Sherpa Digital Media enables organizations to stream live events and host on-demand video content. Its platform empowers companies to share immersive video experiences to customers, partners, and employees, with simplicity and scale. Sherpa supports customers with their deep expertise in virtual experience design, event execution, and marketing and sales engagement. Industry leaders in media, technology, finance, consumer products, and more rely on Sherpa to deliver virtual events, training, and conferences for audiences of any size – from dozens to millions.
Live event streaming comes home
Organizations host a broad array of virtual and hybrid events through Sherpa, from small marketing webinars to global virtual conferences with vast rosters of presenters. For events of any size, Sherpa aims to deliver the same high-quality video delivery and dependable high performance that customers and audiences expect.
Previously, Sherpa leveraged on-site video encoding systems for more limited networks to prepare camera outputs for live streaming over the internet. This helped assure high-quality live streams, but had some drawbacks: Set up and operation of the encoding solution was complex, requiring time-consuming on-site support for set up and testing, and hands-on management of live streams during events. Managing shipments of bulky video processing hardware was an added burden for Sherpa and customers alike. And, as much of the workforce shifted from offices to remote work, users suddenly found themselves streaming live video over home internet connections that were less robust and predictable than office networks.
A connect-and-stream solution
Sherpa needed a solution that would help its customers deliver high-quality video from home or office without the complexity of a traditional on-premises encoding system. When Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched AWS Elemental Link in April 2020, Sherpa immediately began testing the new device with its cloud-based live video workflow. Satisfied, the company ordered a fleet of Link devices to support live events.
The Link device connects a live video source, like a camera or other video production equipment, to AWS Elemental MediaLive for video encoding in the AWS Cloud. Sherpa’s Link devices arrive fully configured to its AWS Account, so customers can simply connect the device to power, an IP network, and their camera or video source, with no buttons to press or configurations to load. Once connected, video is automatically available to Sherpa’s platform via MediaLive and Sherpa’s customers are ready to stream to viewers in less than a minute. Sherpa can control and monitor its Link devices remotely using the MediaLive console. Sherpa processes and delivers its live event streams using MediaLive and other AWS services.
Keeping it simple for users and producers
By removing the need for on-site technical experts, the Link devices have simplified the user experience for Sherpa’s customers. “Customers really appreciate how fast and easy it is to get up and running with Link,” said Mark Strathdee, Sherpa founder and CEO. “Instead of sending a professional to set up an on-site encoder, customers can self-serve and start streaming high-quality video in minutes. No settings for them to configure, no buttons to push—just connect the cables and go live.”
The Link solution’s ease of use extends to Sherpa’s side of the video workflow. Sherpa’s producers can monitor every Link device in deployment—and manage every active live stream—centrally, from the MediaLive console. “Link simplifies how we manage live events, particularly complex events like virtual conferences that feature an array of video feeds from different regions,” said Strathdee. “We set up a separate MediaLive channel for each feed and use the thumbnail previews generated by the Link device to present a visual inventory of channels, so our producers can easily pull the next source into the broadcast stream on the fly.”
For live streaming events, the network at the video source can have a significant impact on stream quality and resiliency. Link helps Sherpa keep live streams up and running and video quality consistent. Link monitors the network and continuously adjusts to available bandwidth in order to deliver the best possible video under given network conditions. “Network management is a huge advantage of the Link device,” added Strathdee. “With a traditional on-premises system, you need a dedicated professional to manage the video output against network conditions to ensure consistent quality. The Link device takes care of that for us so we can focus on delivering an outstanding event.”
“The Link device has changed the way we deliver events,” concluded Strathdee. “It’s small, it’s portable,—we can drop-ship them directly to customers and circulate them over the world—and it’s so simple to use and manage. It fits seamlessly with our AWS Cloud infrastructure and the API integration gives us flexibility to extend its capabilities as we build more and more innovative live experiences for our customers.