Transcoding long (>1 hour) videos quickly and cost-effectively on GCP to adaptive HLS and MP4 mezzanine files. Up to 40x $ savings.
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Cloud transcoding adaptive bitrate MP4 and HLS

Transcodes a source video file (MP4, AVI, MPG, M4A, WMV, MOV) to adaptive bitrate MP4 and HLS to be stored in Google Cloud Storage. Cheaper than 3rd party transcoding services by more than 40-50x when running on preemptible instances (compared to AWS Elastic Transcoder, Zencoder, Bitmovin, Cloudinary), and saves time/bandwidth massively by transcoding in the same region as where the files are stored.

Configuring boot disk template for GCE

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jonathonf/ffmpeg-3 # Enter to confirm
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y upgrade
sudo apt install -y ffmpeg libav-tools x264 x265

sudo curl -sL -o
sudo bash
sudo apt-get install nodejs -y
sudo npm install pm2 -g

# Route 8080 to port 80 to allow node to access port 80 without root privileges
sudo iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8080

# Create ROOT RSA private key then copy to Github repo (pull access only)
sudo ssh-keygen -t rsa
sudo cat /root/.ssh/

Startup script for each new instance

#! /bin/bash

ssh-keyscan >> ~/.ssh/known_hosts
git clone

cd /cloud-transcoder
npm install
PM2_HOME=/root/.pm2 pm2 kill
PM2_HOME=/root/.pm2 NODE_ENV=production pm2 start app.js

Shutdown script before preemption

  • Call localhost endpoint to reset running job in DB queue
  • Terminate PM2

Workflow to upload & transcode & tag game videos from YouTube

  • youtube-dl to download and merge original files
  • gsutil -m cp to broadcast-cx-raw-recordings bucket
  • Insert filename, size, and format into assets_game_footage table
  • Insert type, id, status into assets_transcode_queue
  • Find game ID of game film, insert into assets_game_footage which will be populated
  • Find start_record_time of game film, insert into assets_game_footage

Useful snippets

youtube-dl youtube-dl --external-downloader aria2c --external-downloader-args '-x 8' --playlist-start 46 --playlist-end 150

ffmpeg errors and possible errors

  • ffmpeg exited with code 1: Conversion failed! -max_muxing_queue_size 1024