HD Cloud: Video Transcoding Gets Hip

Been able to make out facial expressions on YouTube lately? Noticed yourself rubbing your eyes less? Thought that show looked just about as good on your laptop as your TV? Given the rapid ascent of online video quality in the last year, making video files move around more efficiently seems like a smart and timely business. While content creators are happy to show their content off in its best form, that often requires them to use antiquated, time-consuming and expensive processes.

New entrant HD Cloud hopes to help premium publishers transcode their videos to work in a variety of formats, resolutions, and bit rates concurrently. Handling up to 1080i/p resolution and 100 megabits per second throughput, HD Cloud automatically sends the transcoded files to everywhere the content is supposed to be distributed. And all this is done on demand, using cloud computing (Amazon Web Services for now).

Though HD Cloud is not yet market-tested, co-founder and CEO Nicholas Butterworth claimed it can provide a 300 percent improvement on the return on investment from traditional hardware solutions, without any upfront cost. His transcoding 2.0 competitors include TubeMogul, Encoding.com, and RipCode.

HD Cloud comes out of Diversion Media, a development shop that powers video sites including Sling.com. After its experience processing some 80,000 premium videos hosted on Sling.com, Diversion sorely felt the need for better tools to ingest content, said Butterworth. He cutely calls this the “first mile” problem (bringing content from its owner to the appropriate distribution partners).

“We found the state of the marketplace, the nuts and bolts infrastructure, is kind of all over the place,” Butterworth said. “There’s lots of inconsistency in quality of video and no standardization of data.”

Butterworth formerly sold SonicNet to Viacom and was then CEO of MTVi. Co-founder and CTO Tatum Lade was formerly VP of technology at iFilm, which was also bought by Viacom.

They are launching the bootstrapped HD Cloud today with one customer: video platform Magnify.net. Magnify may not be the best example of Butterworth’s target client, given its roots in the lower end of the market, but it does have some premium content customers like New York Magazine and the Weather Channel.

Butterworth said if the transcoding business takes off, he wants to add video metadata that maps to each syndication partner’s system. He’s also looking to add simple web-based editing tools.