Transcoding with AWS- part two

As I have static and media files integrated with AWS now it's time to transcode them. In this post, I will write a short example of how to integrate AWS ElasticTranscoder with Django application.

Basic terms

ElasticTranscoder allows you to transcode files from your S3 bucket to various formats. To set this service up first you have to create a pipeline. What pipeline is? Basically, it's a workflow- how your transcoder should work. You can create a different pipeline for long content and different for short one. In my application I created the following pipeline:

Pipeline configuration

As I have my pipeline configured next step is to create jobs. Jobs are tasks for a transcoder that say which file I want to transcode, to what format or codec I want to do this:

Job details

PresetID is user created or already existing configuration that defines the format of transcoder output: is it mp4 or maybe flac? What resolution should video files have? All of this is set up in present.

As we know basic terms used in AWS Elastic Transcoder let's jump into the code.


AWS has very good python API called boto3. Using that API and few examples from the internet I was able to create a simple class to create transcode job:

import os

from django.conf import settings

import boto3

class AudioTranscoder(object):

  def __init__(self, region_name='eu-west-1', pipeline_name='Audio Files'):
      self.region_name = region_name
      self.pipeline_name = pipeline_name
      self.transcoder = boto3.client('elastictranscoder', self.region_name)
      self.pipeline_id = self.get_pipeline()

  def get_pipeline(self):
      paginator = self.transcoder.get_paginator('list_pipelines')
      for page in paginator.paginate():
          for pipeline in page['Pipelines']:
              if pipeline['Name'] == self.pipeline_name:
                  return pipeline['Id']

  def start_transcode(self, filename):
      base_filename, _ = self.create_aws_filename(filename, '')
      wav_aws_filename, wav_filename = self.create_aws_filename(
          filename, extension='.wav'
      flac_aws_filename, flac_filename = self.create_aws_filename(
          filename, extension='.flac'
      mp4_aws_filename, mp4_filename = self.create_aws_filename(
          filename, extension='.mp4'
              'Key': base_filename,
              'FrameRate': 'auto',
              'Resolution': 'auto',
              'AspectRatio': 'auto',
              'Interlaced': 'auto',
              'Container': 'auto'
              'Key': wav_aws_filename,
              'PresetId': '1351620000001-300300'
              }, {
              'Key': flac_aws_filename,
              'PresetId': '1351620000001-300110'
              }, {
              'Key': mp4_aws_filename,
              'PresetId': '1351620000001-100110'
      return (wav_filename, flac_filename, mp4_filename)

  def create_aws_filename(filename, extension):
      aws_filename = os.path.join(
          settings.MEDIAFILES_LOCATION, filename + extension
      return aws_filename, os.path.basename(aws_filename)

transcoder = AudioTranscoder()

Going from the top - I specified my region_name as well as pipeline_name for boto3 to know to which region it should connect. In method get_pipeline I iterate through all available pipelines and return that has the same name as pipeline_name. In this function paginator is an object which holds on portion of data so user don't have to wait until all available pipelines are fetched.

The main logic is in start_transcode method. At the beginning, I used helper function create_aws_filename that's creating proper AWS file name like media/my_mp3.mp3 and returns that whole path with filename. After I created filenames for all of my files I'm calling create_job that creates a job basing on pipeline_id and base_filename. The job can have multiple outputs so I specified one for wav, flac and mp4 files. How is it used in code? Let's go to view:

class UploadAudioFileView(FormView):
  # some code

  def form_valid(self, form):
      audio_file = AudioFile(
      wav_filename, flac_filename, mp4_filename = transcoder.start_transcode(

      audio_file.mp4_file = mp4_filename
      audio_file.flac_file = flac_filename
      audio_file.wav_file = wav_filename
      return HttpResponseRedirect(
          reverse('audio:detail', kwargs={'pk':})

In form_valid first I'm calling save() on AudioFile object which is uploading the file to S3 bucket. Then I'm using transcoder.start_transcode and basing on output from this function I match filenames to their respective fields. I know that this solution is not the best one as I have to call save twice and if you have a better way to do this I'm glad to hear it from you.

That's all for today! Transcoding works fine but there is a problem with what when files are big? Transcoding such files will take lots of time and user don't want to wait for a response. The solution will be revealed in next post.

The code that I have made so far is available on github. Stay tuned for next blog post from this series.

Special thanks to Kasia for being an editor for this post. Thank you.

While creating this blog post I used an code from offcial boto github account.