How to do a webcast?

Our team is hosting FTC at our school, as we have in the past.

We would like to add a live webcast this year, but we really don’t know how to set up something like that.

What do we need to know to go about doing this? (Software, hardware, internet stuff, etc?)

You need a video capture device (a camera, or other USB device of sorts), a video feed (again either a camera, or if you have a video mixing board, the output of that) and you need a computer with an internet connection. You then need to set up a multi-cast streaming server.

This is the general idea:

Video feed -> Capture Device -> Computer -> Multi-cast server software -> The Internet -> People’s computers

I’ll edit this post later to recommend some software and hardware and such.

Jacob

EDIT: BTW, do you have a Mac? crosses fingers
EDIT2: Progressive streaming is probably the best way to go: read about it here
EDIT3: Software like this are designed to do all of the set-up for you, however, will run you somewhere around $40. They have a trial period, just to make sure you can get it working. I am not personally recommending this particular software, as I have never used it, but it seems like it might do something like you are looking to do.

Also, regarding video devices, if you already have an existing DV camcorder, you can simply use this, plugged into your computer. If you don’t have a DV camcorder, but do have a regular camcorder, you can use the video/audio output, and feed it over long RCA cable (convenient for putting the camera far away from the computer) to a device like this, which you can pick up from best buy for $50. I might note that I have used this device, and while it’s not the best in the world, it does the job, and is usually stocked at local Best Buys.

My team webcast the Seattle Regional last year, just for the purpose of a couple of grandparents who couldn’t make it to the event but wanted to see it. We used http://www.ustream.tv/ and it seemed to work very well. Very nice packaged solution, I believe the only problem we had was when the camera’s batteries ran out!

You still need the camera with a computer hookup (firewire most likely, make sure you have a computer that supports it), but this is much easier than trying to fool around with getting the right ports forwarded and such, and then having bandwidth to stream to all clients connected (multicast is the ideal solution, as [whytheheckme] pointed out, but most routers/ISPs don’t have this enabled)

Good luck!
–Ryan

P.S.: The service was free, and I believe it still is

You could do this easily with VLC, an open source, free media player and streaming server: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

There is a large document about streaming with VLC here: http://www.videolan.org/doc/streaming-howto/en/streaming-howto-en.html

You’ll want to read the section on streaming to Windows Media Player so you can setup a link that someone can click to open WMP and play your stream; for Mac users you’d probably want to use Quicktime to pickup an RTSP stream.

Hope this helps.

//edit: Also, this all assumes that you have a network connection already setup that’s fast enough to support lots of users watching a video stream. You’d probably have to talk to the IT department at your school to get that part setup.

-Russ

I have done it with VLC before, and I can come and help you set it up and running. and if the event is on the weekend, I would be glad to volunteer

That would be incredible, but the problem is that the competition is until Feb.
28th, that being said I just want to become an expert at this Webcast. Thanks.

Whatever solution you come up with will need to scale. None of the solutions mentioned so far will work if more than a few people try to watch. How few depends on a variety of things, but using a personal computer on a typical cable internet connection 2 or 3 would definitely be pushing it.

For software, Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Services are what many professionals and universities use.

For hardware you will need two computers: one that you can connect your AV to, and one that can act as the server. As mentioned above, a DV cam with firewire is probably a good way to go. A directional microphone can be a big help too.

For internet connectivity, the server needs as much upload capacity as possible… multicasting would be nice, but is not supported on the public internet, so you will need to have enough capacity to send the video to every single person. A good place for this is a university or a corporate sponsor where an IT department can work with you. At the site of the event, you will need a reliable internet connection to the server.

The computer that you have on site can certainly be a laptop, so long as it powerful enough to encode the video and push it to the server.

The server does not need to be exceptionally powerful, as you are more likely to be limited by upload capacity rather than the strict number of connections.

The software is well documented, and actually pretty easy to set up… the only tough part is getting access to the hardware and internet. Sorry if this sounds like a lot of work and a lot of expensive hardware, but remember… if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

~Phil

ustream.tv was mentioned, which handles the heavy bandwidth. Several regionals were webcast with it, and handled 100-200 viewers. I think that should be more then enough for an FTC event.

Great post with great info and suggestions. :slight_smile:

I am a Ustreamer. I used it this summer at an international convention in San Antonio. We had over 200 viewers watching at one time from all over the world. It also has a chat room that viewers can interact with each other as well as the producers of the show.

As a producer, you have the ability to adjust the video and audio quality. It is also archived for later purposes.

I also use a Web2.0 program called Mogulus. http://www.mogulus.com/

Mogulus is a complete studio control system. It allows you to have multiple cameras running at one time. It is a free system just like Ustream. You can prerecord and play video or screenshots as well.

Hope this helps.

I have done 2 webcasts (PARC X, PARC XI) using windows media services on the server and a Newtek Tricaster as the encoder so far and am planning for my 3rd (Duel on the Delaware VII). I use a setup that would run ~$25,000+ :eek: brand new and took me 7 years to collect (minus the tricaster and camera, still saving for them :smiley: ). I use 2 servers, Laptop, 3 Cameras, Encoder effects Computer(Tricaster), 10 input Audio Mixer, Commercial Scan Converter, 24-port switch, Dual Wan VPN Router, Wireless Access Point, HD Tuner(ATSC/NTSC/QAM)/Capture Card, 3 LCD Monitors, KVM Switch, and Cable Amplifier. A T-1 Internet connection is the bare minimum to run this setup, since I have the server located at the event’s venue. A DSL Connection with 1.5Mbps Upload might also work, but I have never used one yet.
When encoding you need to take into account what speed your veiwers will most likely have and set the bit rates accordingly. Using multiple bitrates is best as this way you can cover lower speed viewers, such as those with 1Mbps download DSL or lower. Bitrates like 240kbps, 320kbps, 420kbps, 512kbps, and 1Mbps. :smiley: it is best to test this before the event to verify what rates are best for each type of viewer connection. Also firewall ports must be opened at the location to allow for this type of setup. A simple way of making sure the correct ports are opened at the venue is to have a public IP link to a private IP of the router’s WAN port you use in the webcasting rig. This way you can open ports if/when needed. :smiley:

Hope this helps, and