My First Webcast

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
craiggsmith
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My First Webcast

Postby craiggsmith » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:47 pm

Got to do my first webcast this past weekend. Here's a synopsis:

I placed the camera (Sony EVI-D70) on a tripod at the front of the overflow and connected the composite output to a camera jack in the overflow. I wanted to put it on the last row of the chapel but wanted to avoid running cables through traffic areas.

Took the video feed from a composite jack near the pulpit. Each video cable consisted of two 15 ft cables joined. I had to dig these up from my basement; the stake didn't have anything long enough. I took the audio from the output at the sacrament table; I intended to hook up a choir microphone but that would have created additional logistical complications.

I put the Webcast Communicator just outside the chapel near the sacrament table in the stake offices foyer, as far as the video cable would reach.

I had to sit in the cultural hall next to the projector so I could show the words to the songs at the appropriate time. We don't have a video mixer, and there wasn't enough cable to put the camera back there. The front half of the cultural hall only has RF jacks, not composite, so I had to bring a VCR to demodulate the signal. Is there a little gadget available to do that, with just a channel 3-4 switch for example?

Very disappointed in the camera; for $1000 the movements ought to be more precision, and it ought to have a slow motion option like with the zoom. Also, 3 times during testing the camera had to be rebooted as it stopped responding to the remote. The lack of controls on it concerns me. The lack of a monitor is also a problem -- what does everyone use?

I tested everything out ahead of time and it was fine. But when I started the Saturday evening session there was no picture. I unplugged the video from the communicator and plugged it in to a TV and sure enough, no picture. Luckily we were only sending it to a couple individuals, and the audio was fine. Afterwards I traced it back to the jack, and found that the coax inside the wall wasn't actually screwed onto the jack. A miracle the satellite broadcasts worked. I was wondering how they sent a composite signal so far. I'm thinking it might be better to keep it coax until just before the communicator? But the jack would confuse people.

Sunday morning everything was set up and tested an hour early. Then about 15 minutes before the start of the session the other buildings called and complained that it was black and white. The only thing I could think of was to restart the webcast. Well, right when the meeting was starting they called me again and said they weren't getting anything at all; it had never started back up. I had no idea what to do, but luckily one of the guys suggested using a different event ID. I immediately did that and realized I could monitor it on my phone, and it worked fine, but it took a few minutes to get the URL to everyone and get them going again. Apparently they don't let you re-use the same ID within a certain time period? Or at all? I thought I had used the same one a couple times while testing Saturday but don't remember. This would have been really nice to know.

The broadcast was still black and white, however. So I then called the GSC, and while I was on hold, one of the buildings called and said someone had moved the camera. Turns out a family with small children had sat next to the camera and was letting their kids play on the floor right next to it. I had spent a long time getting the camera lined up properly before so it was never quite the same afterwards. Without a viewfinder/monitor a quick manual adjustment and then future adjustments with the remote had to suffice. They kept bumping the camera though and I finally had to go up there and ask them to be more careful. Luckily the remote worked the entire time.

I see that others have experienced the lack of color. I connected a monitor right at the input to the communicator and it was in color, and so was the broadcast on my phone, although not highly saturated. I never actually saw it at the other buildings. Perhaps an RF feed to a VCR and then into the communicator would be better? I almost tried that. The other option is to run audio and network cable all the way back to the camera, and have the communicator and mixer (for the choir mic) there.

So it wasn't exactly a fun experience, plus walking in and out a lot; I like to remain in the background. Until we get a better setup, I think someone needs to be at the camera, someone at the projector, and someone at the communicator/mixer. I think there were other issues but that's all I can remember now, thank goodness.
Craig
STS
South Jordan, UT

troywo
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Postby troywo » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:22 am

Here are a couple tips you might consider.

We have the good fortune to mount the camera on a ledge at the back of the chapel - it keeps all the cabling out of the way and we do not have people walking in front of the shot.
Add a splitter from your camera feed so you can monitor what the camera sees on small TV at all times.
We control the camera via the down-loadable sony software and a serial RS-232 connection. This is done on a laptop and we run db9 to RJ45 adapters then run computer network cable between the PC and the camera. The software gives somewhat better control. When you are zoomed in tight the control is still not very accurate but with some preset memory shots it is manageable.

Kids, cameras and cables is always tricky combo.
Troy

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:26 am

troywo wrote:Add a splitter from your camera feed so you can monitor what the camera sees on small TV at all times.


Splitters are fine for RF feeds, but you'd need an active device for a composite video signal.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

starkjs
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Location: USA

Postby starkjs » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:39 pm

Great feedback, thanks for sharing.Some quick thoughts:
·Sometimes, when the webcast crashes, it does not have a chance to “clean up after itself” and close the session or connection properly. When trying to reuse the ID, the streaming server thinks the node is already taken and ignores the request.
·That is funny/sad about the children moving the camera! We are working with the facilities department to see how cameras could we mounted in the chapel in the future.
·We are also working with facilities to see how to simplify the cable experience and what AV connections are available.
·Have you tried the software version of Meetinghouse Webcast? To learn more, please visit the Software Download and User Guide or try the latest Beta Version.

lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:08 pm

starkjs wrote:We are working with the facilities department to see how cameras could [b]e mounted in the chapel in the future.


