How to Produce a Webcast… part 5

Video Mixer

In part 4 of my how-to series, I spoke about mixing various audio sources together.  In this one I will describe how to mix your various video signals together with the mixed audio to produce a final product.

Once again, due to intensive research, I discovered a wonderful product which does exactly what I’m after.  According to their website:  “VidBlaster is a state-of-the-art live video production tool” and I would totally agree.  This single tool replaces tens of thousands of dollars worth of physical video mixing equipment into one very easy to use piece of software.  When used on an appropriately fast computer, you can produce Full-HD LIVE broadcasts. 

During the first episode of Week In Review, we had spent too much money on needed audio and video equipment that we were broke.  But by our second episode we had enough capital to purchase the Home version of VidBlaster.

SNAGHTML1959b53f

As you can see from the image on the right, our home version limits us to 7 modules.  Based on the hardware we have, here are the seven modules we chose and why:

  1. Preview allows us to monitor the signal output.  This is similar to the “headphones” connector on our audio mixer.  Since we want to produce a 720p broadcast, our preview window is sized appropriately.
  2. Audio is a module which we designate the audio source that will be feed into the broadcast.  I have chosen the rear Line In blue plug on my sound card since that is where I have the Main output of the mixer going.  We can monitor the sound level with this module and modify it as needed on the fly.
  3. Streamer is used to link our broadcast to our uStream LIVE broadcast channel.  It only has Start/Stop buttons with additional options under the right click menu.  These include our username/password and our chosen LIVE broadcaster (uStream in our case).
  4. Recorder, this module is used to capture our broadcast to a video file for later post-production within Windows Live Movie Maker (covered in part 8 of this series).  This module also includes some basic controls for starting/stopping and saving our broadcast.  It also has an option for uploading the video, but I want to add starting and ending credits which I do in post production because of the Home Edition of VidBlaster I own.  Once we have enough to purchase the Professional Edition we can add our starting and ending credits within the live broadcast itself.
  5. Camera 1 which I have configured to pull from the Microsoft Cinema camera pointed at David’s location.
  6. Camera 2 is configured to pull from my other Microsoft Cinema camera which is pointed at my location.
  7. Camera 3 is configured for Screen Capture mode.  Since we have the 7 module limitation this module changes based on how our broadcast is planned.  Currently our co-host Eric doesn’t have a computer and we are using our Skype to call his cell phone.  This configuration allows me to display YouTube videos, websites, or anything else I can call up on it on a LIVE broadcast.

Our upgrade plan is pretty easy to guess.  The Professional Edition of VidBlaster increases the module limit to 25 and with these additional modules we will be changing the configuration and adding new modules.

  1. Camera 3 will be configured to screen capture mode and has our Skype caller displayed full screen.  They are displayed on my 3rd desktop screen which points towards David so he can see our guest directly.
  2. Camera 4 will be pointed at my 2nd desktop screen also in screen capture mode.  This 2nd screen will be used for browsing webpages and such LIVE.
  3. Player 1 will have our opening credits video which was post-produced a few weeks ago.
  4. Player 2 will be used for our closing credits.  Likely these are produced for each episode since we don’t know who to thank for various content and our guests.
  5. Player XX, these additional players will be used for various videos used during the broadcast.  If we want to display a YouTube video, we will use a utility to download that video and have it on my hard drive and preloaded into a Player module.  The reason for this is it will put less of a strain on my internet connection which every bit of is needed for a good quality upload to uStream.
  6. Video Overlay 1 will be used to hold our customized title graphic for David.  It basically contains his name and job description for display at random times during the broadcast.
  7. Video Overlay 2 will be used for my customized title graphic.
  8. Video Overlay 3 is destined to hold the customized title graphic for our Skype guest/co-host.
  9. Video Effect 1 I will use to combine both Camera 1 and Camera 2 in a side-by-side or Picture-in-Picture format.  This module has nearly a dozen different formats which I may setup additional Video Effect modules for.
  10. Video Effect 2 is used to combine Camera 2 and Camera 3.
  11. Video Effect 3 is for Camera 1 and Camera 3.

