4k Video Support is Here

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding 4k video, also known as aka 2060p, ever since ultra-high-definition televisions burst onto the market. Over the years this technology has become more sophisticated with more mobile phones and tablets now offering support for 4k content than ever before.

Today, we’re excited to announce the roll-out of support for 4k video at CircleHD: Employees will now be able to natively upload crisp, clear screencasts and stream videos made with premium high-resolution cameras.

4k videos are larger, have 3840 x 2160 or 4096 x 2160 resolution, contain 8 million pixels and can be cumbersome on your resources. In fact, typical file size can range from 1Gb ~ 50Gb. That’s why we have accounted for all these variables and bumped up our single file upload limit to 10GB.

When it comes to bandwidth, we recommend at least 25Mbps. However, if your working with limited bandwidth and/or low powered GPU-like mobile devices, CircleHD will automatically transcode with a lower bit rate, creating a frictionless user experience.

We are proud to be the first enterprise video platform to allow the uploading and sharing of 4k content. How can you benefit from 4k? Here are just a few of the ways:

  • Your training videos will look visually richer
  • All-hands meetings can become more lifelike
  • Conduct screencasts without losing pixels
  • Easily read on-screen code during developer training sessions

With CircleHD, enterprised are able to mix videos, slide decks and podcast content together to create cohesive playlists used for training and knowledge sharing. With 4k, you’ll be able to deliver the best-looking content possible, every single time.

Do you want to learn more? We’d love to connect with you and show you how your organization can benefit from 4k video. Get in touch with us.


What Every CIO Needs to Know About Video Security

About a month ago, a leaked video of an all-hands meeting at Google revealed that the tech giant was struggling to deal with controversial topics that have been plaguing its internal company culture. Of course, this is not the first time an organization’s sensitive information has been made public–it almost feels like we hear about a new instance every single day. From business secrets to company culture, and beyond, the non-verbal cues able to be seen in video often go beyond what is spoken. 

As a CIO, you’re likely responsible for the overall information technology at your business. Whether you’re looking to protect company relations and trade secrets, or just looking to make the information at your meetings more secure (or something else!), content made available should always only be accessible by the intended audience. This is why enterprise-level video security protocols and encryption need to be a part of every piece of tech that touches your company. 

And, when it comes to video content, here’s a guide to what you need to know to improve the privacy of internal content so you can better protect videos from prying eyes.

How (and Why) Videos Are Created


We all know what a video is, but do you know the key components of these complex files? All videos contain a series of pictures (or frames), glued together to create motion (Fun fact: that’s why they were originally referred to as “motion pictures”). Audio track(s) are then synced with these continuous optical tracks to give them life. Depending on how the audio is packaged, and its containers, these tracks may stay bundled in one single file or made available as a separate file.

Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. Further, though, video is arguably the most engaging medium for everything from learning a new skill, to sales training and overall business communication and beyond. Giving your employees the chance to make their own video content is also a great opportunity for your business. Not only is it convenient, saving time and money for your organization, but it also gives you a library of materials to use as needed. 

Once upon a time, you couldn’t create videos without fancy equipment and a sophisticated setup. But those days are long gone. Thanks to the advancements in mobile technologies and modern browsers, capturing screens and webcams has never been easier. Now, videos are being used everywhere in business, from marketing to training, onboarding to sales enablement–the list goes on. 

This widespread adoption is why making content available to the right audience remains an important job. While some videos are appropriate for the general public, oftentimes, you’ll need to secure them internally or for prospects.

Protecting Internal Videos


Any CIO knows that a combination of technologies is ideal when it comes to protecting trade secrets and content. Any of the single options listed below can be ineffective for video security when deployed alone. For best results, it’s recommended you implement more than one mechanism to secure content as dictated by its business classification.

Firewall

This mechanism is widely deployed in enterprises with any kind of content security. Firewalls restrict content availability within a boundary: It may be a physical device such as a network or a logical perimeter as we see with IP restriction. While it’s effective, it prevents employees from accessing content on the go. Since an increasing amount of employees are working remotely these days, firewalls can create barriers when accessing important videos like all-hands meetings unless deployed in conjunction with secure remote access technologies such as VPN.

Cloud technologies/software as a service (SaaS) is typically accessible from everywhere. This creates opportunities for remote employees to get connected and consume company resources in the same manner as in-house employees while bringing them together virtually.

