Media and Entertainment Industry — Outsourcing Essentials

As 21st-century consumers, we are ready — materially and morally — to pay for consumable content. Copyrights, IP, and respect for the creative process have become ingrained in our culture, and our wallets usually have a few dollars to spare on fun. This is the perfect time for the Media & Entertainment industry to take the proverbial bull by the horns!

Every day, new technologies are developed that permit delivery of personalized content direct to a customer’s fingertips. Common tasks are defined, and standard solutions (i.e. task-specific libraries, frameworks, and common components) already exist which allow for fast delivery of new Media & Entertainment applications. With the right IT outsourcing team — one that has expertise in utilizing multiple different technologies, possesses cutting-edge solutions, and boasts a wealth of collective knowledge — Media & Entertainment companies can increase the quality of their entertainment services while reducing development costs.

Solutions for publishers & broadcasters

Digital media delivered via all possible formats (text, images, audio/video) and accessible across multiple devices is the standard for today’s mass media industry. Virtually every task involved with effectively delivering this media to the customer requires deep, specific technological expertise in order to assist the client with:

  1. Reaching its audience. A media enterprise requires a fluid web architecture that can seamlessly integrate future extensions as the site grows in popularity. Also, since every mobile platform has its own unique user interaction patterns and functionalities, several mobile applications should be developed (one for Android, one for iOS, and so on) to ensure reliable, on-the-go content accessibility from any device.
  2. Creating and publishing content. A technologically advanced yet user-friendly administrator panel must be developed; one that clearly defines user roles and privileges management for straightforward security and quality assurance. Additionally, a content management solution (CMS) and an article editor must be created so the Editorial department can easily create and publish content without needing a computer programming degree.
  3. Monetizing content. This requires the full-scale integration of analytics, payment, advertisement scheduling, and targeting and measurement systems.

Video

Video is an essential content format for textual media (newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc.) and video media (i.e. TV channels, VoD services providers). So how can you ensure that your audience enjoys a flawless viewing experience?

Developing your own video player

If you’re developing a video player as an independent product, make sure you support all existing formats. Some users watch videos in one format and some in another, even if they’re all watching the same episode of Friends. When viewing on the Internet or via a theoretical server, there are numerous containers and codes that the file could be packed and compressed with, and your player must support all of them. Lucky for you, there’s a silver lining: such players already exist, so why reinvent the wheel? The only reason to create a video player from scratch would be if you planned to sell it as an SaaS solution, i.e. JWPlayer, one of the most popular video players.

Custom video player development is, above all else, expensive. Player development and building custom codecs requires an incredible amount of work. Now, if we take existing codecs and adapt them to a particular platform (iOS, for example), there will still be considerable work involved, but far less than starting from scratch. Two years, perhaps. And if we take an existing library — say, FFmpeg — which already supports countless codecs and which works on iPhone, the work will go faster. There are limits, though, and one of the biggest is that since the video player would be distributed via GPL license, and since we’re using FFmpeg, we would have to open source the project — a path that many for-profit product developers prefer to avoid.

Integration with existing video players

If you want to use formats that aren’t default supported by the target device, it may make sense to use FFmpeg and build a custom player. But be warned: if you have an application which takes media data from one specific server, and if you self-manage that server, it’s much easier to use a standard player and just fine-tune your server as needed. This is a good solution for streaming video, and it's easy to fine-tune the server so that it will transmit video data that’s playable on an iPhone, for example.

In sum, when considering a video player solution, the most work-intensive path is to build one from scratch — unless you’re exploring the SaaS route. A quicker, cheaper solution is to take existing codecs and adapt them to a particular platform(s).

Games: mobile and big screen

Easily the most engaging of all digital entertainment formats, games have blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry that promises substantial revenues for the savvy developer.

The Flappy Bird phenomenon

One of the most recent examples of games’ ability to enjoy meteoric success and generate overnight mass appeal is Flappy Bird. The game’s object is simple enough: a player maneuvers the bird’s flight between a series of green tubes and tries not to touch them. When the player taps the screen, the bird flies up. Flappy Bird was developed in just a few days by Dong Nguyen, a 29-year old Vietnamese, who released it in May 2013. By early January 2014 its popularity was soaring, and by month’s end it was the App store’s most downloaded free game. Nguyen was earning around $50,000 a day from in-game advertising!

Building on this last point, the first issue that game developers must address is the monetization scheme, since it greatly influences the game’s architecture. The most popular monetization approaches are paid apps (revenue from purchases of the game itself); free-to-play apps (revenue from purchases within the game); and in-game advertising (inserting an advertisement block using an advertiser’s SDK).

Sometimes a developer will offer two game versions: a free one with limited functionality and a paid, “premium” version. The object is for people try the free version and like it enough to buy the premium version. In this case, the free version promotes the paid one by compelling the player to upgrade to the paid version.

Choosing the platform

The second critical question is what platform to develop the game for: a mobile platform like iOS (requires coding on Objective-C) or Android (coding on Java); a console such as Play Station (C++ among others) and Xbox; or PC?

The truth is, consumers play games on multiple devices. In fact, practically all digital devices used by the average person are game-friendly: mobile games for when we’re on the go; PCs and laptops for when a table is nearby; and TVs and game consoles for when we’re at home and enjoying some quality big-screen time.

Unity-based games

Unlike business applications, a multiplatform game is a straightforward solution. Whether you play the game on an iPhone or an Android phone, no one cares if it looks absolutely identical — because it’s a game and that’s how it’s supposed to be! The opposite effect occurs if you have a calendar that looks identical on iPhone and on Android. iPhone users prefer one UI and Android users prefer another, and there’s no room for compromise.

