The people at Shuttlerock believe the world of advertising could be greatly improved if more companies engaged their customers in the creation of visual content. Inviting customers, who are often merely the target audience, to get actively involved in this process leads to marketing campaigns becoming more authentic, trustworthy, and fun. And that is an outcome from which every party involved will benefit.

The wonderful team of Shuttlerock The wonderful team of Shuttlerock

That is why, for the past five years, Shuttlerock has been providing a white-label service that currently powers the social efforts of many major brands such as IKEA, Walmart, Honda, and BOSE. Shuttlerock’s social platform and API suite for businesses offers companies the means to aggregate and moderate user-generated-content related to their brand, allowing them to run their social campaigns in a refreshingly effective way.

After initially concentrating mainly on collecting social content, and providing a consistent API across the various social networks, Shuttlerock’s focus has shifted to other means of aggregation such as iOS and Android app integration, as well as integrating with advertising networks in order to provide real-time generation of ads from user-generated content.

Shuttlerock has come a long way since their humble beginnings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and they currently have offices all over the world, such as in Los Angeles and Tokyo. As the business grew, however, they began to notice that their previous method for image processing was not capable of handling a greatly increased work load.

Getting stuck in traffic

At first, Shuttlerock had been using an in-house solution that generated thumbnails on their web servers and stored the files on AWS S3. However, when those servers came under increasingly heavier load, memory usage spikes as a result of image processing began to affect their responses to normal user requests.

As David Perrett, CTO at Shuttlerock, explains:

"Initially, we were using dragonfly to generate thumbnails on the fly, and cache them on S3 once they had been generated. This worked well at low loads, but as our traffic increased we quickly began hitting timeout and memory issues. Another factor was that our product range broadened to include embeddable JavaScript-based browser image galleries, and we wanted to find a solution that would let us send files from the browser directly to S3, and bypass our web servers."

It became apparent that their current method was no longer up to the task, and another solution needed to be found. After briefly considering developing their own service, the engineering team at Shuttlerock decided to look to third parties instead.

"I had previously worked on a large image-hosting and photo printing service and knew first-hand how painful it can be to handle image processing quickly and reliably at scale, so we started looking at third-party services." – David Perrett

Finding a solution

The team had four important criteria in mind when it came to finding a solution. The service should:

  1. Generate thumbnails in real time.
  2. Store files in their S3 account, using their credentials.
  3. Be able to upload directly from the browser to S3, bypassing Shuttlerock's webservers.
  4. Ideally offer iOS / Android integrations, as well as video processing.

Why Transloadit?

As David explains:

"The Transloadit template-based system stood out as being very flexible and developer-friendly, compared to the other solutions we looked at. The documentation is thorough, and there is a nice range of examples that covered most of our use-cases. The ease of integration and the white-label aspect of it were also quite attractive, since several of the other services we looked at branded the upload interface at lower-level plans."

Of course, there is still always room for improvement:

"Initially, the Transloadit feature set was the main drawcard. We also found, as we used the service, that the Transloadit team was very responsive and open to feature requests. In one case, I had emailed to request a feature in the evening, and it was implemented and released before I woke up the next morning. Tim and Kevin have been great to deal with, and always provided excellent support."

Facilitating growth, sometimes in unexpected ways

For the past four years, Shuttlerock has outsourced their image and video processing to Transloadit, and they haven’t looked back since. As the company grows – and broadens its horizons – Transloadit grows along with them to accommodate their needs, allowing Shuttlerock to continue providing its service to major brands around the globe.

As David Perrett says:

"Transloadit is fast, and I'm not sure we could have developed an in-house solution that would process files as quickly. Transloadit also made it relatively painless for us to transition from being purely an image service, to also handling video. This would have been fairly time-consuming to develop ourselves, but the Transloadit video encoding API made the switch pretty straightforward. We have also found the service useful in other areas we weren't expecting, such as using the screenshot API to store historical records to S3 and produce emailable reports from web services."

"Transloadit has provided excellent support, and we continue to find new ways to use the API to solve our day-to-day challenges. This saves our developers time and allows them to focus on our core service."David Perrett