Authentication

Limiting access to employees or partners via authentication should be the first defense mechanism implemented, as authentication plays an important factor in restricting content only to those you trust. Username/password combinations may be an easy way to start, but that becomes another password management overhead for personnel and makes the overall user experience less than desirable.

Almost all enterprises use some sort of a directory management service which stores users in a database:

  • Single sign-on provides a bridge between user experience and security while helping you achieve compliance.
  • Cloud applications need an extra bit of security, so a single factor authentication may not be enough and in this case, implementing a second-factor authentication such as smart card or TOPT devices is a good idea.

Cloud Identity management services like Okta, OneLogin or Ping improve the user experience while providing the security for cloud applications enterprises need.

Authorization

Authorization refers to limiting access to a defined user set like a department or a group but it does not work without authentication. Cloud video platforms like CircleHD enable you to restrict your videos to specific audiences with very little effort. You can even utilize segments your company already uses, such as cost center or department.

Encryption

Encryption has been utilized since 600 BC when the ancient Spartans used it to send messages during a battle, but it’s more modern form has been in use since World War I. The technology works by altering bits of content with a secret key. Then letting someone access that original content again with a complimenting key. 

There are four types of commonly used algorithms:

  • Symmetric encryption – algorithms use the same key to encrypt and decrypt the content. Its usage is considered less secure when used alone over the internet since the sender and receiver share the same key. Symmetric encryption is faster and often used to encrypt large blocks of data such as video.

  • Asymmetric encryption – This uses a public key to encrypt and a private key to decrypt the video. It can also be used to verify the authenticity of a video if a MITM attack is a risk. This algorithm is slower and requires a higher computation power, making it an unsuitable option for video security, as videos are often played on low-powered devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

  • Encryption at rest – Essentially, this can be described as converting your sensitive data into another form, which generally happens through an algorithm that cannot be understood by a user who doesn’t have the encryption key to decode it It’s particularly useful in rendering data useless to hackers, should your information be compromised.

    This is the recommended approach if you’re on a public data center or public-facing object store like AWS S3. We do that CircleHD. All your content is encrypted by KMS (key management service) where the content can only be decrypted by a key that is periodically rotated to reduce the surface of an attack vector.

  • Encryption on transit – This describes how data is transmitted. TLS (or SSL) is a secure transport channel. When used, it reduces the man in the middle (MITM) attack. The content is encrypted using a negotiated symmetric key algorithm.

AES ( Advanced Encryption Standard) is a symmetric encryption algorithm widely used for video encryption for the above-mentioned reasons. This algorithm supports various lengths of key bits, such as 128, 256, 512 or a higher multitude of 128. The downside of AES is that, once the video encryption key is shared, the keyholder can continue to decrypt the video as long as it is available. 

Intranet videos are often played on web browsers, but HTML5 player is not capable of playing an encrypted video by itself. That means you can’t just encrypt an mp4 video file and have the browser stream to play it.

Thankfully, most modern browsers (89%) support Media Source Extension (MSE). Therefore, it allows javascript to download encrypted videos, decrypt them and feed them to the media player programmatically. This process is complicated, and implementation was left up to various video vendors, however, they like to support it.

Over the years, the advancement of internet video streaming has led to 2 popular protocols for standardization: HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) by Apple & DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) by MPEG. If your users are on the Apple ecosystem, you are out of luck and have to stick with HLS.

Why do we need HLS or DASH but not just encrypt the mp4 file?


The old mp4 file format (or container) wasn’t designed to support encryption. Your HTML5 player needs the meta-data, which is often at the end of the file. To play an encrypted video, such as a regular mp4, your browser has to download a large file before playing it. This gives your end-users a large buffering period, high CPU usage, and bad user experience. 

Solution: 

Chunking – A file splitting mechanism that allows your large video file to split into smaller blocks and encrypt each block individually. Your device or browser can then download only the necessary parts to start playing. And then download other parts as needed. Another advantage is that each block can be encrypted with a different encryption key. 

Sticking with a standard protocol such as HLS or DASH has the following benefits:

  • Portability across browsers and devices
  • Standardization of encoders and encoding algorithms
  • Adaptive bitrate streaming 
  • Standardization of encryption algorithms
  • Support for content delivery networks

While encryption of video improves the security of the content, it’s not bulletproof. Once the key is stolen, attackers can decrypt the video.

DRM – Digital Rights Management


DRM is a stronger encryption protection mechanism. It can work on an existing protocol such as HLS or DASH. It’s widely used by Hollywood and streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon, for compliance requirements. This method, however, depends on cryptographic module support from hardware and operating system vendors. 