As you can see, our limitations force us to find creative ways to produce our broadcast.  If you’d like to help us overcome these limitations, please donate to the Week In Review show.  All donations will go to improving the quality of the show and keeping us online and broadcasting.

Cost Sheet

image

At this point you have all the tools to produce videos and broadcast them LIVE for less than $700 + tax.  From this point forward we will focus in on hosting services (parts 6, 7 and 10), as well as post production (part 8 and 9) and lastly publicizing your new show online using social networking tools (part 11).

How to Produce a Webcast… part 1

imageI’ve gotten back into the video game.  Years ago I had a web show called RootSync which I produced on a shoestring budget.  It worked well and had nearly 24 episodes (full season in TV terms).  Since then several things happened, I got a “real job”, divorced my Ex, closed my business, found a wonderful new wife, upgraded my job, upgraded my house, now I’m upgrading my broadcasting capabilities.Avatar

My latest venture into webcasting is a News Review called Week In Review.  I’ve worked hard on this show technically and have added so many new technically interesting features to make it happen.  Below is a short list of technical things that need to be learned and sorted out:

  1. Our Host and general theme of the show.
  2. Microsoft Cinema HD USB cameras for capturing high quality video.
  3. Wireless Label Microphones from RadioShack for capturing our hosts audio.
  4. Using a Xenyx1002B audio mixer to bring together both label microphones, Skype audio, and my computer’s audio then feeding them into VidBlaster for broadcasting.
  5. Utilizing VidBlaster for mixing multiple video sources together, broadcasting it over to uStream, and recording it for later post-production.
  6. uStream for the LIVE aspect of our show.  Broadcasting occurs every Friday at 7pm CST and uStream helps us broadcast LIVE.
  7. YouTube for the hosting of our episodes that have been post-produced.
  8. Using Windows Live Movie Maker for Post Production.
  9. iStockPhoto for royalty free videos, pictures and images.
  10. WordPress for hosting the main website which ties it all together.
  11. Publicizing our show by utilizing social networking like Twitter, Facebook, IMAutomator, etc…

I will be going into depth on each of the above technical aspects of the show and hopefully by the end of my Webcasting series you’ll have the knowledge needed to produce your own Webcast.

Our Host

A very important part of any new Webcast web show is your host.  The host must be interesting, insightful, and knowledgeable on the topics to be covered.  It helps if your host has the time to research and find the stories or topics that they would like to talk about in a way that would interest an audience.

David Smith3For my latest Webcast, my friend David will be hosting the show while I get to focus on the technical stuff.  David is a long time friend and has tons to talk about.  He has an actual PHD, he has lived and worked in L.A. during the riots, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Rome, and has ended up in Northwest Arkansas.  His extensive knowledge about a wide array of subjects makes him a very interesting listen and I believe the world would be better with his views shared.

David and I have been meeting every Friday for dinner ever since I can remember.  During our Friday dinners we’d talk about how our weeks have gone and what has happened in the world during the week as well as how those events would effect our lives here in Northwest Arkansas.  A few months ago we decided to record our discussions and share them with everyone and a new show was born.

Now that we have our host and the general theme of the show, it’s time to focus in on the technical aspects.  In part 2, I’ll discuss the video hardware used during our show.

Creating Information in the Information Age

The Information Age is here!  This means the only real way to make money is by producing information, also known as content.  Then you can sell the content, advertise around it, or sell access to it.  The key of course is to produce meaningful content that people will actually want.

Information can take many forms.  Since I’m fully on board with the Information Age, I’ll only share with you the electronic forms that information can take.

  1. Written – Wiki and Blog articles, white papers, and e-books.
  2. Audio – audio-Podcasts and music
  3. Video – video-Podcasts, short films, mini videos, Movies and TV Episodes.

book_reportWritten Content

Remember back when you were in grade school or college.  The essays and book reports are simply white papers by a different name.

Since the Information Age began a few decades ago, the world of content has changed to something easier to create and publish.  Anyone can setup a blog in seconds and have their first article posted within minutes. 

