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Streaming Video and Audio, Part 1

Mar 25, 2010 3:58 PM, By Bennett Liles


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What once took a remote broadcast truck, a production crew, and a satellite van to stream live video can now be done with a couple of people, a few pieces of hardware, and the NewTek TriCaster portable live production unit. Yamaha recently started taking its live-streaming setup on the road to record live interviews and concerts for playback on its website. Jeff Hawley, manager of marketing content for Yamaha, and Philip Nelson, vice president of strategic development for NewTek, detail the uses of streaming video and sound for corporate promotion and relate the experience of setting up Yamaha’s first live streaming concert at the Pasadena Jazz Institute, complete with tech tips on audio and video bandwidth settings and streaming formats. Hawley and Nelson take us inside the remote streaming setup and provide a description of the gear used and how it was all configured.

SVC: Philip, it’s great having you on the program.
Nelson: Thank you so much for including us in this podcast.

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Streaming Video and Audio, Part 2
How the TriCaster makes things easy for Yamaha to get live streaming online at the production end....

And Jeff thanks very much for joining me here.
Hawley: Thanks for having me. I am excited to get a chance to chat and I am looking forward to filling your listeners in. I have, hopefully, some helpful tips here and there.

This is kind of an intriguing situation I haven’t done before. Jeff let’s start with you. This is about a live webcast you did on the Yamaha Hub website and you decided to do, say, a day of jazz violin, which might not be what we would normally think of as the corporate presentation, but since Yamaha is into musical instruments among many other things, this would be really appropriate. Where did the idea for the live concerts on Yamaha website come about?
Hawley: Basically the idea for doing the live concerts, directly live for real, came out of our experience with Philip Nelson, part of the crew with NewTek. They made the TriCaster broadcast unit. Last year at NAMM, NAMM 2009, we had a great opportunity: Alicia Keys was actually involved in one of our products. In the launch, and somewhat in the development of it, [we were] doing a press conference at the booth, and we decided that it would be great to do some sort of live feature at that point. [We] did a little bit of research and it ended up just through industry connections that we could get the NewTek crew out there to help us with that. So being part of the marketing content department for Yamaha and having a background on the video side of things related to Yamaha, I was kind of involved in that project and got to play wingman, so to speak, and got to watch over Philip's shoulder as he was producing, live, that press conference. And basically out of that, it was a no-brainer to really move in that direction from the literally thousands of canned on-demand videos that Yamaha has been producing over the years, and why not do it live?

Yeah and you’ve got the site on there, the Hub, and how did that get started?
Hawley: In a nutshell, the Hub has kind of been our mad-scientist area of yamaha.com. We have a traditional product catalog sort of site where if you want to know about the line of digital pianos, you’ll find normal product page and specs and information. The Hub is something. It’s still part of yamaha.com proper. It’s all inhouse production, and we build it and code it and do all the stuff here in the building, in Glen Park, Calif., where our offices are. It really gives us a chance to get a little bit outside of the box and try some new stuff. It began really back in 2005 simply as an audio podcast that was available through iTunes. If you chart it from there, we started interviewing Yamaha artists and the collection of those interviews grew, so then we had a simple HTML page with links to the iTunes feed. Then more departments [were] added on, and then video podcasts, and then at some point it was pretty clear that we kind of had gone as far as we could with this long list of links and that something like [an actual] multimedia video player was necessary. And one thing that is a blessing and a curse is that just Yamaha traditionally and me personally like to build those things and control those sort of sites on our own. So Yamaha built Yamaha-owned space. We could have easily [gone] the YouTube route, but we thought at that point, YouTube is getting ruling. This might be big. You know, really at that time, it was already big, but not any where near as huge as it is now obviously.

Yeah.
Hawley: But we saw that pretty early on that to really do this right and to really have the control that we would like to have and be able to grow and try new things, it would be great if we could have this—something that we built and something where we have our, again, kind of our mad-scientist area where we could try new things. That also allowed us to build in hooks and code and things for Omniture and seals for salesforce.com so we get a lot of web analytics out of it. We can try things, see how it works, see how it doesn’t work in some cases, and send data in and send data back out and have control of that, and  try new things and keep it fresh so it’s a bunch of different sorts of contents and different ways to really connect with Yamaha, and really it started out of the very early experiments and just kind of messing around with audio podcasts and exploded from there.

And that really is more applicable to certain business, certain types of outfits than others. Since Yamaha is into so many different things—I mean, mixers, musical instruments, all kinds of things—it would seem that, particularly the musical instruments, you could tune in and actually have just a fun time while you are advertising your wares while the people are watching and they could just have fun just while they are watching the instruments being played.
Hawley: Sure, and certainly that is a bit of a rare situation where we can talk about our products, but the person talking about our product is a world-famous musician or an industry-known or famous engineer talking about how our mixers work and demoing a mixer using music that’s cool, that’s a Yamaha artist, and again, having all of the connections as well and kind of crossing through different sorts of product groups. It also makes it neat that we can do a Yamaha podcast using Yamaha mixers, the Yamaha outboard gear, Steinberg interfaces, which Yamaha also is very involved with and owns and kind of runs a lot of the Steinberg side of things as well. So, again, a bit of an interesting situation when we can talk saxophones and have everything involved in the production more or less be Yamaha behind the scenes as well. So a lot of angles to go at with it and yeah, it’s definitely a lot of fun and not too difficult to make things interesting as far as the content goes.



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