George Klippel, Director of Channel Sales, LiveU
Rony Sebok, VP Technology, 1 Beyond, Inc.
Scott Murray, Vice President of Product Management, Media, Telestream
Nick Mattingly, CEO, Co-Founder, Switcher Studio
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight, on the Buzz, we are looking at live production and distribution. Live has never been easier but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Tonight, we talk with the experts about the current state of live production, and streaming.
Larry Jordan: We start with George Klippel, the director of channel sales for LiveU. LiveU enables live streaming from just about anywhere. Tonight, George explains what streaming is, why live events are better than recorded, and where LiveU can help producers with their next project.
Larry Jordan: Next, Rony Sebok is the vice president for technology of 1 Beyond. They’ve been involved with digital video for decades. Recently, 1 Beyond diversified into new automated video products, and tonight, Tony explains how live streaming technology has changed and what you need to know to get started.
Larry Jordan: Scott Murray is the vice president of product management for Telestream. Their product WireCast is used in tens of thousands of live streaming productions. Tonight, Scott explains what it is, how it’s used and the differences between planning for streaming distribution versus production.
Larry Jordan: Nick Mattingly is the CEO and co founder of Switcher Studio. This allows you to stream live directly from a cell phone or a mobile device. Tonight, Nick explains how it works and what you need to know to create successful live productions.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital film making, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz; the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. Tonight, we’re looking at recent changes to the world of streaming live events from sports to news to corporate communication. Just as the technology of production has undergone massive changes in the last few years, the distribution side of streaming has also changed. There are more than 100 services to help deliver your message live to the world, and as you’ll hear tonight, Microsoft made some very interesting recent announcements to its Office 365 suite of products that also affect streaming.
Larry Jordan: Streaming is the process of distributing your program to an audience via the internet. Standard video production techniques still create your show, using a wide range of gear from a cell phone to network broadcast grade equipment. It’s what happens at the output of your camera or the output of your video switcher, that we’re interested in this evening. That is where streaming gets involved, and as you’ll discover, there are a wide range of ways that you can now deliver your program live to the world.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our weekly DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Happy CES Larry.
Larry Jordan: What a great way to start the year. CES is such fun.
James DeRuvo: There’s 110 to 180,000 media professionals, media personnel and people buying and selling technology in Las Vegas looking at the latest crazy devices, from Alexa enabled toilets to a flying taxi cab to some really cool products that filmmakers and content creators could get tempted to buy.
Larry Jordan: Let’s take a look at them, what’s the news this week?
James DeRuvo: The first one is if you swing by the Sharp booth, they are previewing an 8K pocket camera. It looks like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, it’s got a micro four thirds 8K image sensor that Sharp says records 8K at 30 frames per second using the H.265 codec but they’re working on making it 60 frames per second by the time they launch. It has this huge five inch pull out touch screen.
Larry Jordan: 8K James? 8K? What’s the image quality like?
James DeRuvo: Many are saying that the consumer oriented camera won’t live up to professional standards, due to stuffing so many pixels in a micro four thirds image sensor. That means the pixels have to be really super tiny and that’s going to invite a lot of image noise and fringing to the party, but we’ll see what they do. It does exist, they had the prototype there. It wasn’t turned on but we’ll hear more about it at NAB according to Sharp.
Larry Jordan: Sharp is out of the gate with an 8K camera, what’s next?
James DeRuvo: This is my favorite product at CES so far. It’s called the Elgato Key Light and it’s a desk mounted LED light panels for content creators. The big thing these days is either doing live video streaming, doing video blogging or live broadcasting of let’s play gaming videos is really big with the millennials, using your computer. The Elgato Key Light was designed with this type of content creator in mind. Key light is made out of 80 Osram LED ultra bright LEDs with a nice opaque diffuser built into it into a very thin adjustable light panel. The key light is adjustable to 2500 lumens, from zero to 2500 and has a color temperature range of 2900 to 7000 Kelvin. It’s controllable from your desktop, mobile device or Elgato’s stream deck controller and the best feature of all, $199.
Larry Jordan: This sounds a lot like the Lume Cube Air lights. Who’s the market?
James DeRuvo: The market is for gamers who broadcast these ‘Let’s Play’ videos to their loving audience. That field is growing by leaps and bounds for online streaming. Right now, what gamers and content creators are doing is they’re using whatever lights they have, which means they have to pull their desk all the way out to make room for light stands and stuff. This comes with telescoping light stands that can be attached to your desk so you don’t have to move any furniture. The panels are super thin, you can control them from your computer, or your mobile device. They’re just beautiful and they cast this really great light to illuminate the content creator, video blogger, gamer, whatever. At $199, this could be my favorite product of the show so far, and it could be my best in show. We’ll see.
Larry Jordan: That’s the Elgato Key light. What’s our third story?
