• United States

Creating a live broadcast

Sep 11, 20033 mins
Data Center

Got a chance to do a little “live” Webcasting yesterday in an experiment to get an AM radio signal deeper into our metal-enclosed office. The idea was to connect a radio (located near a window) to a PC running Helix Producer Basic to capture the audio. (I ran a wire from the headphone jack on the radio to the microphone input on the PC.) The actual capture and encode of the audio was pretty simple. Serving the content was a little more difficult.

Even though we use a service provider for our on-demand streaming and do have the capability to do “live” streaming with them as well, I figured I might as well get some hands on experience with the server technology since I write about it. I’ve got a Windows 2000 desktop with some decent horse power in my cube that I use for most of my audio/video production tasks. I downloaded Helix Universal Server – Basic (the free version with a one-year license and limited to 1M bit/sec of total throughput), installed and configured in little time. (I went with most of the defaults since the server sits behind our firewall and I don’t ever plan on giving anyone from the outside world access to it.) Even connecting from the encoder to the server was pretty easy. According the encoder, I was “broadcasting.”

The biggest problem came trying to actually connect to the stream from another machine. In producer, I used a unique filename for the stream and according to my first read of the directions I should have been able to connect to “rtsp://[ip address]/stream.rm” using RealOne player and bingo. But no, it could never find the file. I tried a number of variations, all based on recommendations from the server documentation. Finally, in the Producer manual, I found an example of how to setup a “live” broadcast of content from a CD. In these directions, it said use “live.rm” as the filename. Finally, we’ve got a stream! Not sure why I have to use “live.rm” and not my own filename, but at least it worked.

Once I figured out how to access the stream, everything worked flawlessly. The encoder was located down the hall on a separate Windows XP machine, though it could have been on the same physical machine as the server. The server barely broke a sweat serving four 16K bit/sec streams over the LAN. At that bit rate, I should be able to support 64 simultaneous users, give or take a couple, with the free server. A nice number for most departmental and small business streaming applications that want to do basic corporate communications for little to no cost. Or for getting AM talk radio in your signal-deprived cube.