Ian Lurie // Sep 12 2007
A few weeks ago I streamed Conversations With the Candidates. Two years ago a project like that would’ve cost my client a small fortune to encode, stream and then deliver the video to a large audience.
This time? The price of my plane ticket, plus my time in Orlando.
The difference is a service called uStream.tv. With it, you can quickly create your own shows, then stream them, live and/or record them for later playback. This tutorial walks you through what I did, the tools I used, etc..:
I used two tools to create the show: CamTwist, to combine graphics with the video ‘on the fly’ and send the combination to uStream, plus Adobe FireWorks to create the graphics.
If you’re on the PC, CamTwist won’t work, but WebCam Max will. CamTwist is free. WebCam Max costs $29.95, but is well worth it. Plus their logo is great.
Part 1: The Foundation
In my experience, three things will make or break your show:
You can experiment to find the best configuration. As you’ll see below, you have a lot of control over your stream settings, so you can deliver something marginally viewable under almost any conditions.
Part 2: Prep Work
[Note: If this part makes no sense, just skip it. You don't have to create a graphic. It's just a nice touch. You can use many of CamTwist's other effects without any graphics at all. For example, the 'Text' effect will let you superimpose text without creating any graphics.]
You want the show to look professional. I’d decided in advance that I wanted to have a graphic superimposed over the video, news-style, like this:
To do that, I needed to first create the graphic. I used Adobe Fireworks. You can use Photoshop, or Paintshop Pro, or whatever you prefer. I used my client’s logo, plus a high-contrast color that would stand out against the video, over a transparent background. The transparency will let the video show through when you superimpose it. I added a drop shadow so the graphic would appear to float over the video:
I saved that as a .PNG graphic for later. You can use either PNG or GIF format – both support transparency. JPG won’t work.
Part 3: Set Up The Show
Before showtime, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the graphics and the video all set up the way you want them. I’m going to use CamTwist in my example:
Part 4: Create the Show on uStream
This part’s easy – uStream walks you through the process.
Part 5: Action!
Ready? Click ‘Go Live’.
That’s it – you’re now broadcasting.
Part 6: Tweaking Things
Streaming is a balancing act: The higher-quality your video, the more outgoing bandwidth it requires at your end, and the more incoming bandwidth it requires from your audience.
You may need to lower the sound or audio quality to compensate for bandwidth issues. Or, you may be able to increase quality. Here’s how you do it:
It takes some practice, and I found that I had to raise and lower quality as my network got busier or quieter. If you have a chat room running as part of your show, you can just ask your audience. They’ll give you great feedback as to which settings work best. This isn’t TV – everyone works together, and your audience appreciates it when you ask.
Part 7: Customizing
You can use uStream’s site to deliver the video. You can also cut-and-paste the embedding code into your own site. Cut and paste the ‘Embed’ code and you’ll see the uStream show on your site. Cut-and-paste the ‘Embed Chat’ and you’ll get the chat room, too.
If you’re not sure, here’s one strong argument: The IAMAW saw a 100% increase in incoming links from major blog search engines Technorati and Bloglines when they ran their show:
Lots of Possibilities
uStream is very, very easy. Try it! If you’ve got any questions, post ‘em in the comments area, below.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More