Tag Archives: videoblogging

Simple Live Streaming with Wirecast

Some months ago, I became concerned that my trusty old Canon Vixia tape-based videocamera might be getting to the end of its lifespan. Replacing the camera actually meant replacing my entire video streaming setup, because there’s been a generational change in most of the components. I eventually ended up with this new kit: Equipment Needed Read More…

Some months ago, I became concerned that my trusty old Canon Vixia tape-based videocamera might be getting to the end of its lifespan. Replacing the camera actually meant replacing my entire video streaming setup, because there’s been a generational change in most of the components. I eventually ended up with this new kit:

Equipment Needed

  • MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt connector – not the latest model, but with plenty of horsepower for video processing.
  • Wirecast software. The UStream Producer Pro software I had been using is a customized version of Wirecast, with fewer options. This makes it easier if you’re only going to use it with the UStream streaming service, but the full version of Wirecast offers many more possibilities. Documented below is only the minimum I needed to figure out to do my usual streaming.
  • UltraStudio Mini Recorder
  • Thunderbolt cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Videocamera with HDMI output – which is almost any consumer-grade videocamera made today. I got a recent Canon Vixia ($250) which records only to SD cards (32 GB = about 4 hours).
  • This setup assumes that you already have a UStream account with one or more channels you’ve created.

Warning: The set of steps below may be incomplete; I have not had much occasion to actually use this setup in production yet. In particular, you may have to do some fiddling to get the UltraStudio Mini Recorder recognized as an input device by your laptop.

Hardware Setup

  1. Put camera on tripod.
  2. Attach camera to power.
  3. Attach HDMI cable to the camera’s HDMI port, attach the other end to the HDMI port on the UltraStudio Mini Recorder.
  4. Attach the UltraStudio Mini Recorder to the laptop using the Thunderbolt cable.
  5. Ensure that the camera is set to record in HD.

Setting Up Camera Input

  1. Open Wirecast.
  2. Go to Sources | Show Sources Settings.
  3. Set as shown here – select the UltraStudio Mini Recorder:    source settings
  4. Click Apply, and then the red button to close the dialog.
  5. In the shots area below the monitor area in Wirestream, hover over the + button next to a Blank Shot: blank shot
    until you see icons: icons
  6. Click on the camera icon (upper left) to get this menu:
    add camera menu
  7. Select Add UltraStudio Mini Recorder… You should now see the camera’s view in the new shot:
    select ultrastudio
  8. Select the new shot to display it in the monitoring window.

Setting Up Output

  1. In Wirecast, select Output | Output Settings…
  2. In Select an Output Destination, choose UStream from the menu, click OK.
  3. In the Output Settings dialog, enter your UStream username into the Username box and click Authenticate.
  4. Enter the password as requested in the next dialog box. You should then see a list of channels available on your UStream account.
  5. Select the channel you want to broadcast on.
  6. In the same dialog box, select Add in the lower left.
  7. This will again open the Select an Output Destination dialog. This time choose Record to Disk – MP4 from the menu, and click OK – this way you’ll be recording to your local hard disk (as well as the camera’s SD card, if you remember to press the record button on the camera!) while also streaming.
  8. Click OK again to return to the main Wirecast window.
  9. NOTE: You are not actually streaming or recording anything yet, at this point you have only told Wirecast where you will want to stream and record to!

Streaming and Recording

To start streaming and recording (yes, you should do both!) go to the Output menu and select Start / Stop Broadcasting | Start All, then Start / Stop Recording | Start All.

Broadcasting to a Google Hangout

(Just because I figured out how. Not sure I’ll actually use this for anything; it only allows 9 people to join a broadcast.

hangout

  1. In Wirecast, set as shown above.
  2. Select Start.
  3. Start a Google Video Hangout.
  4. In the video window, select the Settings icon at the top of the screen.
  5. In the Settings dialog, select Wirecast Virtual Camera as shown:
    virtual camera
  6. Note that the image you see in your Hangout will be mirrored (yeah, whatever Google), but others in the hangout will see it the right way round, ie text will not be reversed!

