Categories
Live Streaming Web Video Technology

YouTube Live Streaming Is Looking Good

I’ve talked about the YouTube alpha test of live streaming for some of their partners, and many people complained about the quality of video that was streaming. I’ve been watching some of YouTube’s Farmaid live stream and it looks significantly better than what I have been seeing in the past. I’m not sure if they are using someone else live VEVO, who they have used in the past, but I’m not familiar with the look of the player that they are using for the Farmaid live stream. I have seen very little buffering, and the macroblocking is some of the best streaming video I’ve seen.


If this is the quality of video and the sleek and simple player that we will see when YouTube live streaming rolls out to more people, than the other guys like Ustream and Justin.tv should be worried.

Categories
Live Streaming Web Video Technology

YouTube Live Shows Signs of Life

The long awaited YouTube Live streaming service that we have seen tested with the U2 concert last year and various White House events it starting a two day beta test in normal Google fashion. The two day long event gives some of the most popular YouTube partners to test out the new service.

Testing, testing…YouTube begins trial of new live streaming platform

From U2 to the Indian Premier League to the White House to E3, we’ve worked closely with our partners to give you a front row seat to a wide array of live events. Today and tomorrow, tune in as we open a new chapter of YouTube live streaming. Starting at 8:00 a.m. PT, we will begin a limited trial of a new live streaming platform in conjunction with four of our partners: HowcastNext New NetworksRocketboom and Young Hollywood.

This new platform integrates live streaming directly into YouTube channels; all broadcasters need is a webcam or external USB/FireWire camera. Included in the test is a “Live Comments” module which lets you engage with the broadcaster and the broader YouTube community. For the purpose of the trial, this offering will only be available today and tomorrow. Based on the results of this initial test, we’ll evaluate rolling out the platform more broadly to our partners worldwide.

Check out all the live broadcasts via the interactive schedule below, and feel free to share this schedule across the web via the embed functionality. Bear with us as we test this new platform as there may be some bumps along the way. Please share your feedback in the comments section below (though note that the section is moderated due to spam). Thanks!

Joshua Siegel, Product Manager, and Christopher Hamilton, Product Marketing Manager, recently watched “Fun with Google Instant – We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

YouTube is the eight hundred pound gorilla when it comes to getting video onto the internet and their expansion into live streaming can only help assert their dominance. Hopefully there will be a stream recording feature much like that of Ustream, that provides better quality and will give content producers one place to manage all of their video content.

Live streaming video is a huge area of growth and this is a perfect time for YouTube to introduce this type of feature as many content producers are leaving Ustream over placing pre-roll ads on many of their live streams. Justin.tv has been the benefactor in this exodus from Ustream, but a cleverly introduced and useful live video product from YouTube could easily grab a large portion of the market share.

I’ll be watching closely to see where this goes and waiting until YouTube lets more people into their live stream beta. What do you think, would you switch to YouTube?

Categories
Live Streaming Video Production

Is YouTube Live Streaming Coming?

The guys over at TechCrunch noticed that on a screenshot in a help article for the new YouTube moderator feature, that there is a button for Live Stream to edit setting for a YouTube channel.

YouTube has been experimenting with Live Streaming events like a U2 concert, and various other events, mostly politcal in nature, but this could be hinting at a not so distant future rollout of Live Streaming services to the whole YouTube community.

Live Streaming is exploding in popularity as Ustream.tv recently received 75 Million dollars to help expand their services worldwide. If YouTube really does turn on Live Streaming to all users, it could be really interesting to see where producers alliances will lye as each of the services will no doubt fight for exclusive deals with content producers.

(TechCrunch.com)

Categories
Live Streaming Video Production Web Video Technology

Ustream.tv Announces Global Production Services

Last week Ustream.tv announced that they are adding Global Production Services (GPS for short) to their growing list of offering. This is another tool in Ustream’s arsenal that is make Ustream the live stream provider the choice of more and more producers. They are offering three different packages to meet the different needs of many of the Ustream producers. The packages list base prices that don’t include travel or other costs that are based on the location.

The Ustream backpack has gained a lot of attention while Leo Laporte was using it to live stream his coverage from this year’s SXSW. They are offering two different options with the mobile LiveU rig. There is the $3,000 a day rate that includes camera and technical staff and there is a month to month or yearly rental option to just rent the backpack equipment and includes 40 hours of streaming a month. Twit.tv and Pixel Corps have rented the Ustream Mobile Livepack and swear by it’s quality.

Conference streaming has blow up in the past year or so, and it used to be really expensive and you had to deal with some hairy technical goo with distributing the video. That has changed with the growth of services like Ustream and Justin.tv that make the distribution easy. The conference level package includes 2 cameras, Tricaster Studio and all the staff you need to make sure the video go off without a hitch. With the conference and concert packages you have to provide a beefy enough Internet connection to stream the video to Ustream.

