Simulcast of stake conference

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
aclawson
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Simulcast of stake conference

Postby aclawson » Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:34 pm

Our stake center is at capacity for conference. There is another ward building about 30-40 minutes away that is central to about 1/3 of the stake. Both this other unit and the stake center have DSL-equipped FHCs and satellite dishes.

What can be done to stream stake conference to this other ward building?

pwhiting-p40
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Postby pwhiting-p40 » Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:20 pm

At the present time there is not an official recommendation from church headquarters on how to handle this. There is an ongoing effort to identify a solution that is going to be supportable, reliable, cost-effective, and provide adequate quality.

Casey can post some of the things you should watch out for if you chose to figure something out on your own, including bandwidth guidelines (especially for audio), firewall/NAT traversal issues (ideally you can push the content toward a reflector), where to look for line-level audio, and various production tips.

This can be a stressful exercise - be sure to have an audio backup plan that uses the phone system...

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:00 pm

Something to keep in mind is that the upload speeds on broadband are much smaller then download. In my area I get 3MBit download, but only 768Kbit upload. Cable modem is even less - about 400Kbit.

Also need to consider that the video across broadband probably isn't going to be of very good quality. We had a regional conference awhile back where they had to upload the video via the Internet when the satellite truck didn't show. Ugly. Looked like about a 3rd generation VHS tape. And do you have any idea what organ notes sounds like on a bit rate limited connection? More cringing then uplifting.

Satellite is do-able, but you have to get a satellite truck and crew. Not cheap.

tleish-p40
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Postby tleish-p40 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:18 am

Our stake has done this successfully the last 2 stake conferences using Slingbox. It has worked really well for us and has saved us money from the alternative solutions. We used to pay $3700 a year for 2 stake conferences to contract a company to broadcast our stake conference with microwave dishes. After buying the $200 Slingbox, our only expense is just over $700 a year for broadband of 2 buldings. A savings of $3000 a year for our stake.

At the tech forums, this solution seemed to be looked down upon because it's not a "silver bullet", a solution for all units. There's also some initial networking NAT setup involived (which really isn't that difficult, and is a one time deal). Empoyees at the church are trying to put together a solution that will solve this problem for everyone. However, the equipment for the "silver bullet" is over $3000 while the Slingbox solution is around $200.

In addition to this, was the time and expense of making paper copies of the words from the Hymns for the meetings. We just purchased another $150 piece of equipment that allowed us to put the words to the Hymns (via PowerPoint) over the video for the overflow areas. It looked very close to the way General Conference does this. It was obvious that more people sang the Hymns and diminished the overhead of lots of copies of paper. This was supprisingly easy to do, much easier than I originally anticipated when we first set out to figure out a solution to do this.

jepeneter-p40
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Postby jepeneter-p40 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:27 pm

Bro. Tleish,
What was name/brand/model/etc of the $150 equipment you referred to? It would be great to save the expense of the printed hymns. Wouldn't be bad to save the cleanup and noise hassle either.
-John-

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k0nod
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Closed links via data radio

Postby k0nod » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:18 pm

You might inquire at Pacific Wireless http://www.pacwireless.com/ in Bluffdale, Utah. They have systems which, if you have line-of-sight, might help out. You can stream a lot of data on a closed system. Rumor has it that the church has used their systems building-to-building in California.

tleish-p40
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Postby tleish-p40 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:37 pm

jepeneter wrote:Bro. Tleish,
What was name/brand/model/etc of the $150 equipment you referred to? It would be great to save the expense of the printed hymns. Wouldn't be bad to save the cleanup and noise hassle either.
-John-


I started a new thread with the info here:
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?p=206#post206

pwhiting-p40
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Postby pwhiting-p40 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:56 pm

tleish wrote:
At the tech forums, this solution seemed to be looked down upon because it's not a "silver bullet", a solution for all units. There's also some initial networking NAT setup involived (which really isn't that difficult, and is a one time deal). Empoyees at the church are trying to put together a solution that will solve this problem for everyone. However, the equipment for the "silver bullet" is over $3000 while the Slingbox solution is around $200.




This is fair feedback - let me attempt to provide some additional context.

For support and flexibility reasons we'd like to find a device that allows us to push content to a central reflector where one or more endpoints can connect to receive the stream.

The pushing of content allows us to avoid the NAT problem. The NAT setup is a little more difficult if your site is running behind a Church-provided firewall (which it should be.) Since we have to manage several thousand of these devices we are very sensitive to adding any complexity to their configurations. We deal with a wide range of connectivity into church buildings and in many cases the IP addresses behind the firewall have been through two NATs. We can usually work through all of the issues, but it is painful and fragile. We'd prefer to avoid the NAT problem.

The second issue has to deal with getting the content to more than one endpoint - pushing to a reflector allows us to conserve the egress bandwidth (typically the most constrained resource) at the sourcing site. We realize that many of you do not yet have the need for this capability, but some sites do. We are weighing it in our decision criteria accordingly.

We haven't yet found a silver bullet. As you point out, $3000 feels like too much to pay for the encoder. We have some options that would just use a stake member's laptop (no hardware costs to the Church) but we again worry about the associated support ramifications. btw, with the slingbox we have this issue on the receive side.

The slingbox is nice because it is easy, it does a good job of adjusting to existing network conditions, and it is inexpensive. It's inability to push isn't a fatal flaw, but it weighs significantly in our thinking. Every other solution you saw at the tech forum also has flaws (price, ease of use, ...) The challenge we face is coming up with a "one size fits all" recommendation that we can centrally support. Such a solution may not exist so the new problem may become: how best do we then manage a disparate set of solutions?

tleish-p40
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Postby tleish-p40 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:50 pm

pwhiting wrote: We have some options that would just use a stake member's laptop (no hardware costs to the Church) but we again worry about the associated support ramifications. btw, with the slingbox we have this issue on the receive side.


FYI, SlingMedia just announced at CES this month that they have a new product coming out called the SlingCatcher, which would replace the need for a laptop at the recieving end. The SlingCatcher is expected to retail for under $200 and come out some time in the middle of 2007.

See:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070108-8569.html

From what I read, it can "catch" video streams from locations other than just SlingBox, so it may help you in your the solutions you are looking into.


I agree that SlingBox doesn't solve all the problems, but it certainly was the perfect solution for our situation of streaming from the Stake Center to one single location. We also plan on purchasing the SlingCatcher so we don't have to borrow a members laptop.

Also, it's not the hardware that prevents multiple streams from the SlingBox as much as it is legal reasons where a user could broadcast their cable station to multiple people.

Also, SlingBox isn't the only player out there, a similar one is HAVA
http://www.snappymultimedia.com/index.php

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:21 am

pwhiting wrote:The NAT setup is a little more difficult if your site is running behind a Church-provided firewall (which it should be.) Since we have to manage several thousand of these devices we are very sensitive to adding any complexity to their configurations.


Just as a thought, what about placing the device outside of the firewall? This avoids the issue of dealing with the PIX configuration. I don't see an issue with a dedicated device (like a sling box) "outside" as long as the connection is locked down (MAC address?) to prevent others from trying to use it to get around the web filtering function.


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