on for Nimble Streamer.

There are two main reasons for Live Transcoder usage:

  • Secondary (substitution) stream needs to fit the primary (original) stream by video resolution and audio sample rate.
  • The primary stream need to be decoded in order to get the substitution smoothly.

You need to obtain a license for Transcoder, then install the add-on and register a license for it.

2. Set up published inputs


You need to have both primary (original) and secondary (substitution) stream being set up and published into Nimble Streamer. In case you haven't done it yet, check the articles for RTMP, RTSP and Icecast publication setup.

3. Set up hot swap failover


Having both streams ready and Transcoder installed, you can set up failover hot swap for them. Follow the instructions and make sure you complete all steps.

4. Test the setup


As always, you need to test the setup before using it in production use cases. If you have any questions or issues, please contact our team so we could help.

Related documentation


Live streaming via Nimble StreamerFailover hot swap, Emergency stream hot swap,

February 13, 2020

Live Transcoder control API

Nimble Streamer Live Transcoder is well known for its drag-and-drop web UI which allows setting up live stream transformation of any complexity using any browser.

However we have a number of users who need to have some automation of Transcoder operations.

Our team introduced our first approach to Transcoder API.

Visit this WMSPanel API page to see all details of API setup and usage.

The operations which you can do over Transcoder instance are as follows:

  • Retrieve the list of transcoder scenarios
  • Get details of particular scenario
  • Pause and resume particular scenario
  • Delete an existing transcoder scenario

So having a set of scenarios for your servers, you can operate them just like you can do it from scenarios list in UI.

If you need more API call, please feel free to share them using our helpdesk so we could prioritize features in our wishlist.

Related documentation


Nimble Streamer Live Transcoder, Transcoder documentation reference,

February 6, 2020

HbbTV MPEG-DASH support in Nimble Streamer

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) has been working with MPEG-DASH for some time by now and Nimble Streamer MPEG-DASH implementation also has that support.

To enabled this support, a specific profile needs to be added to DASH outgoing streams. This can be done by adding the following parameter into nimble.conf file:

dash_live_profiles = urn:hbbtv:dash:profile:isoff-live:2012,urn:mpeg:dash:profile:isoff-live:2011

You need to re-start Nimble Streamer after changing the config. Read this page to learn more about operating config file.

Related documents


MPEG-DASH support in Nimble Streamer

January 23, 2020

Mobile streaming to DaCast and Akamai

Larix mobile SDK allows publishing live streams from mobile devices to wide variety of destinations like media servers and streaming services. Some destinations require special handling due to authorization or other concerns.

DaCast service provides a turn-key solution for live streaming. It uses Akamai CDN for ingest and delivery, making it simple for an average user to get it working. However, Akamai has its requirements for authorization and other stream parameters. Nimble Streamer allows publishing to Akamai already so we've added the same support into Larix Broadcaster.

Here is how you can get it working.

Set up DaCast stream


We assume you already have DaCast account, so just open the dashboard and add a new stream.



Click on the stream name to see its full setup details. Click on Encoder tab on top to see the encoder setup details.

Click on Other RTMP encoder to see full parameters of RTMP connection.



Here you see Login and Password values which you will use later in Larix.

Now click on "Click if your encoder has one field" link to see a field with full URL for publishing.


Copy this full URL for later use, it should look like this:
rtmp://p.ep123456.i.akamaientrypoint.net/EntryPoint/dclive_1_150@123456

While you're in DaCast dashboard, check Publish settings tab to get a player page in order to check future result of your setup.

Now let's get to Larix setup.

Set up Larix Broadcaster


Larix Broadcaster is available for both Android and iOS platforms so just install it as usual.

Open the app and and enter settings by tapping on gear icon.

Tap on Connections -> New connection to enter a form below.



  • Name field can contain any alias you want for your connection. Larix Broadcaster allows streaming to multiple destinations simultaneously, so this is how you will distinct them from one another.
  • URL field defines the target destination. Insert the URL which you copied in the previous section.
  • Target type must be set to Akamai/DaCast.
  • Login and Password need ot be exactly like you've seen in DaCast connection settings.

Save connection, get back to connections list and make sure you select this new connection.
Now return to image preview screen and just hit the red button to start streaming.

Now check DaCast player page from previous section to watch the results.

Akamai


This setup procedure is applied the same way for publishing to Akamai CDN via RTMP. The publishing URL will have the same structure with same type of credentials. Larix Broadcaster target type is also "Akamai/DaCast". Please refer to Akamai website to learn more about its setup.



If you have any issues with this feature set, just let us know.

Related documentation


Larix mobile apps and SDK, Nimble Streamer RTMP feature setPublishing to Akamai from Nimble Streamer 

January 20, 2020

FFmpeg custom build support in Live Transcoder

Live Transcoder for Nimble Streamer supports a variety of decoding, filtering and encoding libraries. All the libraries which we have there were checked for reliability, performance and proper licensing before being added into the deployment package.

