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Webcasting Road Trip

I just came back from a week long road trip through Northern Ontario. In case you don't know this is a "big distance" province - check out my schedule:

  • Sunday drove from Sudbury to Sault Ste Marie (3.5 hours) - Set up webcasting gear.
  • Monday webcast all day.
  • Tuesday drove from Sault Ste Marie to Timmins (6 hours) set up webcast gear.
  • Wednesday webcast all day. Wednesday night drove from Timmins to Sudbury (3.5 hours).
  • Thursday webcast all day.
  • Friday spent organizing the sold-out (1330 people) Michael W. Smith concert in Sudbury; and
  • Saturday - managing the concert venue until 2am Sunday morning.

Today I am writing this blog to you from Manitoulin Island where I am recovering my senses and de-stressing from the previous week. In my Blog I like to share lessons learned during my travels so here goes.

Plan Your Packing!

7 times I loaded or unloaded a full webcasting kit, ie. 3 cameras, computer, monitor, video switcher, tripods, cables and accessories. The money I have spent on road cases makes this task so much easier. It also protects the equipment and helps to organize the myriad of cables that come with webcasting.

This is a Big Distance Province!

I often get calls from Toronto or out-of-province to go to Timmins or Sault Ste Marie for a shoot followed by a statement like " it will only take you 2 hours to shoot" ! CHECK THE MAP PEOPLE. I did a one day turnaround from Timmins to Sudbury and can tell you that I was crazy tired during the Sudbury webcast. The lesson learned is to plan a travel day in Northern Ontario.

Internet is Sketchy!

Internet speed in major centres such as North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and Timmins averages 20MBps download. Not fast but fast enough for a 720p web stream. Outside of these centres it varies widely from 56K to 2MBps - its all over the map. During our webcast we use multiple upload feeds with different bit rates. In our case we used a 360p (400kbps) and 720p (1.5MBps) stream. Our CDN offers a video player that supports multiple speeds, which allows our clients across Northern Ontario to see the show regardless of the quality of the Internet speed.

Plan for failure!

The mark of a professional is the fallback strategy in place if an equipment failure occurs. Because we rely on the internet, we always carry a secondary device to allow us to use internet feeds over cell towers if the primary feed fails. It's not cheap but it assures success. All our equipment has backups and we can reconfigure our systems to work around equipment failures.

It was a great trip and the webcasts turned out great - Till the next time, Dan