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SME '19: Notre Dame's Eric Nisly Talks University Social Streaming

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2019. I'm Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor with Streaming Media Magazine. And Founding Executive Director of the not-for-profit Help Me! Stream. Today I've got with me, Eric Nisly from Notre Dame. And that's Notre Dame, the University. So Eric, you were telling me, just before we went on-air, that your department handles streaming not just for the academics, but for quite a bit more.

Eric Nisly: We actually handle everything for the faith, the athletics, as well as the academic. And any large campus events, we take care of all of the streaming out that doesn't go to a network, that goes to web delivery, we handle all of that.

Tim Siglin: Okay, but then you also I think mentioned that like if somebody within a couple-county region needs to go on-air for a network that you all have those types of facilities as well.

Eric Nisly: So our current facilities is an Evertz IP Router and full control rooms and studios. And so we also handle live shots for local networks as well as for the large networks. They'll have somebody come into our facilities and be able to be piped in for their broadcast.

Tim Siglin: And you have a fairly famous person at this point... The mayor of your city, who's actually running for President. So is he coming into your facility and using that?

Eric Nisly: Yeah, Mayor Pete's been in the facility a couple times for some live shots. Where he comes in and we're able to actually facilitate that for different, different places.

Tim Siglin: Awesome. Evertz is a traditional broadcast solution. What are you actually using though for your encoding and pushing content out from the streaming side?

Eric Nisly: For streaming we use the Elemental Live Encoders. We have five of them. And we, depending on what kind of event we're doing, we're either pushing out to a single to a YouTube Channel for live streaming. In some cases, particularly for our athletic clients, they like to go to multiple places. So we'll go to Periscope, YouTube, and to SIDEARM Sports, which handles their... All of their VOD and website right now. And then we're able to, in large campus events where it's one of those, can't fail, kind of situations. We're really concerned about hardware CDN or failure at any points, and so we architect it with a can't fail scenario. So if one piece of hardware goes down, back-up streams are already off of another piece. We already have streams going to multiple CDNs. Last week was Notre Dame Day, which was 30 hours of straight live streaming that we did. And for that event, I actually was at one point, running five separate encoders for a multitude of different streams for different reasons.

Tim Siglin: And were each of those encoders doing multiple renditions on your bitrate ladder, or were you doing like the 1080P on one and the 720P on another encoder?

Eric Nisly: Actually, we let the CDNs take care of our multiple bitrates. We're typically sending out just the highest stream. So encoder one and two primaries were actually streaming two/three different CDNs with the same content. And that was just the primary stream, so it was to a tertiary level of failure, because it was it was a absolutely can't fail scenario. And then encoder four, five and at one point, six, were actually doing... One was for social media. So Periscope and Facebook, for just simply pushing out to social media. And then also the other encoder was doing a complete separate side portion of the programming. There was a whole concert that the primary programming was only coming in and out of and then they were also streaming that out to social media.

Tim Siglin: So with Periscope and Facebook, you were pushing directly to those as opposed to pushing that into the CDN and then out to Facebook Live? Is that just you have better control that way, or?

Eric Nisly: Well, we mount straight to Facebook and to Periscope for that. Those we prefer to be able to run on a separate encoder because if we run it on the primary and you have to do troubleshooting, then failure and restarting on social media is pretty common.

Tim Siglin: Right. Is a lot harder, yeah. Yeah, yeah. That's true. So now, Elemental made their mark in HEVC contribution, are you sending HEVC to the CDNs or are you sending AVC?

Eric Nisly: No. Yeah, we're still traditional for most of our streams, which of course, that's going to need to change. Especially Facebook now saying that RTMP is going away. It has to be S. A little scare last week saying it was going to be complete, canceled last week.

Tim Siglin: I think every time they try to kill RTMP... Every time somebody tries to kill RTMP it survives. And it's also ironic with WebRTC that it's based around RTSP, which is 22-years-old at this point. But you know what? It functions at a base-level and obviously RTMP was just a derivative of it, so it's ironic to me that we still contribute in something that's that old. As you say, it has to change. Are you all exploring AV1, VP9, HEVC, or is that something that's sort of still in the preliminary stages?

Eric Nisly: Preliminary stages. Some of our equipment, because if it works, we try not to break it. So we haven't done all of the upgrades that we would need on some of our equipment. We have a multitude of encoders and some of them will, and some of them will not right now. And so it's just a matter of which product and which workflow.

Tim Siglin: It's sort of like why's there's still a lot of MPEG-2 in broadcast. If it works, it works, don't break it, so. All right. Eric, thank you very much for your time.

Eric Nisly: All right. Thank you.

Tim Siglin: And we'll be right back.

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