Live On The Web

If you haven’t had to consider streaming video as part of the high-def production process, you probably will soon. For example, last November, the MTV Europe Music Awards (MTVEMA) sent out over 800,000 live streams of the awards’ red-carpet wraparound show. You’ve probably pasted clips onto a website, but squeezing a video file down to postage stamp size and posting it on the web is far different from presenting a live HD event through the Internet. There are different ways to handle this production challenge.

The MTV Europe Music Awards broadcast over 800,000 live streams of its red-carpet wraparound show hosted by Perez Hilton (pictured with Katy Perry).

The MTVEMA show itself was shot totally in HD, with 18 cameras, two cranes and a flying tower cam. Lighting and set design were done with HD in mind. All the graphics and roll-ins were produced in high-def, and where needed, promo material provided by the musicians was up-converted from SD PAL to HD ahead of time. From the live show in Liverpool, the broadcast was encoded and sent by satellite to MTV in London, where it was distributed to the 45 countries that receive MTV Europe.

The award show’s web presence was created as a totally separate package. This was partially due to rights issues involved with the live music performances on the Internet. The webcast included a live preawards red-carpet show and postawards celebration. These were produced on SD PAL using a different crew and cameras than the HD broadcast. After the broadcast, the website was enhanced with photo galleries and show highlights. In a somewhat reversed production flow, the live webcast was repurposed for MTV broadcast at a later date.

Producing separate material for HD broadcast and for the web also is the current procedure at Fox News, which has found it can expand its audience by adding webcasting to the program mix. Brian Korner, the broadband systems engineer at Fox News, explains that it uses the Internet as a supplement to its live broadcasts.

The ViewCast Niagara 7500 simplifies complex HD workflows associated with delivering high-def video over IP and mobile networks.

"For example, we might take five minutes of a congressional hearing on Fox News before we cut out of it, but you can then go to fox.com and continue to watch the whole thing."

Its web presence gives the viewer more choices. "In an emergency situation," adds Korner, "such as when a boat rammed a bridge recently, we may have several live feeds put up—one window with multiple channels—and the viewer can then pick the channel they want to stream."

In-studio production is in HD, but news footage is acquired in a variety of formats—everything from HD to SD to viewer cell-phone videos. Fox News ingests it all for the webcasts.

"I remember we had a picture come in from a viewer of the plane that landed on the Hudson before any of the other channels," Korner comments.

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