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Dave

Advent of Live Streaming Video - Roles/Gigs For Sound Mixers?

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Hi All,

 

Just wondering what your thoughts are about the role of audio mixers/sound recordists in the burgeoning area of video "Live Streaming".   I'm beginning to encounter more need for sound people who can deal with audio gathering for multi-cam live-streaming. 

 

There are the higher end pro streaming hardware solutions and camera systems which presumably might be easier for interfacing traditional audio devices into. I am seeing the prosumer solutions such as Mevo, Sling Studio, V-Mix, etc which don't have "pro" audio interfaces but nonetheless would benefit from quality audio. Whichever live streaming hardware or software is used, audio has to be dealt with with - do you have any insight about sound capture for this type of production?

 

I was looking at Sling Studio, for example  : https://www.myslingstudio.com/features

I see that the suggested camera feeds are WiFi wireless capable, whether pro-cameras or iPhones, etc.  Do you see any merit to having audio mixers/recorders that could supply a wireless WiFi feed?

 

As all this video technology moves forward, I'm curious about how you foresee audio moving along with it.

 

Thanks for your input.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

 

 

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I did just such an event today, local and 2 remote sites, one in a very distant country.  The folks doing it wanted to do use fairly simple off the shelf technology, based around the Black Magic Web Presenter box.  What we found was that if the show has real teeth, like a paying audience and high-level/famous/expensive/very time-limited talent then it's still a "show" and full testing, rehearsal, backup etc protocols still apply.   This means pro audio people, with backups and experience, so yes, despite what some manufacturers want customers to believe it still takes pros to put on a pro-level show.  If the internet is involved they need real IT type folks onsite in all locales as well.   I have learned this the hard way.

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I've done a number of streaming shows for hospitals and doctors.  One was a live operation using the minimal invasive robot surgery interface to do a prostrate operation.  As Philip pointed out to do a pro show you need pro crew and gear.  We did it with a fly pack control room and had audio, director, video engineer, and camera.  We also had live interaction with the internet audience via email and phone, and VOIP.  It was like any other show except instead of going out on a satellite link etc., it went to the web.  The streaming potion was handled by an independent company that had a rack full of gear to make sure it went out.  

BB

 

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I've mixed audio for a few live web events, I just supplied a line level audio feed. Otherwise, same as Bernie, the streaming  was handled by an independent company.  

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I worked one that was streamed on facebook live. It was with a famous chef at a restaurant he has in a Detroit suburb. We rehearsed it a few times. Then went live. I utilized my ifbs so the Director (was in a back room) could give the talent cues, there was no one on the other side of the country calling shots like a network news multi cam. It went off pretty smoothly. 

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I just purchased a wireless HDMI streamer myself last week, but that is just for my own personal use for my YouTube channel so I can stream with my Sony PMW-F3 instead of a low quality web cam 

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I have done audio for a bunch of live streams. Theatre performances, live bands, studio based webinars, etc using anything from a couple of lapel mics to a full live mix taking a multichannel split from stage. The client has always supplied the streaming platforms which have ranged from a wirecast PC setup, to dedicated streaming boxes like those by LiveU, and complete end to end platforms like Mediasite. 

IMG_3401.jpg

IMG_3434.jpg

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20 hours ago, Dave said:

I was looking at Sling Studio, for example  : https://www.myslingstudio.com/features

I see that the suggested camera feeds are WiFi wireless capable, whether pro-cameras or iPhones, etc.  Do you see any merit to having audio mixers/recorders that could supply a wireless WiFi feed?

 

The Sling Studio looks clever. But, then...

 

 

I've only worked about a dozen live streaming gigs (though a couple were multiday), but my perception is that the more prosumer and consumer gear at the gig, the less experience the streaming team and producers have. That's not universally true, of course, but it seems like with really-clever prosumer gear, there just ends up being a wide range of problems in addition to the regular live challenges. It's better these days, but there still seems to be a split in knowledge and skills between the "understand audio, video, and live events" people and the "understand encoding and streaming" people. 

 

Like for the Sling Studio, what if there's so much metal and wifi around that you can't get a solid signal to the box? And can you actually plug video and audio into the thing, or is it all wireless? Well that's going to suck. It's probably an OK choice for corporate teams located in different cities (or say, one team in the field another back at HQ) who what to communicate with each other. But for a paid gig, or as kit that I'll bring to a gig I'm hired to produce... I'm not heading that way. And I'm just not comfortable sending the audio via wifi.... maybe I'm a luddite, but there you go.

 

I'm all for standard operating procedure for as much of the gig as possible. The streaming team can do what they want, but it's really nice when they're just dealing with a ready-to-go program stream.

 

So I guess I'd ask myself does the Sling Studio solve more problems and workflow hassles than it might create, and can I/clients/bosses live with the possibly unpredictable problems? 

