YouTube Live on the Tricaster Update

As promised when I first wrote about streaming to YouTube Live from a Tricaster, I spent some time with a Tricaster 40, after an initial failed attempt. This time, it worked precisely the same as with the 850 I originally experimented with. In fact, the preview window worked correctly as well, so I wonder if it’s a matter of simply waiting for everything to catch up before going live.

While tinkering, I noticed there was a variable amount of lag between changes in the program picture and seeing it in a test player. It went from as low as 18 seconds up to about 38.

Additionally, I discovered that while the Tricaster’s streaming configuration panel offers login fields, filling them in is not required to start the stream. What I did not check was whether the configuration panel’s built-in browser needs to be logged in. My guess is that because the stream information is generated by YouTube beforehand, no logging in is required at all, since that stream information is event-specific.

On the other hand, the modification you need to make the Tricaster’s own streaming profile, changing the keyframe frequency, is trickier on the 40 model. You can to edit an XML file, but the version of Tricaster 40 I experimented with doesn’t include a text editor in the base Windows installation. And when I installed Notepad++, Tricaster kicked up a fuss about the new application possibly compromising its ability to function properly. So plan on making that edit on another machine, and then copying the modified XML file over the network or a thumb drive.

I also played a bit with YouTube Live’s own options. You can flip among control sub-panels without disrupting the stream, but once the stream is live, you can’t really modify most of the information. There’s a thing called a slate, but all it seems to do is cover the program picture with a YouTube logo graphic. Going by the vague documentation, I guess it’s a software solution to cover up the video, whereas with a dedicated switcher you can fade to black, or cut to a graphic.

All very interesting, I assure you. Next up: an external encoder solution for 1080p streaming!

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YouTube Live on the Tricaster

I get to use some pretty cool tools in the course of my work and interests. This weekend, I had some extra time, so I decided to figure out how to stream a multicamera show to YouTube Live.

To start with, I had a multicamera studio, the switcher for which is a Tricaster 850, which includes built-in the ability to stream live to services like Ustream and Akamai. The catch is that by now, many of the presets in the Tricaster are outdated, as streaming services modify their own settings, or close up shop.

In the case of YouTube, they changed the way they took in streaming content with the launch of YouTube Live a year or two ago. After a slow roll-out, pretty much any channel can stream live, once you jump through a couple authorization hoops. In terms of the Tricaster’s streaming options, this means the existing preset for YouTube is no longer relevant. Trying to load that preset pulls up a YouTube interface that is completely non-functional.

NewTek, the makers of the Tricaster products, came up with an alternate workflow, laid out in a PDF. It involves a great deal more legwork than Tricaster’s promise of “load a profile and go,” and there are some caveats, but it can be done.

The short version of how it works is below. Read the PDF for the blow-by-blow. You will need to have jumped through YouTube’s account verification hoops — inputting a two digit code delivered by text message, for one — prior to doing this.

  1. Copy an existing Tricaster preset and alter one particular parameter. This is your new YouTube Live preset.
  2. In the YouTube interface, create a live event. Tell it you’re using a custom encoder for a 720p stream, which generates a series of parameters in an XML file you download. Note that Tricaster’s maximum streaming resolution is 720p. More on this later.
  3. In Tricaster, load first the YouTube Live preset you made, then the XML file. Start streaming from the Tricaster; choose a looping motion graphic, or a still image with sound to serve as a test image so you can be sure video’s playing out correctly.
  4. Over on YouTube, once the Tricaster begins streaming, the interface should include a box describing the stream’s resolution and health, ideally “GOOD” in green letters.
    1. At this point, you’d want to use the Preview window in the YouTube interface to check whether your stream’s getting to YouTube, right? Well, in my experiments to date, the preview window hung on the spinning circle without showing any video.
  5. Click the button in YouTube to preview the stream, and then start the stream. If you have a test viewing window handy, you should see the stream start up, playing whatever you set up in the Tricaster as your test image.
  6. Congratulations! You are streaming at 720p to YouTube Live from the Tricaster!

There are some wrinkles to this, of course. As noted above, YouTube’s preview window has not worked in my attempts to date. The only way I could tell if the stream was live was to jump all the way to a live stream playing out to the YouTube channel. It wasn’t a public stream at the time, so maybe it’s possible to start with a private event, and then make it public once you’ve confirmed all is well.

The encoder settings downloaded from YouTube seem to be event-specific, generated when you schedule the live event in the YouTube interface. Every time you start an event, you have to apply those particular encoder settings within Tricaster. So conceivably you can schedule events in batches, and save the XML files for later use.

Tricaster’s 720p streaming limit is kind of a bummer if you’re otherwise working with 1080p sources and output and have bandwidth to spare. NewTek’s PDF suggests the possibility of using an external encoder as a primary device to send YouTube a 1080p stream via the Flash Media Live Encoder software, with the Tricaster’s own 720p output as a secondary backup. I haven’t had the chance to try this out yet, but I have a theory at the moment about how to pull it off.

My next avenues of inquiry are trying out the 1080p primary encoder method, probably with the auxiliary output from the Tricaster 850, which is going to involve puzzling out an AJA capture card’s control panel, which I’ve found opaque to date.

