Streaming Media Production Best Practices Streaming Media East May 16 th, 2005 Steve Mack, LUX Media smack@luxmedia.com.

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  • Streaming Media ProductionBest PracticesStreaming Media East May 16th, 2005

    Steve Mack, LUX Mediasmack@luxmedia.com

    SxSW Interactive Conference

  • What Is Not CoveredAny particular streaming media platformQuickTime, RealSystem and Windows Media all shownAlternative data typesFlash animation, text, images, etc.Advanced authoringJavaScript, VB, SMIL, MPEG 4ServingBusiness ModelsAdvertising, Pay-Per-View, etc.Digital Rights ManagementSecuring your content

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  • Todays AgendaPart I The Basics (~1 hour)Terminology, basic conceptsPart II Creation (~2 hours)AudioVideoPart III Encoding (1 hour)Encoding BasicsAdvanced EncodingPlatform specific examplesPart IV - Authoring (1 hour)Authoring Basics (metafiles)Advanced Authoring (embedded players)Part V Live Broadcasts (time allowing)

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  • Agenda Part IBasic ConceptsStreaming Media System Components & TerminologyThe Streaming Media ProcessTools of the tradeStreaming Media TechnologiesQuickTimeRealSystemWindows MediaFlash MXMPEG 4

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  • Internet Access Devices, Worldwide(millions)1 BillionSources: Cahners In-Stat Group

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  • What Does It All Mean?Streaming media is a new mass mediumCurrently in its second waveNew platform(s) for media deliveryHuge audienceHuge opportunityEntertainment, business, education, you name itWont last forever

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  • We believe you.Get to the point.

    Okay, I will. Lets start at the beginning

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  • Streaming is not DownloadingStreamingReal timeLive or on demandNot stored locallyDownloadingEntire file must downloadNot real time, not live, and stored locallyProgressive DownloadHybrid approachPlayer estimates how much to bufferCan be very effective for short-form contentAdvantages and disadvantages of downloading

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  • How Streaming Media WorksEncoding software converts raw media into a format that can be streamedAudience uses player software (RealOne, QuickTime, Windows Media) to watch/listen.Serving software distributes the streams to listeners

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  • Streaming Media System ComponentsPlayersQuickTime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, etc.ServersServers are specialized computers built specifically to serve user requestsEncodersEncoders can be hardware or software, available from a number of manufacturersAll streaming media systems are built from these three basic building blocks

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  • Streaming Media Delivery MethodsUnicastEach user receives an individual streamDoesnt scale wellMulticastA single copy of the stream is sent outEach viewer grabs a copyRequires all routers to be multicast-enabledOnly suitable for live broadcastsDoesnt work on todays internetMany Internet broadcasts (webcasts) are done using a combination of the two

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  • Streaming Media Delivery MethodsUnicast or multicast to secondary serversUnicast or multicast to local clients

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  • Streaming Media TerminologyProtocolsDetermine how components communicate (RTSP, RTP, MMS, HTTP, TCP/IP, UDP)File FormatsHow the data is structuredGenerally proprietary (except for MPEG4) (.asf, .rm, .qt, etc.)CodecsContraction of coder-decoder (or compressor decompressor)Software that reduces the data rate of media files Codecs are necessary because

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  • Bandwidth Is EverythingBandwidth is the measurement of how much data can be received in real timeStreaming media delivery is limited by audience bandwidthAvailable bandwidth determines quality How best to utilize available bandwidth?Screen sizes for videosQuality of audioHow much free bandwidth to leave

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  • The Streaming Media ProcessProductionA/V Production, digitizing the raw media files, editingEncodingConverting to a streaming formatAuthoringConnecting the audience to your contentCreating an interface for your content Combining multiple data typesServingDistributing your content to the public

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  • Streaming Media ToolsProduction ToolsAudio/Video equipment, editing hardware/softwareEncoding ToolsEncoding hardware/softwareAuthoring ToolsAuthoring software (WYSIWYG, text editors)Serving ToolsServer hardware

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  • Tools of the TradeAudio Good source: good microphone, mixing deskSignal processing: compressor, EQ unit proper recording environment