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It's all good until your WiFI network gets compromised. I apologize in advance for my ranting. 

 

FYI- Did everyyone know there are up to 14 channels of WIFi available from most routers and the majority of routers are default set to channel 1. Change your Wifi channel to an open channel and watch your Netflix truly fly. 

ymo5p.png

 

36 minutes ago, Jim Feeley said:

split in knowledge and skills between the "understand audio, video, and live events" people and the "understand encoding and streaming" people.

+1, In all fairness, I haven't learned to communicate with "live events people".

 

39 minutes ago, Jim Feeley said:

I'm just not comfortable sending the audio via wifi.... maybe I'm a luddite, but there you go.

Your no luddite. Could you try running both for a few gigs? A cable and a Wifi feed? A wireless Wifi network audio feed has to be very reasonably priced these days. 

 

 

 

 

 

SONOS is a good company also. 

 

Maybe contact Plantronics directly in Santa Cruz. They probably already have an enterprise quality solution available. 

Worldwide Corporate Headquarters:
Plantronics, Inc. 
345 Encinal Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Toll-Free: 800-544-4660
Phone: 831-426-5858
Fax: 831-426-6098

12 hours ago, LDstudios said:

I have done audio for a bunch of live streams. Theatre performances, live bands, studio based webinars, etc using anything from a couple of lapel mics to a full live mix taking a multichannel split from stage. The client has always supplied the streaming platforms which have ranged from a wirecast PC setup, to dedicated streaming boxes like those by LiveU, and complete end to end platforms like Mediasite. 

IMG_3401.jpg

IMG_3434.jpg

I love it how he is at work on his phone on the JWSOUND Forum. J/K

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6 hours ago, Dalton Patterson said:

 

 

I love it how he is at work on his phone on the JWSOUND Forum. J/K

 

The one lesson learnt on that gig was broadcasting a placeholder ("show starting at 9pm") for the live stream. I think he is checking that it is live via his phone. The issue it presents on platforms like facebook though, is it still ends up in the 'on-demand' video on facebook. If people want to watch it the next day/month/year, they will have to fast-forward through 10 minutes of "show starting at 9pm". It seemed like a good idea at the time... 

 

7 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

 

The Sling Studio looks clever. But, then...

 

 

I've only worked about a dozen live streaming gigs (though a couple were multiday), but my perception is that the more prosumer and consumer gear at the gig, the less experience the streaming team and producers have. That's not universally true, of course, but it seems like with really-clever prosumer gear, there just ends up being a wide range of problems in addition to the regular live challenges. It's better these days, but there still seems to be a split in knowledge and skills between the "understand audio, video, and live events" people and the "understand encoding and streaming" people. 

 

 

Totally! The Sling Studio looks like a really nifty solution but you would have to work within it's limitations... or bypass them entirely. It puts a scary amount of its functionality into wifi connections - camera links, internet connection, app switching control. Eeeeep! Does it offer any redundancy? It does have a 1/8" input on the back though, so perhaps it might be wise to avoid wifi altogether for audio? Rig the cameras with some transmitters (or even a boom op?), feed the audio back to your recorder/mixer, and provide a feed straight into the Sling Studio, either tethered or via a camera link transmitter? 

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14 hours ago, Dalton Patterson said:

FYI- Did everyyone know there are up to 14 channels of WIFi available from most routers and the majority of routers are default set to channel 1. Change your Wifi channel to an open channel and watch your Netflix truly fly. 

Oh my! Thank you for the tip. I live in an office building downtown with tonnes of Wi-Fi traffic in the air, this is worth trying. 

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In the USA you can use channels 1,6,11. 

 

In Europe you have a bit more spectrum available and you can use 1,5,9,13. 

 

However, I've seen lately that many routers no longer default to channel 1, they choose a channel semi randomly (or listening for

noise). And to make matters worse a lot of people use 40 MHz channels on the 2.4 GHz band, which is a serious problem because 

a single router will take most of the band. Vodafone at least in Spain is doing that. 

 

If you have access to 5 GHz equipment I would really recommend it. There is more bandwidth available, attenuation due to 

distance is bigger and walls attenuate it much more. Moreover, most cheap routers still don't support 5 GHz, so the band is

almost empty. 

 

For example: my network has three access points. From them I see 96 SSIDs (network names) in the last 24 hours on 2.4 GHz, just

four on 5 GHz.

 

There is a caveat with 5 GHz however. Not all channels are equal. Some of them are meant only for indoor installations

and others share spectrum with meteo radars. It means that the access points must listen before starting up the 

radio (up to 10 minutes) and meteo radar interference can be a problem. 

 

And the second problem is, there are "pirate" wireless ISPs all over the world violating regulations, using too much power, etc. Some

even show up on weather radars. So, if using 5 GHz outdoors and especially at a somewhat high point always check wether it works

properly.


