My Live TV Adventure…
Delivering live TV is always an adventure, but even more so when everything you’re using is free and the sheer act of using it is stepping out onto the ledge with a 20 story drop in front of you!
Last Friday evening, Malcolm Cohan delivered a live webinar to ~20 or so people that I set up (this screenshot above is from a later date and it’s only me in the chat room) scattered all over the US, London and Germany.
Though I’m not a developer, I knew what we were trying to achieve for Malcolm and that we’d be out on the bleeding edge a bit using the beta of this awesome video production platform, Mogulus, along with Malcolm’s incredible energy and his TV production background. The screenshot is of a web page for this first small event. I embedded the Mogulus player as well as live chat with a Meebo room I signed up for and also embedded in the page. The whole page was under 100k since the functionality was hosted elsewhere.
We set up lights, the shot with Malcolm with windows behind him, a microphone and mixer and a separate prosumer camcorder on a tripod so the video quality would be good. He ran the Mogulus platform and cued up videos he’d uploaded previously (which was really cool) so he could play videos and insert them directly into the live stream. I modulated the audio as I watched and listened (and recorded) the live stream to ensure that our audience was having a good experience.
When I wrote this post about Mogulus a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t yet used the platform. After our experience last Friday, I’m absolutely stunned with what power this brings to deliver Live TV *and* 24/7 playing of videos (which, by the way, is perfect to do before the live segment begins). I’m also acutely aware of my scale discussion since I could only imagine a hot show with thousands of people (or multiple tens of thousands) logging on to view and crashing the Mogulus servers. It could be ugly and there really isn’t any way to predict if a Mogulus, uStream or Stickam could even handle large scale events.
This was not without hitches. One person viewing didn’t have enough bandwidth (slow DSL connection) and another saw only a black square instead of the video (he didn’t have a current Flash install) so there are still hiccups which browser sensing could help overcome (to check bandwidth and look for the correct version of Flash).
The other piece to this is what you see above. Look-n-feel is important. I want to pay for a branded, skinned player that is mine and a branded, skinned chat room that works great (because of Internet latency of multiple second delays, chat is currently the best method of interacting with an audience). I also don’t want to pay more for monthly access to a live streaming platform than I do for my office space (most of the big providers: WebEx, Adobe Connect, charge hundreds or thousands per month) or have anyone insert their advertising into my live or recorded streams. Bandwidth use as live TV shows take off and scale is going to be the #1 issue any of us who are dabbling in these technologies will face. Still, doing this event with Malcolm just made me grin as to the possibilities!