A Webcast is not much different than a broadcast of your favorite weekly sitcom or sporting event. The main difference is how the broadcast is sent out into the world. Verge relies on the Internet to deliver live or pre-recorded video and audio to your home computer.
A Simple Answer – a Webcast broadcasts a live event using live streaming video over the Internet. It multiplies that venue location into your own environment and into many other Host locations. Thus a simultaneous event occurs in both the origin venue and in satellite locations – your group, church, home or laptop!
Streaming video over the web has come a long way in recent years. What was once an unreliable connection that provided animated pictures and AM radio quality audio, is now able to deliver full-screen HD video and 5.1 surround sound audio. Many consumers use streaming video in place of their cable providers and companies like Netflix and Blockbuster have modified their products to rely completely on video delivery over the web. Comcast currently delivers all of their On Demand content via streaming video.
It can be a technical challenge for some, however, to acquire a reliable broadcast over the web. This document will explain how you can best prepare yourself for the Webcast event.
What Do I Need to Host a Webcast?
In order to Webcast you need to make sure you have the following:
Your Internet connection should be one of the following:
– DSL – service is faster than dial up and runs through your phone line
– Broadband or Cable Modem – this a dedicated line from your cable service
What is the minimum connection speed that you recommend?
We recommend that the minimum connection be 700kbps (1MB for good quality; 2.5mbps for best quality) download speed. You may test your connection’s speed by going to http://www.speedtest.net.
If your download speed is less than the suggested minimum, then you have some options. They are as follows:
1) Connect at the lowest speed we broadcast with (500k) and understand that the quality of the stream may be a bit less than you’re used to;
2) Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and request a faster connection. In some cases, your current provider may offer higher rates of speed for the same rate you are already paying.
These are the suggested requirements for your PC or Mac for a successful webcast:
An Internet Browser
We recommend a “neutral” browser, or one that doesn’t depend on the operating system of your computer. These tend to use less on-board resources and result in a higher quality video. Therefore, we recommend using Firefox or Chrome in both PC and Mac environments. Internet Explorer, Safari, and Mozilla are all examples of software that allow you to search the Internet (browsers). Please be sure you update your browsers before the event to get the most recent versions.
Updated Video Software
Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are the two formats of software on your computer that allow you to watch videos (media delivery). Both are available to download for free on the Webcast Test page.
Microsoft Silverlight – Download Silverlight here.
The system requirements for Microsoft Silverlight and associated technologies are listed below.
Windows 7,Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 2
IntelÂ® PentiumÂ® III 450MHz or faster processor (or equivalent)
128MB of RAM
Operating System: Apple Mac OS X 10.4.11+ (Intel-based) or above
System Requirements for Flash installation: Most systems (98%) are pre-installed with Adobe Flash Player, but in case you’re one of the 2%, here are the system requirements as listed below.
Minimum hardware requirements for SD and HD video playback: The following minimum hardware configurations are recommended for an optimal playback experience:
852×480 (480p), â€¨24â€“30 fps
2.33GHz Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 2800+, or faster processor128MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
1.6GHz Intel Atom or faster processor1GB of RAMWindows 7 or Windows Vista and supported GPU/media accelerator (NVIDIA ION, Broadcom Crystal HD Media Accelerator, Intel GMA 500)
1.33GHz Intel Core Duo or faster processor256MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
2.33GHz Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 2800+, or faster processor512MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
1280×720 (720p), â€¨24â€“30 fps
3GHz Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 3400+, or faster processor128MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
1.6GHz Intel Atom or faster processor1GB of RAMWindows 7 or Windows Vista and supported GPU/media accelerator (NVIDIA ION, Broadcom Crystal HD Media Accelerator)
1.83GHz Intel Core Duo or faster processor256MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
3GHz Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon 64 3400+, or faster processor512MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
1920×1080 (1080p), â€¨24â€“30 fps
1.8GHz Intel Core Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+, or faster processor128MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
1.6GHz Intel Atom or faster processor1GB of RAMWindows 7 or Windows Vista and supported GPU/media accelerator (NVIDIA ION)
2.66GHz Intel Core Duo or faster processor512MB of RAM128MB of graphics memory
1.8GHz Intel Core Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+, or faster processor512MB of RAM64MB of graphics memory
CP2425U requirements may be much lower using H.264 hardware video acceleration on supported systems. Supported GPUs or media accelerators listed in the section above can significantly decrease processor requirements for optimal viewing of HD video.
