Casting Views: ViewCast's Streaming Technology, Part 2Eitan Ortal of Israeli webcasting firm Go-Live talks about their new field production kit. 5/05/2011 6:27 AM Eastern
Casting Views: ViewCast's Streaming Technology, Part 2
May 5, 2011 10:27 AM
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When Israeli firm Go-Live decided to make a product for one-man news gathering they took the Niagara 2120 encoder from ViewCast, surrounded it with proven field shoot technology, and put it all together in a revolutionary way for ENG remotes. Eitan Ortal is going to tell us how they did it, next up on the SVC podcast.
Eitan, it’s great to have you with me on the SVC podcast all the way from Jerusalem to tell us about the Go-Live kit for mobile internet and video streaming. You took a piece of very proven equipment, the Niagara 2120 streaming encoder from ViewCast, and you built it into a backpack for live news remotes and a one-man crew. The company is Go-Live and how long has that company been in business?
Well we’ve been in business since 2008. We just wanted to supply an answer for a growing demand for live video. Our business is a web-casting service company. We provide our clients with the whole video production, encoding facilities and everything…streaming and everything required in order to transmit a live event over the internet. [Timestamp: 1:28]
And of course doing live shots everything has to work the first time and you have to have gear that you can have confidence in. But it’s not all news gathering a lot of things are going on there. What other types of events have you used the Go-Live kit for?
Well basically Go-Live does a lot of news, a lot of coverage for conventions, for all sorts of live events. We’ve all sorts of private family events including families and on the other side, funerals, and all sorts of events where people could not attend and wanted to be part of the thing happening. Basically in Israel it’s a very big need for live broadcast being that Israel is very much connected to the world. A lot of the population here is people that immigrated to Israel and have strong relations especially in the US and Europe. [Timestamp: 2:16]
And since you took the Niagara 2120 and built a highly mobile package around it you’re dealing mainly with wireless internet transmission and that’s probably the most technically challenging part of this whole production chain. What’s the range of video quality that Go-Live can provide in a webcast like this?
Basically if we’re talking mainly about the Go-Live kit, the Go-Live kit runs on a cellular 3G network. Based on our experience on internet viewers in Israel and internet bandwidth we usually do not supply more than 700kBps because we keep in mind both video quality and a good streaming experience. As for the kit, as I said it runs right over 3G so it’s basically up to what your network can supply. We usually set it up around 450kBps to get the best quality. [Timestamp: 3:07]
And you can run into anything out there doing live news. The story you plan to shoot is not the…always the one you run into and you originally developed this mobile kit for your own use but others have shown a lot of interest in it so are you targeting this exclusively for news gathering or is there a wider potential market?
Well the thing is the kit was basically designed with our knowledge in event webcasting. We needed some sort of solution that’s first of all affordable and secondly will transmit your live video from the event over the internet and make it mobile so we could walk and…and move while you transmit. So when we made this device for our news we saw that there’s a big use for that market. The kit is made for webcasters. It streams video in the best quality directly to the internet as you go basically ENG, one-man webcasts, worship, government, family events—whatever you need to broadcast on the go. [Timestamp: 4:06]
And it was only a few years back this might have looked like something that only NASA would have come up with but with live internet video it’s a whole new ballgame now. What do you see as the trend now? We’ve gotten used to seeing microwave and satellite trucks everywhere but everything newer is smaller and usually less expensive so what do see is the trend between satellite up links and live one man internet video?
Well the way it looks on location I think that the days for OB vans are more or less numbered because OB vans normally, what we see now, transmit their video over the satellite through their MCRs and from there their video is re-encoded and conveyed again over the internet anyhow so today when your 3 and 4G networks are growing with the ability to provide almost the same stability in bandwidth and you can have the good encoding devices to encode your video in low bit rates, low file sizes and still have very good quality. I think the days for millions of dollars of equipment that move around in a truck are close to an end—yeah. [Timestamp: 5:1]
Yes the same advance in video compression technology that enables satellite transmission and now it’s moving beyond big trucks and C-band antenna farms to fantastic advances in mobility. With a single camera person carrying this kit around, how much does the whole thing weigh?
