This page introduces you to technologies which help with one-way recording and streaming. If you need to have an online meeting (two-way), start here instead.
Recording and Non-live Playback>>>
The easiest way to webcast is to record the event and put it somewhere for later use. At its base, this requires nothing more then a camera and an upload to a video service like Vimeo or youtube, or to your own server. However, to mix slides, multiple audio streams, and video requires a bit more infrastructure. Read the section below for more information. IT has a digital video camera available for very short term checkout. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. See also: Screencasting and Recording and Places to Put Video
LBL is set up for live streaming of meetings and we have a contract (through CSO for an outsourced vendor) to provide video production services. We outsource the streaming server to one of two providers. This means there is no infrastructure for us to maintain, but each use of the streaming service incurs charges (which are recharged to the project request the streaming). There are also free alternatives available. By the way, if you only need to videocast slides or if you only have a few dozen viewers, you may find that a web meeting tool or traditional videoconferencing tool is more appropriate.
Understanding the components:
There are two components of live streaming:
1. Video Production and Mixing: Professional or even amateur videocasting requires one or more dedicated people and computers to film, mix, and manage the computer that will transmit the production stream to the webcasting service. Mixing refers to bringing together the audio streams, slides, and video into a coherent presentation.
2. Webcasting: The single stream is transmitted to a webcasting service (hosted usually, but can be run internally) and then repeated for the viewers. A critical thing to understand about webcasting is that each new viewer imposes an additional load on the server. The reason we typically outsource these services is that the load can be quite large and outsourced services have the capacity to handle big spikes in demand.
LBL Provided Contracts:
LBL contracts with services from two providers for different sizes of events.
Streamguys: We use streamguys for Labwide and media events where the number of viewers can grow into the hundreds or thousands. The costs can be substantial, including setup and a fee that is based on both estimated and real viewers. An average streaming of a "State of the Lab" event can cost 3-5k after burdens and labor costs are applied. This does not include the cost of video production.
ePresence: We use ePresence for smaller events. Small divisional streaming events (< 30 simultaenous viewers) can be accomodated at just the cost of setup (under $100). ePresence can be used for events with up to 500 viewers though, for additional fees (still lower then streamguys). Contact email@example.com for additional rate information.
Free Alternatives :
NOTE THAT BOTH THESE SERVICES DISPLAY ADS OVER YOUR VIDEO! Make sure your viewers understand that neither you, the Lab, DOE, or UC are endorsing these vendors.
Also, remember that you still need to shoot and mix video - these free services still require lots of labor from someone.
justin.tv: Justin.tv provides free streaming services online. The service displays ads over your stream. There are several plugins for Windows and Mac that improve quality when you are the broadcaster.
ustream.tv: Provides similar functionality to Justin.tv but provides additional web-based controls for mixing in other videos and titles.
Free Alternatives (Your Infrastructure):
It's possible to use LBL systems that you manage to stream video. Because LBL has very good internet connectivity and bandwidth availability, streaming can be accomplished on our network at very large scale. However, IT does not provide these services directly. You would need to operate your own servers and software to do this. Two popular open source solutions for streaming video are VLC and Darwin Server.
Other Interesting Possibilities:
Streaming is a natural for cloud-based providers because it is marked by periods of high-use followed by periods of zero use. Why own the infrastructure? One interesting model is Wowza for EC2. You configure an EC2 instance and you pay for badwidth and CPU as well as a very small monthly fee. Check it out here. If you do this at LBL, we absolutely want to hear about it.
Video & Audio Production and Mixing>>>
This is actually the hard part, especially if you want to mix one or more cameras plus slides or screen interaction in realtime.
If all you're doing is video or screencasting and audio, and your quality expectations aren't too high, you can definitely DIY this. But mixing slides with video gets more complicated if you're doing it in real time since you need to bring the video output of one laptop in to another system and manage the split screen (or do it all on the presenting laptop - which makes it hard to manage the mixing).
If you don't integrate slides with video, the ability to read the slides on the streaming video is often compromised. However, one option is to stream without integrating the slides into the stream, but then edit back in higher quality slides at a later time using a video editing application like Camtasia, Windows Movie Maker, or iMovie. Here's an LBL example of mixing slides and video into a split screen for capturing training. This was captured with a cheap digital camera and edited with Camtasia. The capture was from the 50 Auditorium.
If the Lab invested in a portable mixing station designed for this, would it get used? This is something we're thinking about, and we'd love your input. Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this information helpful to the Lab community? Let us know and tell us what else we can do by emailing us at email@example.com Or join the conversation by adding comments or content to this page.
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