Generally speaking, native development is “purer” than a cross-platform solution because you can use all of the native device’s capabilities provided by the manufacturer. However, with native you still need to create two, three, sometimes even four different applications. Currently, the optimal solution for creating multiplatform 2D and 3D games is the Unity development platform. And while Unity doesn’t provide the same level of compatibility as native, it’s worth the sacrifice. Developing a native game is a huge challenge that requires deep knowledge. Plus, you still need an engine for game creation.

Moreover, with Unity you can write code and use drag-‘n-drop options within a native environment, i.e. a 3D editor. You can know absolutely nothing about 3D, but if you know programming you can still create great games. For example, you don’t have to think about how to create a mirror effect on a lake’s surface, or how to design a cat’s paw. It would take you a week to do this with OpenGL — but with Unity, all you need to do is check a box confirming “It’s water”, or, “It’s a cat's paw”. Scripting on C# or JavaScript is an essential part of “handwork” in Unity, since your script controls the characters’ actions and their response to the player’s input.

Unity-based apps and games work on Windows, OS X, Windows Phone, Android, Apple iOS, Linux, and on game consoles too: Wii, Play Station 3 & 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Also, by using a special Unity Web Player plugin model and WebGL technology, apps can be created and displayed in browsers.

Sibers’ experience in developing media & entertainment solutions

Since 2003 Sibers has developed attractive Media & Entertainment solutions for clients worldwide. Among them are solutions aimed at making person-to-person communication easier and more engaging: for instance, a chat app with reach emotions to illustrate functionality; and a dating application whose fun, easy-going vibe reduces the fear and apprehension associated with blind dates.

We’ve also developed solutions that required highly complicated tasks involving thousands of work-hours, i.e. for 3D games and a simulations engine. One such project involved many European grants used to develop an array of applications for mobile devices, PCs, and set-top-boxes, ultimately allowing a Canadian TV provider to deliver its content to a global audience. We’ve also developed dozens of edutainment apps for kids, students, and adults, and dozens of games, including several Unity-based ones.

To learn more about Sibers’ exceptional solutions for the Media & Entertainment industry, please read our case studies.

Featured case studies developed for Media and entertainment industry

PS Audio Music Manager, Server and Player

USA

Our client, a player on the hi-fi and audio equipment manufacturing scene for over four decades, wanted to ensure that the company he cofounded remained relevant in today’s market. We gladly moved forward with development of several music-management and DAC-device control applications.

Case study in details

LivDay: User-Generated Itineraries for One Perfect Day in San Francisco

USA

A group of San Francisco locals, owners of a startup focused on digital city guides, asked Sibers to develop a web platform that would enable their users to create their own itineraries and browse through other users’ itineraries.

Case study in details

Videoshop: A Native Mobile Video Editor

USA

When we started working with Videoshop in 2013, our client, Joe, wanted to create a video editing mobile application superior to everything else on the market. After studying the competition, he set out to build a product with a features list the others could only dream of. To execute his vision, he turned to Sibers.

Case study in details

Custom Operations and POS Device Management Systems for a Large Telecom Provider

Australia

Three years later, we’ve not only built a system that enables single sign-on for the company’s staff on a variety of websites, but we have also created a variety of tools, ranging from management software for business operations, to custom POS devices.

Case study in details

Eyefi Wireless Memory Card

USA

One of the most rewarding aspects of being an outsourcing provider is watching a solution you helped create grow from a basic concept into a hugely successful application. One such success story is Eyefi, which has attracted thousands of customers worldwide and brought millions of dollars to its founders since its 2007 debut.

Case study in details

Set-Top Box and TV Content Delivery Applications

Canada

Our client, a globally-active Internet and TV provider, offering channels packages for US, Canadian, European and Asian audience. He asked Sibers to build several digital tools for content delivery to end-users, as well as facilitate discovery.

Case study in details

Logos3D: A 3D Simulations Engine

Netherlands

This project, which has won multiple awards and scholarships, was launched in the Netherlands by two brothers, who are the two biggest 3D technology enthusiasts we’ve ever met. As with almost every game engine, their offering, Logos3D, began as an internal project intended to help the brothers create their own games. Later it grew into a comprehensive proprietary middleware for creating lush, natural 3D virtual environments ideal for games, interactive simulators, and research tools. Indeed, Logos3D’s application field is very diverse.

Case study in details

SoundDogs: Online Library and Store for 700 000+ Sound Effects

USA

Back in 1996 our American client, Rob, founded a huge online sound effects library that also contains production music, samples, and loops. Rob started his business long before iTunes appeared, and he is still riding high.

Case study in details

LCD-based Hotel Advertising System

France

Originally developed for one particular hotel chain, the system has since greatly expanded its global footprint, and the client now offers the application as an SaaS that’s used by multiple luxury hotel chains worldwide. The proof is in the pudding: statistics show a spending increase of 23% from each guest who receives personalized advertisements through the system.

Case study in details

History Educational Application

Denmark

Currently selling in the App Store, this iPad application was a good investment for its founders, having generated popularity amongst students and casual American history fans alike.

Case study in details

Taposé Multi-media Digital Notebook

USA

The name “Taposé” derives from the verb “juxtapose”, and means “to place things close together or side by side”. The name is ideal for the client in that it reflects the application’s purpose: Taposé’s split interface ensures interaction with multiple apps simultaneously. So-called "multitasking" for iPad.

Case study in details

Application for Teaching Sports Technique

USA

The solution, based on biomechanical principles, data mining, and statistics, provides athletes with a uniquely effective training tool that is now used in more than 70 sports facilities worldwide.

And in more good news, the training application was featured in The Washington Post, which wondered if the technology could help win an Olympic gold. It not only did just that, but also helped set a new world record!

Case study in details

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