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How to Run a Remote Production with easylive.io

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Options abound for combining multiple speakers in different locations into a single video. You can use Zoom or similar conferencing tools or desktop mixers like vMix and Wirecast. Or you can go full-REMI, with local encoders sending streams back to a central location for producing in a broadcast mixer.

Alternatively, you could send streams to the cloud and mix your presentation there using a service like easylive.io. This schema delivers better A/V quality than Zoom, is much cheap­er than full REMI, and has multiple advantages over desktop mixers, including better A/V quality, lower costs, much lower outbound bandwidth requirements at the production site, and the ability to deliver your stream to more than 30 outlets simultaneously while also recording the program stream. In particular, if your goal is to deliver multiple streams to different outlets, mixing in the cloud is ideal.

This tutorial will walk you through setting up and producing a simple live event ith easylive.io.

For the record, the service costs $99 per month, plus $29 per hour for production time, which I’ll further define later. Let’s jump in.

Step 1: Creating the Event in easylive.io

After you log in, easylive.io opens into a calendar-like interface that shows previous and scheduled productions (see Figure 1, background). You can schedule an event by clicking a future date and time, or you can start an event right away by clicking the current day and time. Either way, this opens the Create New live stream dialog shown in Figure 1. Note the ability to copy the layout from a prior presentation so you can duplicate configuration options from previous shows and easily maintain a consistent look for different episodes of the same show.

Figure 1. Creating the event (click for larger image)

Once you’ve created the event, easylive.io schedules it on services that support this feature (such as Facebook) and that are connected to your account and an output destination for the stream.

Step 2: Set Formats, Qualities, and Publishing Points in easylive.io

For each show, you set the parameters for the production, which currently maxes out at 1080p60. Then, you set different output qualities so you can send different quality streams to different outlets. Next, you assign different publishing points to the output qualities (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Setting formats, qualities, and publishing points (click for larger image)

Step 3: Choose a Publishing Point in easylive.io

You select a publishing point by clicking Add or Edit Publishing Points (shown in Figure 2), which opens the screen shown in Figure 3. There, you choose a service, log in, and select the destination. Or, if you’re sending the stream to a Real-Time Messaging Protocol, SRT, or similar connection, you click that output and enter your credentials and stream information.

Figure 3. Choosing the service and destination (click for larger image)

On the top left of Figure 3, you can see one of the service’s key strengths: the ability to support up to 30 outputs for each presentation. While few productions will actually need to support this many outputs, even three or four outputs at 5Mbps can strain the resources of many home or small-business internet connections. Since easylive.io delivers these from the cloud, outbound bandwidth isn’t an issue.

Step 4: Create Your Presentation in easylive.io

You craft your presentation in easylive.io’s production interface, which has the three modes shown at the top of Figure 4. During setup, you can add content and content sources, but you can’t take the presentation live, so you can’t really see it to debug it. In the Testing mode, all content is live, but you incur the hourly charge, as you do once you take the production live. Note that easylive.io charges you by the minute, so 10 minutes of testing or broadcasting will cost you about $4.80, not the full $29.

Figure 4. Configuring the production (click for larger image)

You create the production on a blank layered canvas that looks and functions much like the interface in Wirecast. As with most layered interfaces, the system displays from the top down, so you add the base content first, then the overlays, such as logos and titles. You can add individual pieces of content like videos, still images, and text, or you can use templates to combine different content types into scenes.

In Figure 4, you can see multiple videos and templates on the bottom row and a title and logo above it. During the production, you can switch between the scenes by clicking them or using a hotkey, and you can empty the layer by clicking Blank on the extreme left, again, much like in Wirecast.

Click the plus sign on each layer to add content and open the window shown in Figure 5, with all of the input types shown on the left. These include live videos, disk-based videos that you upload into the system, images, text, webpages, social media icons, applications (event scoring and a timer), and a media bin that contains content you’ve configured into previous productions. If a presenter is connecting from the same computer that’s running the presentation, they can connect directly via a capture card or webcam interface. All remote guests connect via WebRTC, which imposes about a 2.5Mbps bandwidth limitation on the incoming video.

Figure 5. All of the production inputs are on the left; choosing and configuring a two-shot template are on the right and in the middle. (Click for larger image)

To start, I invited myself and my other speaker, Eleanor, to the production via an invitation function in the program, which can send an invite via text or email. Guests receive a link they can open in a browser, choose their audio/video devices, and participate in the event. As the producer, I can configure what the remote guests see and hear, which typically will be the program feed and their own camera input (skip ahead to Figure 7 below). Note that the system does not provide any Proc-Amp-type controls for the incoming video, so if you want to adjust incoming brightness or contrast, you’ll have to walk the guests through how to do that at their end. This may change by the time you read this tutorial, as such a feature is on the company’s road map for 2022.

In Figure 5, I’m choosing a simple side-by-side display template (second row, on the right) for the video participants in the production: Eleanor and me. Using the input selectors on the left, I’ve configured my video into Window 1 and Eleanor’s into Window 2. This is the two-shot I’ll use for the initial discussions and meet and greet. Then, I’ll transition to a different template to discuss the presentation. This template also contains a PowerPoint screen capture that can be from either speaker, plus video windows on the left. All of the production elements are configurable, so if you don’t like the colors, you can change them.

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