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  • Tools of the Trade (contd)VideoGood camera: DV is most cost-efficient, FireWire optionBuy the best tripod you can afford!Lighting: 3-point lighting kit

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  • Tools of the Trade (contd)Computer HardwareNo such thing as too much CPU/RAM/storageProfessional sound cards sound betterUSB audio interfaces a new optionFireWire cards best bet for video captureSoftwareAudio and video editing software, encoding software

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  • Streaming Media Systems - The Big ThreeQuickTimeCurrent version 7.0 (Mac OSX), 6.5 (Win)Sorenson and MPEG-4 (H.264) codecsFree server & player; QuickTime Pro $29.95Windows MediaCurrent version Player 10 (Win XP only), 9 series player and encoder (no live encoding on Mac)Windows Media codecsFree player, encoder & utilities; Windows Server 2003RealSystemCurrent version RealPlayer & RealProducer 10, Helix Server RealAudio & RealVideo codecs, also plays back & streams QuickTime & Windows MediaLicensed server, free player & encoder

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  • Streaming Media Systems - New Kids on the BlockFlash MXCurrently on version 1.5Sorenson codec (recently licensed VP6)Streaming requires Flash Player 7, Sorenson Squeeze or QuickTime Pro encoding, Flash MX required for streaming and authoringMPEG 4ISO standard (Moving Picture Experts Group)A standardized framework for interactive media, including streaming, including a file format & codecQuickTime & RealPlayer support

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  • Streaming Media in ActionQuickTimeQuickTime ProRealSystemReal Player 10, RealProducer 10Windows MediaWindows Media 9 SeriesFlash MXVersion 1.5MPEG 4Sorenson Squeeze

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  • Quick BreakComing Up: Part II - Production

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  • Agenda Part IIStreaming Media Process RecapCodecsWhat they are and why theyre necessaryCreation AudioAudio CodecsProduction TipsProcessing TechniquesCreation VideoVideo codecsProduction TipsProcessing Techniques

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  • The Streaming Media ProcessProductionA/V Production, digitizing the raw media files, editingEncodingConverting to a streaming formatAuthoringConnecting the audience to your contentCreating an interface for your content Combining multiple data typesServingDistributing your content to the public

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  • Remember: Bandwidth is EverythingTypical bandwidths:dial-up: 37kbpsBroadband: ~2-300kbpsUncompressed audio = ~1400Kbps44.1Khz*16bits*2 channelsUncompressed NTSC video = ~30MBps720*480pixels*24bits*30frames/secondthats roughly 237,000bps, folks!We must reduce the data rate while maintaining fidelity

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  • How Codecs WorkCodecs use complex perceptual models to figure out what we perceive vs. what we hearAudioHear: 20 20,000Hz; over 120dB dynamic rangePerceive: Most sensitive in the midrange; loud sounds mask quiet soundsVideo See: full spectrum, 180 degree field of visionPerceive: Most sensitive to motion and colorCodecs use this info to determine what is most important; discard the restImportant to produce content with this in mind

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  • Audio Production TipsRemember: G-I-G-OUse good equipment and solid audio engineering practice Good equipment, microphone techniqueSet up a proper gain structureUse signal processing to optimize Compression and EQ can be used to optimize as needed

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  • Audio Production TipsUse good quality microphonesDirectional hand-held mics for reporting environmentsLavaliere mics for stationary talentShotgun microphone on a boom for location workDont forget your windsock(s) for outdoor workAvoid using the on-camera micUse balanced cables (XLR or TRS)Better signal level, more noise resistantUse Professional XLR adapter if necessary

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  • Production Tips - Location AudioLarge, quiet, isolated locations are bestNeed room to moveKeep noisy machinery away from microphonesSmall rooms sound smallTreat reflective surfacesHard flat surfaces reflect soundAcoustic foam, curtains, & tableclothsOutdoorsChallenges can be overcome

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  • Setting Up A Gain StructureMake sure each piece of equipment operates in its optimal rangeStart with first piece of equipment and work through the signal chainset the input and output gain for eachPeaks at -3dB for analog, -10dB for digital

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  • Signal Processing - CompressionRemember: Codecs assume loud signals are most importantCompression evens out audio levels Protects your equipment from spikes in audio levelAttenuating loud sections enables overall signal gainFattens audioHardware compressor is essential for live broadcasts

