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live stream questions for small school system

    Question

  • Hello;

    I also asked this question in the IIS Media forum but got no answer....

    I am getting "back" into live streaming and would appreciate some advice as to current software and methods. 

    I am extremely familiar with using WME9 to live stream to WMS2003, and pull the stream into a WMP via an URL (FYI - 2009 is when I last got out of streaming).

    I now have a small school project with about 50 users and a robust local network looking to stream a daily meeting into the classrooms.  I have tested the above described configuration with my "old" technology and it works well.  I also intended on creating a Scheduled Task that pops up the player at 8AM daily, looking to the static server and publishing point, as the server looks at the live WME9 encoder and its port.  

    My test stream profile was about 1200Kbs in SD (640x480).  There were no network issues on the same subnet.

    What I would like to know is what is the easiest and simplest way to do this live streaming as I have described in "today's" world, and using what particular software for the server and encoder? 

    Thank you for your time...

    Tuesday, March 04, 2014 5:30 PM

All replies

  • I don't know what will be recommended to you by the MVPs but it sounds to me like you just need your webcam or source stream to push your feed to IIS Media Services. When it isn't pushing, a "test pattern" can be shown. The test pattern could even be an image that shows "Live stream begins at 8 AM".

    On the client side, why not just use task scheduler to open a Windows Media Player at 8 AM? Not sure why you would need to write anything unless you are planning on incorporating a lot more functionality other than just the stream.

    Now, this will be unidirectional. They would still need to call in via telephone to participate in the meeting.

    If you want bi-directional then you want to use Lync or some such conferencing software. 

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:25 PM
  • thanks - thats pretty much what I envisioned.

    I have heard nothing from MS and have called, forum'ed etc. till I am blue....its a wonder they make any money or friends! (and I have been loyal).  Enough rant -

    What I want to really know is whether to use server 2008 media server or 2012 (with IIS extensions) and whether to use WME9 or Expression.

    My vendor tells me I can buy an academic license for 2012 and downgrade it to 2008.  2012 looked like a lot more trouble but I havent used it media serving yet, hence my first question.

    I dont want to overkill the project but it ticks me off that MS is too busy to even call me back (which their licensing dept said they would).

    Thanks again for your input which I agree with (unidirectional & push).

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:37 PM
  • No problem. Glad to help. Are you using a webcam as the source or do you want to use stand-alone camera(s)? 

    I would always recommend suffering through the pain of adopting the current / newer server and media services versions, especially at the beginning of a project, because you are going to have to upgrade sooner or later. Plus, you get to learn something new that should be very valuable.

    I think you will find the newer stuff, in some ways, is not much different than the older versions. However, the Windows 8-ish look and feel of Server 2012 takes a little getting used to. (Just remember to push the Windows key on your keyboard early and often, as well as pinning everything to the taskbar, and you'll be fine ;) Also, the IIS 8 interface takes some time getting used to but it makes configuring a website pretty simple. 

    Expression encoder is pretty expensive but if you can get it at an Academic price then it is well worth it, largely because there are .you will require a PC to do webcam encoding and it does a great job with SmoothStreaming and H.264. Not sure WME9 supports HD (which you will definitely want).

    If you get a stand alone camera that streams in HTTP using the ASF container format, you should be able to point that directly at IIS with the Streaming Media Services and be good to go. A nice use of this is that anyone can literally power on the camera and instantly start the conference without your assistance. (Think substitutes, administrators, conference rooms, sporting events, etc.)

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:24 PM
  • Very interesting..............

    I guess your right about adopting new tech...gotta do it sooner or later.

    Does WME9 work with server 2012 with IIS?

    And to my knowledge, Expression Encoder is now free unless you want the mp4 version.

    My scenario is peculiar - school with limited funds, no coax, no TVs and a slow LAN.  There are 2 data drops in each of 30 rooms; one goes to a teacher's PC which is connected to a smart board by VGA.  

    So bandwidth is an issue.  I planned to encode at about a Meg, so thats 30-50 Mbps of network traffic.  I tested it with my WME9 and media server 2003 - perfect.  

