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Almost Live with Streaming Media: Field59 Makes Live Video Reporting Easy

[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at NAB 2015.]

Smartphones have broadened our view on the world, giving us instant looks at far-off locations. At this year's NAB conference, Field59 was on hand to demonstrate how its mobile streaming solution lets reporters upload and organize video reports that can be viewed both live and on-demand.

"The product that we have is a live streaming product and it's also a video-on-demand product. We empower people to be able to use their mobile devices and be able to live stream from anywhere in the world if they really want to," said Derek Gebler, CEO of Field59. "The key on that is either it's live or it's VOD. If a reporter is in the field and there's something that's happening and they haven't had the opportunity to get the rest of their kit set up, they will have their phone with them. They can shoot video, giving them tools. We have a mobile app that allows them to upload VOD content."

One of the great things about Field59's solution is that it doesn't just upload the video, it also organizes automatically on a website.

"When that's mapped to a keyword or a category, they can create a smart playlist, a saved search, put that up on their site, and then as they shoot their video and upload it, it automatically is put up onto their website for anything that's late-breaking," Gebler added.

To hear more about Field59's offering—and how it can work in the classroom, as well—watch the video that accompanies this article or read the transcript below.

Eric:   Hi. I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, editor of Streaming Media magazine, here at NAB 2015 with Derek Gebler who's the CEO of Field59. Hey, Derek.

Derek:           Hey. How's it going, Eric?

Eric:   Good. Good to have you here. For those of our viewers who might not know about Field59, can you sum up what it is you do in a sentence or two?

Derek:           Okay. What we are is a digital asset management company specifically geared for broadcasters and live events.

Eric:   Okay. Excellent. That goes into one of the trends, one of the biggest trends we've seen over the last few years, and we're certainly seeing it again at this year's NAB, is live streaming. Particularly, live mobile streaming, mobile journalism, citizen journalism. How does Field59 play into that equation?

Derek:           Sure. The thing that I think is part of the history of our company, the history of our product, is we started off building a user-generated product at a different company. We have our roots in the idea that video and content created by non-journalists as well as journalists is going to come from mobile phones. That is really where the future is going here.

            The product that we have is a live streaming product and it's also a video on demand product. We empower people to be able to use their mobile devices and be able to live-stream from anywhere in the world if they really want to. We're a big user, a big believer, in Wowza. Wowza has a great product called GoCoder that we like to recommend to everybody.

            Really using GoCoder, if you want a high quality stream for a newscast that is for online use, GoCoder is the way to go. It plugs right into our system, and then what we do though is we record that, we record it up in the cloud, and as soon as it's done recording, it's available for online consumption.

            The key on that is either it's live or it's VOD. If a reporter is in the field and there's something that's happening and they haven't had the opportunity to get the rest of their kit set up, they will have their phone with them. They can shoot video, giving them tools ... We have a mobile app that allows them to upload VOD content.

            When that's mapped to a keyword or a category, they can create a smart playlist, a saved search, put that up on their site, and then as they shoot their video and upload it, it automatically is put up onto their website for anything that's late-breaking, or something that the person in the field is not going to have the time or the ability to go in and to log into a content management system.

            This allows the person in the field to shoot the video, to do it, be that, those eyes and ears, and then that allows somebody else back at the TV station or back at the newspaper or wherever they are to be able to put that and really craft that story. Those type of things, one is gathering the video, but two is what do you with it once you actually have it. How fast can you move that around and how many seconds can you save? That's the stuff that we're like, "Well, how are we doing a better job servicing that type of market?" That's one of the things we're focused on.

Eric:   Yeah. It seems like when the mobile journalism, citizen journalism, trend started, publishers and journalists discovered that consumers were willing to put up with video that was a less than professional quality if it was getting the content that they couldn't get any other way. With phones today though, and this is a few years later, with phones today and gear like the kind you've got there with this contraption here, it's not that much less that broadcast quality, professional quality.

Derek:           Yeah, exactly.

Eric:   You get the best of both worlds, like you said, while the journalist and his crew might be setting up their kit.

Derek:           Right. That's really the key here, is that you can be shooting HD quality video or pretty close to it. User-generated content from a consumer, there are quality issues. It's not just not how it looks and the shooting, what's the content? A lot of heads and kids and sky and stuff, but if you put this into the hands of a journalist who actually has a kit, who's got a good lighting kit, a microphone, maybe something that they can mount on a tripod, suddenly, a phone turns into ...

            This is almost a prosumer type tool that they can create real quality content with, and making it as simple as possible for them to capture that. That's what it's all about. I think we've turned that curve in citizen journalism. Now, we've turned it into almost back to professional journalism again.

