Webcasting help offered

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
rannthal
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Webcasting help offered

Postby rannthal » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:23 pm

For any of those who need help with the new webcasting system, I am here to help. If any of you have questions, I will do my best to answer them to the best of my ability.

Why should you trust him, you ask? Well let me tell you a little story.
I'm an STS for the Payson Utah Mountain View Stake, and I had an experience in broadcasting our stake conference with the new webcasting system.

Last weekend I had our stake conference. We have had 2 successful webcasting sessions before. We had tested the system. We had all our camera and mics setup and people in place. I implemented a backup plan and set it at ready. Everything was ready to go and I expected a successful conference. In fact I was so confident that we would have a successful session that we were going to use the new players at our receive sites to view the sessions.

The reason I was so confident that we were going to have a successful conference is because I work on the webcasting project for the church. I touch it almost daily. I know the in and outs of the system. I have been through every nook and cranny of the portal. I know what works and what doesn't. I know what settings on the VidiU are best, what laptops are best, and what to look for on the player for the receive sites.

We were going to have a successful conference............until it happened. The Internet.

We had tested many times before and it all checked out. But that Sunday the net went down 4 times within the first hour and the last hour I felt like I was carrying the system and keeping it running with duct tape and wire because of the frailness of the network that Sunday.
The system itself worked great, the servers came up, that encoding was working, players were playing, the stats were working. The system was working. Everything was working except for one thing......the Internet. The backbone of the entire thing and the one thing that I could not control.

Even though I worked on the webcasting project and know everything there is to know about it, I still had a less then happy experience with webcasting. Why, because sometimes things happen that are not under your control.

Looking back, I could have tried a few more things pre-hand to ensure that had the bandwidth dropped, we could have kept going and heard what was being said. But that is hind-site, I'll do it next time.

Now, I tell you this story not as to whine and complain about the system; like I said the system worked fine, but to say that even though you know everything there is to know about something and know how to make it work, things can still go wrong. I also tell you the story to say that I understand how you feel, I know the pain, I've been there and done that and am still doing it. I eat my own work.

So if any of you have any questions about the webcasting system or something seems funny after reading the instructions and documentation that the church has provided for the new system, ask away. I can help relieve some of the frustration and fear and doubts of working with the new system. You will find that once you understand it, it is quite easy to work with.

As an STS we are asked to do things that out in the world people go to school for and get degrees with. I understand your pain; it can be overwhelming. So there is no stupid question. We are all here to serve to the best of our ability.

That said, I don't want to hear any complaints or whining. That does not do any good and in fact causes contention. I'll not have any of that and it will be ignored. But for those who are frustrated and need some answers I am here to help you to the best I can. I may not be able to answer all questions about equipment, what to get and pricing and all that stuff, but I can answer questions on how to setup up your event, the best settings for VidiU, the player on the receive sites and testing the system with your stake and some advice base upon how I set things up for my stake.

Ask away.

harddrive
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby harddrive » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:15 am

rannthal, thank you for this post. You state in your post "I know what settings on the VidiU are best, what laptops are best, and what to look for on the player for the receive sites." This is terrific but for those of us who haven't used the system or have used it and had bad experiences. Can you share your insight on the setting for the VidiU, the best laptop/computer and what to do with the player at the receiving sites? I think that would be fantastic information coming from someone who is working with the system. This is the type of information that should be shared. Items that will help us from a hardware perspective to make it the best we can. You are right, we can't control the Internet.

Terry

russellhltn
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby russellhltn » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:22 am

harddrive wrote:You are right, we can't control the Internet.

But what would be helpful is how to diagnose where the problem is.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

rannthal
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:41 pm

Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby rannthal » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:08 pm

harddrive wrote:Can you share your insight on the setting for the VidiU, the best laptop/computer and what to do with the player at the receiving sites?

Player at receiving site: This will only be for the silverlight player. The new player stuff will come later. There is not much to do with the player. It is designed to work without any messing around with it. It is adaptive so that it will be able to play with different bitrates/bandwidths. If the bitrate/bandwidth changes dramatically, it will buffer trying to find the best bitrate it can successfully play at. As a suggestion, it is best not to mess with the settings on the player.

Laptop/Computer: We recommend any laptop with at least 4 cores. Rather it be PC or Mac, it doesn't matter. With laptops have 2 cores, while using the silverlight player, runs the risk of the CPU usage going up really high. If the CPU goes up too high, then the computer introduces glitches and pauses within the stream. Using a 4 core computer allows the CPU usage to be lower....however, with higher bitrate/higher quality of stream the more CPU processes is needed, which introduces more of a chance glitches and pauses will happen. We find that with 8 cores the stream runs well and any bitrate. Also, with the silverlight player, Firefox is the only browser that will support it fully.

