Tag Archives: live-video

Live Video iPhone

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I recently started broadcasting my live stream in SD widescreen (720×404). Once I made the switch via the Ustream Producer software, the live feed was no longer available in the current build of Ustream’s mobile applications. Moreover, I’ve been able to start pushing out a live video feed which doesn’t require Flash! This particular HTML5 version of my feed is truly of much higher quality than its Flash counterpart (and you can do a side-by-side comparison of the two in Safari on the Mac at the moment).

If you want to watch the stream in high quality on the iPhone or iPod Touch, head over to check out the new Pocket Pirillo application. You cannot watch it in high quality on Ustream, as I already explained above. Pocket Pirillo will allow you to keep up with the zany – or boring – moments in my life as they unfold in my home office.

You can also add Pocket Pirillo to your home screen if you wish. Thanks to Jared Pasanar for explaining it all to the community!

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High Quality Live Video Streaming Now Available

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I started streaming live nearly three years ago already. Can you believe how fast the time has gone by already? Up until today, though, I was broadcasting at a resolution of about 320×240 at about 17 frames per second. That wasn’t “bad”, but it wasn’t as good as it is now!

Using the new Ustream Producer, I am broadcasting at 720×404 at 30 fps, using the same video camera! Up until now, I didn’t ever think about upgrading my account to a higher-quality stream. It just never honestly crossed my mind. However, all of YOU, our community, spoke long and loud.

The reactions were kind of mixed, honestly. There was a lot of excellent feedback in the threads, and you gave some excellent criticism and made great points. I’m going to work hard to try and keep changing things up over the coming weeks, to attempt to incorporate more of your suggestions.

I don’t have the bandwidth to support an HD live stream. Sorry, but you won’t be seeing that at any time in the near future. Also, I don’t think my stream machine is powerful enough. However, do I really NEED them? The high quality live stream is here to stay, and I”m really happy with it.

Are YOU happy with it?

For disclosure purposes, I do sit on the Ustream Advisory Board. I’ve been with them since nearly the beginning, and continue to be happy with their service. I am not paid to use the services, but I AM a member of that board.

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Ustream for Live Video Feed Broadcasting

The Ustream gang has been working ’round the clock to fix any kind of showstoppers – and I’m happy to report that their hard work has paid off. The new Ustream.com is available for anybody to use. There have been quite a few changes:

  • Twitter integration on show pages – AWESOME!
  • Live, site-wide notification text feed at the top of all pages.
  • New front page promotion widget for featured shows.
  • Every show gets a http://ustre.am/8V styled short URL.
  • Recommended shows appear automatically on show pages.
  • The community can create highlights from recorded videos.
  • Status updates, though not integrated with ping.fm yet.
  • Elimination of WyldRyde IRC support.
  • It’s now Ustream.com, not Ustream.tv.

They tell me they’re working on squishing bugs, and I know I’ve sent them a few bits of feedback on what I’d like to see ’em address in the near future. You can (of course) still find me on my live page – complete with classic chat.

I think what’s most interesting is the addition of Twitter on the live page. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, as I can see it getting abused (and incessant public tweets annoying to disinterested followers).

As a side note, over 10,714,196 people have watched me live at some point – racking up a total of about 5,000,000 viewer hours. That’s insane…

Watch Me Live on Your iPhone

I’m relatively pissed that TechCrunch got an exclusive scoop (and yes, it was exclusive) on the upcoming Ustream application for the iPhone, all things considered. Still, I’m happy to say that pretty soon you’ll be able to watch me – and any other person who uses Ustream – on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The app is very much real.

Why would you want to watch? Think about it this way: it’s much more interactive than traditional television.

And why would you want to stream your own live video feed for the world to see?

Maybe it’s just two people who are interested, but point a camera out your window – or at your dog’s bed – or to anything that you care to share. This also makes for a great pseudo-security camera! Now that the viewer app is coming to the iPhone… you’d be crazy not to dive into the world of live video (if only for your own, private reasons).

Live Internet video streams aren’t going to disappear – and they certainly just got a whole lot more interesting. At least, for people like me (and the people who like to watch the back of my head).

The app is still a bit rough around the edges, but rest assured that Ustream will listen to you if you offer suggestions for improvement. They’ve always listened to their community, and it’s one of the reasons I accepted a position on their advisory board long ago.

And yes, the best is yet to come:

How to Start a Successful Live Internet Video Show

Geek!This is Matt Smith’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Geeks are present on many different social networks: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, and the like. While all of these networks serve slightly different purposes, their main goal lies in helping individuals with overlapping interests make personal connections. For anyone looking to take the interaction to a higher level, starting a live stream may help one to accomplish that desired level of interaction. I’ve compiled a “Top Five” guide in order to assist anyone interested in running a live stream.