Our FM group mounted a bracket on the brick wall at the left front side of the overflow. When needed, the camera is mounted there and the cable goes to the input near the base of that same wall.

There are better ways, but this one is very functional for us for now. The camera is not in the center, but the chapel is older and longer, and the shot is not too bad.

StevePoulsen
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Postby StevePoulsen » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:59 am

hemismith wrote:I had to sit in the cultural hall next to the projector so I could show the words to the songs at the appropriate time. We don't have a video mixer, and there wasn't enough cable to put the camera back there. The front half of the cultural hall only has RF jacks, not composite, so I had to bring a VCR to demodulate the signal. Is there a little gadget available to do that, with just a channel 3-4 switch for example?


Any time you can avoid the modulated signal you will be better of, the mod/demod adds some noise to the signal. I would actually recommend adding a Video DA from the output of your camera. Then wire the Video DA outputs to the Camera input on the wall, the video input on the Communicator, and if you want a confidence monitor at the camera location. If you can talk you FM group into it, they can A Video DA from CHQ, If not you can order one yourself. I recommend the VDA-6 (available in BNC, F and RCA) formats form Emtech Electronics http://www.emtechelectronics.com/.

hemismith wrote:Very disappointed in the camera; for $1000 the movements ought to be more precision, and it ought to have a slow motion option like with the zoom. Also, 3 times during testing the camera had to be rebooted as it stopped responding to the remote. The lack of controls on it concerns me. The lack of a monitor is also a problem -- what does everyone use?


The camera is actually very nice, but to get the best results, you cannot use the included remote; it does not give you control of all of the camera’s available features. I you want a slow panning effect; you have to control it using the RS-232 feature set. But that requires a computer with a 232 port (and the downloadable software), or a specific controller for the camera. So I find it best to map out some pre-planned Presets and recall those during the meeting instead of attempting to move it to points “live”.
Steve Poulsen - Meetinghouse Facilities Technology Engineer

craiggsmith
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Location: South Jordan, Utah

Postby craiggsmith » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:45 pm

Thanks very much everyone for the tips. I have put in a request to facilities to mount the camera, but I had been wondering how to best get the video and serial control signals so far. Both my laptops have RS232 ports on them. (I'm not familiar with the other interface. But aren't there USB converters for these interfaces anyway?)

How do you wire the power? Do you run 110V to a jack next to it and just plug in the wall wart, or put it farther away and run a long 12 volt cord?

I did create presets, but it still is very jerky moving between them (if there is anything other than zoom). But when the tripod was moved they weren't of much use.

I had actually shut down the webcast gracefully; I'll have to find out more about that. No, I haven't tried the software version yet. I figured the hardware would be more reliable, and I wanted to make them feel good about spending the money.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the replies.
Craig
STS
South Jordan, UT

lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:58 pm

hemismith wrote:How do you wire the power? Do you run 110V to a jack next to it and just plug in the wall wart, or put it farther away and run a long 12 volt cord?


In our case, there is power on the wall right next to the camera video input jack, so we just plug in power and the video cord and are good to go.

Our camera is mounted at about eight feet so it does not pick up people walking in front. We operate it manually with someone standing on a small footstool or chair. A small classroom table holds a monitor.

lpuster
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Here are some solutions

Postby lpuster » Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:11 pm

We mount the EVI-D70 camera on a volleyball pole. I assume these are standard issue. We have found it very stable and it places the camera well above everyone's heads in the center at the rear of the chapel. You can use the Sony demo program to operate the camera via RS-232 with a laptop, but it is not intended for production, just demonstrating the camera's functions.

I have posted a reference to a drawing of my volleyball pole mount and some software I have written in a previous post. My software allows you to choose the speed the camera moves, and even jog in small single steps, which I find necessary when the camera is in the back to get the speaker centered in the frame.

We feed the composite video output through about 100' of 75 ohm coax before it reaches the Meetinghouse Communicator situated in the satalite closet. The Internet firewall is in the same closet. We feed the building PA system output through a variable attenuator into the audio input of the Meetinghouse Communicator.

Another trick is to use a nearby clerk computer to display what I am webcasting by browsing http://stream.lds.org/xxxxxx-xxxxxx (substitute the site and event digits). (But you have to remember that what is on the Internet is a couple of minutes behind real time.) This way, if a remote unit reports a problem, I can tell if the problem is at their end or my end. If it is at their end, rebooting the Meetinghouse Webcast Receiver is usually effective.

Louis.

craiggsmith
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Location: South Jordan, Utah

Postby craiggsmith » Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:22 pm

Thanks. I'll look at your other posts. We do have volleyball nets/poles. I like that idea, as long as no one runs into it. I have tons of coax cable, just need to get a composite to coax converter (and probably a VDA). Our only network port is in the stake clerk's office, quite a distance, so I'd still probably take the audio and video feeds from up front.

When testing I had viewed the webcast on another computer, but I didn't want to risk anything during the actual conference -- excuse my ignorance, but does download traffic take away from upload bandwidth?
Craig
STS
South Jordan, UT


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