webcasting, live streaming video, how do they do it?

Portable Field Monitors, compared.

We use a number of different cameras in our productions, composite, component, HDMI, SDI.  During setup it’s important to have a way to test line runs and camera feeds, and while most people want a field monitor to make focusing easier, or for their DP to check picture, I wanted something to just check i’m getting picture.  Anything else is a bonus.

I narrowed it down to five monitors.  Swit S-1071F (aka JVC DT-X71F ), SmallHD DP6, IkanVX7e, TVLogic VFM-056WP, Atomos Samurai, listed below.  I wanted to post it just to save the next person some time, want any other criteria listed, let me know i’ll update it.  The Samurai is more than just a monitor, it can also record ProRes, so a nice multi-use t0ol to have.

(download Excel : FieldMonitors )

Our primary camera is the Sony EX3, hence the BPU battery category.

After comparing I will be ordering a VFM-056WP , it gives me the versatility I need, even without the ability to use my existing BPU batteries.

Review of the Tv Logic monitor:×800-lcd-monitors/

A great review I found if you don’t need the HD-SDI inputs and like the Marshall series or the DP6 :





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Owle and the new app make the iPhone 4 a viable addition to livestreaming.

I first saw the Owle online almost exactly a year ago, then a chance to see it in person at NAB in Las Vegas earlier this year.  As soon as I picked up my iPhone 4 I went looking for the Owle, but it was still being produced to satisfy those with the 3GS.  Recently I was able to get my pre-order in for the retooled version, made to house the boxy shape of the latest iPhone, today it was delivered.

The new Owle housing the Apple iPhone4

I did a quick test of the video on , but the sun set before I could get much.  More to come once the sun comes up.  This rig has potential!

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The word is that the XD300 has been officially released, not sure how official it is if it’s not on the Newtek site yet.

DigArts has some great front / back panel pictures.  I am surprised there are no S-Video or composite connections.  I also dont quite understand the three video outputs, are those passthrough or 3 feeds of the live edit.  It looks more like a 3-Play front panel.

We hope to get a full demo next week, then hopefully it’s purchase time.

Edit: ok the stats say “HD-SDI and HD component plus SD-SDI, component, Y/C and composite input/output” so I can only assume the ports have multi function and are just not labeled.  Updated front panel picture below.

And more info here.

Updated front panel

Updated front panel


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Tricaster XD300 initial thoughts, Stream or Die review.

I stopped in at the Newtek event in LA earlier this week, I have chosen to stream as my profession I had no idea of the apparent immortality benefits!

They had the XD300 and 3Play systems on show.  There were at least three XD300′s in the room, one on stage, one running the live production and one shoehorned into the back of a Mini Clubman.

Impressive custom mounting solution.

Lean in for a closer look.

It’s a tight squeeze, but with help from Jef Kethley at Pizazz the end result is a very clean install.  Operators can sit in the back seats of the mini (well those shorter than 6’4″) and run the 3play and Tricaster.  Now this is just a concept vehicle, fully functional I am assured, but obviously not extremely practical.

The point is made however, you can do top notch production with a small set of (the right) equipment.

The 3Play has been out for a while, the XD300 is still Beta, to be out in November for just under $15k.  That’s not much more than the Tricaster Studios that I currently use, and with a generous upgrade offer, it’s almost a no brainer, almost.

HD, virtual inputs, dynamic chroma key, complex video and CG layering, the spec. list shows they  are listening to their customers, a list too long to post here, but here are a couple highlights that may not be clear when just looking at a list of features.

Audio following video: picture a race track; F1, Nascar etc. the cars are flying around, as each camera picks up the action the track audio can follow the action around the entire course, taking the audience with it.  Standard fare on ESPN or SpeedTV, but new for the Tricaster.  And that’s just one example of potential use, it would certainly make throwing down to an on field interview much easier.

Saved user profiles: if you have multiple operators you can customize settings for their own preferences, or keep unique presets for the different kind of events you do.  Show up to a Snowboarding event and load your snow playlists, Liveset studio, overlays, audio settings and anything else tied to that style of event.

The XD300 does, or will do, a lot of things right, allowing producers to create complex high quality shows.  The limitation?  Three inputs, sure they are 1080i HD 4:4:4:4 32bit color inputs, but it’s hard to capture everything with three cameras, especially sports.  Call me when the hardware can handle six inputs, XD600 here I come.  Until then I will be using the TC Studio for most live events, if the client wants HD, then I will certainly rent a XD300 for the day, after managing client expectations.  For some of you the XD300 is the answer, for me it’s a tease of things to come.

Images are mine from the event, or screen shots from the rebroadcast.

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Newtek updates the Tricaster series to version 2.5

With this latest release Tricaster owners can take full advantage of the latest Flash Media Live encoder, and more:

NewTek is pleased to announce the immediate availability of TriCaster Upgrade 2.5. This download, at is free for TriCaster owners already using Upgrade 2.0. (Any TriCaster that records Live Production in MPEG-2 is utilizing the newer software). TriCaster producers can take advantage of the following benefits:

The ‘Regular’ encoder profile (when recording live productions and in Capture Media) has been dramatically upgraded. Doubling the base bit-rate reduces compression and, along with a number of other MPEG-2 encoding improvements, provides much improved image quality. The Regular Profile is an excellent choice for general purpose use, and is equivalent to or better than the common ‘DV’ file format in most situations

A new, even higher-quality option is now available for Record and Capture Media. The ‘Studio’ profile likewise cuts MPEG-2 compression in half and doubles the bit-rate. In addition, though, it also implements 4:2:2 color sampling. Enhanced sub-sampling reduces motion artifacts, provides better color registration and apparent sharpness, and most importantly ensures optimal results for chroma keying.

