Broadcasting

Online broadcasting is now the preserve of activists, bloggers, teachers, politicians, celebrities and hobbyists. For a more professional effect broadcasting an event or presentation requires planning and people. If the format is a fixed camera facing a seminar there should be at least one person operating the camera and sound. If you are broadcasting piece-to-camera interview style you should have a camera person and an interviewer. If you are accepting questions or discussion from over the Net then you will need a moderator for that. Archiving is also important with either your own site or one of the public video hosting sites listed below.

LECDiagram

Suggested camera set up: broadcasting laptop and cooling pad connected to the webcam and tripod.  Because webcams don’t have optical zoom, you’ll need to be within 10-15 feet (3-4 meters) of the speaker in order to get a fair amount of detail (this generally means the first row of seats/tables).  Next, three cables – power to the wall, Ethernet (do not trust wireless Internet access for a live broadcast) to the wall, and an audio cable to the room’s stereo mix out (i.e. whatever the room hears on the audio system should be fed into your computer’s microphone/line-in port).  This will mean some conversion; typically, the room is on a microphone cable (called XLR) whereas your computer will need a 3.5mm mini-stereo plug.  Such converters are generally cheap, but you’ll need to have them.  Finally, plug in your headphones.

If you’re using Livestream.com, I’d recommend the Procaster software which can be downloaded for free from Livestream.  This allows you to switch between “screen” view (a capture of a portion of your screen – I used this to record a local copy of the presenter’s PowerPoint), “camera” view (the live camera feed), and various mixed feeds combining the two.  I recommend the “3D Mix” which records a small portion of the camera view (enough to capture the presenter) plus a larger version of the screen view (so that the PowerPoint appears large and crisp).  To increase professionalism, I also recommend switching feeds such that the people watching can’t see you transition between PowerPoints.  For example, between presentations, I would switch to “camera” view to focus on the presenter while behind-the-scenes I would swap out the PowerPoints before returning to 3D Mix.

You might have noticed an unaccounted-for Netbook in the diagram above.  This was because we wanted to take questions from the audience at the virtual sites.  We did so with Twitter (using a hashtag) and via e-mail.  A group of graduate students in my lab monitored these sources and fed questions via Google Talk, which was open on the netbook (which was connected via wi-fi).  A second team relaying questions is strongly recommended.  Not only do they filter questions for you, but they also can monitor feed quality.  You probably won’t have enough time to keep track of questions from multiple sources while also keeping the camera aimed, so this team keeps the multitasking pressure lower.  I also kept a live feed open on the netbook so that I could watch for fluctuations in feed quality and skips

Video Streaming Platforms

Ustream (advertising)
Ustream uses a copyright enforcement service provided by Vobile, which uses a proprietary fingerprinting system to automatically detect copyrighted content. This system has been known to generate what are considered by some to be false positives, blocking content that should fall under fair use, or which has been specifically licensed by the stream originator.

Justin.tv is a website created by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt in 2007 that allows anyone to broadcast video online.

Livestream, formerly known as Mogulus, is a live streaming video platform that allows users to view and broadcast video content using a camera and a computer

Bambuser is a Swedish company, founded in 2007, providing an interactive live video broadcasting service, for streaming live video from mobile phones and webcams to the internet.

Free video chat for up to 12 people at once. Very good quality image and audio.

Vivo allows users to easily create live web broadcasts and invite others to watch with just a few simple steps. You can customize your own password-protected, private, webpage for your live events. There are no advertisements and no unwanted visitors. You can customize as much or as little of the page as you’d like and invite whomever you’d like to view it — there is no limit on how many individuals may view your live broadcast.

Storage Sites
Vimeo is a U.S.-based video-sharing website on which users can upload, share and view videos. On October 9, 2007, Vimeo announced support for High Definition playback in 1280×720 (720p), becoming the first video sharing site to support consumer HD. Uploaded HD videos were automatically converted into 720/30p VP6 Flash video. Since August 2010, all videos are encoded into H.264 for HTML5 support. All videos uploaded before were re-encoded. Non-HD videos re-encode at a maximum of 30 frame/s and they also have significantly higher bitrates than other competing video sharing sites. Non-Plus users can upload up to 500 MB of videos per week, and up to one HD video per week (additional HD videos uploaded within the same week are encoded to SD).

Owned by Google and perhaps the most popular video sharing site on the Internet. It makes perfect sense to have a channel on Youtube and use it to store and broadcast your videos after the event. However, Youtube is notoriously strict when it comes to copyright, if you are using images or audio from other sources in your videos be prepared for a take-down notice. If you are worried about content, use Vimeo.
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