Live Streaming refers to streaming live audio/video content delivered in real-time, as it happens and requires either live coverage of an event or recorded content. During live streaming events, typically referred to as Live Webcasts, users do not have to download the entire content before they can start watching. Depending upon the customer's requirements, live streaming can be recorded at the Origin Streaming Server or on the Edge Streaming Server.
To develop a better understanding of Live Streaming, this article covers the following topics:
1. Live Streaming Basics
All video content follows the same basic process to get from camera to the viewer. Whether it is a single input source or a multi-camera HD facility for quality recordings, the steps in setting up a live stream are the same: Capture, Encode, Distribute, and View. To accomplish these steps, a minimum of four essential components are required:
3. Streaming Server
1. Camera: A digital camera is a primary tool for capturing and recording a live action. The stage does not involve any modification to the recording, but instead, it just transforms the live action into a digital format.
2. Encoder: A Live Encoder is a hardware device or software application that captures live audio/video from camera and microphone, and converts it into a format that can be streamed over the network, typically via streaming servers. Depending upon the features required, you can either use Software or a Hardware type encoder for live events.
- Software Encoders: Software encoders provide excellent quality and the ability to control codec compression/decompression and provide the required bit-rate and quality, but hardware encoders take the edge when it comes to stream latency. A slight disadvantage of the Software encoders is that they take up quite a bit of resource to encode, straining the resources used by other programs running on the server. A popular Software Encoder is the Telestream Wirecast.
- Hardware Encoders: Hardware encoders are specialized and dedicated hardware equipment to encode media into streamable content. This aspect alone gives them the advantage over software encoders. Unlike the Software encoders, continuous live events with high-quality streaming require hardware encoders because the hardware is built for that purpose.
Typically, all major encoders support pushing the live audio/video content to streaming servers via RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol) over port 1935, so this port needs to be open between your encoder and streaming server. Note that VIDIZMO player pulls the live stream over HTTP (Port 80) by default from the streaming server for playback, which is typically allowed and open on all public and private networks.
3. Streaming Server: Media streams transmitted over the IP network in formats that can be viewed on a wide variety of devices like computer screens, mobile phones, tablets, and set-top boxes.
Use a Content Delivery Network or CDN which has distributed data centers around the world, with replicated content that is delivered quickly to consumers. Since CDNs deliver many types of audio/video content and not just videos, they are not necessarily optimized for streaming.
4. Player: A Player is required t o connect to your audience. T o optimize the viewing experience, the content needs to be accessible on a variety of devices individual viewer may choose to view the content.
VIDIZMO media player has the capability to support live stream playback on a broad range of devices. For example, not every device can playback Flash files, or there are devices which cannot playback live streams using HTML5, but VIDIZMO player supports these formats.
To learn more about playback on VIDIZMO, click here on Understanding VIDIZMO Playback.
Whether you are using VIDIZMO on SaaS (Software As A Service) model or in your private cloud, live streaming over the internet is typically supported by a public Content Delivery Network (CDN) in order to seamlessly scale to customers' streaming demand.
VIDIZMO supports various CDNs for live streaming over the internet including:
Azure Media Services (AMS): Azure Media Services is a Microsoft Azure Cloud offering, that provides broadcast-quality video streaming services to reach larger audiences on today’s most popular mobile devices. Media Services enhances accessibility, distribution, and scalability, and makes it easy and cost-effective to stream content to your local and worldwide audience using integrated Azure CDN. To learn more about how to use AMS with VIDIZMO for live streaming, click on How To Setup Live Streams Using Azure Media Services (AMS)
- Wowza Streaming Cloud: The Wowza Streaming Cloud live-streaming service provides the global scale, technology, flexibility, and ease of use to satisfy every live-streaming use case, from the smallest one-time events to cutting-edge streaming apps. Wowza Streaming Cloud is built and maintained by Wowza and uses Akamai CDN, a leading content delivery network (CDN) services provider for media and software delivery. To learn more about how to use AMS with VIDIZMO for live streaming, click on How to Setup Live Stream Using Wowza Streaming Cloud.
- Other Standards-Based CDN: VIDIZMO supports all CDNs that support standards-based video streaming protocols such as RTMP and HLS over HTTP, including Edgecast, Limelight, Level3, Amazon Cloudfront etc.
On a local network comprising of multi-tiered streaming servers, VIDIZMO provides its own CDN to the customers and, by incorporating a fallback methodology, ensures an uninterrupted streaming experience to customers.
Using Standalone VIDIZMO Streaming Server or Standards-based Streaming Server
The simplest live streaming configuration is the standalone mode, where a straightforward configuration is used with a single VIDIZMO Streaming Server and all viewers connecting directly with this streaming server to playback the live stream. VIDIZMO supports live streaming over HLS with all major video streaming servers that support HLS protocol such as Red5, Flash Media Server, Helix, IIS Media Services etc. For a full list of streaming servers that support HLS based streaming, please click here.
Using VIDIZMO ECDN with VIDIZMO Streaming Server Edge Nodes
When viewers are geographically dispersed, facing bandwidth challenges and spread over different locations, a complete ECDN implementation consisting of multiple Streaming Servers is required. As the requirements become complex, ECDN modules are added with separate VIDIZMO Streaming Servers for Live and On-Demand Streaming and Caching.