James DeRuvo: It wouldn’t be CES without displays, displays and more displays. The big one that’s stolen the show at CES this year is LG’s rollable 65 inch OLED TV which comes out of a cabinet much like a projection screen. You just push a button and it rolls out onto display so that you can watch television. It’s a bona fide TV set. This isn’t a screen. It’s a TV set with tuners, speakers, the works. LG not only amazed attendees with this roll up 4K OLED TV, they also built this tunnel towards their booth with hundreds of them curving in all these crazy directions. It’s a brand new technology, and it’s also being used for foldable LED smartphones which we also saw at CES this year. LG is also showing off a ridiculously wide 49 inch ultra wide monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio. It’s got two built in ten watt stereo speakers, and supports HDR 10. It could be great for editors who need screen real estate.
James DeRuvo: But if you don’t want to pay probably what’s going to be $3500 for a display, Targus has got this really cool quad video dock which connects up to four HD video screens through HDMI and then you connect it to your computer via USB-C and it also supports Thunderbolt 3, Display Port and works with PCs, Macs, Chromebooks and android devices.
Larry Jordan: So with all these displays what are your thoughts?
James DeRuvo: Post production requires a ton of screen real estate for color correcting, video editing, computer graphics and all that stuff. You need a lot of real estate and we’re getting by with multiple display screens. The ability to create one or buy one that’s just really super wide that can handle all of that screen real estate is really going to help because studies show that the more real estate you have the more productive you are. But the thing I don’t like about the LG 49 inch screen is if it breaks, it breaks. Then you have to go out and buy more monitors, whereas if you have a multi monitor setup and one monitor goes down, you can just plug in another one so I like that better.
James DeRuvo: Then there’s also one more that I want to share with you. Nvidia has previewed a line of up to 40 different laptops that support RED’s Red Rock codec that can work in 6K display resolution without the need to render or use proxies. These laptops are going to be launched at the end of the month and come with over 100 different configurations.
James DeRuvo: That’s what I’ve seen so far at CES Larry. What’s going on tonight’s show?
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re looking at live production and distribution from software to hardware solutions. How we can bring our message to an audience live.
James DeRuvo: Well if our audience has ever considered getting into live streaming on the net, tonight sounds like must see TV.
Larry Jordan: Absolutely correct with some really good ideas on ways to make it work. And James, where can we go on the web to learn more about the stories at CES that you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor in Chief of Doddlenews.com and joins us every Thursday. James, you’re on assignment next week, so we’ll talk to you in two weeks.
James DeRuvo: See you by the end of the month.
Larry Jordan: You take care.
James DeRuvo: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: George Klippel is the director of Channel Sales for LiveU. He’s responsible for managing LiveU’s network of online reseller and distributor partners. Prior to joining LiveU he was a partner and strategic account manager at Avid Technology. Before that, he also served in the United States Marine Corps as a broadcast journalist with Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Hello George, welcome.
George Klippel: Hey Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: From Armed Forces Radio to Avid to LiveU, your career seems to mirror the shifts in technology over the last many decades.
George Klippel: It truly has. Going from a tape based world to a non-linear world to a streaming world, that’s been the course of my career path and as you said it’s mirrored the shape of technology and the way that it’s going today, absolutely.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re looking at live production, but before we get to LiveU, I appreciate your unique perspective. How has live production evolved if you look at it back when you started versus what we’re doing today?
George Klippel: It’s funny that you ask that. I think it’s really evolved from the times where you had single camera live shots and satellite trucks to where we are today where things have really shrunken down from those satellite trucks and single camera shoots to live shots that could be done with systems that use bonded cellular, that are the size of units that basically can fit in the palm of your hand. That’s really where this entire industry is moving and has moved to. Everything that used to be live, used to require satellite trucks or online systems that were fairly complex to master and to utilize, to bonded cellular which is much easier to use and much more streamlined.
Larry Jordan: Avid is known as an industry leader in non-linear post production. What was it that attracted you from post to live?
George Klippel: When I left Avid I was really looking for another opportunity to stay closely aligned to this industry and when I found out about the LiveU opportunity, it still dealt with a lot of the same customers that the folks at Avid were dealing with, the broadcast folks, the post production people. Some are literally aligned to what people were doing with Avid Technology product. They were looking to move and make transitions into live space if you will, and LiveU really fit that mark for me and it was something that I had really wanted to explore and get into and stay aligned with what my background was in. Being around people in post-production, broadcast, television, feature film and production work, corporate industrial, the same people that were using non-linear editing systems like Avid or Final Cut or Adobe or what have you were the same people that were starting to explore the bonds of doing live production work or even remote or Remy production work.
Larry Jordan: Tell me about LiveU. Is the company focused more on products or services?
George Klippel: it’s a little bit of both. We’re mainly focused on products but we have products that are field units, those are the products that are really the encoders. We also have servers, those products are the decoders if you will that receive the signals from the field units and these field units connect to cameras and take your video and distribute it over IP to these servers, which then distribute those signals back out to your feed via SDI or RTMP depending on where you’re going in the production process.
