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Covering Live Events with Streaming Video at KAMU, Part 1

Jan 11, 2011 3:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Now back when all this started, you had all the IT people over on their side of things and the TV people pretty much in their area and they were clearly separate kingdoms, but of course now most of these two areas have become one in the same.
Mmm hmm.

So when it was first suggested that you go with IP video, particularly when you wanted to go with High Def, what was the reaction from your IT people on that?
Well another probably unique aspect of our relationship or our organization within the university is that the IT group and our group are really under the same umbrella of the office of information technology so we all report to the same guy, so some of the finger pointing doesn't go very far. Another aspect of … we have been involved in really IP video for classroom support since basically in the late '90s…certainly in the year 2000 and had been doing classroom IP-based video not just on the campus but throughout the A&M system. So we have numbers of years under our belts of working closely with the IT folks to basically make IP video work. Again, I think I had mentioned in 2005 we began using it for broadcast applications—higher full-frame rate and higher quality and the HD migration really wasn't that big a deal; it did take maybe a little bit more care in tending. We try and pre-test any new location that we go to, but we've been able to accommodate things pretty well both on the campus as well as we do use the IP video throughout the A&M system as well, not just the College Station campus. [Timestamp: 5:30]

And lately you're using the Streambox SBT3-9300 encoder/decoder units for HD streaming. This is a very competitive area in streaming products. Why did you decide to go with the Streambox for that?
In looking at a product that basically allowed us a HD-SDI IP transmission path, that is the product that identified that particularly had the lowest cost of ownership for us. We also have … some others have had for several years some IP gateway boxes in service in a way of accomplishing the same thing but those have to be fronted with an MPEG-2 encoder so really it takes two boxes to do what one Streambox would do and do a better job of it because of the compression algorithm and at a cheaper cost and a one-box solution. [Timestamp: 6:24]

Right, and depending on the way you have the Streambox set up you can use the same hardware on either end of the line.
That's correct, and we can instead of just having a one-way path so to speak we can … the same hardware can be just reconfigured and used in the opposite direction. [Timestamp: 6:41]

So when you're covering one of these live events, I guess it could be academic or sports or notable visiting lecturer, what sort of production setup can you do? Is it always the same thing, like a package production unit you send out, and what type of video do you tape to the Streambox?
Well, a typical, in fact the very first actual production event that we used the Streamboxes for, was when President Obama visited the A&M campus and of course made a speech from one of the venues on campus. We associated or really what I should say the Streambox is a part of our … it's the transmission aspect of our portable HD field production which is really a fly, what I refer to as a fly pack system. It is packaged in road cases so it can be rolled into different venues or we do have a remote truck that if nothing else is used to haul all the cases around, but we basically have a system that's centered around a Broadcast Pix Slate 1000 production switcher/production system. With that, we use Sony, the EX3 HD cameras with the NIPROS adapters on them so we have the triax capability and so forth. [Timestamp: 7:58]

And so at the input of the Streambox are you feeding HD SDI in there or HDMI? What's going into it?
We're feeding … taking HD SDI out of the Broadcast Pix system. We're embedding, of course, our audio, so the input of the Streambox receives an HD SDI at the other end on the corresponding decode end HD SDI with embedded audio comes out and that is basically compatible with our high-definition plant at our studio. [Timestamp: 8:29]

And when you're doing one of these live events, like you said it could be just about anything, how much set up do you have to do on those? Does it involve doing everything from the ground up or just dropping in for a PA feed on a football game or other things?
Well for the most part, it depends on the venue we're in. We've actually not done any sports events—that is probably one thing we have not done. Most of that kind of stuff is outside the realm, I guess, of public television in terms of rights and the cost in the dollars, so we really have not done any sports events. But depending upon the venue, we will do our own audio production setups or if it is in a large venue we take a house audio feed, so it really just depends on the situation. [Timestamp: 9:15]

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