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Live streaming the 2014 Midwest | Chicago Emmys

Nick Bacon November 05, 2014

News and information about live streaming and video production

This Halloween, Mainstream Media’s costumes featured black ties and snazzy dress shoes. The spooky party we attended was the 2014 Midwest Chicago Emmy’s at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, and we had been asked to produce two live streams: the Backstage/Red Carpet Show and the main Awards Ceremony.

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A week earlier, we received a call from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Midwest Chapter asking for our assistance in streaming their event. While our name, “Mainstream Media”, has always been a bit tongue-in-cheek, we saw this as a great opportunity to work with the some of the more talented broadcast professionals in the region. Furthermore, the project presented some exciting challenges for us:

  • How do we produce two HD live streams simultaneously?
  • How quickly can we capture and post clips from the live streams to the Chicago Emmy’s YouTube channel?

With little time to prepare, we had no choice but to get to work right away. As with all live streams, the first issue we wanted to resolve was on-site bandwidth. Coordinating with the hotel’s Director of Event Technologies, we secured a 100Mbps up/down broadband connection. Occasionally it happens that venues over-promise the speed of their connection, underestimating the amount of bandwidth it requires to stream in full HD. So imagine our pleasant surprise when we set up our computers and got this readout from speedtest.net:

Our reaction:

The next step was figuring out which platforms to use for our streams. We knew the goal was to ultimately get everything to YouTube, but because the Awards Ceremony was going to include some performances that might ping YouTube’s copyright infringement algorithms, we had to come up with multiple solutions.

For the Awards Ceremony stream (generously fed to us as a complete line cut from Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WYCC-TV), we opted to go with our tried-and-true white-labeled streaming partner DaCast. (DaCast, by the way, has recently made some updates to their API that we’re quite fond of. Way to go, DaCast!)

 

We used YouTube for the Backstage/Red Carpet stream, as it would not contain any copyrighted material (so we hoped). The streams were then embedded in the Chicago Emmy’s website (which you can see here).

Having decided on our platforms, we went onto the next issue: how on earth do we pull, edit, and upload clips in real-time to the Chicago Emmy YouTube Channel? Here’s where we learned something new: YouTube’s live streaming platform has a built-in feature allowing you to publish highlights from your event as you stream! Here’s a video showing how to do so:

For the Awards Ceremony stream coming from DaCast, we had to add a couple extra steps. We wanted to allow for review of copyrighted material prior to posting, and we also had to account for the fact that our stream was coming from a different room than where our editors were posted.

To accommodate, we created a WireCast project file that would record clip segments to a DropBox folder shared between our streaming computer and our editing laptop. With the two computers synced via DropBox, our editor received the clips almost instantaneously and he was able to quickly review, edit, and post to YouTube.

Having resolved the technical challenges of the project, we were free to focus on producing a great event. Our field producers did an amazing job of keeping our hosts busy with great interviews. Our hosts for the evening – Tammie Souza, Stephanie Mansour, and Mike Beier – kept our backstage stream engaging and entertaining over the course of the night – 6 hours in total! And thanks to WYCC-TV, we never had to worry about the quality of the clips coming from the Awards Ceremony.

Over the course of the night, we posted 119 event highlights to the Chicago | Midwest Emmy YouTube channel. Here are some of our favorites:

 

A special thanks to our remarkable crew for an amazing night. Comment on your position and experiences below!

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About Nick Bacon

Nick Bacon is co-founder and managing director of Mainstream Media, LLC. You'll find him at the intersection of content and technology.