For On-Demand Content, the VIDIZMO Streaming Server acts as the direct Content Provider (Origin) for the Edge Servers to take content from, which is why a separate VIDIZMO Streaming Server is not required here. On the other hand, for Live Streaming events, Edge Servers receive content from Origin Server connected to the ECDN module.
Using VIDIZMO ECDN with HTTP Caching Proxy Edge Nodes
In cases where customers may already have an existing infrastructure of HTTP Proxy servers or they are looking for a cost effective solution for a large scale deployment, VIDIZMO offers support for using HTTP Caching Proxy servers as Edge nodes with VIDIZMO ECDN.
In the image below, ARR and NGINX are shown as an example. Application Request Routing (ARR) module is an IIS feature in the IIS Manager, which converts IIS into a Proxy Server. This feature is not available by default in IIS and has to be selected during IIS install.
ARR enables Web server administrators, hosting providers, and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to increase Web application scalability and reliability through rule-based routing, client and host name affinity, load balancing of HTTP server requests, setting up a reverse proxy and distributed disk caching.
There is a downside to using HTTP Caching Proxy servers as Edge nodes:
- These products do not support RTMP ingest
- They do not support Multicast Streaming
- VIDIZMO does not provide support for such external product
Customer will be responsible for support and maintenance required for the product
Using VIDIZMO ECDN with Wowza Streaming Engine Edge Nodes
Wowza Streaming Engine is one of the leading video streaming servers for live and on-demand video streaming. VIDIZMO seamlessly integrates with Wowza Streaming Engine’s functionality to serve VOD content for large-scale deployment. Wowza utilizes Media Cache where the Origin is a Web Server or a Network Share since Wowza Streaming Engine does not use its own storage.
VIDIZMO application, combined with the VIDIZMO ECDN module, has a pre-configured option for Wowza Streaming Engine, allowing users to simply select Wowza as the Edge Node.
Using VIDIZMO ECDN with Windows Media Server for Multicasting
In Multicast Live Streaming, Multicast servers send a stream to multiple recipients simultaneously in a single transmission. A major concern regarding live streaming is bandwidth consumption. Using Multicast servers solves bandwidth issues with ease.
Multicast is a very specific implementation and for successful streaming, it is essential that all nodes and devices (switches, routers etc.) in the network, from the server to client, should all be Multicast enabled.
Click here to learn more on How to Configure Live Streaming using Multicast.
Note: Multicast scenario only works on IE Explorer which uses the Windows Media Player. Other players or browsers are not supported for Multicast.
Using VIDIZMO ECDN with Standards-based Streaming Servers
VIDIZMO supports live streaming over HLS with all major video streaming servers that support this protocol such as Red5, Flash Media Server, Helix, IIS Media Services, etc. For a full list of streaming servers that support HLS streaming, please click here.
How VIDIZMO ECDN Provides Fallback During Live Streaming
In order to provide an optimum Live Stream experience for a viewer, the Live Stream has to be available as soon as the viewer connects. There may be instances like system failures, such as a crash or communications failures, when the stream may not be able to fulfill this ideal user experience.
VIDIZMO ECDNs are intelligently configured to handle such situations by re-routing the viewer's request using a fallback logic that allows the Edge Node to fallback to other available Nodes in the network. This fallback methodology ensures that the stream is always available to the viewer.
To read more on how this ECDN fallback feature works, click here on Understanding VIDIZMO ECDN.
4. Live Streaming Over Internet and WAN
In addition to Live Streaming over the Internet and Live Streaming over Intranet /WAN, VIDIZMO can be configured to stream live events over both the Internet and Intranet at the same time. This allows you to incorporate content delivery over corporate WAN with cloud-based streaming, or for audiences accessing from both the internet and the local corporate network. This combination can also be used for customers who want to use the Public and Private CDN together.
Possible scenarios in which these combinations could be used are when a Standalone VIDIZMO Streaming Server or VIDIZMO ECDN is used with the following as the Origin:
- Live Streaming using Azure Media Services (AMS)
- Live Streaming using Wowza Streaming Cloud
- Live Streaming using other Standards-based CDN
Other possible combinations could be to use the above three cloud-based streaming with the scenarios mentioned in Live Streaming using Intranet /WAN:
- Standalone VIDIZMO Streaming Server or Standards-based Streaming Server
- VIDIZMO ECDN with VIDIZMO Streaming Server Edge Nodes
- VIDIZMO ECDN with HTTP Caching Proxy Edge Nodes
- VIDIZMO ECDN with Wowza Streaming Engine Edge Nodes
- VIDIZMO ECDN with Windows Media Server for Multicasting
- VIDIZMO ECDN with Standards-based Streaming Servers
In VIDIZMO live streaming webcasts can be scheduled to run on specific date and time. Live webcasts setup is very intuitive and comprises the following steps:
1. Select your Playback URL
2. Select a Publishing Point
3. Schedule Live Session by specifying the start date, end date and time.
4. The Live Webcast gets listed on your Channel homepage from where it can be selected to initiate the live stream playback according to the schedule.
To learn more about scheduling live webcasts, click on How to Schedule a Live Webcast in VIDIZMO.
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