1. Get the right equipment.

I can’t stress enough the importance of high-quality equipment. If you’re going to do something, do it right, and don’t cheap out on your gear. The only place where “Cheap” comes before “Geek” is in the dictionary.

  1. Camera. Obviously, some type of camera will be required before further infrastructure is put into place. Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend streaming, you will need to purchase an appropriate camera. For casual streamers, a higher quality webcam, such as the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000, will do. However, if you plan on streaming on a regular basis, you might want to consider some type of DV camera. This will offer a higher video quality and provide you with much more flexibility and expandability, such as higher video quality and a zoom remote.
  2. Microphone. Although many webcams and almost all DV cameras have a built-in mic, having a separate condenser mic can make all the difference. Instead of broadcasting strained, tinny, hard to hear audio, you’ll be broadcasting sound that is sharp, crisp, and clear. This will make your stream much more attractive to prospective viewers and followers. I have used a CAD u32 in the past, and it worked great for my needs. While Samson and other pro audio companies do make higher-end microphones that are more expensive, I have not had any problems so far with the u32.
  3. Stream Machine. I would highly recommend a dedicated computer to run a live stream, as streaming can be quite intensive on all aspects of your system. More specifically, I would recommend a Mac. From what I’ve heard, and from my own personal experience, the abundance of well-written streaming software for Windows is virtually nonexistent. I’m not saying you have to get a Mac Pro just to run a stream – just make sure it has enough CPU and GPU power.
  4. Lights. Regardless of how much lighting you already have in the area you wish to stream, it always helps to have some type of light for the stream. Track lighting works well, although something even as simple as a lamp pointed in the vicinity of your “set” will greatly improve the video quality.

2. Pick a good location to stream.

Most geeks will understandably want to stream from their computer. I do realize that no one’s living conditions are perfect, but try to make the area look presentable. Neatness does count; I don’t believe in the the “clean desk, cluttered mind” theory. Although the shot does not need to be filled with clutter, there do need to be elements to make the video look interesting (e.g. Chris Pirillo’s TIX Clocks, Bwana’s Gators poster).

3. Use software to enhance the video.

Once everything is connected to the stream machine, it’s helpful to use software to improve the appearance of the video. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss CamTwist for Mac OS X, although many other programs function in a manner somewhat similar to CamTwist. The “Brightness” effect allows for granular control over brightness, contrast, and saturation – something that viewers will subconsciously respond to. Adding dynamic elements such as a topic, the time, a site address, and chat, will also add color to the video. This can be achieved by means of the “Text”, “Solid Color”, “PIP”, “Clock”, and “RSS Ticker” effects. Some of the effects included in CamTwist are not necessarily useful in the context of a live stream, however, it’s still bar-none one of the best programs on the market for live video production.

4. Attract viewers.

Even if you have a wonderfully designed stream, everything is rendered null and void without viewers. It helps to become established on other networks before you jump headfirst into the world of live streaming. That way, there are already plenty of people following you, and you will have a prospective audience simply waiting for you. If you just open a Ustream.tv account and do nothing else, you’re more likely to get nothing but spammers and trolls.

5. Keep a handle on chat.

An IRC chat room is a common side dish to a live stream, but, more times than not, I’ve seen way too many dramatic, out of control issues occurring in chat. If someone is spamming, trolling, and has been sufficiently warned, don’t be afraid to be the “bad guy” and do a kick and ban. Even though I tend to be a lighter moderator and give people the benefit of the doubt, there is a line, and you have to be able to judge when that line has been crossed. Write out definite rules of the channel, and make sure that everyone chatting is aware of what these rules stipulate.

Running a live stream can be a very rewarding experience, but, like anything worth having, requires a substantial amount of effort. Lastly, always remember to project a positive image of yourself – people ARE watching!

What are your thoughts? Do you have any tips or tricks for live streaming?

Ten Reasons to Have a Live Video Stream

With a great amount of encouragement (not only from her own community, but from me as well), I think Ponzi is finally going to give YouTube a go. She’s set up her own channel and has uploaded her first video – taken on her own Flip camcorder a few weeks ago. The clip is hilarious. Scroll down for the embed, or start by reading my top ten list of live webcam uses:

  1. Point it over your shoulder for a “rear view” mirror
  2. Use it to keep an eye on your child / husband
  3. Security (either when you’re at home or away)
  4. Point it at your mailbox to know when the day’s delivery is done
  5. Capture personal bloopers and disgusting habits
  6. Keep an eye on the stove, but not necessarily to watch pots
  7. Watch television / listen to radio from another room
  8. Remote aquarium enjoyment
  9. Front door monitor to avoid magazine salespeople
  10. Watch for interesting-looking clouds

Twitter in Live Video

Jaap Stronks from The Netherlands has quite an interesting mashup, but one with a purpose: Twitter and live video!