Windows systems using Broadcom or Intel GMA 500 graphics should use a Windows Aero theme for optimal playback performance.
What ports do I need to open on my network to watch the broadcast?
Unless you have intentionally blocked your ports using your firewall software, you most likely already have them available. However, if you have disabled ports on your firewall, you will need to have the following opened up in order to watch the live stream: Port 80, Port 1935; both for HTML and Flash traffic.
These are the basic pieces you need to view a Webcast from Verge on your computer. If you have these capabilities in your home or church you will be able to view any webcast successfully.
How Do I Webcast from my Church?
Assuming you have all of the Requirements listed previously, the final components include a projector and projection screen. Most likely you have a computer in your main auditorium that is used for PowerPoint or for worship lyrics. If you are able to connect this computer to the Internet then your congregation will have the ability to view the webcast.
The Live Feed will be delivered via the Verge livestream page. On Feb. 28th, you will receive an email with a special link to this website. The stream will be on this page.
Can I use my desk computer in the Church Office to test the streams?
We would recommend that you test the streams with the actual computer you will be using for the Webcast, in the actual room that you’ll be using; using the Internet connection you will be using; and with the projector or IMAG delivery mechanisms that you will be using DURING THE ACTUAL WEBCAST.
It doesn’t do you much good to test your systems in one environment – have success – and then move to the location that you will actually be using for the event later. There are many moving pieces in a Webcast that can affect your connection speed, latency (lag in the stream), audio delivery, and even resolution in your displays. Please use the Live Test streams to create the same environment that you’ll be using for the Webcast event.
Can I “Save” my live streaming video for later use?
Live events are streamed, therefore, cannot be saved as a file. However, we offer our live streams in the Silverlight format so that you can use the player as a DVR. The live content can be paused as well as reviewed in case you have missed something. This content is not saved on your hard drive locally, but instead is delivered from a cached version in the “Cloud”.
Finally, saving the live Webcast content would be against our requirements and violate copyright laws.
I know my Church has a firewall on the LAN. What should I prepare for in navigating the Firewall software?
Check with your Church’s Internet Technologies (IT) Professional and communicate with them regarding what ports and/or type of content that is currently being blocked. The live streaming video is delivered over port 1935, port 443 and port 80 (RTMP and HTTP traffic should be enabled).
Our Support Chat also uses port 80 for the Chat room. In case you have any issues with the Chat, simply close that window and re-launch the Chat application.
I’m in MST, PST and/or Hawaii/Alaska. How do I participate in real-time?
Well, real-time might be a super long night for those of you in a different part of the world than Austin, Texas! We offer the live Webcast stream in Silverlight which gives you the functionality to pause the stream, rewind it and/or Fast Forward as necessary in your Host location. This allows you promote the events’ starting time at the same time as the actual event, but start it based on your time zone needs.
Can I share this event on Facebook or Twitter?
We encourage you to share quotes and experiences of the Webcast with your social networks. Based on your event, you may even include the #Verge12 hash-tag and an event-specific-URL to share details.
How Do I Webcast from my Home?
Assuming you have all of the previously recommended requirements, the final components include your TV or computer monitor. Most likely you have a computer in your home office. If you are able to connect this computer to your television, we have some helpful hints.
How do I connect my HDTV to the stream?
Streaming to your television is a good practice for both individuals and small groups due to their smaller environments.
Here is how you accomplish this.
1) Internet: Connect your laptop/computer to the Internet via a CAT-5 cable;
2) Video Connection: Plug a 15-pin VGA cable (commonly used to connect a computer tower/laptop to an external monitor) into your computer/laptop and then into your HDTV at the PC connection;
3) Audio Connection: Using a mini-audio cable, connect the audio out/headphones jack from your computer into the Audio In of your HDTV. Based on your computers settings, you may have to click on the Function 5 (F5) to see the image from your computer on your TV.
