Live streaming in the age of tapeless cameras

April 13, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized 

Livestream encoder

It used to be really easy to live stream an event – plug a firewire cable into your laptop from your dv camera and away your went.

But now with tapeless HD cameras, it’s not so easy.  There’s no firewire port on most new cameras.  And even if you’re using a firewire camera, the newer versions of Mac OS X and Flash have broken the audio part of the equation for those who are Mac-based.

Here are a few ways to get around the problems:

The analog/digital converter route – Using something like the Grass Valley ADVC55 Analog/Digital Converter, you can take the av output from your camera, (assuming you can remove the onscreen displays from within your camera menus,) and convert the video to firewire.  Your camera’s av output is typically on a cable with red, white, and yellow RCA connectors, with the yellow being standard def analog video meant for a monitor.  In theory, you can plug all three cables into your converter box and feed it into your laptop via firewire.  In practice, you won’t get any audio with Livestream or UStream live broadcasting services.  I don’t know if Flash or OS X is to blame, but you can’t get audio this way any longer.  The solution is to use a mini stereo to RCA “Y” adapter and feed your audio straight into your Mac’s microphone jack (at Mic level only, not line.)  Then set your Flash settings to use the DV box for video and ‘built-in input’ for audio.  This is my method.

External encoder – using something like a Teradek Cube, or the newly-announced Livestream Broadcaster pictured above, or at the higher end a Newtek Tricaster, you can encode your signal and broadcast live.  There’s even one called the Teradek Bond which uses multiple cell phone usb data cards to broadcast HD live.  And if you have a large budget, you can get a backpack to do live broadcast quality video.

But in any case, you live and die by your internet connection.  I have never had success over a venue’s wifi at an event – a small crowd of people will take down the connection speed quickly.  Hardwire ethernet connections to a separate internet leg is best, and a 4G cellular data puck will often work, unless it’s on ATT and there are a lot of iPhones in the crowd.  Like I said, live-streaming isn’t as easy as it used to be.

UPDATE:  Here’s another entry in the streaming field:


The MiniCaster is a camera-top box with various models that take in either HDSDI, HDMI, or analog signals and encode them in h.264 for web streaming.  The German manufacturer has put it in a sturdy-feeling plastic case with weather sealing.  It has a battery built-in with a relatively short life but has a power input from 8-24 volts. It has a usb port for a single cellular modem or wifi to connect to a hot spot.  Prices range from $1500-$3,000 from resellers all over the world.  This looks like something built ruggedly for news.






Comments are closed.

  • Filthy Lucre: I don’t control what ads run here… caveat emptor