Nearly every newspaper has a website where this type of content is produced and shared.  Some have pay-walls which prevent you from accessing the content without a subscription fee.   Others get paid by advertisers that post ads on the content producers blog or website.  I spend a lot of my time consuming written tech articles on techcrunch.com.

audioAudio Content

This type of content can also be generated by anybody with a microphone attached to their computer and something to say.  Audio content took the shape of broadcast radio before the information age, now this form of content takes the shape of audio podcasts, internet radio stations, and music. 

Websites like live.fm, pandora.com and others stream audio content.  They are usually plagued by licensing fees due to the fact that they broadcast music created by someone else. 

Audio content created by individuals and corporations alike can be published via audio-podcasts.  Visit iTunes.com for a huge list of content created by individuals both amateur and professional.

videoVideo Content

Here we’re dealing with something a tad more complicated.  Video content can be created with a simple webcam and a simple video editing software.  Both Apple and Microsoft include free video editing software with their operating systems, but it takes time to edit video.

There are tons of places online producing video content… Since Video can be both pre-recorded and live, there are different websites specializing in each.

For my live video tech content, I visit ustream.com or live.tv.  For my pre-recorded video content, the place I visit frequently is iTunes.com or YouTube.com.  Both allow for individuals and corporations to produce and distribute video for free.

So what does all this mean?

I explained all this so we’re all on the same page when I talk about some advice on creating lots of content from only a few ideas.

Lets say you want to demonstrate how to build a computer.  This demonstration will be created in the form of an edited video which you’ll publish up on YouTube and share with all your friends.  After the video is created, here is some recommended guidelines on how to get it out there and create several pieces of content from this one demonstration video.

  1. Convert your video into several forms.  YouTube is only the beginning of publishing your video.  Add the video to your website which displays the YouTube video for those who want to stream, and links for those who want to download it to some portable device.
  2. Create a few tweets which you will publish on twitter.com a few times during the week.  Have the tweet worded differently so you can get the maximum number of click throughs.
  3. Transcribe the video into a pseudo-white paper which can be published or sold online.
  4. Separate the Audio track for another form of content.  Then create a few sound-bite worthy quotes that can also be tweeted or published along with links on various social media platforms.

The idea is with every piece of content you produce, you have actually created multiple pieces which can be consumed by your followers at their convenience.

Have any advice or what to add your own comments… feel free to add them below in my comments section.

All new Day

Today was an interesting one… Not. Not much happened today that was all that note worthy. Today was the one of four more days at my current “day” job. Overall not bad. It was a 7am to 7pm shift where I was so engaged with what I was doing I didn’t even remember to take my lunch.
Anyways, this does lead into my overall thoughts for the past few days which are indeed technical.

My question I want to pose to the world in general… Is it time for a replacement to Facebook?

I ask because of the last several news worthy articles about Facebook have all been about their wild changes to their privacy policies. Is it just to much to ask that my private thoughts I posted for friends and family… Oh I don’t know… Remain only for their eyes?

I bring this up because of the other stories about employers researching new employees or applicants on the internet for what their online profiles look like. Now it is, as far as I know, against the law for them to hold your online persona against you when considering job applicants… But you just know it happens… Right? Am I alone in thinking that?

Anyways I was wanting to ask that for a few reasons. I have been developing a remote support software, like many others Kaseya and BigFix being just two, that can remotely manage computers. Well… Here is the thing… I just got a shiny new job at BigFix and I feel it would be not very appropriate to continue with that project as long as I worked there. I have also been slowly getting away from helping the general public with IT support problems as well.

(come on Daniel, wrap it up… LOL)

I need a new project that doesn’t clearly introduce a conflict of interest to my new job.
Thus I’m proposing that maybe I could start putting together the new replacement for Facebook… With all the security, privacy and features that everyone wants in their social networking website of choice.

I have a wonderful idea for a “privacy slider” that would be attached to every post that users make… Wether it is short Twitter-like posts, pictures, long blog articles, or even simple conversations between friends, family, coworkers and public. Everything has a privacy value that you can change at the time of posting. This way you are the master of what is public, private and who in-between can see it…

Leave your comments below… I will read each and every idea as I’m excited to maybe work on the new and improved rootSync.com