You only get 1 shot at a live event, make it count!
This article will explore some of the issues about doing a live web cast. Why you want to go live, bit rates, encoders, audiences, etc. You will have a better understanding of a live webcast and get some alternatives to hiring an expensive CDN for a 1 time event.
Why go Live?
Why are you choosing to have a live event? Is it because you want interactivity? Is it a happening event that people need to see live? Or is it because your CEO said that he wants his quarterly address to be available to the 40 employees live when he gives it?
There are good reasons to offer a live event and there are bad reasons. Interactivity doesn’t really require a live broadcast. You can achieve most things like chat, and poll taking without it being live.
Know your audience
If this is corporate event, then it’s likely your attendees will be required to attend. However if this is a concert or a sporting event, be sure to know who your audience is and if they will be able to attend. It sounds great to have a live concert for a band on a Friday night, but consider this; Live Streaming Encoder Germany is the audience 15-25 year olds? If so, they are probably going out on Friday night and won’t be at home in front of their computers to watch a concert.
It would be better to offer the concert as a pay-per-view or VOD event that people can watch at the leisure.
Know your encoding options
First choose whether this is to be a Windows Media or Flash event. What about Real Media (really, does anyone use RealMedia anymore?). What about QuickTime? It’s gaining popularity because of the iPhone, the issue is, not too many providers support Darwin live streaming (yet, check with them over the next 6 months).
Once you have a format chosen, choose an encoder. For Flash Live Encoding you can use the Flash Live Encoder from Adobe and a high end computer. This product is OK for most consumer applications. You are really limited to the horsepower of your computer. There is no Mac version available so you must be on a Windows machine.
A better option for Flash Live Encoding is the On2Flix Live encoding software or the Sorenson Squeeze Live product. Both of these will offer higher quality video and more flexibility.
You are still at the mercy of your computer. So I suggest you get the biggest, baddest computer you can when using a software live encoder. Throw as much CPU, RAM, and Video Memory at it as possible. Use a SATA or Firewire hard drive which runs at least at 7200RMP.
You also need to consider how you connect your camera source to the computer. Don’t use a simple off the shelf Web Camera or an analog to USB device. These are OK for home movies, but for professional videos you should look at a Prosumer HD Video Camera or a high end encoding capture card like the Ospry card.
For a hardware live encoding solution, look at the Digital Rapids, Vbrick, orNewtek products. Digital Rapids has a cool new product called the TouchStream Appliance. It’s a portable standalone hardware encoder perfect for field productions