Stream or Die: NAB Showcases Portable Streaming Production

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If it's early April, it must be time for NAB-the National Association of Broadcasters show-held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada.

While the show has traditionally courted broadcasters, whose use of studios and large production trucks require significant high-dollar gear, the influence of portable, ruggedized, and mobile streaming solutions is gaining traction.

The Backpack Approach
One example of this trend is VBrick's Mobile Broadcasting System. Similar to the Kyte LivePro Unwired backpack streaming unit introduced at SXSW a few weeks back, the VBrick solution offers 1Mbps streaming via a wireless infrastructure.

"The Mobile Broadcasting System is a live video contribution backhaul," VBrick said in a statement, "in a single lightweight and portable back-pack."

The trend toward this type of backpack reporting is key, according to Kyte, LiveStream, and VBrick, given the race to be the first to report an event, regardless of where it is. Kyte's LivePro and LiveStream's Livepack use data cards from three distinct carriers-two each from Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon-to minimize locations where data service might not be available.

"We aim to providing first-to-the-scene news reporters with a means of gathering the news quickly and efficiently with a portable system," VBrick said, "replacing expensive news trucks and gear."

VBrick says the math is simple, and that the human factor with a backpack may replace the more expensive trucks-at least until a truck can get to the site.

"New trucks cost upwards of $250,000 and up to $3,000 per day to operate," VBrick notes. "Because most stations have more videographers and reporters than trucks, news directors must often choose between waiting for trucks to arrive on the scene to capture live shots vs. defaulting to a telephone interview with a journalist and no accompanying video to enhance the story."

The Appliance Approach
On the other side of the equation, Newtek is looking to show how its TriCaster is able to replace-or at least complement-traditional mobile broadcasting microwave or satellite trucks.

Newtek will host an event on Tuesday, April 13 at 6:30 PM, at the Renaissance Hotel (across from the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center) called "Stream or Die: How to Capitalize on Portable Live Production."

The panel discussion will be moderated by StreamingMedia.com's editor Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, and will include representatives from MTV, the NBA, the NFL's New York Giants, and recording artist Peter Himmelman.

Jeff Jacobs, vice president of MTV production planning, will talk about how MTV is using "network-style live streaming" in its portable production and streaming workflow. Smith, vice president and CMO of the NBA Development League, and Sperling, vice president and executive producer of Giants Entertainment, for the NFL's New York Giants, will discuss how streaming helps connect with a fan base that's hungry for behind-the-scenes and unique content. In addition, Himmelman, GRAMMY nominee and host of the online-only music and interview show "Furious World" will talk about how portable streaming production can be a key differentiator in getting the artistic message out, in lieu of beefing up the touring schedule.

Products like the TriCaster, which has traditionally been used in studio environments or as the sole video mixing and streaming solution, are now being used as a complementary video mixing solution alongside larger TV production trucks.

One of the main benefits of using a product like the TriCaster-which contains still stores, graphics overlays and even disk recorders and playback-in a portable setting is the ability to trim the time it takes to move a broadcast-quality clip through the post-production finishing process.

In my work with the TriCaster, especially in introducing students to the concept of broadcast switching, I've found that students who are comfortable multi-tasking between the various parts of a live production switching scenario find the TriCaster a very comfortable tool to use. Perhaps it's due to the fact that TriCaster feels more like a compute- where a mouse or an external T-bar handle can be used-or because they understand that doing the video mixing work during a multi-cam shoot can save them significant post-production work on a multi-camera edit. Similar products include ViewCast's Niagara GoStream SURF and Digital Rapids' TouchStream.

"I'm really looking forward to asking key questions that the production audience members at the Newtek panel want to hear about," said Shumacher-Rasmussen, "such as what kinds of content those fans-whether sports or music-are looking for that just don't make sense to deliver with traditional broadcast production."

"One of the motivators behind embracing live streaming is the opportunity for interactivity that doesn't exist within the parameters of a traditional broadcast presentation," said Schumacher-Rasmussen.

NAB starts on April 11 and continues through April 15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Here's a video preview of the "Stream or Die" discussion.

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