Best option for streaming live audio/video to the Internet?
March 9, 2015 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I need to set up an audio and video stream with a password. What's the Hive's opinion on the best option?

I'm helping a small funeral home set up a live stream of services for loved ones that can't travel to a memorial. An HD webcam quality stream with audio and a feed access password that can be changed easily is all they really need. I doubt it will be accessed by more than a few viewers at a time, and they are fine with upgrading their upload if needed. They don't want to record anything.

I've looked into Livestream and Ustream but they seem like overkill when the estimated viewers will be 3-10 at the most, a few times a month.

Does anyone have experience with this? What kind of service, device or system have you used with awesome - or even pretty good - results? I'd love to hear any gotchas, tips or considerations. Thank you!
posted by dozo to Technology (3 answers total)
When my wife's parents were unable to attend our wedding ceremony, we used Ustream to broadcast it to them live. The setup was pretty easy; I was occupied with other things at the time so I'm not sure what the experience of watching the stream was like, but they said it worked very well. They may have just been avoiding giving me anything additional to stress out over, though.
posted by jordemort at 1:55 PM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: Sadly, the state of livestreaming services on the internet is in a huge state of flux and competition.

What you may want to look into is to host your own stream if you have the bandwidth to support it. You can do it pretty cheap with a stand-alone computer and a reasonable internet connection, if you are only serving to a limited audience at any given time. Video can be quite bandwidth intensive, so you will likely be knocking down the quality using compression anyway (both LiveStream and Ustream do a huge amount of compression on the video). There is also Youtube Live, which is pretty straight forward.

One thing to remember is that ever though it is "live", there will be a considerable delay (between 5 and 40 seconds) in the feed. This is dependent upon the amount of compression, and whether the compression is done at the point of the client, or at the point of the server or both (again, depending on which service you use will determine what kind of compression or other things are happening).

I know for Youtube Live, you can use Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder, but it has some pretty hefty hardware requirements as it does a lot of the compression before sending off the stream to your chosen CDN (youtube live being one of the main one that it supports).

Do be careful with whatever service you are using, though, as the stream will likely have ads embedded or overlaid on the stream. And knowing how bad ad algorithms are, it's likely that the stream will feature competing funeral services ads with the live stream (unless you pay youtube for a special type of partner account, and turn off all ads. I don't think you have that option with LiveStream or Ustream).

Other options are usually smaller scale turnkey solutions, but require quite a bit of professional audio/video technology knowledge to deploy and maintain. But for that, you are looking at a professional A/V company integrator to do all the setup.
posted by daq at 3:09 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We ended up going with a dedicated little computer running Windows 7 and a Logitech C920 (full HD and has a regular tripod mount). The webcam's image quality is excellent. We tested a simple link to the webcam but it was too much bandwidth, so we decided on a streaming service. We had to upgrade their internet to a 4Mb upload to accommodate a 720p stream.

We are now using Adobe Flash Media Encoder (free) to stream to an unlisted Youtube Live Event (free). They can pre-schedule the weeks services and then just load the downloaded event profile into AFME before each service. The link to each live event broadcast is on a password protected page on their Wordpress site. Of course, this is just to keep out riffraff, not a true attempt at secure privacy like a private event stream would be, but that would require everyone to have or create Youtube accounts.

Hope this helps someone else!
posted by dozo at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2015

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