Most DRM solutions are fragmented and available today are proprietary and may require licensing and royalty payment. Google’s Widevine DRM is a popular solution currently made popular due to out of the box support in Chrome and Firefox browsers. Other technologies include: 

  • PlayReady from Microsoft
  • FairPlay by Apple
  • ClearKey by MPEG

(Note: CircleHD has plans to support DRM in Q2 2020 for our enterprise plans and enterprises that require higher grade video security. Please contact our sales team if you are looking for a DRM solution for your enterprise video.)

At CircleHD, we believe the ease of access to videos should be every employee’s right. It’s worth noting that over-guarding content can create a barrier to consumption across your organization. Be sure to strike a balance between your enterprise video security needs and user experience to encourage adoption across your teams. 

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We’d love to speak further with you about how to effectively implement a secure content management platform at your company. Please contact us to learn more about how CircleHD can meet your video security needs while encouraging employee engagement and collaboration at your enterprise. 


Microsoft Stream and Best-of-Breed Video Management Platforms

According to a leading access and identity management provider with visibility into thousands of corporate software deployments:

“We dug into the data and found that organizations are increasingly deploying best-of-breed apps alongside suites, and that adoption of best-of-breed is growing much faster.”

At first glance, Microsoft’s Stream offering seems attractive, especially if offered at no cost as part of a bundle with Office 365. But when looking into the ability to store, organize and share video content, it makes sense to take a closer look at what specific functionality is available.

What’s Stream missing?

Playlists

This is a basic, YouTube-like functionality that is not available in Stream. Most organizations need the ability to order and sequence content for optimum training purposes, not just the ability to save it to a particular Channel.

Reports and Analytics

Sharing content is one thing, but getting data on who is actually engaging with it, and to what extent —what percentage of a training video are my users viewing? — is essential to most companies. Stream has access to likes, views and comments data, but not much else.

External Sharing

In Stream, there is no feature to securely share videos and other content with third parties like partners and customers.

Integration with Cloud Web Conferencing

Even if you use a Microsoft product for some of your webcasts, your recorded Zoom, Slack, Webex, and GoToMeeting sessions will not be auto-saved to your Stream repository.

Quiz and Test Functionality

Microsoft offers this, but not natively; you need to follow a link to their Forms product. The typical user who just wants to create a simple Quiz to pair with their training content may find this difficult.

Some of these functions may someday be added to the Microsoft Stream roadmap, and perhaps later released. Until then, it may make sense for your organization to go with a best-of-breed video management platform to complement your Office365 deployment.

Resources

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Stream-Ideas/idb-p/StreamIdeas

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Stream-Blog/Global-Admin-Pro-Tip-Learn-how-to-build-video-analytics/ba-p/365267


Common Enterprise Video Learning and Adoption Myths

It’s no secret that many people turn to video learning when trying to acquire a new skill. In fact, on Youtube alone, 1 million learning-related videos are uploaded and accessed 500 million times every day.

Enterprises often explore the possibility of implementing this format for their own corporate training but persistent myths surrounding video learning make some offices apprehensive about the technology. Many of these arguments were formulated before the development of advanced equipment and the video online support that we have now. Let’s bust these one-by-one.

“Video is Too Expensive”

Back in the days when shooting a video required big, heavy, very costly equipment that only video experts know how to use, this was true. Now, there are endless options for video recording and playback options, thanks to advances in modern technology. Smartphones have become powerful enough to create edit, and broadcast high-quality video content.

“My Team Won’t Be As Engaged If We Use Video Learning”

It’s a common misconception that video learning promoted individualism over group learning, something that has been addressed by online platforms by offering video conferencing and interactive webinars. Now, learners don’t have to miss out on opportunities to learn from colleagues, while also collaborating and building social connections with each other. By platforms like CircleHD take this one step further by enabling further engagement through quizzes and other knowledge checks in video content.

“Video Won’t Allow Me to Control the Pace of Learning”

The idea that learning with videos is fast-paced may have come from the fact that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster compared to plain text. Content paired up with images is also easier to remember because information goes straight to the long-term memory. Video courses allow employees to access the content at their own time and go through lessons at their own pace. They can pause the video and even playback a section as many times as they need to fully understand the lesson.