Additionally, I want to see if a Tricaster 40 is also capable of getting to YouTube Live. My initial stab at that didn’t work out at all, but my experiment this weekend points to what I may have done wrong in not pushing past the ineffective preview window of the YouTube interface.

2014-12-09 Update! I bring news of streaming to YouTube Live from a Tricaster 40.

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Happy Birthday, Doctor Who

The TARDIS door ajar, light streaming out. Quotation: "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant."51, while not round or square, is no less momentous an achievement. Happy birthday, Doctor Who, and here’s to many more seasons.

I watched it only the other week, but I think November 23rd is just the right time to rewatch The Day of the Doctor.

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Superhero Band Names

Collecting these for my own amusement. I think I might have revised one to “Beta Ray Belle and Sebastian.”

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Mount Ascutney: Futures Trail

View from the stone picnic shelter to the Upper Valley.

View from the stone picnic shelter on Mount Ascutney to the Upper Valley.

Last week, I took a short trip down to the Upper Valley to see some folks and some quiet time. I stayed at Ascutney State Park, which was not quite as quiet as I recalled from my last trip, as it’s not too far from I-91. But the campers were all relatively mellow and unseen, so that was excellent.

My full morning at Ascutney, I went for a hike up the mountain. I didn’t know how far I would get, as I had afternoon plans, but I wanted to give it a try. Heading up the Futures — or Future’s, according to a few signs — Trail, the first leg was a switchbacking climb from the camping area up through evergreens into deciduous forest. The path slowly wraps around the mountain, so the hum of traffic fades from perception as you climb.

Bare Rock Vista to the southwestish.

Bare Rock Vista to the southwestish.

Bare Rock Vista is the first big landmark you come to. Like the name suggests, it’s got nice views of the south/southwest. When I arrived, the valley mist was still burning off. That made the spot seem even more isolated, as the interstate traffic was inaudible by this point. It was like climbing above a cloud layer without the usual amount of effort.

The trail descended from Bare Rock for a while through tall pines on soft, loose soil, before it began climbing again. The way got rockier, too. Eventually, I crossed a cut-through for power lines and started glimpsing the auto road. Once the path touched the road itself, I figured out the next landmark, the stone picnic shelter, was over the rise.

The sun had done its work by then, so you could see much more of the Upper Valley to the east and north than at the last outlook. Check out the picture at the top of the post for the view.

Despite the overcast look from my starting point on the ground, I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather for a hike. Weaving through some trees around the shelter, I could make out a peak of Ascutney festooned with antenna towers. Also up there was an observation tower on the summit itself.

Much as I would have liked to keep going up for a while, I figured that at the rate I was moving, I wouldn’t have gotten down in time for everything I wanted to do that evening. So I called it good at the picnic shelter and took the auto road down. That was probably the easier choice, but sometimes, it was so steep I started to wonder.

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Sugar Hill Reservoir

Sugar Hill Reservoir from the north bank.

Sugar Hill Reservoir from the north bank.

This week, as part of my staycation explorations of Vermont, I returned to the Moosamaloo natural area in Ripton and Goshen. My destination, Sugar Hill Reservoir, came from the Middlebury Trailrunner, though I took a different route. From the Widow’s Clearing parking lot, I followed the trail east to the intersection that leads toward the Water Tower loops, but headed south along the Catamount cross-country ski trail. One of the great things about mixed use trails like this one is they’re less demanding than, say, the steep side of Mount Mansfield. I can plod along and enjoy the scenery without necessarily having to scramble up boulders and ledges.

As the trail went on, I kept wondering if I’d missed a turn, or mistaken the correct time to keep right for an access path leading to the Ripton-Goshen road. After sticking with the path, though, I could see a break in the treeline at the top of a slope. Approaching, I realized the slope was made of a wall of shaped blocks, with a deep layer of turf and vegetation over it. This had to be the reservoir.

Emerging from the trees, I found I was on the north side of the reservoir, of what might be the main embankment. There was a tower with antenna and instruments further along the embankment. Down on the shore, someone busied themselves building small cairns, scattered around an informal little fire pit.

Apart from one or two planes flying by — though nowhere I could spot them in the sky — the sounds of Sugar Hill came entirely from the wind and wildlife. As time passed, I kept thinking I heard voices on the wind, which I guess was my brain trying to fill in the chatter it’s used to hearing around town. The relative absence of background noise became a little unnerving. At one point on the walk back, my blood ran cold when I thought I heard a penny whistle tootle in the woods behind me. The tootler never revealed themselves, so I moved on with purpose.

For the walk back, I took the Catamount trail to the first access point, and switched back to the forest road. The dry road was more appealing than the marshy sections of trail I’d already passed through. And I got that nice picture of the mountain through the trees in the gallery below. Somewhere in the center lower third of that picture are apple trees growing wild.

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Dark Temptations

Some mornings on my walk to work, when the wind blows just right, the scent of brewing coffee wafts from the door of Speeder & Earl’s to do a sultry dance under my nose, beckoning me to detour from my destination.

To date, I have successfully resisted. But coffee’s lure is strong, and my will finite.

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