18
Apr

Virtual Conference Live Streaming

Remote Virtual Event Live Streaming
“Virtualize” Your Conference

Webcast & Beyond has recently pivoted from producing on-site event live streaming (of conferences among others) to virtual conference live streaming. Due to COVID-19 social distancing and travel constraints organizers have been reaching out to us for virtual options. So we offer what we normally do except that instead of going onsite, the presenters  beam-in their video and slides from home to our remote studio where we add broadcast production value such as lower third graphics, split screen views with presenter and slides side-by-side, along with a HD recording for archival purposes. Alternatively to Zoom or Skype we use Web-RTC technology to direct patch presenters to our studio switcher. The online audience doesn’t really see any noticeable difference. They access the conference from their browser by registering for free (for a sponsorship model), or by a subscription / pay-per-view process. They see everything in near broadcast quality; the presenter plus their slides. For handouts there is a download link on the web page. There is a chat box for Q&A. Included is a schedule of who is presenting. For some events we even have attendance verification for continuing education credit.

Key to making this look good is for the presenters to take these steps:
  • Decent laptop, Mac or Windows 10 with i5 or better quad core, 8 gigs RAM
  • Hard-wired ethernet connection with minimum 6 Mbps up/down
  • Ear buds (at least in one ear)
  • Webcam with minimum 1280 x 720 / 30 frames per second resolution
  • USB mic preferred, but webcam audio might be okay
  • Camera placed at eye level
  • Soft lighting on the presenter’s face
  • Attention to the background; camera should not point at a bright light or window

Everyone is accustomed to Zoom meetings, with varying degrees of choppy video and garbled audio. To make your conference stand out you need better audio/video quality and no dead air between presentations. Hopefully this will shed some light on at least one approach to virtual conferencing.

13
Mar

Live Streaming Solutions to Help Deal With the Coronavirus Crisis

live streaming solutions to virtualize events instead of cancelling them
“Virtualize” Your Event

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak we are fielding an abundance of requests for help from businesses and organizations who are scrambling to “virtualize” their events using live streaming tools and services. Our main product is full turn-key on-site live streaming production however if you are looking for a do-it-yourself option and you are willing to dive under the hood (technically speaking) there are two basic considerations: (1) the delivery platform & (2) the hardware/software tools to capture your event.

PLATFORM – Here are some options to consider:

  • Social Media – YouTube and Facebook offer free live streaming distribution.
    Pros – Free, great for maximum exposure, scales well for
    large audiences
    Cons – no customer service, copyright restrictions (most
    noticeable if you use music), restricted privacy. Not a
    good choice if you want to charge subscription or
    access fee.
  • Vimeo Premium – Private network that offers live streaming and video on demand for a flat $900/year
    Pros – unlimited number of users, password protection,
    private or public viewing, easy to use, cloud
    recording, customer support
    Cons – Requires embedding the player on a website
  • Dacast.com – Private live streaming network with enterprise class distribution. Plans start at $125/month
    Pros – secure and most reliable delivery (using the Akamai
    network), built-in paywall or password protection,
    customer support, good for subscription based
    content
    Cons – bandwidth limits (number of users), more difficult to
    set up, requires embedding the player on a website.
  • Zoom Webinar – Webinar / meeting platform as opposed to the live streaming options above. Plans start at about $60/month for up to 100 participants
    Pros – Has more interactivity with Q&A widgets, remote
    presenters, screen sharing. Good customer support.
    Easy to use, registration system.
    Cons – Scaling up for larger audiences is expensive, pay
    wall option is complicated – Requires Zapier API
    integration.

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE OPTIONS
Many possibilities to consider that depend on balancing ease-of-use, production quality, and cost.