Larry Jordan: Your device would connect either to the back of a camera or the equivalent of a video switcher, so I would produce the video and the audio, connect that output into your device, you would then be compressing it and streaming it up to the web, and then multicasting it out?
George Klippel: That’s correct, exactly. Our device really functions in two different ways. It can connect to the output of a single camera or via a switcher as you mentioned. And then it’ll end up going to the server or a Cloud server, so you can actually take it to one of our servers and the server can output SDI, it can output NDI, and then it can also go out RTMP, so it could go out to Facebook Live if you want, or YouTube or multiple destinations depending on what your needs are specifically.
Larry Jordan: If I wanted to do a multicast, so that I go up to your server, and then you hit all the users rather than going to Facebook or YouTube, can I do that or do I need to get a third party like … involved?
George Klippel: No, we absolutely have the ability to do multicasts, and you could do that within the LiveU environment.
Larry Jordan: So what are some of your newer products?
George Klippel: We recently announced the LU300 in December, and it just started shipping. That’s our newest HEVC product which is a small form factor, weighs about a pound, pound and a half, and that’s a … solution that just came onto the market in December. It’s the little brother of the LU600 which has been on the market for just over a year. The LU300 is our second HEVC product and it’s been very well received.
Larry Jordan: Who would be a typical customer?
George Klippel: The typical customer for the LU300 really runs the gamut. Not only broadcasters are looking at this product but we see a lot of folks in the education space look at this product, corporate space as well as the athletic or sports arenas.
Larry Jordan: Do you have any special programs for education?
George Klippel: We do, we actually have an education initiative that specifically offers bundles, special education pricing and other things that are really designed to help our education customers going in this space with the delivery of this type of technology. Our goal is for students to be exposed to the technology they’re going to see when they get out there in the real world. A lot of journalism programs use our technology, a lot of athletic programs use it, so a lot of the schools take advantage of our education initiative, absolutely.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges that we have is trying to get a signal out of a crowded space. I do every year a broadcast out of the NAB trade show which is like massively tech oriented. How can your device help get in a crowded bandwidth like that?
George Klippel: There’s two ways that we’re able to do that. The first way is with our new HEVC codec. It allows for the transmission of high quality video images at about half the bandwidth required for H.264 transmissions. So really in a high-density area like the NAB show or CES or other events like that, you’re able to transmit in low internet speed environments down to one or two megs, you’re able to get high 1080p video output using that HEVC codec that I mentioned.
George Klippel: But we also have a technology called the LiveU extender and that is a device that can connect to these different field units that we have, that adds additional modems and capacity that allows you to, in those same situations, have a better chance of getting out for your broadcast and it has a better chance of reaching additional cell towers because it adds additional capacity as well as additional high frequency antennas, called the LiveU extender.
Larry Jordan: What advice would you give to a producer who’s trying to decide whether they want to do a live event or record it and stream it later?
George Klippel: I think the advice I would give them is, I would always prefer to go live. Live captures that moment, it captures the real time event and gives you the feeling that you can’t really capture again with a VOD type of event. It allows users to interact in real time with your guests, it allows you to have that experience in real time, again that you can’t get with a recorded event. And I think that’s one of the things that’s really exciting about live especially if you talk about sports. But even outside the sporting events, it’s real time information. If it’s a corporate event in particular you can get the information disseminated out in real time to your constituents. I think it’s reliable today. That’s the other key thing people used to hesitate over because of the reliability, and today live reliability is something that is just 100 percent.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the products that LiveU offers, where can they go on the web?
George Klippel: They can go to www.liveu.tv for more information.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, liveu.tv and George Klippel is the director of channel sales for LiveU, and George thanks for joining us today.
George Klippel: Thank you Larry, I appreciate it.
Larry Jordan: Rony Sebok is the vice president at 1 Beyond Digital Video Systems, a company that designs and manufacturers professional video systems for all aspects of the production and post workflow. Hello Rony, welcome back.
Rony Sebok: Hey Larry, Happy New Year to you.
Larry Jordan: And a Happy New Year to you as well. Tonight, we’re looking at live video production and 1 Beyond has been involved in video for years. What was it that sparked the company’s initial interest in digital video?
Rony Sebok: The founder of the company bought a camera 20 years ago, digital, new DV camera, so that’s how he got into digital video.
Larry Jordan: What products do you have today that support live video?
Rony Sebok: So what got us into streaming is it’s clearly the new way of communicating, where they said a picture’s worth a 1,000 words, video is the way everybody likes to learn and communicate. So we’ve migrated from servicing the high end professional TV and film broadcasters, to now servicing the education and corporate market to get communications out with live production.
Larry Jordan: What’s the difference between a professional broadcaster and corporate or education?