Eric:   Yeah, absolutely.

Derek:           It never went away, but it's becoming easier for them to go and do their job in a new way and addressing the market.

Eric:   Right, right. One of the other things that's been a big topic here at NAB has been closed captioning. That's partially in due to some regulatory changes over the last couple of years, but also because people are realizing that closed captioning is a huge part of making sure their video gets seen and discovered by as many people as possible. What role does Field59 play in the closed captioning world?

Derek:           We are looking at this really closely. Closed captioning for us, when we first encountered it, it was about three years ago when that was the hot topic and we really were like, "Okay, we need to make sure we're addressing this," so on our capture and editing side of things, our partner Forscene, which provides the editing environment that we use, all the captions come in, they're digital captions, they're not burned in, they're true data that can be edited and can be automatic.

            The first step is to try not to add extra work to the broadcasters that are generating this, because you can do it by hand. It's really not something anybody wants to do, but closed captioning, the next phase that's coming up now, is making sure all clips have captioning on them. Not just the ones that went over the air, but all archived clips. That's where speech to text is going to become a really big thing. That's what we're focused on.

            We're focused on speech to text. We're building out that engine right now. Not only do you generate the captions, if you need to have a captions editor built in to be tools that you're using, that should be like using Google Docs. That's what we've built into our tool as well. You should be able to log in, collaborative editing, it should be very simple, change the markup.

            The next step after that is saying, "Okay. All right. You've hit your regulation guidelines now. What do you do with this beyond regulation? How do you take captions and use them as data that's useful for discoverability and actually understanding what the videos are about?" Adding keywords and passing that data onto ad services so that they can serve better and more relevant ads.

            That is the kind of stuff that we're building out today at Field59 with our video platform. It's that stuff that's going to drive, I think, the future of video. Making captions, I don't know how to say it other than that it's data that shouldn't be just tossed once it's done.

Eric:   Right. Absolutely.

Derek:           It's very valuable. I don't think that's being used in a way that it could be used to its fullest potential.

Eric:   Sure. Well, one of the areas where I think it is being used, again, maybe not to its fullest potential, is in the education and training market. I know that's another sweet spot for Field59. What do you see as the biggest trends now in video for, again, education and training, and how is Field59 helping to enable those?

Derek:           We're based in Madison, Wisconsin, and so we've been talking to a lot of educators at the University of Wisconsin. Their ears perk up when we talk about the ability to search for video, not just finding the video that you want, but being able to find the topic that they're talking about in that video that you want.

            As an educator and as a student or whoever is learning, being able to comprehend the classroom lecturer better, I go back to captions here, but by providing captions that allow them to learn better, that's really what they get excited about. They also get excited about the ability to use their mobile phones.

            There are systems set up now that are hardwired to one particular classroom. We've talked to some educators and they say, "Well, that's great, but my classroom is over here." Then I talked to one guy, he was taking around a camera, and the workflow then at that point is that he's using a video camera, which is great, but it's going to be days before it ever gets online.

            Using a phone, streaming live, recording to the cloud, doing it, you can have a lecture online hours after it's done, minutes after it's done. That's what gets people excited, I think, because this is something that they've been doing for a long time, but I just don't think that it's been as convenient as it could be. It's actually maturing as a concept.

            It's not just at the university level, but we work with the Nurses Association. For accreditation, they do a live stream, they tune in, they pay whatever their credits are on Eventbrite, they pay for their class, they watch the class so that they can attend this virtual class, and they get their recertification because of it. It's not just about comprehending, it's actually about proximity.

            It's better than a webinar. You're seeing real people, you're streaming a video, you can actually watch it again, watch it as many times as you want. That's where, I think, we're turning a corner as well. I think there are groups of that in the healthcare space that are really understanding this is now something ... We have a huge training, I don't know what the right word would be, I don't know how to say it, deficit.

Eric:   Sure.

Derek:           There's a lot of technical training that has to go on. For people that are trying to watch a budget, they need to be able to get that information, but they may not want to actually travel to find out who's giving that lecture. It's not an untapped area, but it's one of those areas that when we talk about it, people get excited and they say, "You mean we can do this? This is something that we can do today?" I'm like, "Yeah, you could do that. Use your phone. Set that up on a tripod. Record this." This is something that you shouldn't just be doing once and then nobody gets the benefit from it. That's another key area in there, too.

Eric:   Very cool. Good stuff from Field59. I've been talking to Derek Gebler, CEO.

Derek:           Thanks.

Eric:   I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen of Streaming Media from NAB 2015.

 

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