S3MediaVault Archives - S3 Media Vault - WordPress Plugin for Amazon S3 and CloudFront That Provides a S3 Audio Player and a S3 Video Player

Category Archives for "S3MediaVault"

S3MediaVault v24

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

What's in v24.0 & v24.1

  • Just released: S3MediaVault version 24.1
  • NEW: In-Video Ads: You can now show ads within your video (Overlay Ads) at 3 separate locations: At the Start (Pre-roll), anywhere in the middle (Mid-roll) and at the end (Post-roll).

    The content of the ads can be anything: Any image, text, image and/or text with a link, a Video, Audio, any kind of HTML, iFrame, WordPress Shortcode, and even a YouTube video.

    You can use one, or all three ads in the same video (or none, too, of course). This feature is available to Elite licenses only.
  • NEW: YouTube Support: You can now use S3MediaVault to play YouTube Videos. You can still customize the player and use all its features (like speed, fast-forward, rewind, captions, etc) with the YouTube video. It can be a video from your YouTube channel, or any third-party YouTube video that has enabled embedding.
  • NEW: In-Video Ads on YouTube Videos: You can now turn the tables on YouTube and show your own in-video, overlay ads - Pre-roll, Mid-roll and Post-roll - on YouTube videos that you've embedded on your website! How about that!
  • NEW: Voice Recorder and Voice-mail: Accept Voice-Mail from your visitors, fans, followers, members, podcast listeners, YouTube subscribers or just about any other audience, directly from a page on your website. They won't need any special software to leave you voice feedback.
  • NEW: Several performance enhancements made to the Video Player to load faster and utilize fewer resources.
  • NEW: Bug fix in Streaming files creation that might cause issues with certain videos encoded in a specific way.
  • NEW: Introducing new ELITE license. If you purchased a license of S3MediaVault before September 23, 2020, you have a PRO license.
  • All licenses sold up to September 25th are called PRO licenses. And now we've introduced a new license called ELITE.
  • PRO licenses still available for purchase, and are one-time payments.
  • The new ELITE  license is a subscription. See the comparison between PRO and ELITE here.
  • We're adding all upcoming new and major features to ELITE licenses only. So if you want the full-featured version of S3MediaVault with every feature it has now, as well every feature we will ever develop, then choose the ELITE license. You may cancel your ELITE subscription at any time. Cancellation will revoke the license.
  • But if you purchase a one-time PRO license, then it's a one-time payment, and there are no recurring fees. See the feature difference between PRO and ELITE here.
  • Charging a subscription for ELITE allows us to support ongoing research & development and pay for our developers and support folks. But we also want to make sure S3MediaVault is affordable to everyone, which is why we have the less-expensive PRO licenses, which may not have as many features as ELITE, but is still packed with features that most people would want and need from a plugin like this.
  • If you wish to upgrade to a ELITE license, please open a support ticket and we can tell you the best way for you to upgrade based on your current license.

Video Resolution Switcher

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

S3MediaVault's Video Player now offers your viewers a Video Resolution Switcher with Multi-Resolution Streaming and Automated Streaming Optimization.

S3MediaVault allows you to create streaming video in multiple resolutions. You can choose the resolutions in the Settings page - 1080p, 720p, 360p, 240p and 144p.

And when the viewer first presses Play on the video, S3MediaVault video player will automatically choose the lowest-but-best resolution for the viewer based on their internet speed.

If they're watching from a device which has slow internet speeds (like 3G, or 4G or maybe they're using a service that doesn't offer high-speed internet, offers slow speeds, or has tiered or metered access), S3MediaVault will automatically serve them the most optimized quality of video for their internet connection.

That means, your streaming videos will load quickly for them regardless of their connection speed, saving them bandwidth, as well as saving you on your AWS bandwidth bill (win/win FTW!).

Basically, this is exactly the same as what happens on YouTube: Your viewers will be able to change the resolution of the video to a higher or lower number, and the switch will happen seamlessly, without affecting their viewership experience.

Streaming Videos vs. Progressive Downloads

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

"Streaming": A Misused Word

Some use the word "Streaming" to describe any video that's playing in their browser.

But just because you are watching a video online, doesn't mean it is being "Streamed". Maybe true in the general meaning of the word, but not true in the technical sense. Let me explain, because it might not be of relevance to regular folks, but it is highly relevant to digital content creators.

Progressive Downloads

Regular videos - aka “progressive download” videos - are progressively (aka continuously) downloaded to the viewer’s browser first, even if the video has been paused. And that's why using plugins like Video Downloader and Video Downloader will let you download the video you’re watching.

But as a creator, progressive download videos can increase your bandwidth costs to deliver that video. That's because, as soon as the viewer hits "Play" on the video, the video starts to download to their computer (in whatever the "temp" folder of the browser is, where it stores all temporary internet files).