Why Film Engineers?

In the last three and a half years, working for Sun Microsystems and now Oracle, I have produced over 300 video assets, ranging in length from 10 minutes to 3 hours. Most of this material is software engineers talking about deeply technical topics. By YouTube standards, our audience isn’t large: my videos have had a Read More…

In the last three and a half years, working for Sun Microsystems and now Oracle, I have produced over 300 video assets, ranging in length from 10 minutes to 3 hours. Most of this material is software engineers talking about deeply technical topics.

By YouTube standards, our audience isn’t large: my videos have had a few hundred to a few thousand views apiece. So why bother? What’s the ROI?

This breaks down into two underlying questions:

  • Why share this kind of information at all?
  • Why do it in the form of video rather than, say, technical white papers?

Why Share Technical Information?

Although most of my videos have a limited potential audience, those who watch them are the system administrators, developers, and other techies who use our technology in jobs revolving around large, complex systems for hugely complex computing and storage tasks. They are influencers, if not direct decision-makers, in major IT purchases. They prefer to get their information from those who know it best – the engineers who create the products – and they don’t want any marketing spin on it. To these folks, great engineers are gurus, and access to our engineers’ knowledge is a selling point. My technical videos never say: “Buy this technology, it’s great!” They don’t need to, because they feature the engineers who designed it telling you why it’s great.

Why Use Video?

More Effective Learning

Although the percentages on the “Cone of Learning” are open to question (in fact, the author of the original, Edgar Dale, disavows any such numbers on his original diagram), the hierarchical concept itself is common sense. Think back to your own education. Most people find it hard to learn simply by reading. (Otherwise, why take notes from textbooks?) You absorb more by seeing and hearing an engaging teacher. Better still are small, seminar-style classes in which you actively participate. Next on the hierarchy is hands-on learning where you do something yourself (how vivid are your memories of dissecting frogs in high school science?).

Seminar-style learning and hands-on training are beyond the scope of my current job (Sun/Oracle offers classes through another department). But we can certainly do more to engage and instruct our audiences than plain old text.

More Efficient Information Transfer

Top engineers are extremely valuable people whose working hours, from their employers’ point of view, are best spent coding. Even those who have the (quite different from coding) skills and inclination to write papers or blog posts, often simply don’t have the time.

It didn’t take me long at Sun to realize that the most efficient way to get information out of engineers was to film them. This was even easier when, as often happened, they were already creating presentations for conferences or internal seminars. It cost them no extra time or effort for me to film, edit, and publish video of that same presentation. (Video also extends the reach of such presentations to people around the world who cannot attend them in person.)

Outside of formal presentations, you can still tap engineering expertise for video. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the right people in a room and letting them talk. Back in March, we had a rare confluence of three of our top performance engineers (Jim Mauro, Brendan Gregg, and Roch Bourbonnais) in the same city at the same time. With Dominic Kay chaperoning, we spent about four hours in a conference room, resulting in at least three hours of usable video (not all of it published yet). As Brendan later pointed out, among all possible forms of technical information transfer, this was by far the most efficient return on his time.

Update: IBM thinks, so too: IBM is Turning to Video to Make Its Point

The Numbers

You may be wondering how much it cost to produce all this video. I have a very complicated spreadsheet in which I track details on every event I’ve filmed. I determined costs, calculating in my time (shooting, editing, managing) and travel, the cases where I did the shooting but paid someone else to edit, or I received tape that someone else had shot and I did the editing, etc. I then divided by the amount of video finally published from each specific event (some trips/events resulted in hours of published video, some only minutes).

With all the variables calculated for, costs ranged from $150 to $1400 per hour of published video. For comparison, I asked our marketing folks how much they were paying for “professional” video production. Their estimate was $3,000-5,000 per video (talking heads in the studio, usually), none of which was longer than 15 minutes. So figure $12,000 to $20,000 per hour.