Rony Sebok: These days, corporate and education can produce something that looks almost as professional as what you would see on ESPN or any news network that you can imagine. The tools these days provide just an incredible amount of capability for not very much money. So you can add titles to your broadcast, you can do fancy spins from one video to the other, you can do side by side shots to have an interview show with somebody. The tools are quite inexpensive and available to pretty much anybody, which is why corporate education, even independent folks wanting to put on live broadcasts are able to do it now with very high quality.
Larry Jordan: Give me an example of the tools that 1 Beyond provides?
Rony Sebok: 1 Beyond has the StreamMachine, which allows somebody to manually switch between one camera, another camera, content, let’s say PowerPoint slides, add titles, composite, like we were talking about, live stream, record. The future as we see it actually is in automation. So having a crew and a lot of camera operators is very expensive and companies are looking for ways to have the same production value but without the manpower.
Larry Jordan: What do you mean when you talk about automating the system? What’s automated?
Rony Sebok: Everything from camera movement, 1 Beyond has an auto tracker camera that automatically follows a presenter as they walk around. It uses facial recognition and motion detection, so that’s for the camera operator. And then there’s the auto switcher that we now offer, called Collaborate AVS, we’re renaming it now to just AVS. That stands for automatic video switching which will switch from camera to camera based on who’s talking. The microphones in the room can sense where the audio’s coming from and the cameras automatically switch.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s take the camera first. How do you prevent an auto tracker camera from having very jerky moves, because traditionally automatic cameras would not provide a smooth camera move?
Rony Sebok: Exactly. That’s absolutely right. So these PTZ cameras originally were designed to go from preset to preset. Very jerky, really fast motion. To do smooth tracking, you need a motor that has gears that are more finite, more gradual. So we actually had to change the camera design in order to do it.
Larry Jordan: With an automatic video switcher, how do you prevent a cough from all of a sudden changing the focus of the scene?
Rony Sebok: Yes, that’s a great question. That’s always the problem. So that’s where the smarts of the algorithm come in. You know, we did a lot of testing in a lot of real world situations to get a sense of how long does a cough last? So we don’t switch immediately when there’s audio somewhere else. You get the sense of the rhythm of a conversation and generally it’ll switch when somebody talks for a certain period of time. But that’s obviously configurable in an interface, so if somebody’s conversation is different from somebody else’s, it can be tailored, but yes you essentially have to ignore short noises like that otherwise it’s terrible.
Larry Jordan: 1 Beyond’s been in the live streaming business for years. I remember you and I worked together on an NAB show a while back where we were looking at live streaming. What changes have you seen in the industry over the last few years, especially in terms of workflow?
Rony Sebok: There are more vendors out there providing encoders and streaming boxes, the prices are coming down. From our point of view it’s the automation so that there’s less effort required and more plug and play. Now you can stream from an iPhone straight to Facebook. You couldn’t do that a couple of years ago, and then the bitrates, people’s internet connections are getting better and better. People are consuming their television through the network so all the cable providers are providing higher bandwidth and that makes the quality of the video better.
Larry Jordan: What sort of bandwidth do we need for a live event? What should we request?
Rony Sebok: When you stream and consume media, that’s the downlink speed, but when you’re sending video out that’s your uplink speed. We say that your internet provider has to be able to provide twice what you want to stream. Let’s say you have ten megabits per second capability up, then you should be setting your stream to five megabits, and that’s a really good bitrate for a 1080p stream. Five megabits is fabulous. If you don’t have that, if you’re in a place where you only have let’s say five megabits of uplink, then you might decide to stream 720 at 2500 kilobits a second, instead of the 5,000.
Larry Jordan: Can we get a good stream at a 720p image at 2500?
Rony Sebok: Yes, absolutely. People are blown away actually by the quality of the streams you can get now. People used to set their bitrates at 500 kilobits or 750, so when you double, triple that, to let’s say 2,000 kilobits a second, we call that two megabits, it’s amazing what a quality difference is.
Larry Jordan: How do we monitor the bandwidth that we’re using during a live event?
Rony Sebok: With the various software that’s available, it’ll show you if the bandwidth is becoming a problem and in fact what happens is that your video starts skipping then. You start dropping frames. So there are indicators on the various devices and software that will show you if your internet connection is getting weak. But it’s really important to plan that ahead of time. Because there’s no way for you on your end to adjust that. So you always want to be conservative and stream underneath what you’re going to have at the venue. The problem is that can change from hour to hour. As the internet gets busy, sometimes the internet provider will scale back what bandwidth you actually have. So you’ve got to run some tests at the time of day that you expect to do your event, to make sure that you’re going to be OK with the bandwidth that you decide to choose. But that’s the beautiful thing, depending on what’s available, you can adjust your stream accordingly. What you want to do is stream the highest quality up, because then your provider is going to stream that down at whatever bitrate people can receive it at. Anybody’s who’s watched YouTube will see that you can check auto and then it’ll automatically detect what you’re able to watch and give you the best quality or you can pick what quality you want to view. But you can’t make quality where there isn’t.
