100 TPC Tech Manual Page 3 – Webcasting Your Event

Introduction | Chronicling Your Event | Webcasting Your Event | Recording Your Event | Preserving Your Archive

Part III: Webcasting Your Event

Webcasting is the process of broadcasting an event live on the Internet. This is now a very popular practice, and there are a wide variety of sites, programs, and methods to do so. We’ll be focusing on a three easy webcasting methods.

When webcasting events, be sure that you are recording them. Webcasting is often disposable, and webcasting sites and softwares are sometimes geared toward disposability. It is vital that your event is recorded properly, that it might be archived by LOCKSS.

You’ll want to practice these techniques well in advance of the reading.


Webcasting from a smartphone

If you have unlimited data service on your smartphone, this is an easy and free method of webcasting your event, which requires no technical knowledge on the part of your volunteer. The volunteer also has freedom of movement. The quality is dreadful, though often no worse than a webcam. It’s for those who want to broadcast live, but do not want to invest in a Firewire camera (described below).

For this method, I recommend the Bambuser webcasting service, as it is reliable and easy to use.

  1. Using your computer, go to http://www.bambuser.com/ and create an account with a user name and password.
  2. Using your smartphone’s web browser, go to http://m.bambuser.com/
  3. Click “Download the App.” Bambuser will now guess as to what sort of smartphone you own; if it guessed incorrectly, you’ll have to select the correct phone.
  4. Use your phone’s interface to install the Bambuser app.
  5. Log in using the user name and password you set on your computer. The phone’s camera will activate immediately.
  6. Click the gear icon .
  7. Set all four options: “High quality video,” “High quality audio,” “Save unsent data,” and “Save on Server” to ON. Click “Done.”
  8. Click the red button to begin recording. Record your event.

Now skip down to Saving your webcast.


Webcasting from a built-in webcam on a laptop

Although this method is very easy, it combines low quality with low portability, and is not recommended. It’s the appropriate method if you do not have a smartphone or home video camera, and do not have the budget to acquire them before the event. In short, it beats nothing.

Once again, we’ll be using the Bambuser webcasting service, as it is reliable and easy to use.

  1. Go to http://www.bambuser.com/
  2. Sign in, either using your Facebook account or with a new user name and password.
  3. Click “Go live with your cam” on the right-hand side.
  4. Click “Allow” to allow Bambuser to use your webcam.
  5. Be sure that “Save on Server” is set to YES.
  6. Click the “Settings” tab in the upper-right. Slide the frame rate to 25fps and the quality to Perfect.
  7. Press the red button in the center-bottom to begin recording. Record your event.


Saving your webcast

If properly configured, Bambuser will save your webcast as an .flv file. FLV stands for Flash Video. It is a video format designed to be used in Adobe Flash Player. That makes it very convenient for viewing on Web pages. It is not a high-quality format, and it is not a format that most home computers are prepared to deal with as a normal file—FLV files are normally embedded into complex web pages, not simply “watched” by the casual user. The .flv format can be uploaded directly to YouTube, but it cannot be uploaded directly to Vimeo. So you’ll want to make a copy of your event in another format, such as the more common .avi (Audio Video Interleave), which can be uploaded to Vimeo and read by most computers. Alternatively and/or additionally, you can make a .mov (QuickTime) version of your .flv file, which can be read on almost any recent computer or smartphone, but the loss of quality is likely to be substantial.

To convert your .flv file to another format, we’ll be using Mobile Media Converter, which we discussed in our previous segment. Mobile Media Converter is a free, easy-to-use program available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. Go to http://www.bambuser.com/dashboard. Your event will be here, in a list of broadcasts.
  2. Click “Download (.flv format)” next to your broadcast. This will save a low-quality recording of your event, with mono audio, to your hard drive. It’ll be in the .flv format.
  3. Download Mobile Media Converter at http://www.miksoft.net/mobileMediaConverterDown.htm. This page is cluttered with ads, so be sure that you’re downloading Mobile Media Converter for your system, not following a link to some commercial program.
  4. Run the program.
  5. Drag your files into the program’s main window.
  6. Select .AVI (for higher quality) or QuickTime video (for broader compatibility) in the “Conversion to…” box. The program will generate a new file, an .avi or .mov version of your existing video file.

