Creating multi-DRM protected videos with free tools

In my previous post I showed you how to set up a simple dash.js based player to play multi-DRM protected DASH videos. This blog post gives an introduction to actually creating such videos by yourself to enable playback on various platforms.

Scope

It is not a strict step by step tutorial but it will show you the most important parts and examples of how to create a multi-DRM DASH video using only free and open source tools. To add usefulness into the guide, the video shall have multiple video quality levels (with different bitrates), all created with having the best practices in mind. Dash.js, like most players, will automatically, depending on the network speed and conditions, select the best possible quality that is representable without buffering pauses or hiccups, so it’s often useful to provide several video streams in the DASH video to improve customer experience. This guide gives you enough information to create a video that is playable with dash.js but since we are not using any fancy features (only what DASH-IF IOP specification allows) it should be compatible with other DASH players as well. I am not going into specifics of differences in operating systems and other low level details. I also assume you own the source video to be converted to DASH.

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White paper: DASH is required

If use of the multi-DRM approach enables significant cost saving on the player side then the equally revolutionary server-side technology is DASH. It merges the previously used adaptive streaming technologies into a single standard compatible across a wide range of platforms.

For Axinom customers, we always recommend a first focus on DASH using other video delivery technologies only for backward compatibility with previous-generation devices and players. Upcoming articles will go into even more depth on the use of DASH in modern players.

Read more about the benefits of DASH in the linked white paper.

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Setting up a simple dash.js player for multi-DRM playback

What you will learn in this post is how to set up the free DASH player “dash.js” on a web site and make it play multi-DRM protected on-demand DASH videos both on Chrome and Internet Explorer (version 11 on at least Windows 8.1) using the respective native DRM engine – Widevine on Chrome and PlayReady on IE. Since Firefox does not have a Content Decryption Module embedded, playback of protected content on Firefox is not supported.

This guide assumes you have only a simple development web server running which you can use to serve web sites. We are starting from the complete beginning and for the sake of simplicity, we are not even using any Bootstrap-like CSS/layout framework – only jQuery.

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White paper: multi-DRM is required

The world of premium video solutions has changed markedly in the last few years, with ever greater standardization opening up easy access to a wide range of platforms. Together with the various platforms come the different DRM technologies native to each, posing various challenges to solutions builders who want their content to play everywhere.

To ensure that these challenges can be met cost-effectively, Axinom defines the multi-DRM approach that should be viewed as a critical component of modern multiplatform solutions. Learn more by reading the attached white paper.

View white paper: multi-DRM is required

Introduction to the multi-DRM world on the platform side

What is multi-DRM and why does it get so much attention lately? To answer this question we first have to make the definition of “platform” clear. There are many things that can be called platforms – the hardware of a device like a mobile phone of a particular manufacturer, an operating system such as Windows, a browser such as Chrome, and even software on which a specific video player runs, like Silverlight. All of these are equivalent where multi-DRM is concerned.

The various platforms usually have a DRM component embedded somewhere, either in the hardware, the operating system. The DRM component can also be part of some platform software created by a third party vendor, for example Google Chrome that incorporates a different DRM than the platform on which it is running on (e.g. Windows) but the Chrome DRM component can still be called native – native to Chrome platform.

The following list outlines some popular platforms and the respective DRM technologies they use.

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Qantas Q Streaming by Panasonic – a deep technical and security analysis

plane

Wireless In-Flight Entertainment is a hot and controversially discussed topic. Some see it disrupt traditional IFE business while others clearly consider it a niche technology suitable only for a small portion of the general IFE market.

As a software consulting company focusing the online media industry and playing an ever growing role in the In-Flight Entertainment space, we have taken a close look at the new wireless IFE system offered by the company who used to dominate the legacy IFE market during the last decades: Panasonic Avionics. Its Wireless IFEC solution is called “eXW”. This is the first in a series of reports where we will cover the majority of this new wireless kind of In-Flight Entertainment systems.

Panasonic’s system is currently deployed to a substantial part of Qantas’ narrow-body fleet. Qantas has invented its own name for the wireless IFE offering on their planes: it’s called “Q Streaming“. We assumed the end user’s role and flew thousands of miles across the fifth continent in order to gather all the information we needed for a thorough technical analysis. We have created a report detailing various aspects of the system from a passenger’s view with a couple of surprising results. Please contact us, if you are interested in the full report. Here is the table of contents:

Table of Contents

If you are interested in the full report, please contact us.

The two models of DRM

We often find that DRM is hard to understand for our customers who present content to end-users – it is something that is required by content owners but which provides minimal extra value to the content presenter. This means that there is an incentive to spend as little time and money as possible on DRM – ideally, it is seen as a switch you simply turn into the “on” position.

While that is a perfectly reasonable approach, it is also possible to make use of an appropriately flexible DRM platform to drive some of the entitlement-related business logic and thus save development effort. Whether a customer is interested in doing this determines which of two very different DRM models must be used in the solution.

Our SilverHD DRM platform was originally engineered to provide the maximum benefit to our customers, so we made the initial assumption that deep integration was desirable. In practice, this has only been true with around half of our customers. The current version of SilverHD DRM can cater equally well to both types of needs – separating them into a plug-and-play model and an integrated model.

This article describes the differences between the two DRM usage models and what sort of impact they have on solution development and integration. Our DRM platform uses the PlayReady technology but these models can also be roughly applied to other equivalent DRM technologies.

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