Review: EasyLive's Video-Mixer-in-the-Cloud Simplifies Operations
The system comes preconfigured with an image that displays when the connection is lost, though you can substitute a video or your own image. You can also add still images or videos for program breaks to keep the viewer informed and involved. All these potential uses made me wish for the ability to upload larger videos, with a much larger cap, but EasyLive says its users haven’t complained about these limitations.
In addition to VOD animations, you can configure a separate live feed or feeds and switch back and forth between them during the event. This could be a backup feed separately encoded and transmitted, or videos from other locations. You’re limited to one animation at a time instead of, or as a pictureinpicture in, the primary stream.
Instant Replay and DVR
Beneath the Event Interface bar on the upper right is the Add a New DVR button, which is one of the most powerful features of the product. When you press that button, you can save one or multiple events from the live stream into separate files that you can edit, download, or publish from the Events tab off the main interface (Figure 5). These could be songs in a concert, acts in a play or ballet, or individual presenters during a conference. Once you trim the clip or edit the metadata, you can send the files to the various outputs you’ve programmed into EasyLive as shown on the bottom right of Figure 5.
Figure 5. Separate DVR events in the Events tab.
In addition, the top video contains the entire event, which you can download, modify, and publish. This ensures that you have an instant archive of any event you produce with EasyLive. There’s also a 25second instant replay triggered by the small green icon labeled Buzz Clipping in the preview window on the upper left of Figure 5. When you click this, the last 25 seconds are saved in a separate DVR event, though you can extend beyond the 25second start point using program controls if you need a longer clip. The EasyLive system is smart enough to know the rules of some sports: If you’re producing a sporting event and a team scores in football, rugby, or soccer, 25 seconds is captured, while each point in a volleyball, tennis, or pingpong match is captured separately.
Pricing for the service is a combination of time and outbound bandwidth, with discounts for highvolume usage. EasyLive didn’t want me to disclose pricing, but I can say that it’s affordable, even for smaller companies.
Overall, any live event producer involved with sports, seminars, and conferences, as well as a host of other types of events, should consider EasyLive. In particular, producers who need to distribute their live streams to multiple services, or to quickly publish excerpted videos to social media or VOD services, will find EasyLive’s capabilities extremely useful.
Sidebar: Interview With Paris Saint-Germain
French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) was one of the first EasyLive users. This interview with a PSG executive details the club’s usage; the executive requested his name not be used.
Please describe the types of events you’re covering with EasyLive.
We mostly cover press conferences (new players, pregame conferences, etc.) and sometimes training sessions (but we need internet connection on the pitch). EasyLive provides us a solution where we could have a professional, TV-like look. It is very important to us to value our brand and our partners through all our content, and live streaming is definitely a key channel of communication.
How did you cover these before?
Before using EasyLive, we didn’t stream these events live. In the past, we tried encoding software like Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder, but the result was very poor, probably due to a poor choice of encoding preset (our computer wasn’t powerful enough, and we were not trained to get the proper preset). But most of the time, we either skipped the event or recorded it and then published the result after editing in postproduction. This delayed the content’s appearance and added production costs.
Why is EasyLive a better solution?
This software is simple and very powerful when you have a good internet connection. So we save a lot of time using this solution. It provides a professional look in real time with minimal required technical skills. EasyLive told us which encoder to buy and helped us configure it. Then we just needed to hit the Play button to stream live and eliminate postproduction (unless we decide to summarize the content).
So we save money getting it right first time, and we get to deliver our hot content in real time. We also save money by not needing to send an additional switcher and operator just to add a few graphics within the feed.
Which EasyLive features are you finding most helpful?
On the graphics side, it is very useful to add overlays, lower thirds, and the Twitter feed. We use that feature on all our live events. The fact that we can add animations like a waiting screen is also definitely a plus. Indeed, during professional press conferences, the coach or the players might be late, and we can make our audience wait using those welcome screens.
We also like the Twitter feature where we have our real-time tweets (already moderated) looping in a dedicated lower third. Our fans like it a lot. We started streaming to Facebook Live [in April]; we were the first in France, and maybe in Europe, which is very important to us.
Are you operating EasyLive manually or via the API?
We use it manually to activate the lower thirds since we have one cameraman on site. But all the Twitter feeds are displayed in an automated way. We have designed a template for our press conference that we can change and customize without asking EasyLive. The day of the live event, we start the event, start the preview, check if the preview looks good and that everything is working fine (audio, lower thirds, etc.), and then hit the Play button.
What services are you pushing the live feeds through?
We used to primarily use Dailymotion, and YouTube sometimes for our international audience. We were really waiting for Facebook and Twitter to open their platforms. Facebook just did so, and our audience loved it. Twitter hasn’t opened its platform yet, so we are just sharing our Dailymotion URL or adding the URL of our Facebook page.
What’s the typical number of online viewers for your events?
Our press conferences usually reach around 50,000 viewers per live stream [both viewed live and on-demand]. With Facebook, we reached 250,000, including both live and VOD!
This article originally ran in the July/August 2016 issue of Streaming Media magazine as “Review: EasyLive.”
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