Live Streaming Workflows Examined


Bryce Button TV-Bay Magazine
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In today’s hyperconnected world, audiences expect accessible, high quality content across the displays they see every day, whether at home or on the go, at a concert or church service, or even in the board room. There are a number of approaches professionals can take to deliver live content, but each workflow ultimately varies depending upon the delivery platform and the type of display that it’s intended for. There is no one-size fits all approach. Using an all in one H.264 streaming and recording device like AJA’s HELO, for instance, makes more sense for driving live video to streaming platforms and social media sites like YouTube and Facebook Live. On the other hand, transporting high end content to large LED displays at a park or concert venue may require a more robust pipeline built on 12G-SDI technology for greater bandwidth supporting higher raster sizes and deeper color spaces.

The multimedia and production arm of Harvard Athletics produces and broadcasts home games in high quality H.264 to ESPN+, regional outfit NESN and the Ivy League’s international streaming platform. Looking at its squash and tennis workflows specifically, each court features mounted POV cameras with HD-SDI outputs and a mic output. Audio and video signals go into a rack holding a switcher, video unit and six AJA HELO H.264 recording, streaming and encoding devices. The switcher, with an Intel compute stick that captures scoreboard data, outputs the camera and mic feeds for each court via HDMI to a video unit for Harvard’s international stream while the SDI outputs are fed to each of the six HELOs, one per court, and streamed to ESPN+ in H.264 via RTMP, as well as recorded.

“Most anyone who is streaming is using RTMP because it gives you the highest quality stream at the most affordable price point. We could use a satellite truck, fiber or managed IP transmission to get our signals from point a to point b, but none of these would be as practical or cost effective as RTMP,” shared Imry Halevi, Assistant Director of Athletics, multimedia and production, Harvard. “This is in part why we have 14 HELOs and are eager to add more; they make it easy to change RTMP information, which is crucial when we’re getting new RTMP stream information for every tennis and squash match.”

To share its content with audiences, Seoul-based broadcaster MBC recently took a different approach, opting to share live FINA World Masters Championships 2019 water sports matches via YouTube. Cameras located throughout the various competition spaces captured footage of each event, including synchronized swimming, water polo, diving, open water swimming and stroke competitions. HELO was used to stream each discipline directly to FINA’s YouTube channel in 1080p at 10Mbps.

“In live streaming you only get one chance to get it right, and with so many viewers tuning into the streams, we knew we’d need reliable technology that could deliver the caliber of video quality befitting a Masters competition,” said Sunho Kim, the technical manager responsible for designing and managing the entire project. “HELO is one of the most affordable high quality HD encoding tools out there, and it’s so easy to configure, setup and run that anyone can use it. It performed flawlessly throughout the entire event and was vital to the success of the production.”

On the other end of the streaming spectrum, there are entities like New World Symphony working to bring audiences 4K HDR wallcasts of live symphony concerts via a massive outdoor screen in SoundScape Park in Miami, FL. To elevate the audience experience, NWS updated its WALLCAST production to 4K HDR this summer, leaning on 12G-SDI technology from AJA. Each 4K HDR simulcast was projected via three Christie 35,000 lumen 4K projectors as a massive 100x60 ft video. For video capture, NWS tapped more than a dozen cameras and a range of mini-cameras located throughout the concert hall and on-stage – most on robotic heads, but a handful manually operated or on a jib. An AJA 12GM Mini-Converter attached to each camera transformed signals to single-link fiber 12G-SDI signals for the production control room. With the cameras wired via single-mode fiber, AJA FiDOs in the control room received the 12G-SDI signals. Six channels were recorded to servers, with four additional recording channels captured by AJA’s Ki Pro Ultra Plus recorders for ISO and backup records for encoding and capture to Apple ProRes files.

“We have so many cameras, so we knew we wanted to use 12G-SDI because we could use 12 cables versus 48 for UltraHD to connect the cameras,” noted Dan Slentz, chief video engineer, NWS. “12G is an extremely affordable solution to an expensive problem. To put it in perspective, upgrading our cameras from quad link to single cable 12G-SDI would cost upwards of $5K per camera through the manufacturer, but for $895 per camera, we’re able to get the same result by attaching an AJA 12GM quad to 12G-SDI converter, which combined and converted signals with no latency concern.”

When it comes to live streaming and live event production, the technology options are endless, but it’s crucial that professionals examine their specific needs and work with reputable integrators and technology manufacturers with a proven reputation for reliability to develop a workflow that will ensure the highest quality picture across its desired viewing platforms and displays.


Tags: iss140 | aja video | espn | rtmp | helo | h.264 | nesn | wallcast | fido | Bryce Button
Contributing Author Bryce Button

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