The Event - Going Live II

Broadcast it Live!

Although this may seem counter-intuitive, but going for the big bang is actually the easiest way to broadcast.  If you want to go Terrestrial, Satellite or Cable - then all you need to do is have a broadcast quality feed connected to an 'End Point' for the particular platform that interests you.  OK, maybe that is a bit of an understatement.  

Terrestrial

Here in Ireland, it is not possible to transmit over the terrestrial network without a special license from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and, in effect, you need to be working through one of the national broadcasters like RTE or TV3.  So, for most occasions, terrestrial is not an option for you.

Satellite

What about satellite.  Again, it sounds difficult, the satellite is very far away and not what we normally associate with a feasible option.  But that is where you could be wrong.  It is now possible to rent space on one of the Sky channels at affordable rates - this could be for weekly programming or for that special event.  So, if you want to get to a national audience - either in Ireland or throughout the UK, this is an option that can be considered.  From a technical standpoint, all that is needed is a top quality studio grade broadband link to the UK!  Hmm, not likely in Ireland - but all is not lost.  New technology is now on the market that allows us amalgamate a number of cellular paths (though using multiple SIM cards) and use that network to transmit a full High Definition signal over to the UK for immediate transmission on the Astra satellite platform - now that is what I call neat :-)

Cable - UPC

What about cable?  It needs a license from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland which will not be forthcoming, but all is not lost.  If the event is of genuine community interest, the the local community TV operation will be very interested in using its license to broadcast the content - but the key phrase is 'of genuine community interest'.  From a technical standpoint, it is no more difficult than for Satellite, and can be much simpler if the venue location has a direct line of sight to the Aerial Mast at Churchfield where the UPC end-point is located.

Stream it Live!

There are a number of different options available to you to Stream Live.  

The Software Streaming Option

Firstly, there has to be some software on your hardware platform that can encode the video into a format that will stream.  The most ubiquitous is Adobe's Flash Live Media Encoder - often abbreviated to FMLE.  This is available free of charge from the Adobe web-site.  There are many different releases of it so be sure to use the most recent if this is the path you want to go down.  It is a reliable beast, does its job but doesn't have many bells and whistles.  In some instances it has to be started manually and then the user has to switch over to the commercial mixer software which can cause problems when under pressure at an event - so be warned!

The other part of the jigsaw is the remote end that accepts your feed from FMLE and then makes a stream available at a specific URL for your audience - this is known as a 'Flash Streaming Server' and there are many commercial organisations that host such facilities - just as there are web hosting organisations for your website.  Ones that come to mind are LiveStream, UStream, TeleStream ....

The Hardware Streaming Option

This is actually very similar to the Software Streaming Option mentioned above but it is installed on a dedicated hardware platform.  The one that we use in LenseOnLife is the Tricaster product.  Why did we choose this route, after all it was far more expensive than using a simple laptop (or desktop) and install the software for a couple of hundred euro?  This is not a road that we ventured down lightly, but the quality and professional end-result far outweighed any monetary hit.  By using a dedicated hardware platform, we are isolated from the various competing applications (both foreground and background) that are commonplace on general purpose machines.  When we are looking at multiple High Definition feeds that have to be processed on the fly, it is not long before the reliability of this hardware option becomes apparent.  The last thing anyone wants, is for one of the camera inputs to loose sync with other inputs right in the middle of an event - the participants can't be asked to do a 're-take', it is live, it must be right first time ... and every time.

With the Tricaster, not only can it support all the common web-streaming hosts like LiveStream, JustinTV etc., but it can also give a Broadcast Quality HD signal that can be used for Satellite and also make an uncompressed disk copy of the entire proceedings ready to be burned to DVD.  For us, it was a 'no brainer'.



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