Just wanted to share that I’ve been experimenting with live webvideo myself; I was particularly interested in integrating relevant Twitter messages realtime in a live video, something you may be interested in. At the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam, I produced an interview with Robert Scoble, which I broadcasted in Ustream with added backchannel tweets as a video overlay. If you’re interested in the result, you can watch it here (I simultaneously recorded it with Quicktime), although the web page is in Dutch, the video is of course English:


If you’re interested in the method I used: I use Adium with the Twitter IM function (with a separate account with no friends, only tracking a certain hash code) and a message layout with big white letters and a black screen, plus Camtwist with a desktop video source (custom area) with a chroma key on black, so that only the letters remain visible. I should add a black semi-opaque rectangle to make the letters more easily readible, that’s for next time.

This was just a first video after a couple of tests, I’m thinking of producing a regular live show, perhaps interviewing people using video conference calling services. I just wanted to share this with you because I thought you might find it interesting. I’m now going to dive into your blog and see what things and ideas you’ve come up with.

I keep telling everybody that the WHOLE point of doing LIVE video is that you can interact with your audience – and vice versa.

Senior Citizen Center Interested in Streaming

Hot on the heels of Ronni’s Gnomedex post (sorry about those stairs, but you’ll be happy to know there’s an elevator right around the corner from them)… Tom Poe from Charles City (Iowa) sent me this request for assistance:

Chris: I’m living in a small community in north-central Iowa. I’m stirring some interest in the community laying the groundwork for the cutover to digital in Feb 2009. One of the pieces is a Meraki unit in each house, and a shared Internet access for a community wireless mesh network. Another piece is a few digital recording studios around town for producing digital content for broadcasting across the community. A third piece is setting up to hold streaming conferences that let participants with webcams participate on one level, those with Internet access participate on a chat level, and those without Internet access being able to sit in the audience. Since we’re a small community, we have to start at the lowest, klunkiest level.

I have a cheap desktop computer loaded with state-of-the-art audio and video software from Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, so that lowers the digital recording studio piece to near zero. The Meraki.net units in each home costs a one-time fee of $50, and running a cable line to the center of town lowers the monthly Internet shared payment to about $3 per month per house, so that takes care of the infrastructure. It is the third piece that needs work. What suggestions for setting up to have videoconferencing capability do you have?

I’d love to recommend ustream.tv, but they really don’t have a collaboration feature set. I’ve hacked my own live stream with CamTwist about as far as it can be pushed on the client side, but… I’m guessing that Skype is going to do everything you need it to do (and then some). Don’t make this more complicated than it really needs to be. 😉

Live Behind the Scenes video in Leo Laporte's TV Lab

Digg This

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for (well, maybe not ALL of you, but most certainly a few dozen of you). Ponzi and I are returning to Vancouver tomorrow morning to tape a couple more episodes with Leo on his hit television program, the Lab with Leo Laporte. The shows will be recorded live-to-tape somewhere between 8am and 2pm (Pacific) tomorrow – Tuesday.

Now, I’ll be taking a MacBook (!) with me, attempting to stream our journey north, south, and just about everywhere in between. The fun begins at 4AM (Pacific) and likely lasts throughout the day. So, spread the word, my TechTV faithful – I’m going to take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of what’s happening with Leo (of course, he’ll likely be busy throughout the day, but at least we’ll be able to meet the folks who make all that television magic possible).

My suggestion: watch what’s happening on our own live community page. Now, if you’d rather load my live video stream in a separate browser window altogether – that can be arranged (here). Some people have gone as far as to create widgets for some gadget platforms! If you’d like to join us in chat without loading the Java IRC applet, we’re on irc.wyldryde.org in #Chris (all the time, not just for the next day).

Join me (through my Sprint UpStage EVDO connection – or through the studio’s WiFi). We gotta get the word out about this sooner rather than later – so Digg this link so that people know what’s happening. It’s my true goal that when we demonstrate ustream live on Leo’s TV show, we’ll have hundreds of viewers participating in the chat room and watching the video stream live!

Before too long, I’m hoping to do Q&As throughout my regular days, record those video answers, then immediately upload them to my various accounts (UndoTV, blip.TV, YouTube, etc.). Tried to start that this weekend, but the live upload feature of YouTube doesn’t work very well – and video re-encoding issues are keeping us from moving too far with the idea.

Join us throughout the day – and stick around for a while. 😉