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  • How Compression worksSet a threshold, a ratio, and a post-compression gainStart with a threshold of 10db, 4:1 ratio, and set gain to match original signal levelVoice is much more compression tolerant than musicCompressionin action

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  • Signal Processing EqualizationEQ is turning up or down certain frequencies Ears are most sensitive to midrangeUse EQ to improve the tonal quality of your audioAdd sparkle, air, warmth, & presenceRemove rumble, hiss, clutter, harshnessHow?Find the right frequency, and turn the knob!Just like adjusting your car stereo or clock radio

    EQ example

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  • Useful EQ Frequencies

    EQ RangeContents2060 Hz Extreme low bass. Most speakers cannot reproduce this. 60250 Hz The audible low-end. Files with the right amount of low end sound warm, files without enough sound thin.250 Hz2 kHz The low-midrange. Files with too much in the low-mids are hard to listen to and sound telephone-like. 2 kHz4 kHz The high-midrange. Where most speech information resides. In fact, cutting here in the music and boosting around 3 kHz in your narration makes it more intelligible.4 kHz6 kHz The presence range. Provides clarity in both voice and musical instruments. Boosting 5 kHz can make your music or voiceover (not both!) seem closer to the listener. 6 kHz20 kHz The very high frequencies. Boosting here adds air but can also cause sibilance problems

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  • How Video Codecs WorkIntra-frame compressionJust like a .jpg or .png fileInter-frame compressionDifferences between frames are encodedKey framesEntire frame is encodedUses a lot of bandwidthDifference framesOnly differences are encodedUse relatively little bandwidth on low motion content

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  • Video Production TipsAvoid unnecessary motion/changesUse a tripod, use a tripod, use a tripodAvoid moving objects in the backgroundAvoid special effectsSimple edits are bestKeep the number of cuts to a minimumFramingSmaller screen, so frame tighter

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  • Video Production TipsG-I-G-OUse good video engineering practiceIf you dont know, hire someone Good equipment, proper techniqueIf you dont own it, rent itLighting is essentialNearly impossible to correct using softwareLow-light = no light

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  • Video Production TipsThe 3-point Lighting systemThe basis of virtually all lightingKey lightThe main light for the sceneGenerally 15 - 60 from cameraFill lightFills in the hard shadows of the key lightOn opposite side of camera from key lightBack lightSeparates the subject from the backgroundAbove & behind the subject

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  • Video Production TipsWhite balanceBest to set manuallyCamera filtersUV filters can make outdoor shoots less hazyFluorescent filters can make indoor office shoots look less anemicDiffusion filters can soften the image and make it look less harsh, more film-likeAmount of diffusion to use depends on your camerahttp://videosystems.com/ar/video_curse_digital_video/index.htm

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  • Digitizing VideoCapture cardsLow end fine for most streaming applicationsHigh end definitely provide better qualityFireWire (IEEE 1394, iLink)Enables direct digital video transferAvailable on most pro-sumer DV camcordersExternal FireWire devicesTake analog inputs (S-Video, composite) and convert to DV via FireWire5:1 compression, but very cost effective

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  • Video Processing TechniquesVGA vs. Television displaysVGA screens are far more detailed Traditional video tends to look dark & washed outAdjust BrightnessAdd gain to match screen to a TV monitorBe careful if youre going back out to the broadcast world!Adjust ContrastAdding a small amount is good; be careful thoughToo much contrast adds grain (bad for codecs)ColorIncreasing saturation a bit can be helpful

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  • Working With VideoBe sure to use the correct pixel aspect ratioTV pixels are slightly taller than wide; VGA pixels are squareTV resolution is approximately 720 x 480, but when displayed appears to be 4:3You must resize to a 4:3 aspect ratio if a VGA screen is your final destination640x480, 320x240, 240x180, etc.