Well the kit’s fitted with standard broadcast batteries and if you were carrying a couple of batteries then the kit weighs at around 7k—that’s 14lbs. It’s fitted on a backpack and you can just pack it and go. [Timestamp: 5:42]
Casting Views: ViewCast's Streaming Technology, Part 2
May 5, 2011 10:27 AM
And as we pointed out before the Niagara 2120 encoder from ViewCast is the heart of this thing and to adapt it for increased mobility Go-Live came up with a modification for the original power supply. What did you do for that?
Yes Bennett, Niagara 2120 is basically supplied with DC. It’s comes with a AC to DC power supply but what we’ve done is fit the kit with a couple of standard Anton Bauer-type batteries which are fitted with a hotswap so basically you have standard batteries that every broadcaster has in their backpack that you can change while you’re working to basically feed the kit with fresh batteries and make it run for as long as you need. With a basic set up of 290W-an-hour batteries the kit will work up to nine hours without a charge. [Timestamp: 6:29]
And those Anton Bauer batteries aren’t going to be new or foreign to anybody who’s been in the broadcasting and field production, and the whole theme of this kit is to take proven field power technology, encoding, and transmission and put it all together in a new combination to suit wireless internet video streaming from anywhere.
Yeah, you can basically always pack it light. You can use a smaller battery if you just need a short time of webcasting so… [Timestamp: 6:56]
And you just become the remote truck yourself.
Now on larger events since the…a video signal is a video signal you can connect, say, a switcher AUX output to the 2120 and take a video feed and stream it for a church service or a sporting event with multiple camera coverage. And the same simple operation that makes it reliable for pros out in the field can also make it, say, useful for maybe less experienced volunteer tech people on a church crew.
Yeah, well the kit is meant primarily for a one-man installations to make it easy and fast set up but because the core appliance is the Niagara 2120 and the 2120 basically takes any form of the analog video you want to feed it you can just log it in at the end of your signal chain and use it to broadcast from the studio from a video switcher of whatever feed you use, yeah. [Timestamp: 7:52]
Now for the audio feed would you need to have external processing, say, compression or something out boarded to be able to take a feed like that?
Well basically the kit has a few audio options and a few video options. All you need to do being that feature is available on the Niagara 2120 and we’ve made the adjustments for it to be available on the…also on the Go-Live kit you just have to log into your device from a remote computer and choose whichever input you want whether it’s balanced, audio unbalanced, audio component, video, composite video, or S-Video or with everything and just transmit that the same as you would put the monitor there. It just pushes it forward. [Timestamp: 8:31]
And you’ve got a USB port on the 2120 encoder so you can connect straight in just in case you have a last-minute, say, change of parameters or you can just set it up ahead of time and when you get to the site it remembers that and you just power up and go.
Exactly. First of all, you can have yourself set up before you get to the location. You can also on location connect to the machine a monitor and an interface and choose whatever options you would like to choose and you can also log in from afar from a internet browser in…in the headquarters and change the inputs, change the features, change the service, change the quality—whatever you want. [Timestamp: 9:11]
You were telling me before about some of the live events that Go-Live does and that can be just about anything. Have you had any particularly notable events that you’ve used the kit to cover lately?
Well basically the kit is used for all sorts of various events but because it’s simple and very fast setup we mainly use it for emergency ENG. Lately we’ve had a big forest fire in the Carmel Mountain in Israel which we’ve had the need to setup and transmit a live video from event and do it fast so we just setup with the kit. I would just like to add one thing that I think that is the basic trend for broadcasters today, I think that fast setups and wide distributions are the main features needed today because I think that most news agencies and most content owners would prefer to have their video available fast rather than to choose a complex production environment that the moving van would supply and if you need to have wide distribution all over Israel, Israel is small but in other countries you can’t network the whole country with an ability to transmit live within say up to half an hour from the event if you’re using an OB van. If you’re using a kit, a small backpack kit, that could be carried by every broadcaster, every camera holder, every reporter on location to just setup and transmit very fast—I think that’s where the market’s going. That’s where the contents going. [Timestamp: 10:4]
Well that certainly appears to be where it’s all going. All right it’s Eitan Ortal with Go-Live and the new kit built around the Niagara 2120 from ViewCast. Eitan, thanks for being with us.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you Bennett.