  • Laptop with webcam and browser
    >> YouTube, Facebook and Zoom all support browser-based
    software to connect to their platforms.
    >> Low cost, easy to use but lower quality. Browser-based
    video encoders are not as good as dedicated software
    applications. Built-in web cams are limited to one or two
    presenters. Requires an external USB microphone to
    sound decent.
  • Computer/laptop with streaming software – These products
    are meant to work with multiple cameras and offer titles,
    video effects, and high resolution local recording. They
    support all of the above mentioned streaming platforms.
    >> Vmix – https://www.vmix.com/purchase/ – this software
    starts at $60 (buyout) for professional quality production
    >> OBS, Xsplit – Free open source streaming software. Limited support        but good quality.
    >> Livestream Studio – Excellent streaming software that is included           free with a Vimeo Premium account.
  • Dedicated Streaming Appliance for live streaming platforms.
    No computer needed to operate. Simple to use once set up
    properly. You connect a camera or video switcher to the
    input, set up the log-in information for your streaming
    platform and start streaming. Here are three examples:
    >> Magewell UltraStream – $400
    http://www.magewell.com/products/ultra-stream-hdmi
    >> Matrox Monarch HD – $1000
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/…/matrox_monarchhd_monarch_hd.…
    >> AJA HELO – $1300
    https://www.aja.com/products/helo
  • Cameras
    >> USB external webcams – 2 good ones are:
    >>> Logitech c930e – $130
    https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/c930e-webcam?crid=34
    >>> PTZoptics – $98
    https://ptzoptics.com/webcam/
    >>> Canon VIXIA camcorder – $219
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/…/canon_1960c002_vixia_hf_r800…
  • Capture Devices – USB cameras can plug directly into the
    laptop but the higher quality camcorders need a capture
    device to accommodate the HDMI signal. The best value on
    the market is the new Black Magic-Design ATEM Mini. It has
    4 switchable inputs and connects to your computer via USB
    for $295:
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/…/blackmagic_design_swatemmini…
  • Pre-Built Systems – Webcast & Beyond offers pre-built,
    ready-to-go systems with technical support to guide you
    through installation and troubleshooting. If you are interested
    you can take a peak here:
    https://webcastandbeyond.com/produ…/video-streaming-systems/

Finally, you can have a streaming production company provide onsite service for you. You can get an idea of what to expect by visiting our site here: https://webcastandbeyond.com/live-webcasting-services-events/

Hopefully this information will be helpful and not confusing as you consider your options.

21
Apr

Live Streaming for Business: The Value Proposition

live streaming for business icon
Everyone’s Talking About It. Is it Time to Act?

On our website, WebcastAndBeyond.com we don’t spent much time pitching the value of live streaming for business, partly because so many other business-oriented blogs do such a great job conveying the benefits in a truly neutral, unbiased forum.  From time to time I run across some really great articles that succinctly explain the application, benefits, and value proposition that live streaming brings to your business.

Check out this article: Live-Streaming for Business: How, When, and Why You Should Use It which appears in the SalesForce.com blog. It’s an easy read filled with useful facts and infographics. If you are ready to act, then we invite you to download our free Live Streaming Cheat Sheet which will help you figure out how to proceed, whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional webcast company like Webcast & Beyond.

15
Jan

Facebook: Live Video Feeds Even More Important for Business

 

Facebook Live is more relevant now that the FB news feed priority is shifting away from Brands & Business

 

facebbok page snippet with small fb logoCEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the Facebook News Feed algorithm has been altered to favor personal posts at the expense of business, brand and media content. Zuckerberg explained that this is a long term strategy to enhance the well being of members. Although this will have an immediate negative impact on non-advertising posts, the work-around according to Zuckerberg is to promote community engagement via live video feeds or discussion groups. This is consistent with his push to stream live video since the introduction of Facebook Live in April of 2016. Going forward this recent modification will likely incentivise brands to create more campaigns centered on Facebook Live in order to maintain exposure on Facebook’s News Feed.

According to Social Media Today:

Facebook says that one-fifth of the videos posted to their platform now come via Facebook Live, and that users spend 3x longer watching video when it’s live, compared to pre-recorded or saved video.

This trend is a strong indicator that the Facebook Live platform  is ubiquitous among Facebook’s 2 billion users; a compelling incentive to start live streaming on Facebook.  Of course there is a significant amount of planning and preparation needed to put together a successful Facebook Live campaign.  It is important to engage with your audience especially with the interactive tools available on your Facebook page. You should also consider using a professional live streaming service to provide broadcast quality and reliability. However, please do your homework before you dive in. A poorly devised live stream strategy can do more harm than good for your brand. On the other hand, an intentful, authentic, user-focused live event has great leverage potential on the world’s largest social media platform.

26
Apr

Professional Live Streaming on YouTube!

youtube logoYour Event on Your YouTube Channel

Our expertise and high-end broadcast equipment can now be utilized to captivate a whole new audience on the YouTube Live platform. Imagine the leverage and extended reach your event will have on the world’s largest video platform. We can help you set up your own live feed channel, or use one of ours. YouTube live streaming can also be embedded on your own web page. Call us at 818-456-1052 or Send Message to find out more about this exciting new opportunity.

26
Apr

Live Stream to your Facebook Page

Facebook logoProfessional Live Streaming Now Supported on Facebook!

Webcast & Beyond has the latest software app allowing us to broadcast your event with our professional audio/video equipment to your Facebook page! This is good news for those who want to leverage their message using live video. Get started now.  Live stream to your Facebook page!

12
Mar

Skype Group Call Featured During Live Webcast

Webcast utilizing Skype Group call. Video feed on the left / Skype call on the right.

