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ViewCast and BigLook360 Put Viewers on the Grammy Red Carpet

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In the middle of the celebrities and reporters on the Grammy Awards red carpet Sunday evening will be a video camera from BigLook360 capable of outputting a 180-degree view of the event. As they did last year, viewers will be able to visit People.com to enjoy the immersive view. One helpful feature of the BigLook360 camera is that each viewer is able to pan around the image independently, zeroing in on what he or she wants to see.

An onsite ViewCast Niagara 4100 encoder will deliver the ultra-wide image to online viewers, outputting a Flash stream in multiple resolutions which are then uploaded to the CDN. The final high-definition video on People.com will work on desktop and mobile devices, and will display in a standard video player.

BigLook360 offered the same streaming at the Academy Awards in 2012, and will do it again this year. According to Mike Galli, vice president of marketing for ViewCast, live streaming offerings are becoming more complex.

"We're seeing a variety of different things that add to the experience," says Galli. That includes events that are live streamed to the people who are already there, such as providing multiple camera angles to sports fans in a stadium. Major stadiums are adding high-speed wireless connections for this purpose. "If I have a seat that's pretty crummy, I might watch the video on my phone or iPad."

The biggest challenge to live streaming right now is the federal mandate requiring closed captioning for much streamed video, which will take effect March 30th. According to Galli, support for live captioning has trailed video-on-demand captioning.

"I think a lot of people are not prepared for that," Galli says. Microsoft Azure doesn't support live video, at all, he notes, and many CDNs, such as Akamai, Limelight, and Level 3 lack a solution, as does Ustream. Wowza is one of the few companies ahead of schedule; Galli says that it's had live caption support for a while now.

Galli is unsure what broadcasters will do come April 1st, but thinks they may have to implement a "brute force" solution, adding a caption overlay that can't be removed with viewer controls. If that happens, broadcasters might offer two streams, one with captions and one without, until they can add a true captioning system for live streams.

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