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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Transcoding media files for Silverlight

Silverlight supports Windows Media Audio and Video (WMA, VC-1/WMV7-9) and MP3 formats. If you have existing media assets in other formats, you can convert them into a format Silverlight can understand. There are a couple ways to do this.

On your desktop using Expression Encoder

  • Use the user interface for granular control over the entire user experience on your media files with support for encoding, enhancement and publishing for Silverlight
  • Or use the command line interface for batch processing
  • Choose this when you do not have abundant bandwidth to upload media assets to Silverlight Streaming for encoding or transcoding
  • Choose this if you have adequate CPU power on your desktop to transcode your assets
  • Expression Encoder can upload your media files to the Silverlight Streaming service using this plug-in

In the cloud using Silverlight Streaming

  • The companion service to Silverlight on the cloud at http://silverlight.live.com/ provides transcoding support in the Video Management area
  • Choose this if you have enough bandwidth to upload (unencoded) media assets to the cloud
  • Choose this if you do not have adequate CPU power on your desktop machines to efficiently encode/transcode media assets
  • Choose this if you would like to offload your media hosting to Microsoft's high performance, geo-scale content delivery network (CDN)

PS: my one gripe is that the Silverlight Streaming SDK docs do not explicitly say which file formats it can transcode for you. I know they support .mov, but what about .flv? Hoping they fix this soon.

Update [3/12/2008]
: Thanks to Anoop Anantha, WL Platform Architect, I've now learned that Silverlight Streaming will transcode mpeg2, mpeg4, divX, H.264, flv formats, among others, to a Silverlight-friendly wmv format. He mentioned they will be updating the docs.

PPS: tip o' the hat to Angus Logan for his excellent talk at Mix 08 on Windows Live services.

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2 Comments:

  • Hi Ashish

    Do you know if we can use the cloud services here *just* for transcoding, even if we don't want to host - or if there's a better server-based alternative?

    I have some customers that need one-time flv->wmv conversion, and another that needs recurring translation.

    Pete

    By Anonymous Pete Brown, at March 13, 2008 at 6:52 PM  

  • You might want to read the Terms of Service to be absolutely sure. The Silverlight Stream cloud service allows you to transcode video files and access the resulting wmv directly, along with support for viewing in a Silverlight skin. There's also a nifty little WebDAV support, so it shows up as a web folder in Windows Explorer. You can move files in and out easily.

    By Blogger Ashish Shetty, at March 13, 2008 at 7:59 PM  

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