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Webcasting Hits the Right Note for Small Business

[Editor's Note: This is a vendor-supplied case study. OnlineVideo.net publishes case studies from third-parties based solely on their value to our readers.]

Purtle.com Brass Camp (PbC) is a small business focused on improving practice, playing, and business skills as taught by expert brass players. The first Brass Camp was held at Anderson University in South Carolina in July 2010.

The event cost $200 to attend in person and $100 to watch online, either live or on-demand. Online viewing was a good option for those who were attending from Australia and other countries and would otherwise have needed to spend over $1500 in airfare alone to attend. By offering the online option, PbC was able to generate enough revenue to support the expenses of flying guest artists in from various parts of the U.S.

Technical Challenges
The goal for founder Jeff Purtle was to provide the same high-quality experience for online viewers as for those who were attending in person.  For webcasting, Purtle said, "We chose Telestream Wirecast because of its ease of use and low cost compared to other options for creating a professional production that could be streamed live or viewed on demand."

Purtle.com Brass Camp used Telestream Wirecast running on an iMac to stream the event for online viewers

Purtle had one cameraman and one person working the computer running the Wirecast software and Keynote presentation slides, in addition to performing three sound mixes (house, camera, and live stream).  He also needed a teleprompter in the form of a 50" LED television that could work with Keynote and allow the projector image to be broadcast on the internet.

According to Purtle, "Wirecast was essential to coordinate it all, provide the lower thirds, transitions and other elements necessary to provide a professional video experience."

Technical Set up
PbC's setup included Wirecast running on a 24" iMac, with a MOTU UltraLite Hybrid audio interface over USB2 and MOTU CueMix FX software to run the MOTU UltraLite for the three mixes.  A Sony HVR-A1U 1080i camcorder was used over Firewire.  A MacMini ran Keynote presentations to a projector.  The presentation display split to a 50" LED TV and another computer monitor.  And, the Wirecast Desktop Presenter application was used to network the MacMini projector display to the iMac.

Wirecast handled the live internet feed and recorded to a hard drive.  The one person running the iMac and MacMini controlled everything, acting as producer, leaving the cameraman to only deal with shooting the event.

Streaming Workflow
Darwin Streaming Server (DSS) was used on a leased Linux server to inexpensively stream the live event and hinted streaming files for later viewing. Wirecast streamed and recorded the hinted files in real time. Wirecast allowed PbC to easily import high-quality files into Final Cut Studio for quick editing, compressing and uploading to DSS.

Purtle also used Telestream's Flip4Mac WMV Player Pro to import various files from PC users into Keynote and Final Cut Pro. PbC ran tapes in the camcorder and also used the composite output on the same camera which ran through a Black Magic card into a PC capturing 1920x1080 to a hard drive. That gave PbC three copies of the video as a backup.  The website was created with Drupal (an open source Content Management System), which automated the sales and access to the streamed video hosted on the DSS.

The first Brass Camp was a success.  According to Purtle, "Wirecast provided a professional-level broadcast at an affordable price, thereby ensuring that our viewers had an experience equivalent to what they would expect from commercial television.  And, when we phoned Telestream with a technical problem the day before the event, it was solved within 30 minutes.  That level of support isn't found in many companies today, and is extremely valuable in live environments. Wirecast performed flawlessly for two days, running non-stop 14 hours a day."

Guest Post's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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