Your video is now ready for uploading to YouTube and/or Vimeo, and archival via LOCKSS. If this is your only method of videographing your event, you can skip to the last segment of this document, “Preserving your archives.

Webcasting as a home movie (camera-based webcasting)

For most poetry groups, who are working with a budget, this is a flexible method that can potentially offer high-quality webcasting and recordings. Although this method takes time to learn (and should be practiced before the events), current home computer and camera technology allows for a wide variety of near-professional presentations that viewers are likely to appreciate and enjoy.

Webcasting and simultaneously recording as a home movie will require:

  1. A Digital Video videocamera with an IEEE 1324 interface. The IEEE 1324 Interface, which is known by the brand names of Firewire, i.LINK, and Lynx, is a high-speed camera-computer connection that will allow your computer and camera to exchange information at sufficient speed to produce a high-quality broadcast. Firewire is an old standard, and many cameras now use the more flexible USB standard. But the USB standard is not fast enough to effectively use a camcorder for webcasting. There are many workarounds to this, but we cannot recommend them. Some involve additional equipment, some involve software from sketchy manufacturers, and we have not found any to be particularly effective. You’d be better off using a webcam or a smartphone for your webcasting than a USB camcorder. (Note that not even the workarounds can enable you to use a Flip camera as a webcam, as Flip cameras are not true Digital Video.)
  2. A Firewire-compatible computer. Many Mac laptops are Firewire-compatible.

    Windows laptops usually aren’t, but they often come with an ExpressCard slot, which allow expansion cards to be plugged directly into the laptop.

    If you have a laptop with an ExpressCard slot, you can easily find a Firewire ExpressCard for under 25USD on-line.

  3. If you have a Mac or Windows 7, you won’t need any additional software—Bambuser should recognize your Firewire setup as if it was a webcam. If you have Windows Vista or XP, you will probably need DVdriver, a 20USD piece of software that tricks Windows into thinking your DV camera is a webcam. You can download it at http://www.trackercam.com/TCamWeb/dvdriver.htm

Firewire cameras tend to be a bit more than USB cameras, so this setup is a little more expensive than the setup we recommend in our next segment, “Recording your event.” It is not particularly difficult, though—a laptop and a camera hooked together don’t require much more maintenance than just a camera or just a laptop, and less than both a camera and a smartphone. Of course you will want to purchase your equipment well before the day of the event, especially the ExpressCard—ExpressCards typically cost far more in stores than on-line, so you’ll do better if you’re prepared to wait on a shipment. And the variety of cameras prevent us from offering any real advice on hooking your individual camera into your laptop, so you’ll need time to harass your local tech store as necessary.

Once you’ve got your Firewire camera hooked into your Firewire-capable laptop, begin webcasting by:

  1. Go to http://www.bambuser.com
  2. Sign in, either using your Facebook account or with a new user name and password.
  3. Click “Go live with your cam” on the right-hand side.
  4. Click “Allow” to allow Bambuser to use your camera.
  5. In the lower-left, click on the camera icon to switch cameras. Pick your Firewire camcorder, rather than any webcam you might have.
  6. In the lower-left, click on the microphone icon and repeat the process.
  7. Click the “Settings” tab in the upper-right. Slide the frame rate to 25fps and the quality to Perfect.
  8. As a matter of insurance, you might want to check that the option “Save on server” in the lower-middle is set to “yes.” This will save a low-quality .flv file onto the Bambuser server (see “Saving your webcast,” above). The point, though, is to record the event into your camera.
  9. Begin recording on your camera. Remember to change memory cards over the course of the event, as necessary.
  10. In Bambuser, press the red button in the center-bottom to begin webcasting.

That’s it! If you’ve now got your recording as well as your webcast, you can skip to the last segment of this document, “Preserving your records.” If you’d like to use a different camera for recording your event, go to the next segment.