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Old April 7th, 2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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Archive and Streaming

I have recently been put in a position as liaison between our church board and the guys in the "media ministry". I have work the audio side of the "media ministry" for quite some time, but have never touched video/streaming. Currently we are live streaming our services and a question has come up about providing DVD copies of services. My video guys can do this, but the quality is pretty bad. They have indicated that since they are streaming, they have to bring the quality down and can not capture another higher quality stream.

Not knowing much about this, it seems to me that others have come across this problem too. Is there a solution that someone would be willing to share? They tell me they use a Canon XL2 and connect to the computer with firewire. They then use Windows Media Encoder to stream the content. Hope that is enough for someone to follow. I am no expert at all in this, just looking to bring a solution to the church board.

Thanks!
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Old April 7th, 2011, 04:50 PM   #2
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Re: Archive and Streaming

It depends. Mostly, it depends on existing hardware & software capabilities; and perhaps the availability of funding to increase these capabilities.

WME is, by now, ancient technology. It has reached the so-called end-of-life status, and no longer receives support or updates from Microsoft. I guess we can't complain too much - it's freeware, and really, it's cantankerous.

However, it's more likely hardware limitations that prevent the concurrent archive of a standard definition stream, suitable for encoding to DVD.

Easy and cheap solution - put tapes in the XL2, and use them for DVD source.

Or, move up to the Silverlight Expression Encoder 4, MS' replacement for WME. To concurrently archive in SD and stream at some low bitrate might involve an upgrade of hardware. The Intel i7 processor is pretty spectacular for these tasks, but even an i5 is pretty good. Ideally, this would be with 6GB ram...

I'm a big fan of Telestream's Wirecast, although I use Expression as well. Wirecast allows you to go out to Flash Player, which is a pretty good standard across Macs and PCs. SL is doing better than it used to for mac compatibility, but it is more trouble to set up for this.

Up and coming are Wirecast and Expression methods to simultaneously encode for computers and mobile devices.

Perhaps you might ask your "video guys" what they recommend...
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Old April 8th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #3
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Re: Archive and Streaming

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Our "video guys" are all volunteer and have not been able to come up with any solutions so far. Not a jab here, just limited in my resources.

I did run across Wirecast and think that would be great, but as you noted, would probably require a hardware update (which may be required no matter what route we go).

Do you (or anyone else) have any experience with streaming services? We are using The Hypercast Network and I'm not impressed. Would appreciate any recommendations from that standpoint. I'm pretty sure we are limited in the format we can provide to them - i.e. no silverlight or flash.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 05:11 PM   #4
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Re: Archive and Streaming

We have a large number of church customers, and they all have different solutions for both archive and streaming.

I love and recommend the Wirecast product - but it is not right for everyone.

In your situation, I agree that using tapes in the camera would be the simplest archive. If you wanted to increase the quality of your stream AND capture your program for DVD distribution simultaneously, I would recommend adding an Intesity or Decklink card to your PC AND adding an external DVD burner (looping out of the capture card) to create your master for duplication. There are also devices now that have pre-built DVD menus ready to burn to disc once your recording is complete - so it looks like you authored the DVD.

I'm sure you will get other feedback on this, but you are welcome to call us for more information or suggestions anytime - that's what we do (and of course sell the products!). The solution you choose might not even require additional gear, but my guess is you'd benefit from a few inexpensive accessories.

Allan Barnwell
Omega Broadcast Group - Professional Video Sales, Rental & Services
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Old April 8th, 2011, 07:25 PM   #5
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Re: Archive and Streaming

Not familiar with hypercast.net. What is it about them you don't like? My working environment is a bit different, we're able to use Akamai for streaming, but they have a pretty substantial minimum. Akamai is really the gold standard, with great distribution of Flash and WM/Silverlight.

Prior to Akamai I did quite a bit with playstream.com, they were fine for Windows Media, but don't offer live flash streaming. I did a live flash project with their parent company, internap.com, they were fine, but again, the minimum might be more than you're looking for - worth checking out.

I'd be looking at the church AV magazines & sites, I'm sure there are other specialty streaming providers serving this large market.

What is the computer in use for this encoding? Wirecast won't necessarily bring it to its knees. FYI, WC can also encode a WM stream.

We're in a time of transition with WM and SL. The old tool, WME, is going away, and good riddance. The SL tools, including Expression Encoder, have lots of capability across both WM and SL.

I gotta' say, though, most of what I've been doing for the last few years has been live flash streams. Quality can be excellent, and much more accepted cross-platform.

Don't know what to say about running this sort of operation with volunteers. There are a lot of moving parts in webcasting. Operating shoe-string means constantly reaching for the simple solution, not necessarily the best solution. It may well be that bringing in a vendor, maybe Alan's co. (I don't know the co.), is the best choice to get a new solution designed, installed, and, perhaps most importantly, trained!

However, it all starts with you and the church board. What is it that you wish you could do better? What is it that you're not doing that you think is important? What is it that you're seeing with hypercast?

I gotta' tell you, you can spend lots on video and webcasting, but the only way you'll make that investment work for you is by taking a good hard look at where you are and where you want to go with it.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 07:41 AM   #6
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Re: Archive and Streaming

If you don't think you need to do any editing, have you thought of a stand alone DVD recorder? You can take the analog out of the XL2 right into the recorder. B&H has a Sony units that are extremely reasonable and do a great job. If you need more than 1 get a DA and make up to 4 to 6 at a time. I have to do a lot of classroom lecture recordings that are put on a streaming server after. I record directly into a Mac in h.264 for streaming with a BlackMagic recorder, then I also make a DVD copy for backup. It works very well and is highly received.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 10:07 AM   #7
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Re: Archive and Streaming

Thanks David, I think that may be a really good idea.
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