I took a gig over labor day weekend, running the live streaming for PAX West (a large gaming convention in Seattle). I'm going to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at the whole setup and some tasty tidbits of knowhow as well.
Me and my partner-in-streaming, Adam Wygle (Bootstrapper Studios):
There were seven cameras total; 3 stationary, 1 on a Steadicam, 1 on a 30' crane, and 2 selfie cams for the competitors.
The plan was to have up to three simultaneous streams going during the show. It wasn't long before we discovered that we would be sharing bandwidth with all the on-stage gaming computers, and several other production related PC's as well. I was feeling a bit nervous about the 40Mb upload cap we had been dealt.
An opportunity arose at the end of an IP address conversation with one of the convention center IT techs. It took only a matter of seconds, but I walked away with a much better feeling. I mentioned that we would be sharing bandwidth with other computers. He said he could bump us up to 50Mb. I said "The faster the better!" He shrugged; lowered his voice and said, "I'll give you a hundred." Nice! It's amazing what a little friendly communication can do.
The web stream was supposed to be at 720p60 for the first two days, and 1080p60 on the third. I suppose they wanted a high frame rate to better show the fast gaming action. However, when they discovered that the TriCaster would only support 1080p30, they opted to set the TriCaster to 1080i60 and match all the incoming cameras and computers to that.
What Adam and I didn't first realize was that the Teradek Cube 655 encoders would only deinterlace, and give us 30fps, because they are combining two fields into one frame. They won't do any frame duplication, which makes sense, because that would just be increasing the data for no improvement in quality. However, the client wants what they want, so our vision mixer ended up giving us a 720p60 feed right out of the TriCaster; so we ran that through our DA and directly into the four Cubes. Turns out the Cubes stay cooler when not having to do any scaling or frame rate conversion!
I haven't been into video games since the Atari 2600, so I certainly learned a lot about modern video games.
I also learned a new trick with the Decimator MD-HX. If you need to reclock an SDI run, you need to send it through the scaler in the MD-HX, and just set it to output the same format. The scaler––that's where the reclocking takes place.
Everybody came with their own supply of Decimators, including me––and we used them ALL!
It's always good to consider backups when running a live stream. We considered the question, "What will we do if the TriCaster goes down?" Our answer was to get a backup video feed of the gameplay that was playing out to the monster screen.
Second question; "How do we quickly switch to our backup?" The Roland V-1SDI ended up being the perfect solution. We sent our program feed and the backup gameplay feed into the Roland, then out to the SDI distribution amp feeding the Teradek Cubes. At the click of a button I could switch between the two. The V-1SDI also added a very useful audio adjustment capability. We bumped it up by +6db for the web stream.
We routed the PVW out of the Roland into an Atomos Ninja Flame, so we could easily monitor our primary and backup video feeds.
We monitored the health of our web streams on our Macbook Pro's with the Twitch Inspector and the Teradek Cube web interface. And yes, we had this purple light shining on us the entire time!
The whole event went off well. It's always good to have the right gear for the job! Until next time, my web streaming friends.
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