We in the video business have heard the term Live-Streaming for a long time, and many like us here at Aardvark Video, a Las Vegas based video production company have been actively Live-Streaming for years. However to many people it is a new term and they are only being introduced to it by offerings from their local network broadcasters who are providing streaming of the news, sporting events, concerts, programming and more all in real time as the events are happening. Recently even Facebook has entered the fray with their product “Facebook Live” which lets a user stream from their smartphone.
Think of it as broadcasting live video over the Internet.
Live-streaming allows people to view events through their computers, tablets and most importantly, smart phones. Recently we streamed presentations by two of the presidential candidates to an audience anticipated to be around 60,000. With this the candidates had a way to get their message out to many more than could physically attend; people that with their smartphones could view it anywhere.
Last week we streamed a live presentation meeting by a CEO located in Las Vegas to all his employees at their North Carolina branch, all in real time. They had the presenter on one large screen and PowerPoint presentations on another, in sync. This required a specialized server setup. They were able to view in almost real time, ask questions and be part of the meeting.
We often stream Continuing Education seminars where attendees pay to be connected without having to physically attend and get the credits necessary for their licensing as lawyers, radiologists, architects and more.
A few weeks ago using bonded cellular technology which combines the power and range of multiple phone networks we streamed from a vehicle driving all over Las Vegas to large screens at CES while maintaining the signal everywhere.
Live-streaming is becoming so prevalent that Youtube and Facebook have even provided the capability where you can stream and everyone can view for free.
There are applications such as Periscope and “Facebook Live” where you can even stream from your smart phone.
Live-streaming can be setup so that anyone can tune in just by having the URL (website address) or in more commercial applications with registration, merchant account payments and logins necessary. Custom player screens can be designed as well.
Now when we speak about live streaming there are degrees of professionalism and image quality that differentiate the viewing experience.
There are streaming software and hardware components designed for the purpose. In this article, I’m going to give an overview of the process and some of what is available.
To stream, you need to have a device which will convert a source such as a video camera into a format that can be sent to a streaming server over the Internet which then can be accessed by numerous users going to a URL where the stream is being streamed from. This can be setup as free, pay-per-view or through a registration process. The key is that you need to know where the stream can be accessed and that not every file server is a streaming server. A streaming server has specialized software and is part of a hardware structure with the bandwidth capability to allow multiple viewers.
The total path from origination to destination determines the quality of the signal. On the stream origination, a weak cellular or WiFi connection can’t transmit the same as a robust hard wired fast Ethernet connection. Therefore with live-streaming to achieve the best quality the “upload” speed determines what quality can be sent to the streaming server and the “download” connection at the receiving end also impacts the quality and the lag time between real time and when it gets to the viewer. Think of quality as sending and receiving full HD video versus receiving something not as sharp and delayed.
Tricasters are dedicated computers that can allow up to 8 hard wired cameras as well as with the latest software, large numbers of IP connected devices. Think of a Tricaster as a complete video broadcast studio. It is possible to switch multiple cameras, computer screens or other IP sources live as well as stream. It has virtual sets, built-in green screen capability, titling, video insert capability and much, much more. You can record the program output as well as the various isolated inputs. We record, mix and stream seminars with our Tricasters as well as produce live shows from the trade show floor. A Tricaster is equally at home being the main component of a video studio. The only stumbling block to many people is the cost which not everyone can afford. Ours costs around $25,000 and other models go even higher with a few lower.
A software based streaming computer uses software to select sources and switch between them. Hardware interfaces, either webcams (often built into laptops), cards or external devices are needed to plug in cameras. Software such as Telestream Wirecast, Livestream Studio, Vmix or Xsplit are examples of switching/streaming applications. For desktop computers cards from Blackmagic Design, Matrox and many others are available. Many manufacturers incorporate the software and hardware into products they sell as turnkey solutions.
I can go on providing detail on the many products and the many applications where live-streaming is and can be used. However the take away from all of it is that in today’s technology savvy and desire for instant gratification world it is growing and giving people the opportunity to broadcast and view live events like never before.
Aardvark Video in addition to providing live-streaming, is a full service video production company producing video for business satisfying their needs to publicize their products and services, training to provide consistent, effective, motivating and repeatable guidance to employees and customers plus services to trade shows and conventions for highlight videos, interviews, press conferences, product demos, break out sessions, time lapse and more.