Brief notes on streaming live events

Setup for #altc 2014

This post is for my own reference but others may find useful. The information below is the result of drawing on the expertise of Darren Moon (LSE) for some of our ALT live events.

ALT has a YouTube channel – for any channel that has more than 100 subscribers* that is ‘good standing’ YouTube gives the option to be able to stream live events. With this you create an event on YouTube in your channel which people can view there or embedded in another site (as you would embed Youtube videos). A nice feature of Live Events is they are immediately available for playback as well as being streamed live. 

*thanks to Steve Boneham for the correction

To stream the event you need some software. Google have a deal with Telecast to provide their Wirecast software for free (stripped down version). The software allows you to connect cameras and other inputs (you need to have equipment that supports a live video feed. Firewire was the way this was mostly done but now it’s moving to HDMI input – to get HDMI into our laptop we used these magic boxes). The Wirecast software also allows you to do a live production with indents and different camera shots. For belt and braces the software also has the option to record your mix to your hard disk in case the stream is lost (we also record the raw footage on the camera in case Wirecast falls over).

[Wirecast can also output to a Google Hangout OnAir if you don’t have a YouTube Channel – we haven’t made use of this though] 

The usual headache doing this is (particularly as we do this on the road):

  • internet access (wired preferred) – we’ve never had an issue with (ports) configuration but something we always check
  • audio source – if using wireless mics getting the feed is something we ask for. In smaller events placing a boundary mic and getting the cable to the camera/laptop requires very long wires
  • desktop mirror – the best way to include slides is to mirror what is being thrown to the data projector. When this isn’t available we either have a second camera on the main screen or another laptop running the presentation
  • space – you need space for at least one laptop and camera. We monitor the feed and back channel so often have 2-3 extra laptops doing different things
  • people – you need at least one person to do all of this, we usually pair up
  • power – less of an issue for sort events when you can run from batteries

There’s lots of info on how to do this sort of thing online with recommended kit lists, alternative live streaming services. ALT has the Video in Education SIG (ViTAL SIG) which would be a good place to go for advice