Larry Jordan: In your opinion, what’s the benefit to doing a live event versus an on demand event?
Rony Sebok: That’s a question that comes up a lot. Sports people want to watch live, because after the fact everybody knows what the score was, but let’s talk about a corporate training session or an announcement from a company. Certain things have to happen real live time because it’s a big announcement, and after that it’s old news. Also there’s interactivity with live so when you’re doing a training for your company, you want to allow people to ask questions. You want to see that interaction and live does that much better as after the fact you can’t ask questions of the presenter. On the topic of whether it’s useful to schedule events, I think it’s very important and useful because then people come to predict and expect that there’s going to be material available every Monday or something like that. So that even if they can’t attend live, they’ll know that it’s there and that draws your audience.
Larry Jordan: This question’s a lot like asking how long is a piece of string, but for a live production, what’s the basic equipment that I would need?
Rony Sebok: At the minimum, honestly, you need a laptop with a webcam. So a laptop with a webcam with let’s say WireCast software, allows you to stream. But very quickly you’re going to realize that that’s not the best quality camera, it certainly doesn’t move around so you’re going to then look for a more professional camera and then if you want more than one camera, so you want to be able to switch between one camera and another, then you want to start looking at a system like 1 Beyond has, a StreamMachine because then you need a switcher, encoder, recorder. The 1 Beyond product just puts all those into one box.
Larry Jordan: Rony, for people that want more information about the products that 1Beyond has available, where can they go on the web?
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, 1beyond.com and Rony Sebok is the vice president of 1 Beyond, and Rony thanks for joining us today.
Rony Sebok: Thank you so much Larry. Have a nice year.
Larry Jordan: Scott Murray is the vice president of product management for Telestream. He’s been in marketing for over 30 years with marketing management and executive positions at Telestream, Grass Valley Group, Scitex Digital Video and Miranda Technologies. Hello Scott, welcome back.
Scott Murray: Hi Larry, great to hear from you and talk to you. 30 years? Where’s the time gone?
Larry Jordan: I know.
Scott Murray: Oh my gosh.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re looking at live production and streaming. Where does Telestream fit into this picture?
Scott Murray: We fit into it in a couple of areas. We have a product called WireCast which we have tens of thousands of customers using it, churches, corporations and even companies like Fox Sports and major broadcasters have used and continue to use the WireCast product to stream and produce their content. There’s also a second piece that we have, on the Enterprise side, so Fox Sports for example leveraged our Lightspeed Live Enterprise class streaming encoder and capture product to augment their replay production capability at the World Cup this last year. We have actually a couple of areas that we’re very strong in live production in.
Larry Jordan: Let’s focus on the WireCast side rather than the Enterprise side. Before we talk about WireCast, it seems that live production falls into two sections, the production itself with cameras and lights, talent and audio, and then there’s the distribution whether it’s via broadcast or satellite or streaming. One, do you think that’s a good dichotomy? Two, where have the greatest changes been over the last few years?
Scott Murray: You’re absolutely correct in the segmentation. I use an example. I went to a little school called Cal Poly in central California on the coast, and I love Cal Poly. As I moved up here into the mountains of northern California, I couldn’t get Cal Poly football and I wanted to stay connected to my university because I just have an affinity for it. Why couldn’t I get Cal Poly football? As I got into the video business, it became really clear there were two areas and you’ve identified them exactly. One is the cost of production, two is the cost of distribution. So the equipment historically has been very expensive so there’s a huge capital investment, and then there’s an operating expense associated with it so it takes people to run most of that equipment. That’s the production side.
Scott Murray: On the distribution side, the historical distribution capabilities of cable and satellite have been prohibitive for businesses like Cal Poly to actually distribute their content. What’s gone on in the last few years is we now have tools that allow you to produce the content at substantially lower price points. In many cases, unattended live production is actually out there at this point if that’s what you want to do. Then there’s also the distribution with over the top distribution is ubiquitous. Everybody’s got a Netflix account or Hulu account or YouTube Live or Vimeo Live, Facebook Live, whatever. There are now over 100 streaming services out there, and now I can get my Cal Poly football in addition to Cal Poly wrestling, and swimming and baseball and anything else that allows me to stay connected to my university. Just because of the technology capability that has driven down the cost of equipment, cost of production, cost of distribution.
Larry Jordan: Many of us that have been in production for a while are very familiar with satellite distribution or broadcast distribution. But what is an efficient workflow? What’s like a checklist we need to keep in mind if we wanted to do live streaming?
