Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Hardknott Stream - moving forward

Our little project to launch a Live Streaming event has been interesting. We enjoyed doing the couple of trials and now need to take stock of both the production issues and the technical issues alike. I'm looking for any feedback, constructive criticism or any other input to the idea. The viewing statistics make it good enough to consider further efforts. 53 viewers, 9 hours 49 minutes total viewing time on our last pilot and does make the effort we put in worth further consideration.

The biggest challenge of course is upload speed. Even the rental of a room with supposed fibre broadband only achieved just short of 1Mbit/s, which isn't really fast enough to stream 720pand not exactly what I'd say is "super fast" But we've ordered our own FTTC service which should arrive in a couple of weeks. It is claimed we should be able to upload at up to 19.5Mbits/s - we shall see.

The other technical problem is deciding exactly how to input the video sources. I have a couple of capture devices, but it seems I cannot plug both into the same computer. The software does not recognise both devices and has a bit of a meltdown. Getting a second source into the system involves two computers and using screen sharing and screen capture. All a bit messy and introduces lags that cause more nightmares.

We then there is the question of how to move forward the whole concept; How to utilise the technology to provide an on-line streamed "program" that has some added value of being live. My thoughts were to have social media engagement, however this appeared to produce no interaction, despite us having people on hand to deal with it.

We scripted about 20 minutes and in the end, with adlibs, this probably caused us to run over our target 30 minutes by another 10 minutes. However, it is our channel, so other than ensuring we do not bore people perhaps this is not an issue. My thoughts are that scripting helps to ensure sticking to topics and ensures flow. However it always risks making the whole thing to rigid and formal, which is not quite what I'm looking for.

Further considerations are the news items. Of course most of my sources of beer news are freely available on the internet. Conversely, it surprises me sometimes when in talking to people and mention news-worthy topics that I thought everyone would already know and somehow they slip through the net.

The pile of gear I used for last show
So, for content and style I'm keen to get feedback.

Returning to technical issues, the other slight logistical consideration is the set-up and clear-down time. The amount of equipment I seem to need to make it work to the level of technical perfection I'm looking for results in a small mountain of gear. Some of this gear is from my home office, other stuff is my personal music-related gear (to try and sync the audio and video and have reasonable audio quality and flexibility) and some is from the office at the brewery. All in all a small effort to get it going. I may rationalise this and the next event run from my home location, which is actually where most of the gear is, and where the fibre broadband will be installed.

Finally, the one thing that was a definite success in my view was getting a guest to appear. On this occasion it was Jon Kyme from Stringers brewery. He's a good chap, and his other half Becky controlled the telepromter most competently, despite various excursions off-script by Ann and I. We need to look at how we can include other brewers or beer drinkers in the whole concept. Perhaps we can take it on the road, assuming we can find venues with good upload broadband speeds.

Ann and I will be running a cut-down show tomorrow night at 19:30. Ann is planning on showing how to make a desert that we invented when we used to run a pub - Blue Bore Bomb, which is a blue cheese and white chocolate fondant filled crunch based dark chocolate covered bomb. It's surprisingly delicious and goes rather well with barley wine or similar.

I'm hoping to mess around in the background whilst taking various safety measure that will reduce the risks associated with any alcohol consumption.


1720p is a standard of HD video. I'd prefer to go for 1080p, being full HD video, but that would require some huge bandwidth, and besides, I'm not sure I have the video source capability at the moment. We could really do with a minim of 3Mbit/s to be comfortable, and more is always handy.

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