The resulting files fulfil the requirements for “High Profile” MPEG-2 encoding established by the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG). It’s worth noting that these files even exceed the quality of NewTek SpeedHQ files. Please note, though, that Studio Profile is ‘off’ by default. This maximizes file compatibility with external applications (some of which may lack support for High Profile definition MPEG-2 files).

TriCaster Upgrade 2.5 supports Adobe® Flash® Media Live Encoder 3. This important update offers H.264 streaming, offer simultaneous streams at multiple bit rates and improved compatibility with popular streaming providers, such as UStream.TV.

Several new streaming profiles have been provided in TriCaster’s Record/Stream tab to make it easy for you to access these new streaming capabilities. 


Full review in a few hours after I install the 333MB upgrade.

Update: See test stream here:  H.264 512k, 480×270 (audio off).

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“Webcast” from your iPhone, Nokia handheld.


logo1Sure the Tricaster, a machine built to webcast, can’t connect to Ustream these days, but your iPhone sure can.  Ironic.

Today the people at Ustream released their Ustream Mobile client, iPhone and Nokia compatible.  Apple has yet to give it an official blessing, much like the similar Qik app, so you will need a jailbroken iPhone.  For what it’s worth it crashes at the log-in screen on my iPhone. (And I don’t seem to be the only one).  -Update- they updated the software to version 1.1 and it now works.

What does this evolution mean for webcast production, well more sources of live coverage of an event, and different view points (figuratively and literally).  I’ll be looking to crowd-source this end user content created by these new tools into my production.

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3Play spotted.

20762041Just a quick note.

I know some of you insiders have had a chance to use at least the prototype 3Play machine that NewTek has been developing. It was floating around NAB last year. This looks to be the machine out in “the wild”.  Pic was posted on Twitpic by David Randolph who left Revision3 not that long ago. Seems it was on display at an Expo he was running.

When realeased it will allow three cameras/feeds to be fed into one box and accessed for instant replays.  There are a lot of connections on the front of the case, guessing anything from composite to component, maybe even SDI.

Update 3/10/09 Newtek will webcast the launch of the device this Friday at 12PM PST on UStream. Forum rumors have this priced as much as $22k!

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The scale of webcasting, inauguration coverage suggests the scale only slides so far.

First off I didn’t even get a chance to watch any of the inauguration, I was streaming a surfing event in California.  So this is more of a reaction to a piece on TechCrunch that went counter to many other stories on the day.  While UStream were busy patting themselves on the back, others were noticing it wasn’t all that smooth.   Sure the numbers sound good, I am reading about 3.5 TB/s at it’s peak, almost all of it Flash Video.   UStream stated it served up 3.8 million streams, up to 400,000 concurrent.

But in reality many people were struggling to catch a glimpse.  The article, by @erickschonfeld, points out that even the mighty CNN was having  issues.  His main point being that even with the CDNs prepared for a big day, the nature of the system limits the number of simultaneous views.

Now this is nothing new, the “series of tubes” that are the Internet do not enjoy the same broadcast nature as radio waves or over-the-air TV signals.  A radio tower outputs the same thing whether 1 person is watching, or 1,000.  Each time a new viewer on UStream comes on, another section of that “pipe” fills with data.  So how do you build capacity that is suited to a one day spike such as this, while controlling costs for the rest of the year when the traffic isn’t there? 

I think the real test will be when a huge news event hits without warning.  They had months to get ready for the inauguration, what happens when there is online interest of a similar scale for something that is unforseen?  Then we will see the democritisation of online video, if (or more directly their CDN) struggles to handle the load, the smaller outlets have a chance to make a name.

How each site fared – Link
Traffic reports  – Link
How Akamai handled it - Link

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Watching live streams on your iPhone


Many mobile phones have live streaming ability, Sprint TV, AT&T MobiTV, each carrier has a system, but these tend to be dominated by program content.  Today released their viewing application, allowing iPhone users to watch and interact with any UStream channel.

The iPhone has always been limited by the stringent vetting process the App store has new applications go through (Flash is still not on the iPhone).   To get around that many developers have used the SDK loophole, a limited release “Beta” version.  That seems to be the case with the UStream offering.  So until officially blessed you must send in a request for the app to  I am still waiting for my copy, once I receive it I will post my review.

Some do get through, OrbLive will let you stream any media or live TV if you have a PC setup with their Orb software.  A simple task, but not everyone wants to watch their own media, they want to see what everyone else is doing.

If this new UStream app can get onto the official store that will open the floodgates.  Mogulus would be close behind and hopefully a native Flash app will make it’s way onto the phone so us content creators can get our existing Flash streams onto the most popular smart-phone in America.

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Flash Media Encoder 3 released, and integrating it with UStream

A familiar screen for many of us.

Our friends over at Flashcomguru point out that both Flash Media Encoder and Streaming Server have been updated to 3.0 and 3.5 respectively.

While for many of us FMSS is something we leave to the CDNs (Akamai, Edgecast) there are some important new features that as content creators we can take advantage of.  Dynamic streaming, something Adobe talked about at NAB last year, is now fully implemented.  Essentially if you are running multibitrate streams fluctuations of the viewers bandwidth will not interrupt the stream, the switch from high to low  would be transparent.  That keeps the viewer watching, and happy.

The new FME lets you make use of the multibitrate feature, up to three streams can be encoding (example:  low, med, high).  Send that up to a CDN using FMSS 3.5 and you have your dynamic streaming. 

Perhaps you are using UStream, or want to, here is how: UStream help

Now if we could just get Newtek and their Tricaster to implement FME 3.0…

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