VidiU: Make sure the VidiU is fully upgraded. If when the unit is turned on, it will check for firmware updates. Choose yes when there is one available.....unless it is right before a live stream; do it prehand while testing.
It is best to have the device use a wired connection. Wireless is wireless and can cause glitches. There is a battery with the VidiU, it will usually last for an hour, but I recommend that you run it plugged in.
When trying to set up the VidiU, the easiest thing is to go into the box using the menu and to to the Network setting. Choose wired and grab the IP address. With this IP address, you can paste it into browser on a computer that is connected on the same network. This will bring up the GUI for the VidiU. It is much easier to set in this way.
The current version of the VidiU has 4 Setting areas: Broadcast, Video/Audio, System, and Network.
Network: Change the VidiU to use Wired only. Turn off WiFi and USB Modem. Leave the other settings as is.
System: No need to change anything here.
Video/Audio: These can be changes to what fits your broadcast, but this is what I use.
Widescreen: Auto
Audio Source: HDMI (analog can be used and works fine if you plug in the audio into the jack in the back of the VidiU)
Channel: stereo
Level: mic
Mutes: generally are left Off
Volume: I just leave this alone and let any mixers I have take care of this.
Broadcast: Here is where the meat of the VidiU is
Platform -
Mode: Manual
RTMP Profile: Custom
RTMP Server URL: You get this from the portal on the event details page, under the Broadcast Info section. It is the Link. Put that URL into this box.
Stream: This is also found on the portal on the event details page, under the Broadcast Info section. It is the Stream Name. Put that into this box.
No need to save a profile or go into the advanced settings
Auto Start: Disabled. (I find it a pain to have the VidiU try to start encoding without me being fully ready to do so.)
Auto Reconnect: Disabled (I do this because if I ever want to stop the stream for some reason, it doesn't keep trying to reconnect on me. If this does happen, the only way to stop it is to shut off the VidiU. However, having this set to Disabled can be a detriment. If your stream dropped because the Internet dropped and you are not aware of it, no more stream until you manually restart the VidiU. You need to watch it closely if you have this set to Disabled.

Quality - (This is where the STS can set it to their own needs. Below are only suggestions.)
Video Quality: There are two setting here. You can use the VidiU standard settings, low, medium, high, etc. High ranges around 1.4 M, medium is around 850k, low around 450k I believe. FullHD is around 2M
Custom - Allows you to set the resolution and bitrate to your liking. The portal will not let you go above 2M.
For my stake, with the Internet I have to deal with, I usually choose the medium setting. On custom usually the best is 1280x720 and 1M. For stakes and districts with lower Internet speeds, choose a bitrate something lower, usually .75 is sufficient.
Adaptive Bitrate: Disabled
Frame-rate: Full
Audio Quality: Medium or Low (For what stake conference is, this usually is sufficient.)

I hope this helps out. For more specific things, ping me.

Aczlan
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Location: Upstate, NY, USA

Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby Aczlan » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:19 pm

rannthal wrote:VidiU: Make sure the VidiU is fully upgraded. If when the unit is turned on, it will check for firmware updates. Choose yes when there is one available.....unless it is right before a live stream; do it prehand while testing.

So are we no longer restricted to firmware version 2.2.0 (as listed at https://www.lds.org/help/support/vidiu- ... e?lang=eng )?

Aaron Z

rannthal
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby rannthal » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:38 pm

russellhltn wrote:
harddrive wrote:You are right, we can't control the Internet.

But what would be helpful is how to diagnose where the problem is.


Runs tests and look at the stats for both the encoding and receiving sites. With adequate bandwidth, the graphs should remain relatively flat with few minor ups and downs.
Check the tables in the stats page, CPU usage should not be high and there shouldn't be many dropped frames.

Broadcast site: If your VidiU stops during a stream, Internet dropped. If the Receive Rate spikes low, usually the Internet dropping.
If your receive rate looks like a bouncing ball, this usually means that you are trying to encode higher then what you you have bandwidth for. If you lower the encode rate this should flatten out more. The quality will be lower, but it won't cause the receive sites to buffer as much.
The goal is to try and get the graph with as few spikes as possible, while maintaining a watchable stream. This can be difficult to find at times.

Receive site: The receive site is at the mercy of the encoding site. If the encoding site is bad, the receive site is not going to be happy. Bad put in, bad come out.
If however, your encoding site is fine, there are some things you can check. If your player buffers for long periods of time, Internet dropped. If the player buffers frequently, Internet. The correction is try to find the highest bandwidth that the player can use without it dropping down to a different bitrate and cap it there. It will probably lower the quality of the picture, but at least it will stop the buffering.
If the stream glitches or pauses but no buffering, check the laptop for other programs running and/or high CPU. If high CPU, find a better laptop.

Sometimes the silverlight player does funny things like playing good for a bit, then buffering and dropping to a lower right when the bandwidth is fine and the computer is fine. This is hard to figure out what is going on. Thus the new player. It seems if you lower the encoding rate a little the sliverlight player does better in that case.

I hope these few things help out. This can be very frustrating, especially when you test and it works find one day and then the next or on the live event things tank. Been there, done that.

rannthal
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby rannthal » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:39 pm

Aczlan wrote:
rannthal wrote:VidiU: Make sure the VidiU is fully upgraded. If when the unit is turned on, it will check for firmware updates. Choose yes when there is one available.....unless it is right before a live stream; do it prehand while testing.

So are we no longer restricted to firmware version 2.2.0 (as listed at https://www.lds.org/help/support/vidiu- ... e?lang=eng )?

Aaron Z


In my opinion, upgrade it. I'll try to post something here if I find out otherwise.

lajackson
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby lajackson » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:49 pm

Is headquarters going to have to fix settings for each of our VidiU broadcasts in the future as they have for the past two webcast sessions? We have programmed in extra setup time to allow for the phone call, since we have had to make it twice in a row.

rannthal
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby rannthal » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:30 pm

lajackson wrote:Is headquarters going to have to fix settings for each of our VidiU broadcasts in the future as they have for the past two webcast sessions? We have programmed in extra setup time to allow for the phone call, since we have had to make it twice in a row.

I'm not familiar with what is going on there. I've never heard that headquarters had to "fix settings". Did this happen two weeks ago with the regional conference? Could you please tell me what stake you are in, describe the problem you had and why headquarters is having to "fix something"? Of course, their definition of "fix something" may be different to us on what really happened. If there is a bug there, I want to know about it so that we can really fix it. You shouldn't have to call in, it should just work for you.

russellhltn
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Re: Webcasting help offered

Postby russellhltn » Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:41 pm

rannthal wrote:I'm not familiar with what is going on there. I've never heard that headquarters had to "fix settings".

A little more detail can be found in this thread
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.


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