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October 18, 2007

Free video streaming

Prompted partly by a tweet from Alan Levine at NMC, I've been taking a quick look around at what is now possible for free in the area of live video streaming.  Until recently I don't think it has been possible to do this without paying someone to host your live feed.  But recently both Ustream.tv and Veodia (and probably others?) have begun to offer free live-streaming via your Web browser.

Now, I should say up front that this blog entry is not a review of these services - I haven't really used either in earnest.  But to summarise very briefly, both allow you to make a live-stream available at no charge (typically from your Web-cam, though you can use any suitable video source).  Both let you store a copy of the stream for later viewing.  Both are browser-based.

Want to offer your own TV channel live on the Internet?  Now you can!

Webcamstreaming Veodia looks particularly interesting because the stream is available in a format compatible with Second Life.  So here, for example, is an image of yours truly live-streaming my office Web-cam into the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island in Second Life.

What makes this exciting is that the costs are so low.  All you really need is a laptop, a Web-cam and an Internet connection and you can be broadcasting into Second Life very quickly and easily.  The possibilities for presentations and tutorials are obvious.

Combine Veodia with a cheap desktop video-mixing tool like WebcamMax (yes I know that Mac users can do all of this and more for free!) and you have the ability to do things like streaming a Powerpoint presentation, with a picture of the speaker in one corner.  Again, all very easily done at almost no cost.

I have one slight reservation, which is that the few experiments I've done with Veodia so far have resulted in my laptop freezing or crashing after a few minutes.  My guess is that this is down to my laptop, but it is possible that there are more fundamental problems.  My suspicion is that running the Second Life client and WebcamMax and Veodia at the same time requires a fairly substantial machine. 

Note that Veodia is currently in beta mode (so they have an excuse if the crashes are down to them) and that all new registrations are manually approved at the moment - though mine came back within a few hours.

Well worth a play for those of you interested in this kind of technology.  I'd be interested to know how you get on.


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And you can even go for the "streaming your desktop capture of SL while watching your stream in SL trick", as shown by


I'm not sure whether that burning smell is my graphics card overheating, or my brain.

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