The concert package is pretty close to the conference package, but adds a third camera and operator and a director to help give the production a coherent overall look. To note with both the conference and concert packages you’ll still need audio people and they will have to provide a audio feed to the Ustream production staff, which shouldn’t be any problem if you have competent audio people you’re working with.

Categories
Live Streaming NAB 2010 Video Production

NAB 2010: NewTek Unveils New Tricaster TCXD850

Photo: Collen Kelly (TWiT’s Vice President of Engineering)
Last night at their dealer meeting and officially today, NewTek unveiled their newest addition to the Tricaster line, the TCXD850. The TCXD850 addresses some of the main complaints of users when they debuted the TCXD300 back in December. The TCXD850 sports 8 HD-SDI inputs where the TCXD300 only 3. Eight HD camera inputs should be more than enough inputs for most producers, especially anybody who is considering the Tricaster.

Photo: Collen Kelly (TWiT’s Vice President of Engineering)

The new Tricaster also adds more pro level features like redundant power supplies that make the Tricaster more attractive to broadcast engineers that have to keep their equipment up and running. I have never heard of power supply failures being a problem with Tricasters, but since there is a windows PC at the heart of the Tricaster, it’s one of the more likely parts to fail, and I’ve had more than my fair share of power supplies die. The new Tricaster also adds a boat load of more audio inputs over the two balanced inputs the TCXD300 has.

The TCXD850 will be available on July 15th and will sell in a NTSC only version for $24,995 and an international version for $27,995.

Categories
gear Live Streaming SXSW Video Production Web Video Technology

How a Toaster is Changing Online Video

Since I was a kid, I can remember flipping through the pages of video production magazines like Videography and drooling over all the new cameras and gear that I wished I had.  One ad that would always stop me in my tracks was the ads for something called a video toaster. At first glance, it brought thoughts of the flying toaster screen-saver that was so very much the thing to have on your computer at work, but the Video Toaster was something far more cooler and powerful. The Video Toaster ran on the Amiga computer and consisted of a fairly cheap hardware and software combination to bring a powerful live switching / linear editing solution that was affordable. Later generations of the video toaster added more and more features and has become the Newtek Tricaster that we know today.

1994 Promo Video for the Video Toaster 4000

Live streaming video has come along way from the postage stamp sized video of NASA TV that I remember watching using real player on my 56K modem more than ten years ago. Watching high quality video is common place now and made possible by the increase in the availability in broadband and fast, cheap, computers. Streaming services like, Ustream, Justin.tv and Bit Gravity have made getting your video content out even easier. I remember days spent trying to get several servers to work together to feed a rtsp stream to a couple of computers across a LAN, and now anyone with a webcam can be easily streaming to an audience of thousands without the hassle of working out the back-end technnology.

The Tricaster isn’t a brand new product, but has seen huge growth in sales with the rise of people creating live video content for the web. The Tricaster has a lot of bang for the buck, replacing hugely expensive satellite trucks with a small box that can be easily shipped and it price ranges from just under $5,000 for the basic tricaster to $15,000 for the new drool worthy HD Tricaster TCXD300. The new HD Tricaster is an extremely attractive alternative to other HD switchers in the market that generally start in the $100,000 range and the Tricaster has more features. The Tricaster has made online TV networks possible and affordable like TWIT.tv and ThisWeekIn.com.  When a normal TV studio would normally need a crew of a dozen or more, the TWIT live stream is controlled solely by Leo Laporte that switches cameras while hosting and all of the rest of the duties of head TWIT all while on air.

Photo: © Newtek Inc.

Newtek had a big presence this year at SXSW with the Tricaster equipped Mini Cooper showing up all across Austin as Newtek made it possible for companies such as SiliconAngle.com, TWIT.tv, and This Week in Startups, and Revision 3 to bring the SXSW experience into people’s homes.

And its not just online video producers that are increasing using the Tricaster, more and more “old media” producers are integrating Tricaster into their productions for web content or video played in sports venues. I think this trend will only continue to increase as more people start creating live web video and old media looks for more ways to reduce costs and attract a larger audience.

Categories
Live Streaming Oddball SXSW video

SXSW 2010: Leo Laporte Live Streaming Crowd Surfing

Ask anyone who was at SXSW Interactive or just watched the online coverage from warmth and security of a Shiner Bock and a snuggy, one the of highlights was seeing king of the internet and pope of SXSW Leo Laporte crowd surf at Saturday’s Diggnation party. Leo was using a backpack device loaned from Ustream that uses 6 bonded 3G modems to give enough bandwidth to send high quality video back to Ustream. What was amazing is the whole thing worked while Leo was crowd surfing; watching it live from home, I was holding my breath just waiting for the stream to fail or a cord to get pulled out from the broadcaster unit. Watch the video and see it for yourself.

Categories
gear Live Streaming SXSW

SXSW 2010: What Technologies Will Blow Up This Year?