4) Adjust Your Settings: Use your manufacturer’s settings to navigate to the correct source for both your TV and your computer. You may need to resolve the resolution sent from your computer to the TV by going into the Display Settings (Mac & PC) and adjust the resolution to match the best quality of your desktop image.
5) Navigate to Live Stream: Once you have completed these steps, simply open a browser (Chrome or Firefox recommended), navigate to the Live Stream page within the Host Event Site, and then click on the Full Screen button on the live streaming player. The TV will now be your new monitor for the event and display the broadcast in full-screen mode.
Depending on the type of computer/laptop you are using, there are many variables to this recommended setup, including use of HDMI connections, S-Video as well as wireless connections. Any of these connections should work to transfer the display from your computer to an HDTV.
Note: just because your TV is in HD, does not mean the stream will be. HD live streams will be broadcast in HD resolution (720×400) and bit-rate (2.5mbps).
Can I run Chat and the Live stream on the same computer?
Yes and No. If you have a computer that has enough processing horsepower, then yes, it is possible. However, we recommend connecting to your live streams on a separate computer from the one you are using for Chat during the event.
This will give your live stream the maximum resources available during the live event and reduce the risk of buffering and/or freezing due to low processor availability.
If the system is so reliable, then why am I having buffering (freezing, stopping, skipping) issues with my stream delivery?
Great question. The CDN is the largest component in delivering high quality, uninterrupted streams to you, but it is not the only delivery component in the puzzle. The World Wide Web is called a â€œwebâ€ for a reason. A very complex delivery system is in place to get your streams down to your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) and in fact, they are part of that complex web of delivery. You may know your ISP as Comcast, AT&T, Qwest or one of hundreds of ISP’s that are available in each locality.
Once the live stream reaches your ISP’s area network it is delivered to you over your own Local Area Network (LAN) usually within the walls of your church, building or home. Here is where the majority of the delivery mishaps occur when live streaming video is interrupted. Firewalls, routers and shared access to the network will all have bearing into your connectivity reliability.
I am buffering/freezing in my video. What do I do?
Streaming live content in Flash requires a constant connection. If the player connected you at a higher bit-rate than you your connection can maintain, you will simply need to go to the “MENU” button on the player; choose the “QUALITY” option and choose a lower bit-rate than what you are currently connected at.
Buffering in Silverlight is a connectivity issue as well but refers to a dynamic connection instead of a constant connection. If you’re experiencing this, you will need to close the player and re-launch it.
My Audio or Video is freezing and/or stuttering in the middle of the broadcast. How can I fix it?
First, check your computer to ensure that no other programs are running in the background. Click on CTRL (button), ALT (button) and DELETE (button) simultaneously in order to stop the other software processes.
Next, check your anti-virus application and confirm it is not running in the background. If it is possible to disable it, do so and then try to connect to the stream again.
Try to minimize the traffic on your network. If there are others on the network, confirm that they are not also streaming or downloading large files. Streaming radio and video commonly cause a fluctuation in available bandwidth on a local network.
If you have a wireless network, consider disabling it for the event as well. Smart-phones often will connect to an unsecured network as soon as they are in proximity to that network, which will cut down on your available bandwidth as well.
Why does my video jitter and freeze?
You may have a slower Internet connection from when the event started due to network congestion in your area. If you have a DSL connection, it is common for the stream to initially start off at a higher bit-rate than what the connection throttles down to. Simply choose the Menu button; choose the Quality button and choose a lower bit-rate than what you are currently connected to.
I am getting a blank screen on the Live webcast page. What do I do?
This is due to the live video stream being blocked in some fashion at your location. This can be in a firewall, a router, or on your PC within a security application such as McAfee, Norton, Avast, etc.
THIS IS VERY COMMON IN A CORPORATE WORSHIP ENVIRONMENT; please check with your IT department in advance.