Wednesday, October 01, 2008

UStream Tips


Here are some tips I found on the web for UStream:

The Tools
I used two tools to create the show: CamTwist, to combine graphics with the video 'on the fly' and send the combination to uStream, plus Adobe FireWorks to create the graphics.

If you're on the PC, CamTwist won't work, but WebCam Max will. CamTwist is free. WebCam Max costs $29.95, but is well worth it. Plus their logo is great.

Part 1: The Foundation
In my experience, three things will make or break your show:

  1. Bandwidth: When you broadcast, your outgoing bandwidth will be very important. That's your upload speed. Note that most cable and DSL providers give you high download speed, but lousy upload speed. At my house, for example, I get 4 megabits as my download speed, but only 500 kbps as my upload speed. I won't get all geeky about it - suffice it to say I have a river for a download stream, and a small straw for upload. You can do a uStream show with only 300 kbps, but the video will stop and start a lot. For high-quality video, you'll need at least 900 kbps, and more is better.
  2. The camera: The higher-quality the original video, the better the show. You can use your webcam (Apple's iSight does a great job). But if you have a DV cam, you can use that for far better results. For my show, I got to go one better and get a stream directly from the TV cameras using a DAC converter.
  3. The computer: Really any laptop can handle uStream. I used a MacBook Pro (2 years old). If you're going to use extra tools like CamTwist, make sure you have something fast: A Pentium PC or an Intel Macbook will do the trick. A slower laptop may not deliver the video as quickly as uStream needs it, which again will create stops and starts.
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