Digital Video Guidebook: Live Streaming

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When you have an event that you wish to broadcast for others to watch and hear, then what you want to do is to produce a live stream of that event.  To do this, you will need:

  1. A video camera of suitable quality and resolution for your needs (see below)
  2. A high quality microphone system [optional if your video camera has a built-in microphone and you are streaming a small event]
  3. A computer with the appropriate hardware to accept the video and audio feeds from your camera and optional microphone system
  4. Encoding / broadcasting software that works with your computer and your audio / video hardware.
  5. A means of making your broadcast accessible to your target audience.

Most any modern HD video camera with a Firewire output will work for a general purpose broadcast.  However, if you are wanting to broadcast an event of high importance then you may want to look into getting a professional quality camera, albeit they can cost well over $1000.  Be aware that in most cases, a cheaper camera with only a USB output will not be able to support a live broadcast - check your camera's documentation as well as your encoding software's documentation to determine if the two will work together for live broadcasts.

We currently know of two software packages that work well for live broadcasts, though there are likely others that will also work with our rebroadcasting system

* Wirecast - More Information

A commercial product that can broadcast an RTMP stream and provides some common commercial broadcast functions such as use of on-screen graphics, transitions, etc.  Estimated cost is about $450 per license.

* Quicktime Broadcaster - More Information

A free product of Apple, Inc. that only runs on Mac OS X and broadcasts in RTSP format.  It does not have many bells and whistles, but does work with our rebroadcasting system and is a good option if money is tight.

For Wirecast, you'll need to configure your broadcast settings to work with our rebroadcasting system.  These can be found on the Broadcast menu, via the Broadcast settings... menu option.

  • Encoder Preset: {Pick one of the Flash 16:9 options, keeping in mind that larger resolutions use more bandwidth and are subject to looking 'jumpy' or 'jerky' when a viewer has a slow connection.  Flash 480p 16:9 (854x480) is a good starting point}
  • Destination: RTMP Flash Server
  • Address: {Enter the URL for the rebroadcasting server you are using}
  • Stream: {Enter a short name for your stream, using no spaces or non-alphanumeric characters}
  • User Agent: Wirecast/FM 1.0
  • Set Credentials... {Select this button and then enter the username and password provided to you by the administrator of your rebroadcasting server}

Note that you can actually create multiple broadcast profiles here, should you decide to broadcast through different rebroadcasting servers for different events.

For QuickTime Broadcaster, the configuration is done on the Network tab and looks like this:

  • Transmission: Automatic Unicast (Announce)
  • Host Name: {Enter the URL for the rebroadcasting server you are using}
  • File: qtlive/[YOUR_STREAM_NAME].sdp {For OIT rebroadcasting.  Replace [YOUR_STREAM_NAME] with a short name for the stream using no spaces or non-alphanumeric characters}
  • Username: Enter the username provided by the administrator of your rebroadcasting server.
  • Password: Enter the password provided by the administrator of your rebroadcasting server.
  • Buffer Delay: {Leave Blank}
  • Broadcast over TCP {Leave Unchecked}

The fields under Annotations are all optional.

Once you have your broadcast configuration setup, you should be ready to begin a test broadcast.  Select the Broadcast button in your broadcasting software and watch to see if you get any error messages.  If not, then use an appropriate media player to connect to your rebroadcasting host and check to see if you can view (and hear) your stream.

The default audio and video options in either broadcasting software package will probably be sufficient, but you may still want to look over them to see if you might want to fine tune any of the settings.  Consult the documentation with your package to learn more about these settings and any controls that you can use during a broadcast.

OIT provides rebroadcasting services for academic departments and purposes via a Wowza Streaming Server.   For more information and to gain access to this service, please contact the OIT Digital Media Initiatives group.

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