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Customer Spotlight: Artplayer

At Panda, we have some truly great customers and are always interested to see how they’re integrating Panda with their apps and sites.

Artplayer is a unique online video platform aiming to showcase the best video content from the UK arts industry. In addition to a desktop and mobile web presence, Artplayer offers mobile apps, exclusive editorial content, access to major UK Arts organisations and a range of video services including production and training.

Chris Nolan of the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) was kind enough to take some time to detail why Artplayer chose Panda and how they’ve integrated it into their platform:

“For a previous project we wrote our own encoding queue using Ruby on Rails with an ffmpeg backend. So, we learnt the hard way that encoding videos in a high-availability site is a very difficult technical challenge. The main difficulties we encountered were managing the queue during peak periods – especially controlling concurrent jobs – and the impact that would have on CPU and resource usage. For Artplayer we decided to look into alternative ways to do this and it soon became clear that this is a service we needed to be handled by the cloud.

I trialed a number of services including Heywatch and Ankoder, both of which are very capable – but the ease of integration with Panda using the supplied libraries won me over. Within less than 30 minutes I’d created a fully-functioning test implementation of Panda and it became immediately clear that it would both provide all the features we require whilst being able to easily integrate with our site’s workflow.

Today, Panda handles all of Artplayer’s video encoding. Each video is encoded into three profiles, providing us with a range of bitrates for HD, SD and mobile encoded videos, which allows us to reach the majority of today’s connected devices. We use jwPlayer to allow playback on both HTML5 and Flash enabled devices.

Integration is facilitated through Panda’s PHP library, which provides API access to Panda, while the Panda HTML5/Flash smart widget provides a widely compatible and simple upload process. The entire integration is transparent to the users who always remain on the Artplayer site. Our videos are passed from Panda to Amazon S3 where we use Amazon’s Cloudfront Content Delivery Network to provide advanced streaming of videos to our visitors.

Another strength of Panda is the API, which strikes the difficult-to-achieve perfect balance between being feature-rich and simple to use. Additionally, Panda’s admin interface is excellent, and when I’ve needed their support they have always been available and have been exceptional in helping to answer my questions and resolve any issues we encountered.

We’ve now been using Panda for over 12 months in our pilot and live sites and are really happy with the service.”


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