Vancouver Olympics – How’d We Do That?

We’ve talked about the great new features of the Vancouver Olympics Silverlight based video and photo viewers, talked about the all of the content available in full HD quality, and talked about how Silverlight is being used in innovative ways to help content owners monetize their content at higher levels than ever before. Now we’d like to spend some time focusing on the partners that have been working on building this solution.

Each of the partners involved fills an important role in the overall solution. The descriptions below provide insight into how each of the partners contributed to the solution and their capabilities that make them perfectly suited for this type of project.

Akamai (


Akamai’s HD Network is delivering live and on-demand Olympic video to global broadcasters for the duration of the Games

· The Akamai HD Network is Akamai’s next generation video delivering offering, which provides both live and on demand streaming to broadcast-sized audiences with personalized and interaction online experience consistent with HD television.

· Akamai’s HD Network distribution platform, combined with the Silverlight player, gives viewers the tools needed to have the best viewing experience, such as DVR controls, interactivity, optional camera angles and personalization controls.

· The Silverlight player, leveraging adaptive bit rate streaming, adjusts the quality of the video to a viewer’s Internet conditions to ensure the highest quality experience possible is being delivered.

· A perfect fit for delivering the global online element of the 2010 Olympic Games, the Akamai HD Network is designed and optimized to enable large-scale broadcasters to increase audience engagement and expand revenues by complementing traditional mediums such as TV and DVD with the Internet.

Conviva (


As with any Olympics, the Vancouver Winter Games are full of late-breaking excitement. But when it comes to streaming, unwanted surprises can impact the integrity of online video delivery. To guard against the element of surprise successfully, Conviva’s high-quality video control platform starts with real-time audience instrumentation and then leverages multi-bit rate policies and mid-stream switching to eliminate the causes of choppy video. Leveraging instantaneous insights, Conviva also helps provide Microsoft with a window into what every viewer is watching when they are watching it.

deltatre (


For the Vancouver Olympics Solution, deltatre not only provided much of the metadata, results, schedule information, etc, but they also acted as the systems integrator that pulled together many of the components into a working solution.

· deltatre built Web sites for NBC Olympics and Canadian TV (CTV) – deep knowledge of the sports enable them to treat each individual sport with “Olympic” quality.

· deltatre did a deep integration with live schedule, results and statistics of all sports – terrific complement to TV coverage, in that fans have access to a depth of information never before available.

· deltatre integrated video with schedule and results – enable users to have a fantastic user experience as they navigate the service. Very user friendly.

· deltatre created a white label service so that broadcasters can focus on their core service and leave much of the difficult, one-off work to deltatre, thereby creating a service with greater quality and far more features, yet at a lower cost than if they had built on their own.

· deltatre took advantage of the latest and greatest Silverlight technology for building these services, so that consumers can have a great Olympic experience.

Inlet (


Inlet provides the encoding solution that is used by iStreamPlanet to encode the Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) feeds coming out of Vancouver. More details on Inlet’s contribution:

· Inlet’s Spinnaker family of encoding solutions is uniquely suited for live sports as it provides broadcast-quality streams over the Internet to multiple screens and devices.

· With its built-in support for adaptive streaming protocols, including IIS Live Smooth Streaming, Spinnaker generates high-quality streams that enhance online viewing of live sports action.

· Spinnaker will provide high-definition (HD) streams in real time at resolutions up to 720p.

· Spinnaker also will enable Olympic Winter Games fans to easily switch between multiple events or camera angles.

iStreamPlanet (


iStreamPlanet is responsible for the content ingest, encoding, and origin server hosting. They provide:

· IP and Satellite Transit and Encoding Services. Receiving the 23 NBC feeds over the IP from Vancouver and 5 CTV feeds via Satellite and encoding them in IIS Smooth Streaming.

· Webcast Operations Facility (WOC). iStreamPlanet currently has the capability to acquire, encode and monitor up to 30 simultaneous HD feeds from our WOC in Las Vegas, Nevada.

· Video Workflow Automation Services. iStreamPlanet has enabled via API access the ability to acquire content, route video, automate control over all publishing points, provisioning and starting/stopping encoders, failover and redundancy, live-to-video on-demand transitioning and resource management based on availability.

· Origin including Origin Telemetry. Fully redundant, cloud based content origination services optimized for the IIS Smooth Streaming and coupled with a real-time performance monitoring, maintenance and health-checks of the Origin resources for optimized and scalable Origin.

