New solution simplifies access to live and on-demand video distribution and archiving using Amazon IVS and AWS Elemental Media Services

Multi-faceted non-profit Haydenfilms Institute (HFI) is dedicated to advancing the art of filmmaking through education and innovative technology applications. Partnering with universities around the U.S., the organization provides hands-on production experience for students, and offers creative and web development services through its agency. It also hosts the Haydenfilms Online Film Festival, and the Haydenfilms Screenwriting Competition, the first of which was held in January 2022 and marked the initial deployment of HFI’s Cemboo video platform. Built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cemboo is designed to help film festivals efficiently stream, archive, and distribute content on a global scale.

“Film festivals have historically relied on an in-person event often without an online component. The events of the past two years have completely inverted these priorities, and now, a smart virtualization strategy can ensure an engaging online experience that reaches a wider audience and enhances monetization efforts,” said Hayden Craddolph, Executive Director and Founder of HFI. “Cemboo is a long time in the making, and with the power of AWS, it solves a host of implementation challenges for festival runners while also allowing them to deliver a premium viewing experience.”

First prototyped in 2011, Cemboo was ultimately shelved by HFI due to funding constraints and technological limitations. In April 2020, a local high school enlisted HFI to live stream its graduation, which led to similar engagements with 27 school districts and as large in-person gatherings remained on hold. Facilitating these events in rapid succession sparked renewed interest by HFI in developing its proprietary video platform. Craddolph shared, “We realized that the technology had finally caught up to our vision, so we assembled a new team of developers and researchers, surveyed hundreds of film festivals and consumers, and put together a 100-page feasibility study. Then we looked at cloud providers and found the right partner in AWS. They have the breadth and scale of services needed to accommodate festivals of all sizes.”

Under the hood, Cemboo uses Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS) for managed live video streaming, AWS Elemental MediaConnect for live video transport, AWS Elemental MediaConvert for transcoding, AWS Elemental MediaLive for video processing, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for storage, and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute resources for processing data. Additional AWS integrations are in motion as the solution progresses through development.

The technology was first used for the Haydenfilms 1.0 Screenwriting Competition, a three-day event held January 13-16, 2022. Of the nearly 300 submissions from around the world, 20 semi-finalists were selected for the Pilots and Screenplays category, and 10 semi-finalists were selected for the Short Film category. After several rounds of pitching to a diverse panel of judges – facilitated by Cemboo, the participant field was narrowed, and the $10,000 grand prize awarded to screenwriter Quinton Buxton.

Currently in alpha, Cemboo beta version is expected to launch by the end of 2022. It will be used to power the Haydenfilms 5.0 Online Film Festival, which opens up for submissions in spring 2022 and offers a grand prize of $25,000. For more info and the development roadmap, visit: https://www.cemboo.com/

To learn more about building for M&E with AWS, check out: https://aws.amazon.com/media/.