“Video Takes Up Too Much Bandwidth”

Many enterprises are concerned whether their internal networks will be able to handle the bandwidth requirement of video courses. There are concerns about the videos causing networks to slow down and get saturated. Truth is, it will take a thousand simultaneous views to cause problems to a network segment. Uploading video content to the internet requires compression which makes it easily accessible even by the lower bit rate wireless connections.

At CircleHD, we understand how video learning can help you achieve your employee learning and development goals. We help set up your system so that video content is easily uploaded, shared and streamed by anyone within your organization. Videos are searchable and accessible even on mobile devices. Book a demo with us and we will show you how video learning can transform your employee training for good.


Should You Choose a Learning Management System or Video Platforms for eLearning

eLearning constantly evolves to adapt to the changing needs of the organization and its learners. Once upon a time, a Learning Management System (LMS) was enough to handle all your training needs. But since video has become an integral part of corporate learning, the LMS deemed quite inadequate.

If you’re still contemplating whether getting a dedicated video platform is worth it, this list will help you decide.

Many Learning Management System’s are not designed to handle video requirements

Sure, there are LMS that support video but when it comes to features and functionality, they are very limited. Since LMS cannot support large video files, there are often bandwidth issues and no HD video capability. It also has compatibility issues with different devices and video conferencing tools. If you require on-screen video capture or live streaming of lessons, you’ll probably need a more powerful video platform.

A Learning Management System is not conducive to social learning

Video learning encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing among peers and colleagues. By recording and sharing his own video, an employee will be able to contribute his own inputs/feedback to the learning system. Retiring subject matter experts can also use video to capture their institutional knowledge which will be stored and be shared with generations of employees to come. An LMS won’t be enough to handle the creation and sharing of videos and therefore would limit your social learning potential.

A Learning Management System does not support video analytics

If you want a more comprehensive analysis of your employees’ viewing behavior, you’ll need an upgrade from your LMS. A separate video platform not only tracks whether a video is clicked but also whether the videos were watched until the end. Knowing at which part of the video the learners stop viewing will help course creators tweak the course content as needed.

A Learning Management System cannot build interactive video features

Games and other interactive features such as tests and quizzes make video courses more fun and engaging for learners. LMS cannot make these modifications due to its limited video support capabilities.  

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A Learning Management System is a good reliable platform for your corporate learning. But if your e-learning modules are heavy on video content, you might want to get a dedicated video platform. Not only will it be able to provide all your video requirements and customizations, but it also manages video-related issues way better.


8 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement with Video Content

Whenever an organization implements a new program, its success is contingent on employee engagement. But video can sometimes take a little encouragement to make and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few video content ideas you can share with your team, utilizing everything from gamification to vendor collaboration, and beyond.

Hot tip: CircleHD has plenty of features to help you easily set up “games” for your company. Users can set a start and end date and a rewards section which are all tied to a points-system displayed on your virtual leaderboard.

SharkTank 

Is there an opportunity the company should invest in? A 2-5 minute pitch video may be the way to go. Big ideas come from anyone regardless of position and the best storytellers often win support. Let the collective smarts of your team identify and incubate winners faster.

Improvement Videos

If you can identify waste, you should have the job autonomy to fix it. Shoot a one-minute “before and after” video yourself, and encourage others to follow suit by highlighting the best content at the next company meeting.

A consortium of 500 companies in manufacturing, healthcare, and technology sectors have entirely transformed with this simple but high-impact culture hack.

CEO to CEO Video Series

RIP It

Want to record a live web meeting? Just rip it live from the source. Record your screen, assign it to a channel, transcribe and upload. Within minutes (not hours or days) your video asset is uploaded and published. Find spoken words now in search. Listen later in the company TV app on the drive home.

Vendor Corner 

Do you have a vendor with a particularly interesting proposition? Ask them for a video to share in your “Vendor Corner” where new opportunities go to be vetted company-wide.

Hackathon 

Set goals. Explain rules. Put the innovation to a video pitch. Highlight winners.

Sales Influencer Awards

The brands with the best stories pull ahead of the pack. Challenge reps to create their own unique video pitches then allow the company to vote for the best using the CircleHD 5-star rating system.

Train

Create a lineup of videos and assign a playlist lesson to other users. Viewers can mark when a lesson is complete.

Looking for something more complicated? CircleHD can integrate out-of-the-box with your existing LMS.

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Are you looking for a secure platform to host your original video content? Contact us for a demo and learn more about how CircleHD can facilitate better employee engagement and knowledge-sharing across your organization.