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  • Streaming Media Production Best PracticesPart III Encoding

    Steve Mack, LUX Mediasmack@luxmedia.com

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  • EncodingRemember: Bandwidth is EverythingMake choices depending on audience bandwidthTotal bit rateAudio bits vs. video bitsOptimizing your encoding settingsAudiovideo

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  • Audio Encoding ChoicesTotal bit rate for audio8kbps - minimum16kbps good quality32kbps - FM quality64kbps CD qualityStereo vs. MonoMost program content is monoMono codecs have better fidelity Music can benefit from stereo encodingUse mono below 32kbps

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  • Audio Encoding ChoicesMusic vs. speech codecsSpeech has limited dynamic & frequency rangeSpeech sounds decent through a music codecMusic sounds horrible through a speech codecWhen in doubt, stick to a music codecWindows Media 9 Series has a new hybrid codec (cool!) butNot entirely backwards compatibleNew codec install available for legacy players, but not automatic must be installed

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  • Video - Encoding ChoicesAllot the correct amount for audioAudio tells the storyPeople will tolerate poor video with good audio the inverse is not trueChoose the right screen size (resolution)Codecs encode to whatever specifications you provideHigh action video content requires lower resolution; low action content can be largerRule of Thumb: Its better to reduce the resolution rather than the frame rateLess frames = more differences between framesMore differences = more to encode

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  • Video - Encoding ChoicesChoosing a Frame Rate / Frame QualityLess high quality frames, or more low quality frames?Limiting the frame rate Choose factors of the native frame rate29.97, 15, 10, 7.5, 6, 5 for NTSC video (30fps)25, 12.5, 8.67, 6.25, 5 for PAL video (25fps)24, 12, 8, 6 for film (24fps)QuickTime/Windows Mediaset frame rate & qualityRealMediaChoose video quality (sharp/normal/smooth)

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  • Cropping & ResizingImportant to maintain the correct aspect ratioResizingAlways resize to a 4:3 aspect ratio for VGA displaysCroppingOverscan garbage around edge of screen usually hidden by TVs crop!Safe to crop up to 10% (title safe area)Be sure to crop consistently, maintain 4:3 aspect ratioWidescreen content Can crop to a letterbox formatIf captured 4:3, resize 4:3, then crop to 16:9 If captured 16:9, resize & crop 16:9

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  • Suggested Encoding Settings

    Audience Connection Streaming Bit RateVideo resolutionAudio Bit Rate56k modem34kbps160x120, 176x1328-10kbpsxDSL, Cable300kbps320x24032-64kbpsHigh bit rate (LAN multicast)700kbps640x48064-96kbps

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  • Advanced Encoding Techniques2-Pass encodingAllows codec to map out the encodeBeneficial but doubles encoding timeVariable Bit Rate (VBR)VBR improves quality but can be unsuitable for streamingHigh data peaks can lead to re-bufferingSorenson V3 has a new 1-pass VBR that improves quality and streams well (limits peaks)

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  • Advanced Encoding FiltersDe-InterlacingArtifacts arising from the difference between interlaced (TV) and non-interlaced (VGA) displays

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  • Interlacing ArtifactsCan be interpolated, blended, or discarded

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  • Advanced Encoding FiltersInverse TelecineArtifacts arising from the process where film content (24fps) is transferred to video (30fps)Extra frames should are removed

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  • Advanced Encoding FiltersNoise Reduction (actually a blur filter)Codecs interpret grain (noise) as motion; by blurring the frame slightly you can reduce the graininess

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  • Encoding ExamplesQuickTimeUse QuickTime ProSimply open up a raw media file, and save it as a streaming fileRealSystemUse RealProducerSession basedWindows MediaUse Windows Media EncoderSession & profile based

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  • Streaming Media ProductionBest PracticesPart IV Authoring

    Steve Mack, LUX Mediasmack@luxmedia.com

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  • AuthoringProblem: browsers dont streamBrowsers dont understand RTSP or MMS protocolsBrowsers download entire fileSolution: metafilesSmall file delivered via HTTPContains information about streaming file

    4Web ServerStreaming Server1235

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  • Authoring - MetafilesQuickTime .qtl files

    RealSystem .ram files

    Windows Media .asx files

  • Metafile ParametersQuickTimeIncluded in parameterloop, autoplay, fullscreen, controller, quitwhendone (= true/false)qtnext (for playlists)RealSystem .ram filesPlace after ? following URL; separate with &title, author, copyright, start, endMany others for dictating look of playerWindows Media .asx filesPlace in name-value pairs in tagtitle, author, copyright, starttime, duration, repeatMany others

