Azure Media Services – Media Indexer

One of the powerful offerings Microsoft Azure has is the “Azure Media Services”.

Azure Media Services spans lots of capabilities, and I am sure the very first thing you think about is video publishing and streaming, but it is way more than just that. Encoding, live and on-demand streaming, content protection, analytics and even client players.

In this post, I will focus on the Media Analytics services, and explore them with a sample demo or more.

Media Analytics

Azure Media Analytics, a collection of speech and vision components that make it easier for organizations and enterprises to derive actionable insights from their video files through advanced machine learning technology. Media Analytics is offered at enterprise scale, delivering the compliance, security, and global reach large organizations need.

The definition is alone sounds very interesting so let’s start exploring how to build something useful to play with.

Looking at the Media Analytics page it has many services.
For this post let’s check the Indexer one interesting piece of technology it can transcribe a media file and extract time-stamped captions.
This tutorial assumes you already have an active Azure subscription if that isn’t the case you can start a trial here.
I will use ITWORX HUB video for testing the service.

Create the Media Service instance

 First things first, create a Media Services instance from the azure portal, you can search for Media Services. Note: this is not a free service so make sure you use a trial account so you don’t get surprised with an increase in your monthly bill.
Screenshot 2016-12-24 19.11.06
Just like all other Resource Manager based services from Azure, the Media Services asks you for the resource group and the location to deploy its service.
Screenshot 2016-12-24 19.14.34

Upload your media file

Next open up the the media service blade that was just created, and now you should be able to find the Assets menu item, this UI gives you the ability to upload media files into the storage account that has just been created and linked in the above step.
Screenshot 2016-12-24 21.23.04

Start the Media Analysis

After you upload the media file and selecting that video from the Assets pane, the Asset blade opens up and you will have the ability to do multiple things, for now we are focusing on the Analyze button.
Screenshot 2016-12-24 21.50.30

Media Analysis Job

Media Analysis job pane opens up and here you can configure some properties for the Job, mainly you are picking which media analytics service you are using in our case the “Indexer” and the language and actually much more like which caption formats to be generated and so on.
Screenshot 2016-12-24 21.51.27

Viewing the results

After the Job finishes, you will find thr output files added to your assets library. To enable viewing  the files inside you will need to Publish it first, and get any of the captions generated, here I show the .vtt file (video timed text format), more on the VTT something like this :

Screenshot 2016-12-27 14.15.07
WebVTT sample

Viewing the captioned Video

To view the video with captions this can be done in two steps, first download the vtt file, then go back to the orignal Video Asset file and Upload the captions.

Next is playing the video, Microsoft has built a really nice Azure Media Player that supports playing the video along with the captions. Or actually you can use any media player that supports vtt formats as captions.

Tons of samples for the Media Player can be found here

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