Scott Murray: The output of your production needs to get sent to the Cloud. How do you do that? So usually there’s an encoder that’s either embedded into the software or hardware, or you take an SDI input, which is the base band output that would be normal distribution, and you encode that into an RTMP stream or an RTMPS stream. That’s the general accepted practice. That stream needs to be sent up to a Cloud provider to either a CDN that you have contracted with, or another platform such as Facebook Live or Vimeo Live, that allows you to do the distribution that you can allow your customers to dial into. So the hook between the production and the distribution really amounts technologically to quite simply, a good encoded RTMP stream. That’ll do it for you.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned the content delivery network, the CDN. I had the great pleasure of working with WireCast a couple of years ago when I was working out of my video studio. The very first live stream that we did, I didn’t know that CDNs existed, and so I had people attaching directly to my WireCast output and that didn’t work very well. How do we pick a content delivery network? What questions should we ask?
Scott Murray: Where do your customers want to go for their content? It really varies. So for example, there’s a broadcast company called Meredith which holds a bunch of local broadcast stations, Meredith broadcasting stations, and they’ve purchased WireCast Gear which is WireCast software on a preconfigured computer that we sell, that they’ve decided that their audience watches late breaking news through Facebook and Facebook Live. So what they wanted to be able to do was to send their late breaking news to Facebook, so that’s where they pointed WireCast to. But if you pull down the list of WireCast destinations, there’s a lot of destinations. Take Sunday for example. Let’s say a lot of your customers may want to be Sunday churchgoers, and they want to watch the local worship service and are not able to attend. There are other CDNs such as churchstreaming.tv and streamingchurch.tv that provide the CDN capabilities for the customers for where they want to go. So what that means is, most customers have a destination in mind of where they want to go watch their content on a website. There are cases also where you want to send it to multiple destinations and in that case, you either have to one, do it through your computer and identify all of these destinations you want to go to. Or two, you send one stream up to the cloud and you use a restreaming solution like what we have in our Telestream Cloud account that allows you to restream to all of these other destinations that you want to go to. There’s a couple of ways to go.
Larry Jordan: Earlier in the program, we talked with George Klippel who works with LiveU and as you know, LiveU makes an all in one hardware solution that does streaming. WireCast is essentially software. Why would somebody consider WireCast versus an all in one solution?
Scott Murray: Oh different applications. We work with LiveU and LiveU has their own solution that allows you to go straight from the field into the destination that you want to go to. But if you want to provide some level of production you could use LiveU as an input into WireCast and augment the production with other things such as remote interviews with people over our rendezvous capability inside WireCast. So it’s kind of, what do you want to do on the production side? What are your camera sources? Who do you want to talk to? And how do you want to produce your event? Then you figure out where you want to go.
Larry Jordan: The big challenge that we have that’s the unknown for many of us, is the whole concept of bandwidth. How do we plan the bandwidth that we need to connect WireCast up to the CDN?
Scott Murray: Great question. Most people think that it’s very simple and you can handle it without any problem. WireCast runs quite well on a laptop, but the horsepower required to do the encoding for multiple destinations is one thing. In addition, if you’re sending streams out to let’s say you want to do five or eight different destinations, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, CDNs and you want to do them all simultaneously, you’re going to need to send a separate RTMP stream to each one of those destinations so they can grab the stream. Now, you’re talking instead of just a really good quality four or five or ten megabit per second uplink, if you want eight systems, eight destinations, you’ve got to multiply that by eight. So you’re going, “Well crap, that’s going to cost me a lot of money to do and I’m going to have to get a big pipe.” This is where restreaming capabilities in the cloud come into play. With our WireCast restreaming capability you can send the output once up to the Telestream cloud, and then you can restream to any one of those destinations. We scale accordingly so you do not have to A, worry about the CPU encoding and B, you don’t have to worry about the bandwidth requirements from your computer or at your home or wherever you’re streaming from.
Larry Jordan: Let’s just take that back one step. Let’s say that I want to have a single stream of 1080p. What’s my minimum bandwidth?
Scott Murray: Good quality four, five megabits per second?
Larry Jordan: OK, four to five megabits a second. And then on top of that we then have the distribution bandwidth which is based upon whatever our CDN charges.
Scott Murray: Correct.
Larry Jordan: What’s the starting price for WireCast? What does it cost to buy in?
Scott Murray: We actually have two models now. One of them is a perpetual license, we have two versions of software, Studio and Pro, 695 or 995 is the perpetual price for WireCast. Just recently, Microsoft announced if you’re a corporation they have a product called Microsoft office 365 stream and they are adding live streaming capability to their stream platform, and they have worked with us to create a version of WireCast that’s a subscription for live streaming into an Office 365 eco system for about $20 a month.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about Telestream’s products, where can they go on the web?
Scott Murray: Telestream.net.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, telestream.net, not .com. Telestream.net and Scott Murray is the vice president of product management for Telestream, and Scott thanks for joining us today.
Scott Murray: Have a great evening.
