FLOWPLAYER DRIVE

IMG

Flowplayer Drive is an all-round solution for online video sharing and publishing. It makes the task of uploading, managing, sharing, and publishing videos extremely simple without sacrificing on quality and speed, and utilizing the latest web video technologies.

Sharing videos or publishing them on your site can be complex, time consuming, and costly. Flowplayer Drive aims to make it simple and quick — as well as free for videos up to 4 minutes long with Flowplayer branding. – Upgrade to remove branding and video duration limit.

Flowplayer Drive will not burden the users with technical jargon or leave them on their own to figure their way out of a jungle of checkboxes and pull-down menus with esoteric settings for various video formats. It doesn't get much easier: you shoot and upload, we stream it to your audience, whatever their device.

Flowplayer Drive caters for many needs. Upload videos directly from your smartphone for quick sharing by mail or social media; or shoot with professional gear, edit, upload and embed on your website.

Using Flowplayer Drive

Overview

IMG

Unless you already have a Flowplayer account, you need to create one to start using Flowplayer Drive.

Once you have an account and are logged in, you can start uploading videos by just dragging and dropping them onto the library view, or clicking "Upload videos" to select files.

After uploading the video originals, Flowplayer Drive automatically encodes them for viewing on today's web browsers and devices. The encoded files, along with the originals, are stored in your video library.

Once the videos have been uploaded and encoded, they'll show up in your video library and you can rename, unpublish, or delete them.

You can share links to video galleries, or embed them onto your own webpage. Galleries and embeds can contain single videos or playlists of multiple videos.

Flowplayer Drive is Free by default, and there are no limitations to how many videos you can upload, encode, and stream to your audience; there is a maximum duration limit of 4 minutes for the videos to be uploaded. All the videos will show a Flowplayer logo in one corner.

You can upgrade to one of our monthly paid plans to remove the logo and the duration limit.

An additional Flowplayer license enables you to add your own logo into the player.

The toolbar

At the top of the main video view you can see a black toolbar. This provides access to most functionality in Drive.

IMG

  • Click 'upload' to add new videos to your account by uploading them.
  • Click on grid and list symbols at the right end of the bar to switch between the grid view and the list view

Additional functions become available when you select one or more videos by clicking on their title areas.

IMG

The "Play", "Unpublish", "Publish" and "Delete" functions are described below.

Managing videos

IMG

  • To rename a video, click on its title, type in a new one, and hit enter, or click outside the box.
  • To delete a video, select it by clicking on the thumbnail area, and click Delete on the menu ("delete" to confirm).
  • To make a video private, select it and click Unpublish. This will hide the video's public link and make it invisible from previously shared playlists or embeds. To make it public again, click "Publish".

Sharing videos

IMG

To share links to videos on Flowplayer Drive, select the video(s) you want to share, and click "Play all" on the top menu. This opens a public playlist viewable by everyone; copy the link shown on the page and paste on email, webpages, or social media to share. Click "x" or hit esc to close the view.

Please note that the links — though hard-to-guess — are public, i.e. viewable by everyone who knows them.

Embedding videos on websites

IMG

To embed videos onto your own webpage, select the video(s) and click "Play all". In the playlist view that opens, click "<>" to get a code to embed on your webpage.

Single videos can be embedded directly from the library view by clicking "<>".

For instructions on embedding, see Setup.

Metrics and spend

You can see the view counts and transfer rates (MB or GB) in the Drive's list view. Click the list view icon in the black tool bar to see these.

The list shows view counts and the total amount streamed (CDN usage) for each video. Below the list you can find the total values calculated over all videos in your account. The totals are used when calculating the cost, more about this below.

IMG

Tracking your spend

In the Pay as You Go plan you will be billed every month based on the accumulated streaming and minutes of encoded video. Your current usage is shown in the "paid videos" row at the bottom of the list view.

You can find a preview of your upcoming payment statement in your account page - more about this below.

The Economy and Enterprise plans both include a fixed amount of streaming in their monthly subscription price. If your monthly usage exceeds this limit, you will be billed for the additional amount. You can find the limit values here.

The MB/GB values shown in the list view reset to zero when your subscription renews each month. You will receive an email when this happens.

Free quota

You can have free videos in your account even if you are subscribed to a paid plan. The maximum streaming usage, for free videos is 5 GB per month. Your free videos will be made private if your total free streaming exceeds 5 GB on a given month. We will warn you if the usage is close to reaching this limit so that you have time to react: You can make some of the free videos private or subscribe to a paid plan.

The free quota is reset to zero every month. After the reset you again have the full 5 GB amount available for the following month. You will be notified by email each time the reset is done.

Report emails

We send you weekly report emails. This report email contains the total values of your free and paid streaming, plus a list of your most popular videos.

Statement preview

You can view a preview of your upcoming payment in your account page. The statement is calculated using the streaming and encoding usage you have had so far during the current period.

IMG

Advanced reports

We are currently developing more advanced reports for Drive. You will soon get nice graphs that show the popularity (view counts) of your videos over time. Stay tuned for these!

The Player

IMG

Flowplayer Drive uses the state-of-the-art web video player, Flowplayer HTML5, for playback of the shared videos, playlists, or embeds on users' sites. The player version is always the latest, so there are no added upgrade fees along with new major version releases. We here at Flowplayer continue to invest heavily in the development of Flowplayer, we believe it's the most important factor in determining the success of Drive.

For more information about embedding Flowplayer on your site, see Documentation.

Encoding

IMG

The uploaded files, originals as well as encoded files, are stored on Flowplayer's servers and streamed on-demand to viewers' devices. The files are downloadable at any time by the account holder for backup purposes and later use.

For more information about the encoding process, see Transcoding in Flowplayer Drive.