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  • Metafile ParametersQuickTime .qtl files

    RealSystem .ram files

    Windows Media .asx files

  • Embedded PlayersSpecial HTML code to embed the playerDifferent code required depending on browserIE uses ActiveX control (except on Mac)Netscape-based browsers use a Plug-in

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  • Embedded PlayersIE-based browsers use the tag

    Netscape-based browsers use

  • Embedded Players QuickTimeUse both for cross browser compatibilityIE ignores the tagsNetscape-based browsers ignore the tagsNS 6.x is broken

  • Embedded Players - RealPlayerEach part of the RealPlayer is embedded separately, I.e.:ImageWindow the video displayAll all the controls, or can be embedded individuallyEach part requires codeAll tied together with the console parameter

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  • Embedded Players RealPlayer

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  • Embedded Players Windows MediaIt gets tricky for a number of reasonsWindows Media discontinued support for the Netscape plug-in with the 7.0 playerThe 6.4 plug-in doesn't work on some Netscape browsers (NS6, NS7.0)IE on Mac uses the Netscape plug-in

    WM9S resumed support for the plug-in!!Requires WM9SNetscape 7.1 now supports the ActiveX control!

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  • Embedded Players Windows MediaIf you want to support the widest possible audience:* Netscape 7.1 now supports the Windows Media ActiveX control** Java Applet solution is dependent on user environment

    Player/BrowserNS 4.xNS 6.x, 7.0NS 7.1IE WinIE MacSafari MacWMP 6.4YesNoYes*YesYesNoWMP 7.0, 8.0No (use 6.4)NoYes*YesNo (Use 6.4)NoWMP 9.0YesYesYes*YesYes (Java Applet**, natively on OSX)Yes (OSX)

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  • Embedded Players Windows MediaUse nested & tagsDifferent players have different sized controls6.4 46px; 7.0 40px; 9.0 45px.Tricky to predict which player is installed Player will squeeze video window into available space

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  • Embedded Players - tipsKeep it simpleDont forget to leave room for the control bar in your display windowQuickTime 16 pixelsRealPlayer 36 pixels for controls, 30-55 more for additional info (suggested will scale)Windows Media depends on playerDont forget the codebase and/or pluginspage parameters so users can get the player if they dont have it installed

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  • Embedded Players - tipsYou can get even fancier with JavaScript or VBScript, but bewareCross browser incompatibilitiesNetscape Plug-in vs. ActiveX controlsCross platform incompatibilitiesNo NS plug-in for WM9SIE on Mac uses NS plug-in

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  • The Streaming Media Bible WorkshopPart V Live Broadcasts

    Steve Mack, LUX Mediasmack@luxmedia.com

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  • Live ConcernsYou only get one shot no room for errorRedundancy is key you need two of everythingAny processing must happen in real time, so you should consider hardware, such as an audio compressorYou may want to be conservative with your encoding settings to increase your chance of success

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  • Live Broadcast Decision TreeConnectivity on site?Can connectivity be installed in time?Has Permission been granted?Call all partied involved (talent, venue, label, etc)Sufficient Budget?Suitable LocationAudio?Video?Power?All of the above must be satisfied

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  • Live Concerns - ConnectivitySend raw media back to Broadcast Operations Center (BOC)SatelliteVivyx (fiber)WirelessSend encoded streams back to BOCNeed IP connectivity on siteMinimum 8 week install window

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  • Live Concerns - CreationRedundancy demands lots of additional equipmentAt least one backup of all critical hardwareAdditional crew requiredRemote locations put a strain on equipment and are not easily controlledMay need additional a/v for pre- & post-showNeed communication between crew members, on site & BOCDon't rely on cell phonesLand lines are bestAIM a great tool

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  • Live Concerns - EncodingLonger events imply longer listening timesMay want to be conservative with bit rateFaster machines required to encode highest quality in real-timeBackup machines required

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  • Live Concerns - AuthoringSimplify web sites to speed up access to streamNobody likes having to registerDon't make them traverse entire siteComplicated pages with lots of graphics/animation might cause the web server to failIf you must use an embedded player, at least offer a link to a metafile

