Ok, first of all I need to come up with a better name than that.
Some work recently has given me the chance to play around with higher level AV gear and in typical fashion I kinda got a bit carried away. A couple of years ago, comrade Danny Choo convinced me to give live streaming a shot, Ustream had just published their iPhone app and I had great fun running around Akihabara streaming micro tours.
I’ll be honest. Personally I watch very little on Ustream, and I NEVER watch my own stuff. The jarring motion when I move the iPhone around makes me carsick in about three seconds. But I do see a strong value there if things are done well, and simply put, I love the gadgets.
In the world of content, the combination of real time and video is the tip of the sword, and combining valuable content, modern technology, and logistical planning can create a new level of communication never before seen. Yeah, it’s basically cable access tv spliced onto the Internet, but think about it. Cable access tv spliced to the Internet. The potential to waste time in vain pursuits shared equally with the power to topple governments.
But I digress. What I am really talking about is the opportunity for Steve to play with gear. And Steve likey the toys.
The studio I’ve set up is man-portable, folding up into a few large equipment boxes. Not fun to trudge around town with, but in a pinch a single person should be able to transport all the gear in one trip to set up pretty much anywhere.
Based around a Roland VR-5 video mixing board, up to three live video feeds can be mixed with pre-recorded media and computer output and output via built in USB interface to a computer. I’ve got a Mac mini set up as a media server/titleing machine and a MacBook air with Ustream Pro as the primary uplink computer. Of course it can just as easily output to Twitcasting, Livestream, or Vidcaster. There is also a Behringer Xenyx 1002FX audio mixer to augment the VR-5′s more basic sound mixing capabilities, and a Shure SM48 dynamic microphone, as well as an old classic iPod for audio. Finally I threw in a cheapie crapgadget 10 inch display that can serve as a display for the Mac mini, and output or preview monitor for the VR-5.
The end result of all of this is a setup that could theoretically be handled through the Ustream Pro software interface, but in practice would overload a server class computer in seconds. And what can I say, I really, really like having lots of buttons and dials to work with rather than fiddling with setup menus and drop down options.
Serving as cameras I have my aging Sony HDR-CX520 camcorder and my new wireless cambot. If I continue down this path of destruction I’ll likely have to augment this and am stealing glances at the new Sony NEX-VG20 as a possible future addition.
Combined, this setup allows me to effectively run a small live TV production studio. Better yet, I can move it around and set the whole thing up pretty much anywhere (with an Internet connection) in about an hour (a bit slow due to my phobia of wires). I’ll be running the first production test of this full setup at the Belgian Beer Weekend at Roppongi Hills this coming weekend if anyone wants to check it out in person, and hope to be able to push the power of the studio in some other projects in development. Of course if anyone is interested in hiring my studio to stream an event , i’d love the help to offset the cost of the equipment. As they say, no job too small, no fee too big!
Of course as with all of my creations the studio is a work in progress and I’ll be enhancing and tweaking along the way. Always looking for suggestions on improving the setup or new gear recommendations so if you have any thoughts, please drop a line in the comments.