And then, even if the viewer clicked "Pause" right after they clicked "Play", the video will still continue to download all the way until it is completely downloaded. So if it's a big file, then the entire file of tens- or hundreds of MB's of data is downloaded to their device first (whether it's their computer or mobile device). And regardless of whether they end up watching a few seconds video or a few minutes of the video, the video was downloaded in full to their device.

That means, the video provider (your S3 account) ended up delivering the entire video, even though they may or may not watch it, or only watch it partially.

So more bandwidth cost for you, the creator. And for the viewer as well, their internet bandwidth is used to download the full video, even though they may or may not watch it, or just watch it partially. So more bandwidth costs for your viewer as well. And especially more so if they're on a mobile device and are using their data and have a limited data plan.

Streaming Video

And that's where "Streaming Video" is much more beneficial to everyone involved - well, almost to everyone involved, which I'll explain in a minute. And that's because with streaming video, the video is delivered as a "download as you watch" stream of data. The web service Amazon MediaConvert converts the single .mp4 file into a number of smaller chunks of file "segments" which have the extension ".ts". 

There could be tens or hundreds or thousands of such segments depending on how long the video is. And those segments are delivered one by one to the viewer's device, as they continue to watch the video. But if the viewer hits Pause on the video player, then the segments will stop being downloaded.

So only the bare-minimum amount of video data is delivered to the viewer, as need, as they continue to watch. And that ends up saving you - the provider - money in terms of bandwidth costs; and also reduces the viewer's data usage as the consumer.

Downsides of Streaming Video

But there are two small downsides to streaming:

1) It costs a bit more in terms of your AWS bill, because to create a streaming video, you need to use Amazon MediaConvert, a cloud-based service that can take a .mp4 file and convert it into streaming "segments" (but it's a one-time cost).

2) If some of your audience are from countries where they have slow or poor internet access, streaming videos will be almost unwatchable to them, because their internet access will never be fast enough to download the video "segments" fast enough for them to continue watching normally. And may result in the video freezing up every few seconds while the downloading of the segments catches up to their viewing. But with progressive downloads, those who have poor internet access speeds, will be able to hit Play on the video, then hit Pause, and come back in however long, and the video would continue to download the whole time they're away from their device, because that's what progressively downloading means. But you can't do that with streaming where you can Play, Pause and come back later to a fully downloaded video, because the video doesn't download full with streaming.

So if you deliver your videos as regular "progressive downloads", you need just Amazon S3, and you get possibly (slightly) higher bandwidth costs because the video is fully downloaded to the viewer's device regardless of how much of it they watch.

And if you deliver them as "streaming videos", then you'll need S3 + CloudFront + MediaConvert. So the addition of CloudFront and MediaConvert increases your costs slightly, but you could also end up saving a little bit on the bandwidth costs, because only as much of the video is necessary, is delivered to the viewer's device.

Which is more secure? Streaming or Progressive Downloads?

Using S3MediaVault, you can create both progressive download videos as well as true-streaming videos that cannot be downloaded. So you don't necessarily have to use CloudFront to create secure videos, audio, PDF etc. You can do it using just S3 alone.

So media files created by S3MediaVault.com using both S3 and CloudFront are both extremely secure - the links to the videos (audio/pdf/etc) are expiring links, and are generated afresh every time the page on your website loads (which has the S3MediaVault shortcode).

And only that page can generate those links to those videos (audio/pdf/etc), and trying to share the link to the video on Amazon S3 will not work.

However, Streaming Videos are the most secure - because they are streamed in real-time, in bits and pieces, to the viewer’s browser. That means plugins like Video Downloader, Video DownloadHelper and even the most popular video downloading software Internet Download Manager won’t be able download your video (their only option is to record their screen to make a copy).

So here's the bottom-line:

  • Both Streaming Videos (created with CloudFront) and Standard Progressive Download Videos (created with S3 alone) created by S3MediaVault are very secure.
  • Standard Videos (progressive downloads) could be downloaded using third-party browser plugins like Video Downloader, Video DownloadHelper and Internet Download Manager, even if you do not provide a "Download" link to your video on the page. Of course, your viewer has to know about such plugins and should want to download them in the first place. But the bottom-line is, even if they can't share the link with others, they can still download the Video and Audio to their computer.
  • Streaming videos created by S3MediaVault are the most secure because they CANNOT be downloaded using third-party browser plugins like Video Downloader, Video DownloadHelper and Internet Download Manager.
  • We recommend that you allow your members to download the videos and audio they've paid for, because that way, they can watch it offline, without having to use their internet bandwidth.
  • But if for some reason, if you think there's a lot of piracy in your niche and that your members are more prone to illegally downloading and sharing videos with other unauthorized people, then use Streaming Videos and Audio (S3MediaVault can stream both video and audio).