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Larry Jordan: Nick Mattingly is the CEO and cofounder of Switcher Studio. This is an iOS app that enables anyone with an iOS device and an internet connection to capture and deliver multicam events to online audiences. Hello Nick, welcome back.
Nick Mattingly: Hey, happy to be here.
Larry Jordan: Nick, this evening we’ve been learning about live production and streaming. Where does Switcher Studio fit into this whole process?
Nick Mattingly: Switcher is a mobile creation platform as you mentioned. It’s a way to make video that looks like TV using devices you already own. We have a big focus on mobility and interactivity and if you’re looking to make video or you’re not chained to a desk, not looking to make a big investment in hardware before you get started, Switcher’s a great solution.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in live event production?
Nick Mattingly: Prior to starting Switcher which we first launched in 2014, one of our cofounders and I had an agency and we were helping visitors that wanted to do online video and we had many clients that were wanting to make more video, higher quality video and it ended up being a big investment and so complicated in some cases that they’d have to hire someone just to run it, and we were trying to find a way to get people to say yes sooner. So we used a lot of different solutions on the market and decided to take a step back and reimagine what it would be like to make it easier for people to make this type of video and to imagine what that could look like for someone that’s never made video before so that they could give it a shot and be successful.
Larry Jordan: Well from 2014 until 2019, the world has changed. How has streaming evolved over the last few years? Where are we now?
Nick Mattingly: In 2014 when we first launched Switcher, UStream, LiveStream, those were the names that carried a lot of weight, and where a lot of the action was happening for live video. YouTube was doing a little bit, but it was primarily big events. Typically live video is something with a day, a time and a place and over the past 12 to 18 months, that’s changed a lot in our culture and as far as what’s accessible through free social platforms where Twitter and Facebook and others are offering live video as a part of their product offering. As a place where you can put content and not have to pay thousands of dollars a month for video hosting and delivery. Because of that we’re starting to see from our perspective, many businesses that are using this new format to communicate, to talk about their business and ultimately to drive sales.
Larry Jordan: Well let’s talk specifically about some of the products that you guys have got. What’s the latest news on your products?
Nick Mattingly: Just a few months ago, in October 2018, we introduced new plans so we have a personal and a professional plan. There’s our monthly subscriptions with an annual option as well. And the new professional plan allows you to do things where you can schedule broadcasts ahead of time. We also have an integration with Microsoft Stream which I think we’ll be talking about a little bit here later, and with the professional plan we also recently introduced video chat in an update just last week. With Switcher 4.0 you can now have a conversation in real time with someone from anywhere in the world, bring in a guest and make them a part of your production. On top of all the things that were already possible with Switcher. We’ve also laid the foundations for more cloud enabled tools where we can bring in real time data and push those on stream. We’ll have another upcoming release where you can take a comment from a viewer and put that on stream … activity like polling, and we’ll continue to iterate and improve.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges that we have when we’re using cell phones for cameras, which is at the core of what you guys do, is that it’s really hard to change shot angles to zoom in or zoom out or make moves on air. How do you get around that problem?
Nick Mattingly: You see this a lot with especially social video and some things on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. It’s very easy to hit the button in those apps and go live and you don’t need anything extra to do that, but for the most part it’s one camera point and shoot. And with Switcher you can use those same devices, but you can put your logo on the screen. Or you could switch from the camera to a photo or a pre-recorded video and we even have a multi camera component so if you have a friend with another device, or you have a retired iPhone or iPad, you can open the app on another iOS device and very easily add another angle, a different perspective and as you start introducing more and more of these elements, it becomes much more engaging and people watch longer. It really changes the experience and allows you to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do with some of the native app experiences.
Larry Jordan: Totally agree, but let me ask my question a different way. Is there a way to do an on air zoom where we can change to go from a wide shot to a tight shot using your software? Or would I need to use two different cameras, one set tight and one set wide?
Nick Mattingly: OK, the answer is yes, but you would need two devices to have different perspective. You could have one camera that you could zoom with or you could adjust camera settings, white balance, ISO etcetera, but if the Switcher app is running on another iPhone or iPad, it shows up as a camera from your primary device and you can see it, and you can make adjustments to it before you choose to show it to your audience. So you have complete control of any other devices that you choose to bring in as part of your production.
Larry Jordan: So not only can we do multicam work, and we can integrate other titles or graphics, but we can also change the angle? So if we had a two shot and went to a single, and go back to a two, we could do that on one of the cameras that we’re feeding into Switcher Studio?
Nick Mattingly: Exactly. We also support what we call multi viewer … so allowing you to do a two up, or picture in picture and there’s several variations of that. There’s a lot of customizable control and that’s especially useful for things like the new video chat feature, if you wanted to show two guests on screen at the same time or a presentation or other information to go along with what you might be speaking about during your video.
