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Old August 8th, 2008, 11:12 AM   #1
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the nuts and bolts of streaming live video on the internet

Any experts in this field? Besides the switching and mixing of the live video feeds and all that, how does internet streaming work out? Are the services for this ridiculously expensive? What sort of hardware is needed for this sort of layout (a computer?). As you can tell i'm ridiculously inexperienced in this front and am looking for some insight. I've searched on the net but the most i've found is service providers; nothing that talks about the nuts and bolts of how everything is tied together... Thanks!
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Old August 8th, 2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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There are a number of ways to do this. I've hosted a live and video on demand server for about 4 years now. It's not very complicated.

Essentially, I do it with 2 boxes.

Box 1 has video capture cards in it, and software that takes that video, and encodes it on the fly to a streaming format. It encapsulates that in a format that can be sent over our internal network to the streaming server.

Box 2 is a streaming server. It is connected to the internet on one interface, and to Box 1 on it's other interface. It runs scheduling software, and so forth so that people can get to the files they want to see.

The software (via Microsoft) to do this is free. I know Apple has software to do it also with quicktime files, but I am not aware of it's costs.
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Old August 8th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #3
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Here's an overview for QuickTime

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/streamingserver/
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Old August 11th, 2008, 12:22 AM   #4
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hey guys thanks for all the info. Quick question: i've been looking at this: http://www.newtek.com/tricaster/ as a possible solution. Now, provided this takes are of the live shoot, what are my options for uploading it to a server?

Should I create something on my own, ie. website + hosting? Or is there a ready made service that will just simply give me an account and let me stream the video live..? Any input is highly appreciated.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 03:03 AM   #5
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that is the way to proceed.
first find a provider , you will get the specification (kind of stream, price, bandwith).
then you will be able to set up the correct equipement (usually a laptop with a good internet connection).
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Old August 11th, 2008, 06:00 AM   #6
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If i remember the tricaster has an ethernet port that you can use to upload to your streaming server. As others have pointed out you will want to pick out a host for your video files. This is different from the regular web host in that their software and hardware is typically setup differently. Depending on your budget and audience size there are a lot of options out there. While you probably don't need to get a slot with Akamai or Limelight you want to make sure the place you use is setup to handle your audience.
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Old August 11th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #7
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There are different solutions for different requirements. Important things to know are:
- Service: Live and/or On-demand?
- Service: Pay-per-view, DRM, required?
- Audiences: Big (hundreds, thousands) or small (dozens)
- Audiences: How many concurrent users?
- Audiences: Platform? (Win/Mac/Other)
- Content: Single events or episodic?
- Content: How long are shows?
- Content: What screen size and bitrate?
- Content: What codec?
- Site: Custom player?
- Site: Integrate in existing site?

Live streaming over the internet is pretty much analogous to satellite broadcasting, which may be easier to understand:
- You have a live (camera) signal
- That runs to a uplink truck
- Which sends it to a satellite
- Where broadcast/cable picks it up
- And end users dial in the channel to view it

On an internet live stream the live signal is the same.
Instead of the truck you have an encoder, a combination of hard- and software.
This sends the encoded signal to a streaming server ("satellite"); this usually is an outsourced service (provider).
Your website (or another) has a player that connects to this streaming server/service.
End users go to your site and use the player to watch.

The end-user only sees the player on your site. The most popular players are Flash based.

They can connect to streaming servers for live and/or on-demand feeds but usually also allow you to do a simpler form of "on-demand streaming" called progressive downloads.

With the latter you do not need a steaming server/service but the on-demand file is served from a 'regular' web server. This is what YouTube uses (or Vimeo, et al). An example of streaming service: EpicFu (or any of the Revision3 shows).

For on-demand there are advantages and disadvantages to using progressive downloads, it really depends on your requirements.
For live streaming you need a streaming server/service.

Streaming services do not come cheap. They are usually priced on Mbits/s (bandwidth) and/or numbers of connected users (concurrent). This can be complicated to calculate. Good services have a CDN (Content Delivery Network) that should ensure clients can connect optimally. If you require international distribution, make sure the CDN is set up for that. A guide price for streaming services is between $250 and $1250 a month.

You can get hosting that is sufficient for progressive download on-demand services for much less. Just be sure that you have enough bandwidth and/or 'transfer' Gigabytes. It can be really expensive to go over what is provided in your hosting plan.

You can also run your own streaming server, usually colocated in a datacenter, or use compute clouds like Amazon. WOWZA Media Server is one that can be used for this and also supports H.264 streaming (which is what you should be looking for in a service anyway). You can test/experiment with this for free (up to 10 connections, Win/Mac/Linux).

There is much, much more I could write, but I'll save that for another time/a book.

If you see fit to answer some of the questions, we may be able to point you into the right direction.

George/
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Old August 11th, 2008, 07:42 AM   #8
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For those doing live streaming from event locations without an adequate Internet uplink, what's the simplest and most affordable way to arrange such an uplink? I've heard cell phone companies may restrict uploads in a way which would limit their usefulness for this purpose, but if someone knows otherwise what's a good provider and data plan?
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Old August 11th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #9
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For uplinks you should really use a fixed-line-type servce (like ADSL, cable) provided by the event location for reliability and speed.

When this is not available expect problems. Make this clear to the client.

It is unlikely that in such locations there will be good WiFi access, which would be second-best.

3G Mobile services may be available in some areas, but these provide relatively slow uplink speeds (<384kbps for sure, likely much less).

George/
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Old August 13th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #10
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George, I can't thank ya enough for all the info you have generously provided! I will be contacting you privately once this project comes through. Again, many thanks.
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Old August 14th, 2008, 02:34 PM   #11
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No problem Spike; mail me through the site anytime.

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Old February 22nd, 2009, 01:05 PM   #12
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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the great tips. My boss may have a gig where he'll need a mobile Mac solution where he'd be at a booth with one camera (likely the XDCAM HD F350 with an output via Firewire 400) and shoot interviews, etc., that would stream live (and be archived) to the client's website.

What's the best software for this? If there isn't a good Mac solution, can you recommend a Windows solution, please?

Thanks,

Heath
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Old February 25th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #13
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Mac streaming solutions

We just did some tests in preparation for a streaming web TV channel using Macs and found two products that would probably work for this: Wirecast Telestream Wirecast - Overview and Quicktime Broadcaster Apple - QuickTime - QuickTime Broadcaster

Wirecast is kind of like a "studio in a box" for streaming solutions with the ability to overlay logos and graphics, playback/broadcast clips, and switch to live. Cost: $450.

Quicktime Broadcaster, on the other hand, is FREE! And should work fine if you just want to stream a connected Firewire camera.

We did a test running a streaming channel for a week 24/7 using these products and had no problems (once we got them configured right).

As far as CDNs, after a bunch of research, we are favouring Streamzilla. If you find one that's better, let us know.

Russ
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Old March 1st, 2009, 09:34 PM   #14
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ustream

I have been using USTREAM.TV: LIVE VIDEO Streaming, Free Video Chat Rooms. Watch Shows & Broadcast Live TV, stream videos, web podcasts. Live streaming videos and webcam chat as a place to start. It is free and offers some simple options to get started. I also use the Adobe encoder to have more options for streaming.

i hope this helps

Mikey
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