Our customers ask us to add some new libraries into Transcoder deployment package so they could be available by default in the UI. Mostly those are some existing open-source encoders, or commercial encoder libraries, or even custom encoders built by our customers themselves. However we couldn't add all the libraries which we are requested and this kept the doors closed for new functionality and gave bad experience to our customers.

To solve this problem, it's now possible to use custom builds of FFmpeg libraries to utilize any video and audio encoders as well as filters which are not supported in the default Transcoder package. Live Transcoder uses FFmpeg and its libraries for certain tasks under LGPL license which allows re-building it as necessary. So now you can just add more libraries if you need.

Linux packages of Live Transcoder can pick up custom libraries and use them for further encoding.
Re-building FFmpeg on Windows is also possible. If you are familiar with building FFmpeg for Windows you may try it, however we do not provide support for this case.

Here's how you may re-build FFmpeg and use it further.

1. Legal disclaimer


This article describes the process of building custom third-party FFmpeg libraries and using them in Softvelum Live Transcoder in addition to the libraries which are deployed as part of Live Transcoder package.

Every custom library which is a result of building FFmpeg has its own licensing terms. So every library must be examined for its licensing terms prior to any usage or distribution, including but not limited to the patent licensing terms.

Softvelum, LLC is not responsible for any license or patent infringement which can occur as a result of any FFmpeg custom build usage by Live Transcoder users.

2. Building FFmpeg


This section describes how you can build FFmpeg for further usage in Transcoder.

We strongly recommend you to try custom build approach in testing environment first. Once you get consistent result there, you may apply it to your production environment.

If something goes wrong after any of the steps and you'd like to revert it, just re-install Live Transcoder. This will rewrite all libraries with their default copies.

2.1 Making default FFmpeg build


To make sure your environment is ready for custom builds, let's start with building FFmpeg with the default libraries for Live Transcoder.

First, download the FFmpeg package. As required by FFmpeg license, we've uploaded the FFmpeg package and its build script on our website.

Second, run the shell script in the same directory where you've just downloaded FFmpeg. It has all commands needed for getting a working copy of FFmpeg. Its compiled libraries can be used with Live Transcoder as is.

You may get errors related to missing packages, like Freetype or Speex libraries. Just install respective packages using this command for Ubuntu
sudo apt install libfreetype6-dev libspeex-dev
and this command for CentOS
yum install freetype-devel speex-devel bzip2

You'll be able to proceed with building after that.

2.2 Making and using custom FFmpeg build


Now when you have FFmpeg ready for builds, you may add third-party encoder. This depends on what encoder you'd like to add, so you need to refer to your library documentation for more details on installation.

Having an encoder installed, you need to modify your build script to include it. Change your build script and modify the following line:
--enable-encoder=aac,png,mjpeg,customvideocodec,customaudiocodec \
Append your custom encoder name into that line. This is the name which is used within FFmpeg and which will later be used in Live Transcoder. In this case you can see "customvideocodec" and "customaudiocodec". You may also need to append additional lines for other parameters, so check library documentation for more information.

You can find examples of other custom build scripts in our github.

Once the build is over, you can use the new library.

2.3 Using libraries


You can ingest the libraries to Live Transcoder by copying them from "build/lib/" subdirectory of build directory into proper location.

Run this command on Ubuntu to see where Transcoder libraries are located:
dpkg -L nimble-transcoder
Most probably your directory will be /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/.

On CentOS you can run this command to see where it is:
rpm -ql nimble-transcoder

Once you find the location, you can re-write the libraries by copying from your build directory to Transcoder location.

2.4 Re-start Nimble Streamer


The last step to make those new libraries start working, is to re-start Nimble Streamer using the command required by your specific OS.

For Ubuntu it's this one:
sudo service nimble restart
You can find other OSes on installation page.

3. Using custom libraries in Live Transcoder


Now when you have the custom library available, you can start using it from your Live Transcoder web UI.

Create a Transcoder scenario as usual and add a new encoder element. You can watch this tutorial video to see how transcoding scenarios are created.

For custom video codec follow these steps:
  1. Drop video encoder element.
  2. In the "Add output stream" dialog, the "Encoder" dropdown menu must be set to "FFmpeg" value.
  3. In "Codec" field you need to specify the encoder name as defined in video encoder library, e.g. "customvideocodec" in our example. See section 2.2 regarding codec name in build parameters.


Custom audio codec is added the same way:

  1. Drop audio encoder element.
  2. In "Add output stream" dialog, set the "Encoder" field to "FFmpeg".
  3. In Codec field, specify the encoder name as defined in audio encoder library, e.g. "customaudiocodec" in our example. See section 2.2 regarding codec name in build parameters.



Besides that you can specify whatever parameters that are used in your custom encoder.

That's it. Using this technique you may use some third-party libraries which are not yet available in Live Transcoder out-of-the-box.

If you have any questions regarding this feature set usage, don't hesitate to contact us and show us your use case.

Related documentation


Live Transcoder for Nimble Streamer, Transcoder tutorial videos, Transcoder documentation reference