This diagram is quite clear.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels

 

DFS means Dynamic Frequency Selection, which implies that equipment must listen on the frequency for a certain time interval (10 minutes is the last I have observed) before activating the 5 GHz radio. It's mainly meant to avoid interference with weather radars. It can be confusing because many people will 

configure the AP/router, start it and be puzzled because the 5 GHz network doesn't appear immediately. 

 

TPC means Trasmit Power Control. It's a measure meant to encourage frequency reuse. Equipment is supposed to lower power on TPC
channels automatically, of course always 

 

Except for those problems (generally less frequent than the 2.4 GHz nightmare) my iPad and iPhone can move 300 Mbps over

the wireless network without much problem.  RF Explorer (I noticed that the brand is already known here) sells a more complete model that can monitor the 5 GHz band. 

 

As for security: Stick to WPA2 with AES-CCMP and disable WPS, WPA and especially WEP. Use a complicated password and you won't really have many reasons to worry. Also, not all wireless equipment is equal (suprise!). 

 

 

Edited by borjam
correct an oversight

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3 hours ago, borjam said:

As for security: Stick to WPA2 with AES-CCMP and disable WPS, WPA and especially WEP. Use a complicated password and you won't really have many reasons to worry. Also, not all wireless equipment is equal (suprise!). 

For security I call my network "CIA", that should scare everyone off! :-P 

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These days live streaming has become a regular part of my work.  A stereo line level mix on a pair of xlr's is all I've ever needed to deliver.  These days I run a Dante based system, as I always find I have sources not near my console.  Whether it is band iso's on the side of stage, or crowd/room mics I find less problems running cat6 cable than analog xlr's.  Often the cable runs are dictated by the venue layout and offer little control wether you get bundled with all the lighting power cables or not.

I would not trust broadcasting via WiFi for anything but reference.  Relying on wifi sounds like a great way to setup and test in an empty venue where everything works great, just to have all your signal blocked by the hundreds of people filling in for the actual show.  Many times I have seen this situation leave people baffled as to why things failed during the show, but worked fine at rehearsal and in their office during testing.

 

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The university where I work does live streams of 2 chapel services per week, plus athletic events and other special fine arts events occasionally.  If I am involved it is usually in an auditorium setting and I am also running sound reinforcement and an audio record mix anyway.  So in those cases I just send the record mix to the webcast people from the video department.  We use analog lines since they are nearly universal.  As we are in an installed situation we don't have lots of temporary lines and noise hasn't been a problem.  Never would think of WiFi for an audio feed.

 

Occasionally if it is a multiple night live fine arts event (e.g. dramatic production with 7 live performances) the camera crew has come to rehearsals to get shots they couldn't get with the audience present, then other shots at an early performance.  They then can have a day or two to edit things together and then stream the edited version "live" during a later performance.  Shh.  Don't tell anyone.

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Like lots of people here, I'm hip to WiFi channels, bands, security, best practices, and interference. It's that last one, interference, that makes me really hesitant to rely on unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum to deliver for something that I'm being paid to deliver. 

 

When doing small FOH stuff (not that often for me), I've used an iPad & WiFi when wandering around to check the mix from a few locations and perhaps tweak a few levels. For me, that's Qu-Pad with an A&H board: https://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/qu-pad/ That's neat and useful, but more than that? Not for me, not yet.

 

As Forest Gump said, "WiFi is like a box of chocolates on a hot day. You never know what you're going to get and sometimes you get a hot melted mess."

 

And as Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All happy streaming gigs are alike; each unhappy gig is unhappy in its own way.”

 

And finally, as Murphy reportedly (actually really according to his son) originally said, "If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." 

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In the case of the Sling Studio you can hard wire a 2 channel audio mix directly into the Sling Studio Hub.

 

If the live streaming production is patterned after a typical live TV broadcast, you will have an A1 doing the sound mixing while an A2 makes, or several A2s make, sure that the A1 has some sound to mix.

 

Same as it ever was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Wandering Ear said:

 

I would not trust broadcasting via WiFi for anything but reference.  Relying on wifi sounds like a great way to setup and test in an empty venue where everything works great, just to have all your signal blocked by the hundreds of people filling in for the actual show.  Many times I have seen this situation leave people baffled as to why things failed during the show, but worked fine at rehearsal and in their office during testing.

 

 

 

I heard a story about a 4G based live-stream going pear shaped. Something like a LiveU allows multiplexing 4G dongles to achieve greater bandwidth, and it also allows mobile phone carrier redundancy (if the two 4G dongles lose the internet on carrier A, it will automatically switch to the two 4G dongles on carrier B)... 

 

...but it doesn't work so great when you jam half a million people into a small section of the CBD for the event you are meant to be live-streaming!

 

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