There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. -- Ursula K. LeGuin

Webcasting

Live Webcasting is now an inexpensive and simple that you can start through a variety of free online services such as Livestream.com and uStream.tv. Both use the metaphor of a TV channel to provide access to your (or your school's) live broadcasts.

Step-by-Step LiveStream.com Webcast (the steps are similar for uStream.tv)

  1. Sign up for a free account at LiveStream.com. As part of this process you will define a channel name for your webcasts. You can configure your account now or later to always record and archive each webcast.
  2. (optional) If you want more options and higher-quality image, download the free Procaster software from LiveStream.com/procaster. Procaster is available for Windows and Mac. The Windows version is more stable and supports more features at this time. The Mac version works but is still in beta development. The downloaded installer may be up to 50 MB in size, and it requires up to 200 MB in hard drive space.
  3. Hook your USB or Firewire camcorder (or webcam) to your computer, turn it on, and launch the Webcasting software (either Procaster or the Web-based broadcasting system that is fast and simple. Note the Web-based broadcasting system is Flash-based.) Test to see that your camcorder's audio and video are working. Test to see that your Internet connection is active.
  4. (optional but recommended) Open a livestream viewing window to monitor your broadcast. For example, you would view the "garrigan" channel from the Web address: http://livestream.com/garrigan. It's best if you monitor from a different computer, but for testing purposes, you can monitor the Webcast from the same computer that is broadcasting it.
  5. Click the "Broadcast Now" button, and your live video can be simultaneously viewed by up to 50 people!
  6. Your viewers can interact through a chat window, IM, and tweets! Note how the chat appears on the broadcast or monitoring computer for chat response.

Tips and Troubleshooting.

  • If the video and/or audio pauses or is interrupted, make sure you have a strong Internet connection and try reducing the bandwidth of your broadcast. You can reduce the bandwidth by lowering the quality of video and audio that you broadcast from high to medium or low. There are advanced options for fine-tuning your broadcast to by contolling frames-per-second, keyframes, and lots more.
  • The internal microphones on camcorders and computers are of low quality and prone to pick up extraneous noise, especially from internal hard drive, fans, and tape drives. For better audio, use an external microphone on a headset (for computer operator), USB microphone like Blue Snoball (more expensive) for table-based "news team," lavalier "lapel" microphone (wired or wireless) for podium or mobile speaker, and camcorder-mounted "shotgun" directional microphone for flexibility (most expensive).
  • In general, a downloaded java-based application is more stable, reliable, and may be more feature rich than a Flash-based Web application, especially is you use a Macintosh computer.
  • Improve video quality by reducing camera motion. Use a tripod when possible, minimize camera movement like pans and zooms, and use anti-shake feature of camcorders when not using a tripod. Keep in mind that camera shake is magnified when zoomed in. Choosing a plain backgroud like a single-colored drape can improve video encoding and image quality, especially when panning and zooming like from one sports commentator to the other.

Screencasting

  • Sample Screencast Tutorials from Atomic Learning ("Take a look at our Training and Projects")

Screencasting is simply the recording and dissemination of the activity on your screen with or without computer audio or narration. Screencasting is often used to create tutorials or demonstrations of how to perform actions or activities with software or Webware. Like Webcasting, screencasting may be live, for example as part of a live Web conference or training activity, or may be archived for on-demand training or demonstration.

Live Screencasting is often part of Web conference systems like Elluminate or WiZiQ. Webcasting systems like Livescreen.com and Procaster (above) work well for dedicated live screencasts or mixed live presentation and screencast.

On-Demand Screencasts can be recorded using respected stand-alone applications as well as newer Web-based systems. You can record good-quality screencasts using both free, trial, and commercial options. On-demand screencasts need to be archived, or hosted somewhere, and they are often viewed as a stream rather than by downloading and playing a movie. Some of the most popular places to upload screencast recordings/tutorials are YouTube, the Internet Archive, iTunes and iTunes University, and TechSmith.com.

Podcasting

Audio Podcasting is now an inexpensive and simple that you can start through a variety of free online services such as Livestream.com and uStream.tv. Both use the metaphor of a TV channel to provide access to your (or your school's) live broadcasts. Below are programs and services to create and disseminate podcasts.

  • Audacity open source sound editor for Windows and Mac. Note that software licensing issues requires separate download and installation of Lame codec if you want to save in MP3 format.
  • GarageBand podcast tutorials for Mac (part of iLife suite).
  • Podbean upload and hosting service (free and commercial options).
  • Podium commercial podcasting software and host service for Windows (video coming soon).
  • iTunes and iTunes University are both accessed through the Apple iTunes application for Windows or Mac. This is the largest collection of educational podcasts for school districts, higher education, and independent study. (includes both audio and video podcasts).

Video Podcasting (VODcasting) is now an inexpensive and simple that you can start through a variety of free online services such as Livestream.com and uStream.tv. Both use the metaphor of a TV channel to provide access to your (or your school's) live broadcasts. Below are video podcast resources.

  • GarageBand podcast tutorials for Mac that use artwork, photos, or movies.
  • Apple QuickTime. Another way to use video directly from a camcorder uses Apple's QuickTime application to perform the podcast conversion.

 

The talking pictures are very crude as yet. It will take a year to perfect them and my new invention.
-- Thomas Alva Edison, Interview in the New York Tribune, September 1913.

About Mediacasting

There are several ways to provide streaming media over the Web:

  1. live video broadcast (Webcast)
  2. on-demand video
  3. live or on-demand screencast
  4. on-demand audio (Podcast)
Downloadable videos or podcasts are treated as just another large data file transmitted from a server and saved on your hard drive. Streaming media is like a TV show, radio show, or phone call that is watched, but not stored, on your computer. YouTube videos and live Webcasts are common examples of streaming media.

Streaming video is the technology used by YouTube and many other popular video viewing sites. A streaming video file is played by your computer as it flows from a streaming server to your computer. Just like a stream of music on a radio, the file is not stored on your computer at any time. The stream may be halted during a period of congestion, but the file never takes up any space on your drive. You do, however, need to have adequate bandwidth to handle the stream. For that reason, most streamed videos have small images sizes and lower quality, both of which reduce streaming bandwidth requirements. In theory, streaming video permits users to view, but not save or retransmit, copyrighted video. Windows Vista includes a mechanism to enforce this restriction. In practice, it is often easy to capture and save a streaming video. Live and lengthy video productions are often streamed so that users don't risk filling up their hard drive to view a two- or three-hour video. Any live video image viewed over the web would use streaming video technology.


The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.
-- Harold Goddard (The Meaning of Shakespeare)

A camcorder set to stream live video

Streaming Camera ~photo by jobeone

Students play many roles as they work on video production projects.

video camera and student photo
Camera ~photo by DEMOSH