Aardvark Video Streams to Facebook Live for Hyundai During CES 2017
Every year I vow to leave myself time to visit the exhibits and enjoy learning about all the new products announced and shown at CES. I thought I had that planned well by not taking too many assignments and having two days free this year. However as seems to be the case more often than not, we got a call at the last minute that was hard to turn down.
The day before CES starts I got a call from the AV company that stages most of the trade shows in Las Vegas. They had just gotten a call from Hyundai who wanted to live stream their press conference, which was scheduled for 3:00PM the next day. My AV friend was up to his eyeballs with his other arrangements and didn’t have the resources to deal with the request. He was in a panic not able to care for something this important and asked if we could, and we agreed to do it.
It started with a Korean contact and of course I don’t speak Korean so there was some difficulty getting information. Finally it was agreed that I would meet with the people caring for the AV equipment to be installed at the Hyundai booth that afternoon at Mandalay Bay in the room where the press conference would be.
When I arrived, nothing had been put in place; no stage, cameras, screens, the AV setup or anything else. It was a bare room with four people who spoke Korean and two that spoke some English. To live stream four main things are needed, a data line to send to the internet, a streaming server on the internet to send to, a device to send the stream from and a source for the video feed to be sent. I learned that the request for a high-speed data line hadn’t even been issued. One of the people there was the AV person who was going to set up the camera feeds and I learned he could get me a program feed with embedded audio. He also showed us where our equipment setup location was going to be. They asked if I could set up the data line and even though I would end up paying for it initially, just based on the language difficulties, I agreed that was the best way to go. I also learned that this was to be a stream on the Hyundai Facebook page and was given a Facebook contact in Korea so that we could get the proper coding for where to send the stream.
The Mandalay Bay IT people couldn’t have been more helpful. They agreed to get the line put in but indicated that they wouldn’t be able to do it till the following morning. With that input I told the Hyundai people I would be there at 10AM the following morning. This schedule would give IT enough time to get their line in, hopefully the AV setup would be in place for us to get a feed from and we would have enough time to setup and test before 3PM.
The next step was talking to the Korean contact for the Facebook page and getting administrator rights so we could get a player on their page. Again language and the time zones were an issue but we were able to work through it, setup a test to their Facebook page and make it work. About 10:30PM I went to bed pretty confident we had a plan that would work.
The next morning I got up about 7:30AM and had a text message from around 12 midnight the night before that they wanted us there at 6AM. I called and asked “what for” because nothing would be setup at that time and it was already 7:30AM, and hour and a half past when they wanted us there. I think they were just nervous about the whole process and wanted us around.
At any rate, we had loaded the car the night before so I called my crew Luis and Jake and let them know that we were moving the 10AM to 9AM. We all arrived and found that the IT line hadn’t been put in place yet. A few phone calls got the Mandalay Bay IT people down to install it and we setup the rest of our equipment. The cameras were in place by then and we got an SDI feed for connecting the program source.
We had a three-person crew; a Tricaster operator, a person to monitor the stream on both a laptop and smart phone and me to try to keep everything working. Because this was such an important stream we setup a redundant system with a Newtek Tricaster as the main system and a MacBook Pro running Wirecast 7 as a backup system in parallel. With a little bit of adjusting to get the right input resolution we got the source to work on our systems.
Once the internet connection was installed we began running speed tests every 5 minutes. Initially we were up around 15mb but it kept going down to around 2mb and then coming back up. That spelled trouble so I called the Mandalay Bay IT group and they made a change giving us a 30mb dedicated line. It seems that though no one was uploading on the first line but us, it was still available for downloads and usage was killing our connection. Once the circuit was changed, we were actually up around 40mb/second, which is more than adequate. I have to give the Mandalay Bay people a lot of credit for being cooperative and getting this done quickly.
By 1 PM everything was working well and then it was just waiting for the press conference to start at 3PM. We began streaming at 2:45PM and our streaming to Facebook went perfectly.
Everyone there and in Korea was very, very pleased and we were pleased that we were able to put this project together on short notice under pressure and with time zone and language issues making it more difficult.
The bad part, after losing the time I put into this and having jobs the rest of the days of CES, I didn’t get to see the show at all. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time!