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Become Your Own Broadcaster

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Telling a story with video used to be limited to traditional broadcasters who could afford the highly trained experts and the technology, facilities, and equipment.

How the times have changed.

It began with a more personalized approach to smaller audiences on platforms such as YouTube. With the advent of streaming media over networks using Internet Protocol (IP) transport, next came content providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others that changed the dynamic for how media could be distributed and consumed by viewers.

Much of the content on platforms like YouTube is not produced by big broadcasters. It is being created by small teams and even single individuals from their living rooms in some cases. Obviously, these creatives do not have access to all the resources that even a small broadcaster would have. So what is the crucial ingredient that is enabling them to deliver this huge variety of content? It is the same principle the streaming services have been using: IP. 

Using a platform like YouTube or Facebook to send out content is certainly a good choice for some, but it is definitely not a requirement. Educational, religious, business, and even entertainment-oriented organizations are able to produce and deliver programming just to their own employees, members, students, and audiences in limited and private distribution.

IP is the established standard for connecting devices that is now being applied more pervasively to media production. IP is the standard method for sending and receiving data from one computing system or device to another across networks and the Internet. IP is a mature, existing technology, representing a known commodity already implemented and in use every minute of the day, so IP infrastructure and support mechanisms are ubiquitous. Almost every office building, every home, even many cars, likely already has some sort of IP based infrastructure. Inexpensive and reliable switching and routing devices, sophisticated diagnostic tools, and extensive and inexpensive technical resources are readily available.

To a network, various formats and protocols are just more ones and zeros, and they are all equally viable. Moving high-bitrate live video over very long distances by IP can be much faster and more affordable than alternatives. A further stimulus for IP adoption is the fact that end-point creation, storage, and processing of media using general software, computing, and network technologies has matured to the degree that they provide truly useful functionality and performance.

Enormous amounts of prior development have gone into ensuring that IP efficiently handles all relevant data types including those that are of interest to media production and distribution. IP permits working in the protocols, formats, and data types that suit current needs, yet remains open to changing needs, and to standards being extended, merged, or otherwise adapted in the future.

A combination of standard IT networks, wired or wireless, can now be used for audio and video, and adding networking is far less complex and costly than installing dedicated wiring for traditional video and audio distribution. Cameras, productions systems, graphics systems, and streaming devices are increasingly working with IP protocols for media. There are also converters that will use traditional video outputs and convert them to IP for transport. Many organizations and even people in their own houses and apartments already have some combination of standard IT wired or wireless networks. For those that do not, adding networking is much less complex and costly than installing dedicated wiring for traditional video and audio distribution. The transport and delivery of digital media is migrating from dedicated infrastructure and wiring to the common IT and IP technologies that are used in all aspects of everyday life. 

IP has migrated from just delivery to actual production of media. There are now digital cameras, converters, streaming encoders, and graphics, audio, and complete multi-source production systems using IP, permitting anyone to produce different types of programs for all kinds of viewers on all kinds of devices. 

With IP, production devices can freely interoperate with one another over a network, without the usual physical restrictions. The location of vision mixers, graphics, audio, media recording, playback systems, and various other equipment used for productions, can be much more flexible. Implementing video routing for monitoring becomes much easier as anyone wanting to view something, can do so using standard network infrastructures. IP offers liberation from the traditional production model, permitting the entire process to be handled from any location with far more ease than producers of media have been accustomed to.

A signal transmitted over IP is effectively indifferent to the number of destinations it reaches, making streaming a highly effective delivery mechanism. Streaming can be done on a basic level. The first step could be as simple as using a mounted PTZ camera with automated operation, a microphone, and a streaming encoder set up to stream to a single destination such as a hosting platform where viewers can connect to see the steaming program in real-time. Existing cameras can be converted to IP with simple convertors

To create more sophisticated programs involves multiple cameras to capture more action from multiple positions. These aspects require a live production system for video mixing, recording, playback, streaming, and social media publishing. The evolution of IP has impacted integrated video production systems and now are designed to create multi-platform productions—both live and on-demand—with comprehensive tools and capabilities. These integrated solutions have not only become more affordable, they are becoming more intuitive thanks to user-friendly designs and layouts—even going so far as offering touchscreen solutions. A more advanced system may also integrate audio mixing, graphics, using virtual sets as backgrounds, and control of devices such as cameras. All these functions can be done with IP. 

With entire productions being created and output over IP, it is a simple extension to stream the content out to other destinations. Streaming can be used for bi-directional, real-time, multi-site connectivity to enable possibilities such as including a remote guest speaker or performer from various locations. Streaming provides the ability to view an event live from computers and mobile devices. These same IP streams can also be recorded and saved as a file that can be put on a local private server or on to a cloud-based video hosting platform for later use including on-demand video viewing. Events, messaging, and communications can be streamed out and delivered to social media platforms, and to specific websites used by viewers.

IP-based media production provides more options for putting programs together, and to do so more easily. This leads to substantial enhancement of the quality and creativity of productions and the delivery to viewers—whenever, wherever, and however they watch. The evolution of media production continues, to be redefined not only in terms of the devices and processes used to tell stories through media, but by providing more accessibility to the people telling them.

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