S3MediaVault uses Amazon AWS MediaConvert service to create the streaming version of your mp4 and mp3 and then delivers that to your viewer, and makes it really easy and manage everything from within WordPress without having to log in to AWS or know any of the technical stuff behind creating a streaming video.

Amazon S3 Pricing: How Expensive is it to use S3?

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

One question we get asked frequently, is about how expensive Amazon S3 is if you're going to use it for all of your Videos, Audio, PDF's, Docs, Zip files, and images?

The first thing to note is that Amazon S3 has two types of pricing:

1) For Storage, and
2) For Usage

If you just upload a bunch of files to S3, and those files never get downloaded (regardless of file type), then you'll be paying for just storage.

But if you embed those files in your member's area using a plugin like S3MediaVault.com, and your members are watching your videos, listening to your audios, and downloading your PDF's/Docs/Zips, then you'll be paying for Storage *and* Usage.

If you're thinking about storing the files on your own website, don't (read this to see why).

The good news is that the cost of S3 is really low. And there are no fixed monthly costs. You only pay for what you use.

So unless you have hundreds of large videos and thousands of members consuming your content every day, the average S3 bill (based on what we've seen with our own account and from asking others) is going to be between $5 - $20 a month.

Amazon has a pricing calculator, but it can be a bit confusing. So here's you a rough idea. This is for Video, as that's usually the main kind of content in most online courses.

If you have...

  • 50 videos in your membership site,
  • 50 MB in size each
  • 50 members who watch each the video at least
  • 1 time
  • Bandwidth used per member = 2.5 GB
  • Rough S3 cost = $0.023 per GB 

Cost of S3 per member = 2.5 GB x $0.023 = $0.057
Roughly ~= 6 cents/member per month

Multiplied by 50 = $3 in bandwidth costs for all 50 members combined.

So your overall monthly bill would be $3/month.

Also, S3 has tiered pricing, so costs won't necessarily go up directly in proportion to increased usage.

You could use a video service like Vimeo to host your videos, but Vimeo doesn't support Audio, PDF's, Zips, Docs, Images, etc - only videos, Also, Vimeo does not offer "impossible-to-download" AES 128-bit encrypted HLS streaming like S3MediaVault can.

So if you want a single, integrated, easy-to-use solution for securing and delivering all of your premium content and media files, with maximum security for your videos, at a really low cost, then a combination of Amazon S3 and S3MediaVault.com is your best option.

AWS Free Tier

AWS also offers a free tier for new users. Here's what you get for free.

Free: 12 Months
Free: 5 GB of standard storage
Free: 20,000 Get Requests
Free: 2,000 Put Requests
No monthly costs
Pay as you go

What are the benefits of using Amazon S3?

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

Using Amazon S3 - rather than hosting on your own server, or using CloudFront rather than a different Content Delivery Network (CDN), has a ton of benefits...

  • Outsource your media files to S3 and reduce the strain on your website
  • You shouldn't be hosting your media files on a regular web host that’s not truly meant for media hosting
  • Scalable
  • Secure
  • Simple
  • Has a web interface (which takes just a teeny-tiny bit to get used to, but is powerful and it works great) to manage your files and their security settings.
  • S3 becomes the hub where your files are stored.
  • S3 integrates with all other Amazon Web Services (AWS), like MediaConvert, Transcribe and CloudFront
  • S3 has deep integration with their own CDN, which is CloudFront. Which means more integrated and powerful solutions can be created, and have already been created.
  • And when you use a plugin like S3MediaVault.com that integrates with Amazon S3, that in turn integrates with MediaConvert to create HLS true streaming videos.
  • And S3MediaVault can also create true-streaming Audio.
  • And you can transcribe your Audios and Videos with the click of a button.
  • And you can add a CDN like CloudFront to it and make your files load super-fast regardless where your audience is from in the world
  • And you can create a S3 Video Player, S3 Audio Player, Audio and Video Playlists, and more, all using S3MediaVault.

The list is just endless.

And because AWS has such fantastic API’s for developers, there are a lot of software and services and WordPress Plugins - both free and paid, and sometimes really inexpensive ones too - that have been created to make your website work with Amazon S3 and all of the integrated services. 

And that means you get a huge array of options to choose from, and at super-competitive prices.

Or if you’re technical, have the time and resources, and that's a priority, then you could even develop your own software and plugins too - which is how I ended up creating S3MediaVault back in late 2008/early 2009, and the plugin was launched later in 2009.

And I did that because there was almost zero competition for such plugins back then. And the lone plugin that was in existence at the time (they're defunct now), didn't have everything covered, especially the features I wanted, and I felt I could build a better mouse-trap. And so I did 🙂

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