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Cisco, Elemental, Haivision Offer Live Event Encoding Advice

Pulling off a live video event can be tricky, especially for first-timers. For all those looking for advice on how to do it correctly, representatives from Cisco, Elemental, and Haivision took part in a webinar this week hosted on this site.

Starting out the webinar, Scott Meek, product manager for Cisco, listed key considerations in planning a live event. The producer should make the live streamed event feel more like traditional television, he said, and should offer advanced features such as captions and parental controls.

But more than that, a live streamed event should go beyond what TV delivers, Meek said. Producers can deliver multiple camera angles and give viewers a choice over which shots they see. They can offer targeted advertising to generate extra revenue.

"The first step of being like traditional television is to reach every device," said Meek. "Decisions need to be made with regard to where you do the transcoding and to where you do the encapsulation. These decisions can significantly drive your hardware and bandwidth costs, as well as network performance. The typical steps that every live event needs to be concerned about are video source, which can be IP- or SDI-based, transcoding, encapsulation, and then, of course, output."

Presenting four lessons that Elemental learned from major live streaming events in the past year, Keith Wymbs, Elemental's vice president of marketing, took the middle spot. Delivering practical advice to attendees, he talked about how the market fragmentation of online video has changed the architecture required for robust live streaming.

"The reality of what is happening, in terms of the multi-screen environment today, is that it's breaking existing infrastructure. Infrastructure that went in place five years ago when the multiscreen market was very nascent for the PCs is not able to handle all the different renditions of content that you require in order to deliver to a ubiquity of different devices that you want to hit, let alone the different players that are involved, the different languages that are required," said Wymbs.

Last up was Peter Forman, vice president of business development for Haivision. Forman has been the CEO of Kulabyte, and came to Haivision when his company was acquired. His presentation focused on first-mile problems -- issues related to uplink bandwidth. The traditional broadcast solution is to hire a satellite truck, he said, but that adds $9,000 per day to the cost of an event. Instead, it's cost effective to push a single RTMP stream to the cloud.

"When you're talking about encoding the source stream for live events -- and here I'm talking about what would be called in broadcast a contribution feed -- there are certain aspects of that process that you want to keep in mind," said Forman. "The first is, basically, you want to send out a very high quality source stream. So typically, we're going to encode a 720p stream at 1.8MB and 3.6Mbps -- the high end of that range being for things like action sports, the Olympics. We tend to source those types of content at higher bit rate."

After the three presentations, audience members posted questions for the speakers. Topics addressed included MPEG DASH support and the RTSP protocol.

View the entire webinar online, where it will be hosted for the next 90 days. Free registration is required.

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