Guerrilla video is definitely more cost-effective.

And its reach can be larger than anticipated:

I can’t claim any credit for this (though I did post a making of long after). It was filmed and posted by Bryan Cantrill in about half an hour on New Year’s Eve, 2008. Between the humorous presentation, the technical content and the discussion it raised, this thing went viral in a hurry, becoming the most-viewed video ever made about Sun Microsystems (650,000 770,929 over 900k views on YouTube to date). It continues to generate conversation in the market and with current and potential customers – which is, in the end, the real point.

So the major reason to put geeks engineers in front of video cameras is this: IT WORKS.

 

^ top: The Perf Trio: Jim Mauro, Brendan Gregg, and Roch Bourbonnais

Related:

The Videoblogging Manual

Note: In most of these pieces I talk about filming “engineers.” because that’s mostly who I was filming when I wrote/recorded them. Nowadays I would probably just say “people” or “technical people” – because plenty of us have useful things to say, and many of us have the same difficulties filming or being filmed as engineers Read More…

Note: In most of these pieces I talk about filming “engineers.” because that’s mostly who I was filming when I wrote/recorded them. Nowadays I would probably just say “people” or “technical people” – because plenty of us have useful things to say, and many of us have the same difficulties filming or being filmed as engineers do.

Why Video?

Why should you be on video? It’s part of marketing your tech talent.

Pre-Production

Equipment: My Upgraded Videoblogging Rig

How I Shoot Video in 2015

Prepping the speaker(s)

Slides: should not be too dense with text (they’ll be hard to read in a video window, or from the back of a conference room), and please provide them to me in advance!

Sound

Sound is an extremely important element in online video. People will be turned off by bad sound more quickly than by a so-so picture.

Shooting

Framing:

  • Set up your shot beforehand and try NOT to use the zoom or move the camera after that.
  • You’ll usually want to frame your speaker(s) to get them from the waist up, leaving a little space in the frame above the tops of their heads. (This is known as a medium shot.)
  • Don’t lose hands/arms out the side or bottom of the frame, especially if the speaker gestures a lot.
  • Position the speaker NOT centered but to one side or the other of the frame, looking towards the center.

Post-Production

Download from tape to computer
Edit
Compress

Hosting

  • YouTube – now! 15 whole minutes!
  • blip.tv

Embed/Syndicate
Advertise
Measure

…yes, these topics need a lot more development!

Videoblogging Tips: Getting Optimum Sound from a Consumer Camcorder

Me, demonstrating the audio equipment I used in videoblogging, and how to set it up. Filmed by Yolande Poirier. You might also like: Videoblogging Tips: Filming Engineers Videoblogging Tips: Camera Motion My Upgraded Videoblogging Rig My Videoblogging Rig

Me, demonstrating the audio equipment I used in videoblogging, and how to set it up. Filmed by Yolande Poirier.

Notes: Videoblogging Session at CLS West

Problems video is slow (text can be skimmed/absorbed more quickly) Flash is not portable hosting curation and findability video quality language transcription/search indexing legal releases (someone was going to send us an example to use?) Want More Info About What makes good video? screencasting/capturing softare demos streaming filming presentations video on the web post-production covering Read More…

Problems

video is slow (text can be skimmed/absorbed more quickly)

Flash is not portable

hosting

curation and findability

video quality

language

transcription/search indexing

legal releases (someone was going to send us an example to use?)

Want More Info About

What makes good video?

screencasting/capturing softare demos

streaming

filming presentations

video on the web

post-production

covering events

extending reach

teaching

Solutions/Tools

Parleys.com (especially good for tutorials)

Animoto

Adobe Captivate

optical zoom

Slidecast

iShowU

Camtasia

Digital Tipping Point

archive.org

Reel Director in iPhone

what is TED doing for transcription/translation? Can we learn from them?

Making Better Video

don’t be static – move the shot

break up long video into segments/chapters

be a videographer, even if you aren’t

use Google Wave for annotation