How alter ego Post Production is Using Low Latency, Video Streaming for High Quality Video Review

How can you properly review the color grading of a video if youre not in the same room as the artist?   

That’s a question that alter ego has answered with its remote review solution, using high quality, low latency video streaming to connect its artists to their clients, ensuring that each video project looks perfect.  

alter ego is a high-end post-production studio that specializes in color grading, VFX, and motion graphics. In the Spring of 2020, as travel came to a halt and working from home became the norm, alter ego was faced with a challenge: how would they be able to find another solution to multiple streams of high-quality video to review with their clients when their clients couldn’t join them in the studio?   

alter ego has been streaming their sessions to their clients since 2010. Due to the increase in streaming demand and the need to improve their streaming capabilities, the team at alter ego decided to use modern video streaming technology and create a workflow in which they could maximize the number of outgoing video streams from two to now ten. We spoke to Tyler Dalzell, Head of Information Technology at alter ego about this project and how they found a solution that was low latency while providing the high-quality video required for critical post-production review.  

The Search for the Right Tool

The video solution that alter ego needed would have to meet two critical criteria: it would need to provide high quality video while streaming at low latency. High quality was important for alter ego as their clients were reviewing their produced video – color accuracy and pristine, accurate images would be non-negotiable. Low latency was required to make the live remote review process possible – too large of a delay would mean that the artist and the client would be looking at different images during the review, making it challenging to coordinate feedback.  

alter ego sought out the best possible solution that could meet these requirements, testing a multitude of video streaming solutions for months. Eventually, one video encoder stood above the rest: the Haivision Makito X4 video encoder.  

Ive tried so many others – the Makito X4 beat out the rest of them. Both the color and the sharpness.” Tyler commented that combination of high quality and low latency from the Makito X4 video encoder was “like having your cake and eating it too.”    

Low Latency Reviews for High Quality Video

The video is streamed from the output of their post-production applications using the Makito X4 video encoder and the open-source SRT streaming protocol to a streaming server’s browser-based player, which allows alter ego’s clients to watch and review the video content anywhere. The streams are sent in 6Mbps, in full 1080p, with high-quality 8 bit 4:2:0 color accuracy.  

By using the SRT streaming protocol, alter ego can ensure that latency is kept as low as possible, even when sending video streams at such high quality over the public internet. The quality is also maintained through the reliability of SRT – making sure that no packets are lost in transmission. Tyler explained how his team tried other protocols, but only SRT could deliver the video in low enough latency. “We tried using RTMP, but when combined with the content delivery aspect, we could not get latency under 15 seconds. If you used anything but SRT, it would add such a delay that we could not deliver the video at a low enough latency for the clients to review properly.”  

For comparison, the typical end-to-end latency alter ego clients experience when using SRT is only 3-4 seconds, which helps make the review process comfortable.  

A Reliable Future in the Cloud

This streaming setup has not only replaced the in-person meetings with their local clients in Toronto but has made it easier to work with their clients around the world, including Europe, USA, Australia, China and Brazil. And the feedback from their clients has been overwhelmingly positive; being able to review content remotely has enabled them to continue production without having to compromise on quality. The low latency of the video allows for real-time reviews, meaning that important details aren’t missed.  

Another important aspect of the solution that the team at alter ego have been pleased about has been Haivision’s support team. Tyler noted that “support is like insurance; you don’t think about it until you need it. Haivision’s support has been very responsive, very easy to get a hold of, which is very important for us. It gives us the confidence to be able to use and trust these tools.”  

With that confidence, and positive reception from their clients, Tyler believes that remote review will be a part of their workflow well into the foreseeable future. Even for clients who used to come into the office, there are advantages to the remote workflow, especially the time and cost savings, and the flexibility of managing busy schedules which can make on-site visits challenging, even when it’s possible.     

To learn more about alter ego, please visit their website.  

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