webcast providers

Dear Lazyweb,

Any opinions on whether justin.tv or ustream.tv has the higher quality video? Or is that a stupid question, since they both use the video broadcasting stuff built into the Flash plugin and are therefore identical?

I'm currently using justin.tv for the DNA webcasts, but I was wondering whether ustream.tv would result in marginally-less-crappy quality.

(I have heard rumors of Windows-only software that results in higher quality Flash video streaming. Obviously this is of no use to me. It has to be MacOS 10.5, Intel, and no, I'm not running Windows on my Mac.)

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22 Responses:

  1. netik says:

    I gotta vote for ustream here, they did an amazing job on the broadcasting of events from the Twitter office, and Obama, and a number of other high profile events.

    Justin.tv just isn't as good.

    • jcheshire says:

      In those instances, UStream used the Adobe provided encoder (Windows software) and not the Flash plugin encode capabilities they provide their users.

      Unfortunately, jwz, using the plugin encoder is always going to result in crappy video. Adobe hasn't licensed for release any video codec newer than the On2 VP6 for encoding.

      The other option (assuming you've got *some* bandwidth available) is to use an FFMPEG stream to a Wowza or Red5 server. Now that RTMP has been open-sourced, the technology for creating Flash and delivering it in Flash's native format are becoming more accessible. You still hit the bandwidth issue. (Or do justin.tv and ustream.tv have a "use your own encoder" option finally?)

  2. annie_lyne says:

    Do you have to use Flash streaming? Flash isn't portable, so I can't run it.

    • jwz says:

      Do they have computers where you are from?

      • annie_lyne says:

        Yes. I'm using one right now? Never mind.

        • jwz says:

          The only people left in the world who use desktop operating systems that can't run Flash are crazy people. I don't even mean Linux people, or Free Software people, I mean the lunatic fringe of the Free Software community: the true Flagellants.

          But in answer to your question, no. There are no free (as in free) services that will let me stream video in anything but Flash.

          But if you pay me $10k/month to pay for the bandwidth, I'd be happy to stream it in any format you like.

          • annie_lyne says:

            I may be crazy, but I don't think I'm on the lunatic fringe of the Free Software community -- I just run OpenBSD, and not for the licensing issues either.

            I think I misunderstood your problem -- if you're doing *live* streaming (as opposed to non-live streaming video), I don't know of a better portable solution.

            • jwz says:

              The lunatic fringe never believe they are the lunatic fringe.

              Live versus canned has nothing to do with it. These people give you bandwidth for free.

          • fnivramd says:

            $10k/ month? I am impressed, I'd have guessed maybe a handful of people tune in now and then, but with that much bandwidth it must be well into the thousands.

            • cabacon says:

              I'm assuming some kind of idiot tax was being assessed. What he needs to be paid to bother to do it is probably greater than the cost of bandwidth ...

          • bifrosty2k says:

            Its not too out there, there've been some pretty entertaining flash trojans and plenty of enterprises block flash. And yes, flash isn't portable, its only made available for certain select platforms.
            There are some opensource flash implimentations, but they're certainly well behind in functionality...

    • spendocrat says:

      This seems like a troll.

  3. coolerq says:

    justin.tv will take any bitrate and size that you throw at it. As others have pointed out below, you can use QuickTime Broadcaster. You can also use VLC (http://apiwiki.justin.tv/mediawiki/index.php/VLC_Broadcasting_API), and my personal favorite tool that can stream (albeit not free) is Wirecast.


    • jwz says:

      I did actually try Quicktime Broadcaster with Justin.TV last year, shortly after they introduced support for it. I forgot all about that.

      My attempted lasted all of 30 minutes, because as far as I was able to determine, there was no way to have QTB automatically log in, and to automatically reconnect when the stream went down. You had to go and make with the manual clickety-pokety at the window every single time anything went wrong. Obviously not an option for a webcast that is supposed to be live 24/7.

      • pmb7777 says:

        Quicktime Broadcaster is indeed a piece of crap that should be sample code instead of inexplicably free but decomposing, but I think it at least supports AppleScript. Which means that with the osascript command line tool, you can probably create an epic kludge no less offensive than any Flash solution.

        Why Apple has used Safari to try and murder Flash from every angle while allowing it to completely steal QuickTime's consumer level mindshare is a major strategic WTF.

        And now QuickTime X supports sane HTTP live streaming using extensions they proposed to m3u playlists, but is only available on 10.6, which excludes all PPC Macs. Adobe is ether very lucky, or has someone well placed to keep Apple blind to why Flash still exists.

      • Yup, Quicktime Broadcaster doesn't reconnect and hence sucks.

        Fortunately, Adobe just amazed us all by making a Mac version of Flash Media Encoder (it's been a Windows-only product for years). It's prerelease right now. Let me (bill@justin.tv) know if you want to play with it and I'll email you the details. If you see anything like the increase in quality we've seen on our officecam, I think you'll be very happy indeed!

        Alternatively if you want to try VLC, I can give you some pointers on getting that set up - it might be a little more script-friendly and hackable, with the downside that you might *have* to do a little hacking to get it working. But FME so far looks like it's actually a decently solid product, so I would recommend that.

        As for the Justin.tv vs Ustream question, I am of course biased, but I'll try to stick to the facts: Both Justin.tv and Ustream will blindly retransmit the exact same video you push to them - byte-for-byte, with no fancy transcoding or anything like that. There's no reason to expect you would see any difference in video quality at all.

  4. cnnductressd says:

    ustream.tv is not showing. Basically, the page loads fine, however the connection to the broadcasts is giving me
    "Disconnected, please wait while I reconnect"