At FFM we are fortunate to have some very interesting guest speakers. We also have quite a few country members and supporters who cannot always attend club evenings. Wouldn't it be great if we could share our evenings with anyone who wanted to watch.That is the dream behind FinchleyTV. Now the internet offers a service called Ustream – which enables you to broadcast sound and video live on the web. They provide free software called Ustream Producer, which offers the possibility of transmitting live video imagesrecorded video files in MPEG4 format sound filesMoreover, you can cut/dissolve between them. This sounded to be just what we wanted so we set out to see how it worked in practice. At our club premises, we are fortunate to have access to Wi-fi and a decent laptop and so we had all we needed.
So on Friday 19th we tried FinchleyTV for the first time having first recruited a select band of viewers to watch and assess the result..
we connected the laptop to the internet using Wi-Fi
we connected a HDV camera via firewire to the laptop which recognized it as a DV device ( the camera is set to downsize the output to DV).
The Ustream producer software was set running and it immediately recognised the camera feed and showed the camera image in the transmit box (see frame grab below)
We logged onto the Ustream service and activated the broadcast setting
We opened up http://www.ustream.tv/channel/finchley in a separate browser and saw a blank rectangle- flagged as ‘off air’. We set the feed running and then it got exciting as it took only 7-10 seconds for the transmitted picture to feed all the way to Ustream's server and then all the way back. Then we could see both the outgoing and incoming pictures on the same laptop with the 7 second delay. Although this was a bit much for the poor little laptop and the incoming picture was very jerky this we discovered was not a problem for our viewers.
there was one other thing to do before the actual transmission, produce a 'test card' – which we used when we needed to cut the picture - see on the left..
On the night rather than rely on the on-board mike we put a rifle mike on a stand and pointed it at our guests. This worked fine as our two speakers moved about as they talked - I monitored the sound on headphones from the camera and from the laptop to check captured and incoming quality.
At the appointed time, we logged on, put up our test-card, and cut the sound – rembering that viewers can hear every word including swearing at the kit for not working properly. Our guest speakers started their talk about being a drama producers and directors for the BBC – and very interesting it was – we turned on the sound and dissolved to the picture and 7 seconds we saw that we were indeed broadcasting to the world. We broadcast all though till tea break and then after tea. Reaction from our test viewers (in Scotland, England and the USA) was very positive. They enjoyed the evening and made useful suggestions as to how we might improve the whole thing -so our thanks to Arthur Bates, Ned Cordery and Dave Watterson.