If so, what are your best practices for maximizing audio and video quality?
Depends on the context. What's being broadcast? How important is "pristine" quality vs. simply "acceptable"?
Regardless, given the hard limit of 250 users per session (I think), using Collaborate to stream large events just wouldn't be practical. That's not really what it's designed for, anyway -- Collaborate is best for hands-on, interactive sessions with relatively small groups.
The broadcast in question would be something like a panel discussion on campus regarding a novel. The purpose would be to open an on-campus event like that up to online students who normally would not be able to attend something like that. I noticed that regardless of the quality of webcam used, the video that is streamed is very washed out and low quality, maybe 480 p at best. Is HD important? Not entirely, but recording through Camtasia is worlds better, but of course does not allow for live streaming, and the idea of live streaming such events would be to allow interactivity among the online viewers.
It might be that you are looking for a one off for this but for long term; I agree with Cliff that you may need to consider a true live streaming vendor like Kaltura who is a Blackboard partner with their media hosting integrations.
We have used Zoom, giving us an amazing interface and easy support. https://zoom.us/feature
This option may do the trick. For the benefit of the thread here, the free plan offers unlimited 1 to 1 meetings and 40 minute group meetings with HD audio and video. There are priced plans with more benefits. The major downside compared to Collaborate is that Zoom has a launcher and is not browser based, so users will need to download and run the .exe file. Recordings go right to your desktop in a Zoom folder as Mp4 files.
Limit is currently 250, due to increase to 1000 by end of this year.
Tim Neumann - Would the suggestion in the original post here be of interest to your research?
Tim Neumann - did you see Amy's mention here?
Just seen this thread - I wonder if what Wilmington University have been doing is of interest here: Never miss a class again: Wilmington University is streaming classes in real-time – E-Learn
Even if it doesn't directly correspond, I hope there are lessons learnt there that might be of interest.
Thanks for sharing Lloyd Stock . Tagging Russ Lichterman from Wilmington.
Hey, someone said my name! Yes, we have done live streaming with Collaborate Ultra, (we are also Kaltura customers and use Kaltura frequently for live streaming.) Kaltura offers excellent HD live streaming but the latency (around 45 seconds) makes it a purely 1-way experience. When we want an interactive streaming event we do indeed use Collaborate Ultra to allow remote viewers to participate in live campus events. The article you linked has a permanent in-room setup that works for connecting live classrooms with remote viewers, but we have another workflow that sounds better suited to this event. Check out this thread which describes our mobile setup that allows us to take a single camera feed, external audio, and even our switcher output into Collaborate Ultra for interactive live streaming:Collaborate Ultra for Interactive Live Streaming
Happy to answer any questions, just let me know!
Jason Kane we also use Collaborate Ultra for the type of events that you mention. In fact, since some students in our national online programs and programs at our remote campuses participate in our student organizations that meet on our main campus, some of our student organizations also use Collaborate Ultra for their meetings. Although the quality of video is not as crisp as it is when using some of our other streaming options, we too find that the benefit of real-time interaction outweighs that limitation. We have found that the quality of the audio is what our users most want, so be either use a single, high-quality microphone that will pick up all speakers, or individual microphones with a sound board. Some faculty also use Collaborate Ultra for students who need to participate in a synchronous onsite class from another location. Here again, the primary issue for us has been to have great audio quality and to share any applications that are being used in the classroom.
Kimberly, thank you so much for the response. I like our philosophy about the audio's supreme value over video quality. would you be able to recommend a high quality mic that you've had success with?
Most recently we are using Blue Yetis for lots of applications. They are small enough to be easily portable, customizable for different purposes, but sturdy enough to take a great deal of abuse. And with a price that is right around $100, we can put one in the hands of faculty who need one without breaking the bank. For higher end or more challenging recordings we use Shure wireless headsets and a sound board, but the Yeti's have become our "go to" option.
When we live streamed highly interactive user group meetings for a Blackboard user group we used to be part of, we used either a Phoenix speakerphone (we have used the Duet and the Quattro). They pick up a fairly large space with multiple speakers - I even used it once in a classroom, and it picked up everyone within 20 feet or so. We also used Revolabs wireless mics with a 2-mic mixer when we only wanted to pick up a few speakers. The revolabs system is extremely portable, but much more expensive than the Blue Yeti.
We also prioritized audio quality over video. We had some generic slides ready for panels (photos, panelist names, etc.) or displayed the speakers' slides within Collab, and only used the video as a supplement. We often turned it off entirely, if the bandwidth was an issue.
To continue to elaborate on audio technologies that work with Collaborate Ultra...
We've had a lot of success in our video-enabled classroom install using this USB tracking microphone (this is the mic used in the project from this article - Never miss a class again: Wilmington University is streaming classes in real-time – E-Learn Voice Tracker 2 USB mic:
We also have used the RevoLabs USB wireless lavs successfully with Collaborate, particularly for small training sessions with only 1 presenter. In an auditorium setting (or anywhere that you already have traditional analog audio gear) you can take the program audio out from the source and convert it to USB with something like this:
Amazon.com: ART USB Dual Pre: Musical Instruments
Amazon.com: Shure X2U XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter: Musical Instruments
If you've already got a bunch of standard audio gear either of these will let the computer see your program audio as a source. (We have the Art Pro USB Dual Pre and it works great with Collaborate.) You can simply take a mic-level signal right from the audio board in your auditorium (or wherever) or you can run mic inputs from wireless or hard-wired mics right into it. Then you plug in the USB cable to the computer and select it as your default audio device.
Thanks for these details, Russ Lichterman. Very helpful. We also have had success with the RevoLabs USB wireless lavs. And, thanks for your previous post (coincidentally sent to me this morning by Leah Alviar) that also may help inform this discussion: Collaborate Ultra for Interactive Live Streaming
We are using Collaborate for small groups (less than 100) and Livestream (with chat moderation) for larger groups.
Yolene ORS - as discussed yesterday - take a look at this thread for guidance on connecting video sources - check the other thread which Russ Lichterman mentions above.
Hope that helps.
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