Producing Live Events, Master Tip 2: Know Your SPFs

Total Webcasting is a webcasting service provider out of New York that produces dozens of events a month, and thousands since its inception in 2007. Total Webcasting is unique in that it produces virtually all events for its customers, while owning the streaming server and content management system used for live and on-demand delivery, providing the complete “glass-to-glass” experience. Through their experience, the company has mastered the art of the problem-free webcast. I’ve been after company president Robert Feldman to share his tips with my readers for years; he’s agreed to share his top ten in Letterman order. This is number two.

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Everyone will have a bad day sometime; it’s how you handle the situation that will determine if you survive the day. We are constantly re-evaluating our workflow and technical components to be sure we are doing the best we can in assuring a high quality experience for everyone.

One critical key to success is to identify all of your single point of failures (SPF) and to formulate back-ups for all of them, particularly your recordings. As we’ve learned, even if the live webcast is a complete failure, having a good recording for the archive can make it a little easier to get through. But even if you have a very successful live webcast, if you’re recording fails and you have no video for on-demand access then you are really in big trouble.

There are many ways to provide backups for recordings, including recording the program stream in your video mixer, or on a separate recorder, and to use your content delivery network (CDN) as a secondary. As for other SPFs, remember to bring extra cables and adapters, they do wear out and one bad XLR cable can add a buzz to your audio that will be everywhere. And of course, have multiple CDNs and hosting companies since even the biggest and best do fail.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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