Larry Jordan: One of the interesting pieces of news that Scott told us about and you’ve already mentioned it, is Microsoft Stream. Tell me about that because at the corporate level, that’s a very exciting concept.
Nick Mattingly: Many of the listeners are probably familiar with Office 365 and as part of your Office 365 subscription you get Word, PowerPoint and Excel and a lot of these business tools that we’ve come to rely on. Over the past few years Microsoft introduced another platform within Office 365 called Stream where you could upload video and this was used for internal communication and training and as a repository for businesses to store the videos that they needed access to within their business. This past year, 2018, Microsoft Stream added the ability to do live video and Switcher was fortunate enough to be one of the launch partners for Office 365, so if you were to log into your Office 365 account and select the stream option, where you could post video or create events, Switcher’s included in the drop-down menu. You can select different encoders and we’re one of just a handful of partners and if you have a Switcher account you would select Switcher right within Office 365. You would create your event, those settings would be saved to your online Switcher account, and when you go to your mobile device, iPhone or iPad, it already knows what to do. Where to send the video. You just log in, hit the big red button and you’re ready to go.
Larry Jordan: That is so exciting and I wish you great success, especially with the corporate market with that. Before I let you go, we’ve heard from the folks at 1 Beyond and Telestream WireCast and LiveU and they all make good products, just as Switcher’s a good product. When should we consider using Switcher Studio? What’s the optimal first use?
Nick Mattingly: I think there’s a lot of different reasons to get into making video. For a lot of businesses, it’s not always something that is happening in house. In many cases it’s outsourced. Or something where you might contract a freelancer or have someone come in to do a promotional video or a video for your home page on your website or smaller, short clips for ads on social media. Live video is a really great opportunity for you to own that process and to go behind the scenes and really document what you’re doing. I would say, don’t let the technology get in the way of that. Everyone has a story to share, and all you have to do is open your phone and hit the button, and it’s built right into all these platforms that we’re using every day.
Nick Mattingly: If that’s something that you’re starting to do and you’re having success with or you want to do more, Switcher is a really great stepping stone to be able to do more, to brand your content, to bring another element to help monetize what you’re doing and help drive sales. So I would say check out any of these solutions, everyone’s going to have different needs and they all fill different needs, but don’t let the technology get in the way. Share your story, just hit the button and when you want to do more, then you can start looking at some of these other solutions and find the one that makes the most sense for you.
Larry Jordan: For people that are ready to hit the button, where can they go on the web to learn more about Switcher Studio?
Nick Mattingly: If you want to try out Switcher, go to switcherstudio.com, there’s a 14 day trial included and then take it from there.
Larry Jordan: Switcherstudio all one word, and Nick Mattingly is the CEO and cofounder of Switcher Studio. Nick thanks for joining us today.
Nick Mattingly: Absolutely thank you.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, as producers we have a lot of opportunities to create live productions for our clients. First this builds on all the production gear and skills we’ve developed over the years, plus the added excitement of doing it live. But planning a live production is more precise and much more detailed than planning a simple film shoot because unlike a typical recorded production, we don’t have the ability to fix it later in post.
Larry Jordan: Unlike a film shoot, which includes all the issues of planning a production, you know, the usual suspects of scripts, talent, sets, locations, crew, a live event adds the additional complexity of distribution. In the past, we would hand distribution off to a broadcast, cable or satellite partner, but today we handle it ourselves. However, just as you have dedicated specialists for actors, directors and crew, you also need someone dedicated to streaming.
Larry Jordan: As you heard tonight, there are three main components to live streaming. First, converting the finished video signal into something the internet can understand. This is called encoding and most laptops can handle a 1080p encoding task. Next, we need to send this encoded signal, today we use H.265, to a streaming server. This is where sufficient upload bandwidth is necessary to transport the stream from the encoding computer located at the production site, to the cloud. The streaming server then delivers your signal to a CDN, a content delivery network that multiplies the signal for each audience member, and sends it out over the web for viewing. As you heard Scott Murray say, you can stream to a single network, say Facebook or multiple networks at the same time
Larry Jordan: Distribution can be simple, but it can also be complex and while most of us are more than able to handle it as part of a production package, it’s important that you plan ahead and test your entire network and workflow before the live event. This is a lesson that I learned the hard way the first time we streamed a video version of the Digital Production Buzz without using a CDN. Only three people could watch the show. Put someone in charge of the encoding and distribution that understands both networks and tech, the same way you’d put someone in charge of a camera that knows how to frame a shot.
Larry Jordan: There are more and more opportunities for producing live events for ourselves and our clients today. If you’re looking for new services to suggest to your clients, streaming has never been a more attractive option. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, George Klippel with LiveU, Rony Sebok with 1 Beyond, Scott Murray with Telestream, Nick Mattingly with Switcher Studio and James DeRuvo with Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner with additional music provided by Smartsound.com.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2019 by Thalo LLC.