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Chapters Webcasting Service - A Pilot Service

Introduction

The Internet Society has purchased a dedicated "Livestream" channel for exclusive use by Internet Society Chapters. The pilot service will enable Chapters to webcast live Chapter events to remote users locally and around the world using the Livestream webcast technology. Chapter members will be able to watch Chapter events live. Events can also be recorded, available for viewing by Chapter members at a later date as part of the library of archived events.

Enhance participation to your events today by webcasting! All that is needed is a camera device and a laptop.

screenshot of internet society chapters channel

What is the name of Internet Society Chapters channel?

  • The channel is called "internetsocietychapters".
  • The number of viewer streams is unlimited.

Where can I find the Chapters livestream Channel?

The Livestream channel is available here.

At this URL you can replay archived webcasts and view upcoming webcasts.

How can I use the pilot service?

If you would like to use the pilot service to webcast an event, you need to schedule it in advance by sending email to webcast@internetsociety.org. People on this mailing list include Chapter Support staff and Joly McFie from the New York Chapter.

Please read the step-by-step guide outlined below to assist you to webcast your events.

Please remember that this is a pilot service run by volunteers as well as some Internet Society staff. We are learning as we go, so please be patient with us and give us as much time as possible in advance of your event. If you are interested in becoming a "webcast' team member and have some audio/visual experience, please contact webcast@internetsociety.org.

Support and troubleshooting?

Please read this FAQ carefully. Internet Society support is provided by emailing webcast@internetsociety.org.

Discussion

If you are interested in discussing webcasting matters with your Chapter colleagues and Internet Society members, we invite you to join the discussion list at webcast-discuss@elists.internetsociety.org.

For all matters in relation to webcasting there is also an online forum which comprises Livestream users.

Instructions for Internet Society Chapters Webcasting

1. Set up an account

You will need to set up an account at Livestream so we can add you as a 'team member'. To do this you have to launch a channel - don't worry too much about this as you will not be using this channel except for testing . Select "free channel" - this will take you to the sign up page, where you will be asked for details including a date-of-birth. Make sure 1) it's over 21 years ago, and 2) you can remember it! The Internet Society pays Livestream for a premium channel (no commercials) and that is what you will be using to webcast.

2. Book your slot

Email webcast@internetsociety.org with as much detail as possible about your event, plus your livestream username - (not your channel name - your username!). We will respond to confirm the time and that we have added you as a team member. You will also have an appointed "remote producer" contact who will remotely monitor your webcast and assist you with testing and any problems. Whoever will be technically responsible for streaming (local to you) and the remote producer should agree on a backchannel method - some form of chat - and preferably swap cellphone numbers (in the case of technical difficulties).

3. Install "procaster"

There is more than one way to encode a stream but the standalone "procaster" client - available for windows or mac - is preferable as it uses less resources and is more flexible. There are some tweaks needed to the settings but we'll get to that later. If you are on linux you will have to use the flash-based browser client "webcaster", we'll get to that later too.

4. Familiarize yourself with "procaster"

Have a look around "procaster", in particular take a look at:

a) the channel selector at the top, this should show both your free channel and the chapters channel. If the chapters channel has disappeared this indicates we've put a "lock' on you, most likely to avoid interrupting another webcast.

b) the camera selector, if you only want to screen a presentation you can switch this to "no camera"

c) the bandwidth selector - the three basic settings are: Mobile 198kbps, Normal 446kbps, and Medium + Mobile 876kps and High + Mobile Quality. If you have the pipe to handle it the last is preferable as it gives viewers the option to switch from 650kbps odd down to 200kps depending on their access. Finally, at the bottom there is a custom mode - if you know what you are doing you can go into preferences and tweak it to your choice.

d) preferences - I will leave most of this to you to explore for yourself. In the livestream tab everything should be switched on except "Auto-pilot'.

If you got to the audio tab you can switch on the mixer (see image below).

screenshot of audio mixer

Some care and attention is required here. For example, if one is using, say, a line input one wants to switch off any internal mics. "Speakers' audio is only required when one is playing out video off the desktop or something similar - if one is monitoring the stream having this on can cause a nasty feedback loop. Best thing is to remove sources and then add them as needed.

5. Finally, run some tests

You can do this on your own free channel. But it's better to do it with your producer. Make an appointment (please be careful not to interrupt someone else's webcast!). Fire up "Procaster" and select a channel. Select a bandwidth. Hit "Go Live"! You can monitor at www.livestream.com/internetsocietychapters or http://www.livestream.com/<your free channel> accordingly.

When you start up "Procaster' you will see it splits into two sections - the main window and the control bar. The main window gives you a way of monitoring chat on the channel etc but you'll probably be using a browser for that. Minimize it. Now the control bar, gives you easy entry into the mixer for on the fly adjustments, plus some options to composite camera + screen. Note that when you go for screen you are able to adjust how much is shown by dragging the corners. Even when webcasting the screen "Procaster' will not show. There are options in preferences to hide the mouse.

6. Need help?

Just email us at webcast@internetsociety.org.

Interested to discuss webcasting with others?

There is a members discussion list at webcast-discuss@internetsociety.org.

To subscribe: https://elists.internetsociety.org/mailman/listinfo/webcast-discuss

Tips for successful webcasted meetings

  • When you sign up for livestream you get your own free channel which comes with advertisements. You can delete it or you can use it to experiment. Internet Society pays for the Chapters channel to be ad-free.
  • Test your set up in advance, and when you get to the venue. Leave some time to fix things. When testing be careful when you "Go Live' on the Chapters Channel that you are not interrupting someone else's webcast.
  • Bring headphones so you can monitor audio.
  • Always keep open a chat channel to your remote producer. If you can't do it on the encoding machine delegate it to someone else present.
  • Pay special attention to audio - it's what really matters. If possible get a feed from the mixing board, but make sure it is low-line level or mic level if you are feeding it into the mic input on your computer, otherwise it will overload and distort.
  •  Using a separate usb webcam is preferable to a built in webcam as it can be pointed and monitored more easily. A video camcorder connected with firewire is even better. One trick is to mount the webcam on a camcorder which will then act as viewfinder.
  • Make sure you have enough bandwidth - at larger meetings Wi-Fi can get swamped so look to get ethernet on a separate line and if possible have a back up wireless dongle.
  • Procaster (available for download for free from Livestream) will find video devices that might otherwise not work, and gives you superior control over audio, including the ability to stream your pc speaker audio out, but be careful with this, as it's easy to accidentally set up a feedback loop if you are monitoring the stream.
  • If you have an remote producer they will take care of recording, otherwise you will have to remember to stop and start so that the archives are easy to view.
  • If you run the "Procaster" software, you can switch between screen and camera or even use split screen for presentations.
  • If you have the bandwidth you can also run more than one streaming source and the producer can switch remotely.
  • Although best results come from using the "Procaster" software and firewire from a video camera, it's quite possible to get acceptable results from an internal webcam and the browser-based "webcaster" software.
  • If you are having problem feeding the stream directly for any reason, you can always feed your remote producer with either webex or skype and they can relay that to the webcast.
  • Older capture cards may not be supported by the current version of Procaster. It may be necessary to use an older version or an alternative encoder. Information about alternative encoders is available here.
  • While it is tempting to monitor the webcast on the encoding laptop this should be done sparingly as it uses up resources. Rely on your remote producer to monitor.
  • Record on a video camera as back up and also use a separate audio recorder if possible.

Do you have any tips to share?

If so, please share them with us at webcast-discuss@elists.internetsociety.org.