Live Streaming Facilitates Ocean Conference Outreach


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. — Live webcasts helped bring an international audience to the 2010 California and the World Ocean Conference; in fact, Web streaming was so important for outreach, that a conference official called it a “godsend.”

by Robin Berger

The conference was organized by California’s Ocean Protection Council, the state Natural Resources Agency and the state Environmental Protection Agency.

Streaming the conference “is an opportunity for California to talk about the amazing things we’re doing with coastal protection,” said event vice chairman Brian Baird, the assistant secretary for ocean and coastal policy for the California Natural Resources Agency.

The California and the World Ocean Conference Opening Session featured speaker John Hanke, vice president for product management on Google’s geo projects, including Google Ocean and Google Sky. California and the World Ocean 10, photo by Allen Lott

“Streaming allows one more way to bring the public in,” Baird said. The number of conference attendees compared to the number of viewers who accessed the sessions online provides some support for Baird’s belief that streaming the conference attracted additional viewers. The conference registered about 800 attendees, but the event’s official log measured 1,500 live Internet hits to the conference and another 6,500-plus on-demand hits during the following week.

Web streaming “has been a godsend for us,” he said.

The first California and the World Ocean Conference was held in 1964, organized by Gov. Pat Brown. It was resurrected in 1997, followed by conferences in 2002 and 2006.

“In 2006 we videotaped the majority of the sessions,” said Baird. “We didn’t stream any of the conference. We ended up putting all of those sessions on our website later on.”

Live streaming

Morro Bay, Calif.-based AGP Video provided video coverage of the concurrent sessions at the 2006 conference, and it was hired to set up the live stream of the 2010 conference, as well as provide an official record of the conference.

CAL-SPAN.org featured live streaming of the California and the World Ocean Conference 2010.
Each breakout session room had an LCD projector/screen setup, camera, five microphones, a small mixing system and a laptop for receiving PowerPoint content and other electronic reference material.

AGP Video was charged with setting up the equipment, setting audio and video levels, inputting the reference material, educating panelists on the equipment use and capturing each presentation with a camera-to-hard drive setup. The cameras, rented from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the conference venue, as dictated by the Hyatt contract, were mounted on tripod dollies.

“I put together a little system—older Panasonic (five AG-EZ30s) and Canon (three GL1s) cameras,” said Steve Mathieu, president and co-owner of AGP Video. “I don’t run tape—we record straight to the hard drive.”

For recording, Mathieu used a Panasonic DMR-EH65 DVD recorder attached by cable to the Panasonic and Canon cameras. The recorder has a HDMI connection that transmits the video output over a single cable.

“The box has a cut-and-shuffle editing system in it,” said Mathieu. “We burn the DVD master directly in the same box we record to” because it saves time and money, he said.

For the talks in the Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom, however, the setup was a bit different, consisting of five Sony BRC-300 robotic cameras cabled to a Sony AWS-G500E Anycast Station Live Content Producer that, in addition to switching from camera to camera, added lower-third captions and electronic reference material from laptops. The Anycast Station was also cabled to a Panasonic DMR-EH65 DVD recorder.

“In four days we captured about 70 sessions: 64 breakout sessions and six plenary talks,” Mathieu said. The recordings serve as the “status report on what’s been going on [with ocean policy] in the last four years and what will be done going forward,” he added.

This official record is searchable by a session grid or an on-site search engine, thanks to AGP Video’s Linked Agenda System. It includes state documents and other items discussed at the conference and satisfies California requirements that minutes for public meetings be kept on file.

“We’re pretty proud of the Linked Agenda System because that’s something that we developed ourselves. We wrote the software, created the whole concept and developed it,” Mathieu said.

In addition to being archived on the Internet and available on DVD, coverage was slated for broadcast on local cable access channels in selected communities in California.

Feedback

StreamGuys provided the bandwidth and maintained a log system for the webcasts of the conference.

Bayside, Calif.-based StreamGuys is a content delivery network and multimedia streaming provider. The solution StreamGuys designed for AGP Video includes a dedicated platform based on Wowza Media Server clusters to enable streaming in the Microsoft Silverlight format.

This solution includes a billing model that allows for bandwidth bursting that does not penalize clients for hosting higher-traffic events like the California and World Ocean Conference.

“They send us a single encoded source signal—AGP Video has a dedicated server on StreamGuy’s network, which ingests that signal,” said Kristoffer Taylor, StreamGuys senior sales executive.

StreamGuys then takes the signal into its network and replicates it for the global audience, he said.

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