Plans

Free

IMG

Flowplayer Drive is FREE by default. There are no limitations to how many videos can be uploaded, however, there's a 4-minute limit to video duration and the total streaming from the account is limited to 5 GB per month. All videos are overlaid with a Flowplayer logo when encoded or played back using the free accounts.

For unlimited video duration, and to remove Flowplayer branding, the following Upgrade options are available:

Pay as you go

IMG

  • Encoding: a per-minute rate for output video.
  • Streaming: a per-GB rate for streamed video.
  • A one time setup fee.
  • Existing Flowplayer License not required.
  • Weekly email reports with streaming statistics.

Economy

IMG

  • Encoding: 120 minutes per month. A flat rate per minute for additional encoding.
  • Streaming: 100GB per month. A flat rate per GB for additional streaming.
  • Existing Flowplayer License not required.
  • Weekly email reports with streaming statistics.

Enterprise

IMG

  • Encoding: 1000 minutes per month. A flat rate per minute for additional encoding.
  • Streaming: 2600 GB per month. A flat rate per GB for additional streaming.
  • Existing Flowplayer License not required.
  • Free support channel. We can help with player installation, encoding issues etc.
  • Includes the Unlimited Flowplayer license. Enables the use of custom branding (logo) in an unlimited number of domains.
  • Weekly email reports with streaming statistics.
  • Additional enterprise features to be introduced

Flowplayer license

To add your own branding to Flowplayer, you need a license for the player. Please check Pricing for details on licensing options. Note that the Enterprise plan contains an Unlimited Flowplayer license.

Transcoding in Flowplayer Drive

IMG

Rationale

Video transcoding can be fearsome — not only "for dummies" — because it presents the user with endless choices, many of which are all but unnecessary for the majority of users. The goal of Flowplayer Drive encoding is to relieve the user of this painful freedom and to make the best choices automatically.

While absolute top-notch results — as is often the case — can only be achieved by manual input inspection and actual viewing of various results, we aim to offer a solution which yields videos that can be viewed on any device and in any browser with minimal to no visible quality loss compared to what is achieved through a workflow governed by individual choices.

The target audience are users who want a quick, no-fuss out of the box solution; the only required user activity is the upload of the original.

Quality oriented transcoding

The main criterion for a video is plain and simple: It has to look good.

Therefore we target good quality for web deployment, and adapt the more "technical" requirements, like bitrate etc., accordingly.

The bitrate used in our 2-pass encodings varies depending on the material, but the resulting visual quality is always the same.

This is achieved by first running a diagnostic program to determine the best encoding parameters specifically for your video. For screen display a noticeable quality improvement could then only be achieved by increasing the resolution.

The average bitrate will be curbed towards a range of 400 kbps to 1000 kbps. This range is considered as sensible for delivery over the wire, reasonably independent of connection speed.

Result files

  1. MP4 at maximum 640x480 resolution
  2. WEBM at maximum 640x480 resolution
  3. coming soon: HLS M3U8 manifest pointing to MPEG TS streams in several resolutions; HD (for desktop browsers) and lo-fi MP4 and WEBM variants

General features

Flowplayer encoding takes care to

  • create completely format-compliant videos
  • recognize anamorphic input and resolve it undistorted
  • transform PAL and NTSC formats without distortion to 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio (read more if you ever wondered why your old Camcorder movies always looked strange on a computer screen)
  • undistorted scaling of "cinema" resolutions
  • cater for (often undocumented) browser and device specific quirks
  • save on bitrate, dimensions etc. wherever possible

The average bitrate never exceeds the one of the original.

Width and height never exceed the dimensions of the original - except with anamorphic input which is stretched to fit display aspect ratio.

Example for defensive treating of platform quirks:

h.264 profile Baseline, level 3.0 allows more than 1 reference frame. However, some videos then might show artifacts on some older iOS devices. Therefore we stick with 1 reference frame.

Video

  • display aspect ratio: same as original, undistorted PAL conversion
  • sample aspect ratio 1/1 for MP4 and WEBM (IE does not handle anamorphic videos)
  • pix fmt: yuv420p
  • frame rate: constant, same as original, 30 fps max
  • scan type: progressive - deinterlace filter run if needed
  • bitrate: average determined from first pass at constant rate factor, minimum threshold: 120 kbps, maximum threshold 1500 kbps (for MP4 and WEBM)
  • h.264 profile and level requirements enforced
  • rotated input and generic portrait aspect ratio handled correctly

MP4 Mobile device compatibility: - Baseline profile level 3.0 - 1 reference frame - effectively 2 because of macroblock tree rate control - 640x480 max resolution

HLS streaming enhancements (coming soon): - maximum bitrate 1.8 times bitrate - buffersize 5 times maximum bitrate, but within level limit - flexible segment duration according to overall duration - display aspect ratio exactly the same as for MP4 and WEBM throughout all all resolutions (container is always filled without borders)

Audio

  • no superfluous audio track if original has none
  • audio channels: 2 max
  • sample rate: 44100 or 32000 or 22050 Hz - nearest input without upsampling
  • bitrate: max 64 kbps (stereo) or 32 kbps (mono)

Limitations

Unavoidable shortcomings of a solution without user choice are potentially unsatisfying results with specific kinds of material. For instance, screen captures require a higher resolution to be crisp when viewed at full screen sizes.

  • Higher resolutions always carry the risk that the video cannot be played, or will show artifacts on phones. Manufacturers' format and codec support documentation ranges from vague or unreliable to plain wrong. In practice some videos with a resolution higher than 640x480 and more demanding on the decoder may work, but are by no means guaranteed to play.
  • Additional features are beyond automatic source recognition and by consequence involve user choices.