    One question I have is - is smooth streaming of advantage in my scenario?  Plus what about how that compares to multi bit rate (again in my scenario)?

    I am buying them VMix and building a switching & encoder PC.  Expansion can go however they want/can afford, including SD or HD.  They can even start a course or club to do "broadcasting"  if they wish...many angles there beyond morning announcements.

    Thanks!.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:38 PM
  • The free one doesn't do H.264 so, essentially, no HD. No MP4 or SmoothStreaming containers.

    SmoothStreaming is adaptive. If it senses that the bandwidth is low or the PC cannot decode fast enough, it will drop down on the fly to something leaner. This is the technology that powers Netflix. If you are familiar with how that works, it will give you HD video if your Internet connection can handle it. If your connection degrades during the show, it will back off and you will notice a drop in video quality. When the connection quality returns, it will go back up in quality. Pretty slick. It might help you if you have a saturated LAN. 

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/expression/en-US/3eabf903-b49f-4f92-b508-f28a795d6c90/microsoft-expression-encoder-4-faq

    That VMix looks very interesting. We are trying to do something similar where I work using AT&T's video conferencing software and it is terrible. Only allows 4 simultaneous users, if you can believe it. So, this VMix may do what we want. Thanks for that!

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:10 PM
  • VMix is solid!  I even use it as a front end with Polycom RealPresence Desktop, which is a great teleconference product.  Vmix will be at NAB.

    VMix is the switcher, recorder, streamer, graphics package...

    Next in the food chain is Livestream, then Newtek (there are others too).  

    I non-technically understand smooth streaming.  How does variable bit rate compare?  I though VBR also managed quality vs. bandwidth...

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:24 PM
  • That's a great list of products. Sounds like I'll have something good to watch on YouTube tonight.

    VBR for encoding is something that happens pre-transmission, obviously. It essentially looks at the amount of detail and change from one frame to another and applies more or less lossy compression to the output. This is in contrast to a constant bit rate which will apply the same level of compression regardless of what's in the frame and the frames that preceded it.

    Oh, and regarding VMix, I hope you wouldn't mind answering a few questions.

    I take it that VMix outputs a singular stream (compiled from whatever elements you feed it) and sends that to IIS for rebroadcast/multicast streaming, yes? How does that interface with Polycom? I have a lady in HR who, right now, shares her desktop and tries to play a training video to people that are watching. Of course, the performance is terrible because sharing a desktop while a video is playing (embedded inside of PowerPoint) is laggy and out of sync. But people are on conference call with her and when they ask a question, she wants to pause the video for everyone watching, answer the question or show a slide, and then resume. I would like to find her a solution for that.

    Thanks!

    • Edited by Golfarama Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:38 AM added a question
    Thursday, March 13, 2014 1:22 AM
  • oh yes - I get it now on the VBR.

    VMix outputs a switch (on an output card like BM) plus a recording feed (to a drive or to software like WME) plus a streaming feed (Adobe flash), if you want.  I have done this and it works fine for my purposes.

    You can download a fully functional 60 day test of their software! Put it on an i7 box with any webcam or ingest card (BM for example) and play.  Its fast and intuitive and cheap.  I like the fact that its a Build Your OWN!  I usually use VMix and feed WME9 as an external recording feed....

    Also, Polycom RPD has a great built in desktop share!  I believe its free point to point, otherwise its about $75.  Use a service like Bluejeans if you need a multi user bridge.  

    Ask away and I can tell you my experience ---- streamcasters.com


    • Edited by Hank Lam Thursday, March 13, 2014 5:13 AM
    Thursday, March 13, 2014 5:12 AM
  • We have had great success with something similar using IMS Webcaster, are you familiar with it?
    Friday, March 14, 2014 5:00 PM
  • I'll check that out for other situations ... sort of reminds me of the Omnovia.com solution.

    I like VMix because its a build your own solution...an issue I had with Newtek was the proprietary nature of their system.  If things go bad, I like having a spare box ready to take cards and go. (and having multiple systems).  I figure its about a $4K entry with no down side and allows expansion...

    Please recall my original streaming need was a LAN serve solution.

    Thanks

    Friday, March 14, 2014 5:13 PM