Microsoft Eyes Video Workflows With Azure Media Analytics

Ahead of the National Association of Broadcasters' big conference next week, Microsoft announced a new cloud-based video analytics product and an update to its Skype TX software.

video content

Microsoft is gearing up for next week's NAB Show, the National Association of Broadcasters' signature event, in Las Vegas by announcing new cloud-based offerings for organizations that process and manage large volumes of video content. Currently in beta, Azure Media Analytics is a collection of new and existing tools intended to help organizations gather insights from their footage and reduce the amount of manual effort required for several types of video workflows.

One example is the new Content Moderation service, which helps automate the process of reviewing user-generated content for non-work-safe imagery, according to Milan Gada, principal program manager at Microsoft Azure Media Services. "This service is designed to cut down the manual effort involved in reviewing content for offensive, illicit and inappropriate material and is ideal for you, if you are dealing with a lot of user generated content submitted from anonymous sources," he explained in a blog post.

Content Moderation is available to select customers in private preview along with Azure Media Analytics' new Video Optical Character Recognition (OCR) service. The latter can extract text that appears in a video, handy for building a video search engine.

For the video surveillance industry, the Motion Detection service automatically spots moving objects in videos with stationary backgrounds, reducing human error. "This is ideal for customers who want to check for false positives on motion events detected by surveillance cameras on the surveillance video feeds," said Gada.

New Face Detection and Face Emotions capabilities can help event organizers read the room. Together, they can be used to scan for attendees' faces in a video and analyze their reactions, from happiness to disgust, and several other emotions in between, Gada added.

For highlight reels, there's the new Video Summarization service. It automatically selects interesting video snippets, allowing users to create a quick overview from a long source video.

Joining the Azure Media Analytics suite are the existing Azure Media Indexer and Microsoft Hyperlapse.

Azure Media Indexer, which makes video and audio files searchable, now includes support for an additional six text-to-speech languages for a total of eight (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish). Microsoft Hyperlapse, used to create time-lapse videos, can smooth out sped-up videos and stabilize footage captured by phones or video cameras.

Targeting broadcast control rooms, Microsoft also announced the newest version of its Skype-based broadcasting software, Skype TX 4. The software enables TV studios to incorporate live Skype video calls into their programming, and in its latest iteration, they can handle more calls with less hardware.

According to an April 14 announcement from the Skype team at Microsoft, "Skype TX 4 offers broadcasters and media partners the ability to integrate multiple studio-grade Skype video calls into the broadcasting workflow. And, with only one system required for multiple calls, broadcasters need less equipment and setup time, therefore reducing the overall cost and control room footprint."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...