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Meta Pioneers New Video Processing Tech

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has made a lot of headlines as of late – and it hasn’t been all good news. One of their latest innovations, however, shows a lot of promise for both Meta and the future of online video streaming. According to their latest reports, they’ve already reduced the basic video compute time by more than 90% on Instagram. Moreover, the technology is easily scalable as needed.

Not only does it free up network resources, which enables the use of more sophisticated and advanced encoders, but it could also result in clearer video that is more consistent overall. While these updates are a huge advantage for regions without access to fast internet, it’s expected to have a noticeable impact on every user who regularly watches online video via Instagram.

How Does Instagram Process Video?

A recent blog post by the engineering team with Meta provides a great deal of insight into the inner workings of Instagram and, specifically, how they process video. Firstly, every single video uploaded to the platform actually exists in two different versions. Each version is encoded differently to accommodate different users with varying internet speeds. Users with higher speeds have access to higher-quality videos than those with slower internet connections.

While this method was workable, it presented a major disadvantage: it required more than 80% of Instagram’s computational resources. If they continued on that track, according to their blog post, the entire platform would be in serious jeopardy within a year.

However, by replacing and repackaging their most basic video encodings, the engineers could minimize the amount of resources needed to generate a basic recording. Although it results in reduced compression efficiency – and a video of lesser quality in general – this method is ultimately a net positive for current Instagram users.

Meta’s recent blog post shed some more light on this by stating, in part: "After we launched this optimization, we saw major gains in compute savings and higher advanced encoding watch time. Our new encoding scheme reduced the cost of generating our basic ABR encodings by 94 percent. With more resources available, we were able to increase the overall watch time coverage of advanced encodings by 33 percent. This means that today more people on Instagram get to experience clearer video that plays more smoothly. This is especially important in providing a great experience to people in countries that have slower internet connections."

The Future of Instagram, Meta, and Online Video

While the future of Meta is still questioned by many, the user base of Instagram has been steadily climbing. The viewing and sharing of online video is also becoming more popular, especially on social media, and this could be a step in the right direction for those with slower internet connections.

But the engineering team at Meta is quick to point out that even more research and innovation needs to be completed. It certainly seems that they’re working on even more solutions, but we’ll have to wait and see what they have in store.


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