Each year nerds from all the world flock to Austin for five days and nights of panels, parties and puking also known a South by Southwest Interactive.  It seems each year there is at least one application or technology thing that everyone is using at SXSW. Last year the big thing was geolocation apps mainly Foursquare that had a big swell in users at SXSW last year as all the cool people were trying to find out where all the rest of the cool people are at and which party is the one to be at for the night.  In previous years twitter really started to take off and gained size-able adoption and proof of that is in the almost constant chatter about SXSW which is especially annoying to people like me who aren’t lucky enough to be going this year.

So what will be the “it” things at this year’s SXSW? I have two things that come to mind, QR Codes and Live streaming. I think we are going to see QR codes all over the place as people are trying to network and QR codes are a great way to exchange the information that would normally be on your business cards.  If you don’t know anything about QR Codes click here for the wikipedia article.  I think the band, movie posters and leaflets that are plastered all over the convention center will have the new addition of a QR Code that sends the user to a site with more information about their show or movie. Be prepared to see a throng of nerds in shirts with huge QR Codes silk-screened on them, hawking their blog or whatever.

In the year since the last SXSW, Apple released the iPhone 3GS, the version of the iPhone yet that best suited for live streaming video, and apps like Ustream broadcaster and Qik that allowing people to do live streaming video over Wi-Fi or 3G has become possible. I think live streaming services like Ustream are going to see a lot of use from people at SXSW streaming events going on in Austin.  One man who will be doing this for sure is Leo Laporte. Ustream has lent Leo one of their streaming backpacks from LiveU a company that builds this portable computer designed for streaming.  The backpack has enough juice for about 6 hours of use. The secret sauce that makes this all work is 8 separate 3G modems, 2 each from the 4 major players, that work in concert to provide a solid connection and sufficient upload bandwidth that produces some pretty good looking video. I think we’re going to see a lot of live streams coming from Austin next week as many of the big podcasts like TWIT, TWiST, Buzz out Loud, NSFW, Diggnation all converge in Austin. At&t epically failed last year, greatly underestimating the strain that the more than 13,000 attendees would put on their network and they say they have been working since then to make sure that this year isn’t a repeat. They beefed up the cell towers downtown with more fiber, installed hardware in the Austin convention center and are bringing a convoy’s worth of cell tower trucks to cover Austin in a rich and creamy layer of 3G. We’ll see if this will be enough to handle the demands of bandwidth heavy apps and thousands of people constantly refreshing twitter every minute.

Categories
Live Streaming Oddball video

The Reason You Probably Shouldn’t Play Chatroulette on Your Video Podcast

Chatroulette.com sprouted up a couple of weeks ago and has taken the Internet by storm.  If you don’t know about Chatroulette already than it is easily explained that it’s Skype video chat except you don’t know who is gonna show up on the other end. Most of the time it’s guys like the Jonas brothers that keep hitting next until they find a pretty lady to chat up, but there is a sizable portion of the users that are guys that to put delicately are very visibly excited to be on chatroulette.

On Sunday’s episode of TWIT number 237, Leo Laporte, regretfully for people like me who were watching the live stream, tried his luck at chatroulette. The short excerpt is below.

Here’s the longer version, about 7 minutes.

I also came across this great short documentary about Chatroulette

chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

Categories
Home Studios Live Streaming Video Production

Thoughts on the Ustream Producer App

Ustream has released two new desktop applications for broadcasting to Ustream. There is a free version and a pay version for $199 that allows multiple cameras and add a couple other features. The apps are available for either Mac or Windows.  When you download the free version, there is an option to out the pro version with a really annoying watermark, but I suggest trying it before you shell out the two hundred bucks for the pro version.  The producer app gives broadcasters the same controls as using the web based broadcaster but adds some functionality of a video switcher and access to Ustream’s social networking functions.

The free version supports one live camera and allows you to capture video from your desktop as well, great if you’re doing a show with you on one camera and the other host in on Skype or if you are doing a PowerPoint presentation. The app allows you to switch between the live video, screen-cast, recorded video, and images and music. The switcher has 3 transitions, which to me seems like just one because I don’t call a cut a transition and I can’t tell the difference between “Smooth” and “Cross-dissolve”.

The pro version adds support for unlimited cameras, transitions, adds HD support and allows title and overlay functionality.  The pro version is pretty much a branded version of Wirecast and has most of the functinality of Wirecast but only works with Ustream and is cheaper at $199 versus the $449 for Wirecast. Trying to add titles is harder than it should be, but is doable and you can save the presets so you don’t have to change the settings for each show.

Final Verdict:

If you use Ustream, then definatly try the free version of the App and check out the pro features too. If you are leaning to the pro version and you’re on a Mac, then the Pro version is a good option for the money. If you want the pro features and are on Windows than I would suggest trying out Vidblaster before you buy. Vidblaster’s home version is $195 and I think is easier and more powerful than the Ustream App. A downfall for Vidblaster though is that you need a pretty recent and powerful computer to take full use of all it’s features.

Links:

Ustream Producer App

Vidblaster