PreEmptive Solutions (


PreEmptive Solutions make Dotfuscator, the application protection and monitoring tool. For the Vancouver Olympics solution , Dotfuscator both protected and optimized the final Silverlight components. One Silverlight-specific feature worth noting is that Dotfuscator can accept and output XAP files (instead of low level DLLs that force developers to manually edit XAP files) – this shortened and simplified the release process – critical for an event like the Olympics. For more information on their monitoring and analytic capabilities, here is an excerpt from the Jason Zander’s TechEd EMEA 2009 keynote– all of these capabilities work with Silverlight too.

Vertigo (


Vertigo built the Silverlight-based video player and photo viewer, playing the video streams coming from iStreamPlanet and Akamai, while integrating the data streams and displaying the photos coming from deltatre. Viewers are now able to watch HD streaming video in real-time or on-demand, zoom in and out of photos and interact with the content through integration with social media. The video player code was secured using PreEmptive Solution’s Dotfuscator and had code built in to enable Conviva monitoring. Vertigo’s custom player is the culmination of all of the other partners’ contributions resulting in:

  • HD-quality Video. Hundreds of hours of live HD content, streaming at full 720p. Microsoft IIS Smooth Streaming technology enables the player to automatically adjust video quality to match each user’s bandwidth.
  • DVR-style Features. Experience the Olympics as if you were watching at home on your DVR! A simple interface allows for multiple viewing options, including slow motion, fast-forward, and rewind.
  • Rich Data Integration. Get the most information about a key event or moment with the interactive timeline. Rich data overlays and visualizations provide the user with the ultimate detail – a truly compelling web experience!
  • Social Media Integration. Video player integration with Twitter to allow the NBC audience to connect online.

With Vertigo’s Deep Zoom Photo Viewer, users can explore thousands of photos from the Vancouver Winter Olympics via the enhanced photo gallery. Dynamic interaction and simple controls allow users to move through galleries of photos easily and effortlessly. An immersive photo gallery experience allows users to take control of the image perspective and discover the image detail. Slideshow and Grid perspectives provide seamless transition between distinct viewing modes.

Wintellect (


Wintellect provided critical support in the configuration and health monitoring of the Origins server environment, a state of the art, high security data center that houses all of the smooth streaming servers used for the Winter Olympics. These include ingest servers that process live encoded streams, live servers that publish the content in a TiVo- style format (supporting live pause and rewind), video-on-demand servers for on demand playback of archives, and completely redundant sets of hardware. Wintellect provided full support for the backend operation by providing a set of tools for health monitoring and maintenance of the smooth streaming infrastructure. This included the following:

· Deployment and configuration of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor the health of the Olympics environment.

· Creation of custom SCOM management packs that interface with the Smooth Streaming APIs to provide continuous performance metrics, feedback, and alerts related to the health of publishing points in the data center.

· Creation of custom SCOM jobs that automatically shut down live publishing points and subsequently publish the video content to the video-on-demand (VOD) servers for on-demand playback by customers.

· Development of a custom windows service agent to remotely manage all of the smooth-streaming servers within the data center.

· Development of a Silverlight application to interface with the service agents via WCF. This tool allows Microsoft to quickly publish new configuration files (such as web.config and clientaccesspolicy.xml) to groups of servers, as well as dynamically manipulate configuration settings through a visual interface (for example, turning off compression on a remote smooth streaming server when required) on multiple remote servers at once.

· Creation of a synchronization tool that compares the file structure of replicated servers and automatically emails detailed reports of the discrepancies to the Microsoft Olympics team.

Southworks (


Southworks created the Rough Cut Editor (RCE) and Composite Manifest Generator Service. The RCE is a Silverlight application that allows the editing of Smooth Streaming video content. The modular Silverlight solution integrates easily with backend video sources, and allows editors to search for videos, drag clips to a timeline, insert ads, annotate frames, and more. The Composite Manifest Generator Service generates IIS composite manifests for an assembled sequence of clips in a highlight.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics, NBC, CTV and NRK editors are using the RCE to create highlight clips not only for completed (on-demand) events, but also live events. By using the RCE and Composite Manifest Generator, no encoding is necessary and content can be made available almost immediately. This means it’s now possible to see highlights published on the Web even before an event has concluded, making viewers the big winners at the Winter Olympics!

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