3 ways to simplify the streaming and recording process

Attendees learned these top AV tips at UB Tech® 2019

“The future of AV is all about sampling and compression,” Extron Electronics Technical Trainer Karl Rosenberg told UB Tech attendees during his AV Integration track presentation at UB Tech® 2019. Here are his tips for simplifying the streaming and recording process.

1. Consider image quality

The amount of data that devices use to stream or play recorded content is based on their data rate. Laptops, for example, generally have a data rate of 10GB; to stream or record high-quality content, campuses need a 10GB bandwidth switch per classroom. “That is going to cost a lot, and most schools can’t spend that much,” Rosenberg said. To save money, schools can create a “pipe” that compresses and samples the data from 10GB to 1GB, for example.

“Everything you are doing is throwing a bunch of stuff away that won’t go down the pipe,” Rosenberg said. Most of this so-called stuff includes data that increases image quality.

Read: Why so many AV teams are collaborating with faculty in higher ed

“The nature of the beast is you are going to make the image look awful on purpose,” Rosenberg said. This is similar to what happens on YouTube. “People watch YouTube for convenience, not quality,” continued Rosenberg. “Convenience is the new quality.”

While processes vary, IT administrators should begin by looking into visually lossless compression, which essentially eliminates data that the human eye can’t see. In other words, this compression lowers the image quality enough so that no one can detect a difference.

2. Identify how far your signal will go

Once your institution has lowered the signal quality, you will need codecs—technologies that will encode and decode the signal. Administrators can save money by using laptops as decoders, but this can cause issues if the signal has to travel over 100 meters, which Rosenberg calls the 100-meter rule. Basically, a campus needs a new decoder for every 100 meters a signal has to travel.

Another issue with using a laptop as a decoder is jumping networks, which will “hit your network hard” when multiple decoders are required, Rosenberg said. “This causes data rates to go up and down, which will affect your quality.”

3. Get a server (or don’t)

For encoders, Rosenberg highly recommends purchasing hardware to make the service more reliable. This option allows colleges to use Real Time Streaming Protocol, during which on-campus IT staff can manipulate streamed or recorded content (i.e., pausing, stopping, rewinding).

However, ensure that the purchased hardware uses industry standards, such as MP4 files and internet programming language HTML5, and that the encoder isn’t proprietary, which requires students to buy additional software and to run updates.

Rather than purchase encoders, some institutions hire other companies to host the server off-site through Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) tunneling.

A less expensive option is to pursue Real-Time Messaging Protocol, which involves pushing content to third-party providers such as YouTube. “It’s easy and should take you only about five minutes to set up. The hardest thing to figure out is what YouTube channel you’re going to use,” said Rosenberg. “Some universities are also signing up for subscriptions on YouTube Red to make money based on views.”

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