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  • Live Concerns ServingVastly increased bandwidth demandsIncreased server licensing demands (RealSystem only)Need more serversLoad balancing system is crucial

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  • Live Encoding ExamplesRealSystemWindows Media

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  • Where to Find More InformationBuy the book!Streaming Media Bible, published by WileyOver 1000 pages of streaming media tips & tricksCompanion Web Sitehttp://www.streamingmediabible.comTrained Audio Engineers & Videographers:The best possible resourceCan be friendly if treated wellGenerally need the workAsk mesmack@luxmedia.com

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  • Thank YouStreaming Media Production Best Practices

    Steve Mack, LUX Mediasmack@luxmedia.com

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  • Glossary

    ArtifactDistortions such as jagged edges or metallic sounds that are introduced into file during encoding.CodecAn algorithm used to reduce file sizes.Constant Bit Rate (CBR)An approach to encoding data that keeps the bit rate constant throughout. This approach is more suited to streaming media. De-interlacingRemoving the artifacts from an interlaced (TV) signal. Equalization (EQ) Changing the sound of an audio file by boosting or attenuating certain frequencies.FieldOne-half of an interlaced video frame, consisting of either the odd or the even numbered scan lines.

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  • Glossary (contd)

    FirewallA security system designed to allow only certain kinds of traffic in and out ofnetworks. HTTPHypertext Transfer Protocol, used by web servers to deliver web pages. Can be used by streaming servers to deliver streams across firewalls.FireWire (IEEE 1394, iLink)A standard for exchanging digital information, such as audio or video. Since the information is exchanged digitally, it is lossless.Gain, gain structureThe amount of amplification being applied. The gain structure of an audio setup refers to the amount of amplification being applied at each stage. Inverse TelecineRemoving the extra fields inserted into a video signal when film is transferred to video.

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  • Glossary (contd)

    Key FrameIn encoded video, a frame that contains information about the whole frame, as opposed to a difference frame which only contains information about what is different between it and the previous frame.Metadata, metafileMetadata is data about other data. A metafile, therefore, is data about another file, such as the location of a streaming media file.MIME typeUsed by applications such as browsers to determine what program is used to view the file.MMSMicrosoft Media Server, protocol used by Microsoft server to send streams across the internet (will change to RTSP)MulticastingA method of broadcasting on the internet where multiple users can tune in to the same stream. Only applicable in closed networks, not the public Internet.

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  • Glossary (contd)

    NormalizationMaximizing the volume of an audio file without distortion.NTSCThe broadcast standard for television signals in the United States, which specifies 30 frames (60 fields) per second, 525 lines of resolution (~480 visible).OverscanThe area of a broadcast video image that is normally hidden by the plastic surrounds of a television monitor. PALThe broadcast standard for television signals in most European countries, which specifies 25 interlaced frames (50 fields) per second, 625 lines of resolution (~576 visible). Port (number)Networking applications use ports to determine which application receives the data being sent.

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  • Glossary (contd)

    RTSPReal Time Streaming Protocol, used by QuickTime and RealSystem (soon Windows Media) to send streams across the InternetSMILAn open, standardized language for combining multiple data types into a single multimedia presentation. Variable Bit Rate (VBR)A system of encoding that allots variable amounts of bits to different sections of the file. VBR in general is not suitable for streaming due to the large variation in data rate.

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    By the end of 2005, it is estimated that there will be over a billion IP enabled, Internet connected devices worldwide.

    Ive even seen numbers that predict this number by the end of 2004.So what does it all mean? Quite simply that streaming media is a new mass medium that comprises a number of hardware platforms. The people who manufacture these devices market them on the strength of the content available.

    Who needs a color display on a mobile phone if you cant watch movie previews on it?

    Miss your favorite sports team? Watch it on the way to work on your PDA.

    These are things that are possible today, and happening right now. Theres a huge audience and a huge opportunity. But were only skimming the surface of whats possible with streaming media. Theres no need to reinvent the wheel, but there is so much potential out there, and someone is going to figure out what to do with it.

    From what Ive seen over the last week, Australia has a lot of talent out there that deserves to be fostered. I cant think of a better way of doing it than the cross media lab.

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