When it comes to transcoding video or audio, it was normally done through equipment in an office environment utilizing expensive hardware for commercial quality production. You need to have your own equipment besides the computer in order to transcode. The complexities of the process have been simplified in the age of cloud computing. There are providers who offer transcoding as a service on their platform over the cloud. While this provides convenience to editors and producers, it comes at a cost. Another issue is that if the provider’s service is down, the transcoding service will not be available. Users would surely want reliability and quality for the service they are paying for.
LivePeer is a project that builds on the cloud provisioning service for transcoding, but is also blockchain-based. It provides a decentralized network of nodes that provide their GPU to help transcode data on the network. Decentralization aims to guarantee up time. A user who needs to transcode can then send the job to the Livepeer network and pay the fees in Livepeer’s own ERC-20 token called LPT. The LPT token is also the reward given to “video miners” who help transcode and secure the network.
The LPT Token is:
- ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain
- Originally distributed via a “Merkle Mine”, an algorithm for decentralized distribution of token during the genesis state
- Inflationary according to algorithmically programmed issuance over time
LPT is available from digital exchanges, including DEXes like Uniswap. Token holders have the following capabilities when using LPT:
- Earn the right to perform or delegate work on the Livepeer network and vote on protocol proposals
- Routes work through the network in proportion to the amount of staked and delegated token, serving as a coordination mechanism
- Secures the network against a number of attacks via slashing that occurs due to protocol violation
Why transcode over the cloud?
When streaming video online, as is with OTT, various formats need conversion. The original format is the highest quality, often uncompressed and very large when it comes to file size. That is a problem when delivering the content to viewers. The format needs to be changed or transcoded to a smaller sized format that preserves most of the quality of the original. The formats can be made available in different quality and bit rates, depending on the service level. Since it can also be adaptive, the bit rate (adaptive bit rate) can change depending on the Internet connection of a viewer. The cloud can streamline the process efficiently, allowing producers and content creators full transcoding service.
Why use a blockchain?
It has nothing to do with speed. It is more about setting up a system that makes use of a decentralized network that is market driven and incentive based. There are users who want to transcode video/audio so there will be providers willing to transcode for a fee. The LPT token is used to pay for transactions and the records (not the content of the transcoding) are stored on the blockchain as verification of the process. This proves that a transcoding was performed to assure service fulfillment to a customer. The network will make sure that there is more than 1 transcoding service available. The blockchain is there to record the transaction and act as platform to enable trust between two parties that do not need to know each other.
For example you do not need to personally know who is transcoding your video. How can you trust them? That is where the blockchain comes in. It makes sure that the service fulfills its duty to process your job request. Conditions written in smart contract can make sure that the job is fulfilled or else there will be no payment made to the provider (i.e. Livepeer). The blockchain also prevents any form of cheating, so that once content has been transcoded, the system prevents a user from trying to get their payment back or canceling the payment. Once completed, a transaction is final when both parties are satisfied.
How Livepeer will change the broadcasting and production world is through a decentralized architecture that uses a blockchain. As streaming OTT content continue to gain a larger market, the demand will be there for transcoding service over the cloud. Average Internet speeds are also increasing, and with the implementation of high bandwidth networks like 5G and Gigabit Internet, more demand for high quality streaming will be there. This will push the demand for transcoding services as well, and there are many players available, but if they are too centralized they may not be able to provide guaranteed up time.
Users who need to stream video, online gaming, coding, entertainment, education content and other types of content can use Livepeer applications. Broadcasters can also use Livepeer to decrease infrastructure costs when it comes to delivering content. The use of a token to provide service records it on a blockchain. It makes it secure, protecting the transaction’s integrity. This allows users to know that they are using a safe and reliable network when it comes to transcoding requirements.