Webcast utilizing Skype Group call. Video feed on the left / Skype call on the right.

Lately there has been a lot of interest to incorporate Skype interviews during live webcasts. In this situation, Instantly Inc. wanted to have all of their field offices from around the world participate in the opening segment of their global meeting. This was accomplished using our Skype integration system while taking advantage of Skype’s new and improved group calling feature. The local audience could view all of the remote participants on a projection screen and their audio was piped into the house sound system. The webcast audience saw a dual feed of the headquarters on the left and the Skype callers on the right. The Skype participants were able to see and hear the corporate officers who were on camera in front of the live local audience.

Admittedly this is somewhat tricky to pull together. We had a rehearsal/test call a few days before to make sure all of the participants had their Skype systems set up properly. The day of the webcast, we had everyone connect an hour early and remain on standby until they went live. We had their video and audio muted while on standby except that there is a push-to-talk microphone to allow private communication with them. Skype has an IM chat feature which is useful during this standby period, especially when someone is experiencing internet bandwidth restrictions.

In the end the effort of linking the whole company together live really paid off.  The remote participants had a much stronger sense of “being there” and the home office had a chance to feel like they were one united team.

8
Feb

Dick Gregory – Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

 

Dick Gregory addresses the onlookers with his wife Lillian at his side

Dick Gregory addresses the onlookers with his wife Lillian at his side

Comedian, activist, civil rights leader Dick Gregory received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 2nd, 2015. Webcast & Beyond was hired by the Dick Gregory Foundation to document the event including the ceremony and interviews with celebrities, family and friends. The 82 year old honoree addressed the audience with his wife of 56 years, Lillian Gregory by his side.  Mr. Gregory is revered by comedians, musicians, actors, and political leaders as a strong voice and leader throughout the civil rights movement.  On this day many celebrities were in attendance including Stevie Wonder, George Lopez, Nick Cannon, Rob Schneider, and Roseanne Barr to name a few.  To see more pictures check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/webcastandbeyond

16
Dec

5 Reasons Why you Should Consider Live Streaming

chris-knowlton-160x200

Chris Knowlton, VP of Wowza

Here is an excerpt from a recently published article on Techzone360.com entitled, “It’s Time Your Business Jumped on the Live Streaming Bandwagon: Here are Five Reasons Why.” by Chris Knowlton, VP of Wowza Media Systems. Wowza is a leading software developer specializing in streaming media server technology. According to Knowlton, there is a case to be made for embracing live video streaming as it has unique advantages over pre-recorded on-demand video streaming. The 5 key reasons are:

1. Streaming extends reach – Streaming a live event provides an opportunity to connect in new ways, whether we are talking about sports matches, church services, concerts, company all-hands meetings, or university lectures. You can reach people who could not otherwise attend in person, which, depending on your goals and business model, typically translates either to positive membership impacts or new customers.

 

2. Streaming boosts engagement – Live events are compelling for users. There is an immediacy to them that can’t be matched with on-demand viewing, especially for live games. According to Ooyala, the average live-streamed video is viewed as much as 10 times longer than on-demand. Social media only bolsters the engagement, making us part of a larger real-time conversation around the event.

 

3. The live experience has drastically improved – Live streaming now provides a better user experience than ever. Over the last 15 years, we’ve gone from low-resolution, stuttering, postage-stamp sized viewing experiences on desktop computer monitors to HD (and even Ultra HD) streaming on computer screens, mobile devices, and connected TVs. Thanks to increasing bandwidth, more-scalable Internet infrastructures, improved streaming technologies, and a plethora of devices that support HD playback, our streaming experiences now can rival or surpass those of traditional television delivery.

 

4. Cost is no longer an excuse – The prices for computer hardware, storage, and bandwidth continue to drop. Cloud-based infrastructures and services make streaming even more affordable for many people, providing the flexible low-cost computing and scalability you need, and for discrete events, only when you need it. As an example, you can stream an hour of high-quality video to 100 users for about the price of a latte.

 

5. Higher quality is now possible with less complexity – In just minutes, you can be online and streaming live events globally. The more advanced your requirements, the longer the first-time setup may take, but streaming products and services continue to abstract away more of the complexities and reduce the learning curves.

 

Live streaming has come a long way, and it will only continue to advance; however businesses that continue to wait for the next best thing will likely find themselves playing catch up to those embracing it today. We’ll likely see these types of battles ensue across industries in the years to come.

I would add to this that a live-streamed event that is archived and available for immediate viewing is the best of both worlds. The fact that a video was streamed live gives it a sense of authenticity that a pre-recorded video can’t compete with. We have seen viewership of a live event increase by a factor of 10 within the first week after its initial broadcast!