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Archives for : streaming

So, How’s That Mac Pro Working Out For You?

It’s been a little over two months since I became that guy who actually bought a three-years-old-out-of-the-box Mac Pro. My reasoning and agony over the purchase has already been detailed on this blog, but now that I’ve used it for two months, let’s take a look back at how it’s working out.

The thing that surprises most people when they see the trashcan Mac Pro is how small it is. Remember, the computer is not even a foot tall (um, 30 cm for those of you in civilized parts of the world), so on my desk, it is barely taller than my speakers, and is actually kind of dwarfed by my microphone and pop filter.

Mac Pro on desk

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Brain Dump: Capturing from an iOS Device in Wirecast

So, with the book nearly done (currently undergoing copy-editing and indexing), I’m using some of my time to get my livestreaming plans together. What I’m likely to so is give the “build” section of the show over to working through examples from the book, so those will be archived as video lessons. Then, along with the interstitials of conference updates, fun videos from the anime fan community, and and a read-through of the Muv-Luv visual novels, I’ll be doing a bunch of Let’s Plays of mostly iOS games.

I did this with the first two test episodes: Tanto Cuore in Test Episode 1 and Love Live! School Idol Project in Test Episode 2. To do this, I need to be able to capture video from an iOS device and ingest it into Wirecast, so I can stream it.

Over the years, I’ve used different techniques for this, and decided to take some time today to figure out which works best on Wirecast for Mac. So, after the jump, behold the results of this project, plus instructions on how to configure each approach.

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Alternatives…

Meanwhile, in Apple’s Mac marketing department:

Screenshot from Muv-Luv Unlimited, providing five equally bad choices

Look, you hardly need me to pile on to what’s already been said about the state of the Mac — @mjtsai is doing a bang-up job of that — but when even long-time Mac fans like @flargh say that the message is “Apple to creative pros: go f*** yourselves”, you’ve got to hope that someone with a corner office is listening.

Because in the here and now, I am badly overdue for a new Mac, and I hate all my choices.

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CocoaConf Fall tour, 2016

CocoaConf San Jose early bird registration ends tomorrow, so that’s my last chance to plug the talks I’m doing there.

(yeah, I know I said I was taking a pause from conferences, and I shouldn’t be pushing myself during what’s been the worst 12 months of my life, but what can I say, I like doing CocoaConf)

I developed two new talks for CocoaConf DC, and those are the same ones I’ll be doing in San Jose.

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Radio On The TV

With the book done, and taking time off from conferences, I’ve wanted to do some coding of my own, to catch up on stuff I’ve missed out on over the last year or so. Naturally, top of the agenda is tvOS, and the various changes to the media frameworks.

So to warm up, I decided to take my old web radio project from the CocoaConf Core Audio class, and port it to tvOS. I figured that along the way, I’d also rewrite it in Swift and update some of the crustier parts of the code.

tl;dr: it works fine, but there are things I’d do differently a second time around.

Radio On The TV main UI

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A Livestreaming Brain-Dump

I’ve finally gotten a few livestreams out the door on invalidstream.com, so I think it would be useful to braindump some of what I’ve learned in getting to this point.

Demoing Motion on invalidstream

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Weaponizing TV Everywhere

One of my grad school professors, the late Dr. Thomas Muth, told us that he was far less interested in analysis, whereby you grind ideas down to a smaller form, than synthesis, in which you combine parts of different ideas together to build something new. I’m bringing this up because the whole Comcast / Time Warner Cable merger has me thinking about the antitrust law I learned from another grad school prof, Dr. Barry Litman, and I’m smashing a few of those ideas together.

Actually, this starts with my previous blog post, where I mentioned in passing that Microsoft used to be very active in video codec development, getting WMV9 adopted as part of the Blu-Ray spec. You know what else Microsoft used to be? A convicted monopolist. It’s almost forgotten today, but the initial ruling in United States v. Microsoft was that the company had illegally used its market power and should be broken up. This was later partially overturned on appeal, and the DOJ effectively walked away from the case under the Bush administration.

Still, it’s remarkable to think that in barely over a decade, we’ve gone from contemplating the break-up of Microsoft, to the widely-held perception that the Comcast / Time Warner Cable merger will easily win approval. Regulatory capture, FTL.

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Oh Look, an H.265 Use Case

Streaming Media has a nice article from a few weeks back on how HEVC Innovation Has Been Fast, But Evolution Will Be Slow, that while it’s great that H.265 can cut bandwidth use by about 40%, it will take a long time to get adoption, since that’ll require encoders, end-user hardware, and so on. It doesn’t work until every step in the chain can use H.265. One frequently-cited application of H.265 is in delivery of 4K video, which will have hideous bandwidth requirements, but that deserves ample skepticism, and risks tying H.265 to the 4K rock… if people realize they don’t need a resolution difference they can’t actually see on home TVs, what’s the point of 4K?

That said, I did realize the other day one scenario where H.265 could really make a difference right now: livestream uploading. When I livestream from home, I have only 1.5 Mbps up (U-verse is the best I can do; the cable modem bandwidth on our cul-de-sac is really sketchy), so I run around 1 Mbps to account for overhead, and end up with a sub-SD picture. When I livestream from public wifi at a conference, I’m sharing the bandwidth with everyone and I’m lucky to get a stream out at all (this is why I’m crazy skeptical of wifi-only livestream cams — when can you ever count on having adequate wifi bandwidth in public?). So the prospect of nearly halving the bandwidth requirements has an immediate payoff: with my 1 Mbps ceiling, H.265 would effectively double my picture quality, so I’d be easily capable of doing 480 SD, and could get into HD the next time U-verse bandwidth improves.

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Talking Streaming with the iPhreaks

I’m pleased to have been asked to be a guest on this week’s episode of the iPhreaks podcast, during which we talked at length about HTTP Live Streaming on iOS.

I was really happy that we were able to convey the sense that streaming is a multi-disciplinary and holistic pursuit, tying in very different kinds of expertise on the client, the server, networking, encoding, content production, and business concerns. That’s something I tried to stress in my CocoaConf HLS talks. The irony is that my speaker feedback from those sessions would sometimes say “more of the iOS part, please”, and the fact is, creating an MPMoviePlayerController or an AVPlayer is easy compared to some of the other tasks involved — encoding for different bitrates, transcode/transmux for non-iOS clients, security, etc. To say nothing of acquiring or creating something worth streaming in the first place.

So, good chat, and quite a brain-dump for a 45-minute podcast. The guys had lots of relevant expertise in encoding and hosting, which took the conversation in directions it needed to go. So, thanks iPhreaks. It was fun.

I Am A Spy In The House Of Love

So I tried something different this year. I took a pass on the angst and nerd drama of the WWDC ticket lottery and saved my pennies for a completely different conference, Streaming Media West. As much as I like working on media applications, I’ve long believed that I’ll be far more useful as a consultant the more I understand the content side and the problems that clients are likely to bring my way. I really like the magazine and its website, and figured I could pick up some useful knowledge both for my development work and my aspirations to do more livestreaming of my own.

tl;dr, was it worth $2,500 of my own money for ticket, hotel, and airfare? No. Not in any obvious way. But the fact that it didn’t pan out may itself provide valuable insights.

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