• A friendly and periodic reminder of the rules we use for fostering high SNR and quality conversation and interaction at Stormtrack: Forum rules

    P.S. - Nothing specific happened to prompt this message! No one is in trouble, there are no flame wars in effect, nor any inappropriate conversation ongoing. This is being posted sitewide as a casual refresher.

Webcam/Dashcam/Live stream - 2010 edition

D. Hayes

Funny it's seems the one question you'd think be asked monthly actually isn't. I'd like to make this a inclusive thread on what hardware, software, and websites can get a person online and streaming live video.

With that...
--

I recently bought a new cell phone, Motorola Droid (Verizon) which is based on Google's Android open source OS. I can stream live embedded video with audio by using the free Qik app from the Android Market. I set up an account on www.qik.com and that lets me share, and embed, the live public/live private/archived video. This cost me nothing but my time to set it up.

The phone's 5MP camera works great during daylight but not so good once it starts getting say, half past dawn. You can see a few samples and the occasional live stream on my website. My mount is the Droid car mount bought from Verizon that I drilled a hole in for the camera to see through.

Streaming can be done on any Android phone or iPhone with Qik.com. UStream.com also has an app that does the same thing but I haven't tested it yet.

The bonus of doing this is the Droid has actual GPS (network and/or satellite). Android 2.0 is able to do NEMA output over USB/Bluetooth for GPS tracking. But the Android 2.0 Developers still need to build the app. I've talked to one developer who is planning on this soon as 2.0 makes it to his phone. Last but not least, I need the phone anyways to get internet on my laptop.

--
This isn't the optimum setup by far. Plenty of you run excellent live streaming video on the road. Please share with us your setup because I rather use a good webcam with a large sensor in it that I can put in a dome on top of my vehicle.

Please mention the hardware, software, websites, plus and minuses.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Here is my set up. I have a Sierria Wireless usb connect card for wireless internet. To that i also have a external antenna. If u are able to tether your cell phone for internet thats good but make sure its unlimited data on the plan because if you are streaming the transfer can get big and pricey. The Lap top I use is a Dell XPS m1210. Its small and light weight and perfect for in the car. I have a 15ft firewire cord that i connect my camcorder and my laptop. The camcorder i use is a Panasonic PV-GS65 miniDV. The Camara mount i use is Filmtools Gripper 115 In-Car Windshield Camera Mount with 4.5" Vacuum Cup. I used to use a HD web cam but i was unable to zoon in with it, so i decided to go with the Camcorder. The software I use to do this is Misrosoft Expressions Encorder. It is also important to show where u are when streaming so use a gps and GPSgate.com. The GPS i use is a BU-353. This is my hardware for streaming Live.

As a place to stream there are a few companies out there u can go with. I stream with severeStudios.com . Its free with a bacis membership. There is also ChaserTV and Ustream, and TVN.

Let me know if u have any other questions. Hope this helps.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Hope to help here, Anyways heres my setup as well

Camera: JVC gr-d796U Mini-DV

Mount: Panavise model 809 mounted on passenger door window

Cable: 5ft iLink (firewire)

GPS: Gosget BU-358

Computer: Toshiba Satellite W/ Windows 7

Internet: (Verizon, to be determined, but either a tethered phone, or a data card and external antenna)

Software: Gpsgate, UStream (maybe severe studios, not sure)
 
Brain storming all kinds of ideas for streaming. As many of you know I'm not a big fan of the whole thing, even though I do some of it on my own.

I'm at minimal investment right now. A $10 webcam (USB) and use Livestream (formally Mogulus). All of my activities are basically experimental in nature and to try to understand the fascination, and technology surrounding it.

I would consider CTV or SS or even TVN, but what I want would be unique in set-up, and I have yet to really make any good communications with any to see if they are interested in my ideas. I am not looking to do streaming like anyone else, so that in itself may mean I never do want I really want.

2010 will be the year I decide once and for all if streaming is right for me, and if I can do what I want. Revenue is a big factor. Like Shane's been barking at lately...I'd rather just chase, but I'm still exploring the technology side too. Revenue must go along, because it does totally distract the chaser from chasing by various degrees, even if it benefits the non-chasing observers. So if I stream, I want it to pay me to some degree (even if it isn't necessary profitable).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I was looking a the VLC media player this morning. It is capable of doing streaming as well. Is there anything that neat little program cannot do? Has anybody used this as a resource; or is there a better protocol for streaming?
 
For some odd reason the forum won't allow me to edit my original post to add this bit.

I just wanted to say that I just tested the updated UStream client for Android v2.01 and have to say the quality is pretty bad. Sure it's fast but there's no point if it looks like garbage. I checked all the settings and they are set to High Quality. Here's a comparison between the two current streaming clients for Android phones on a Motorola Droid. With the flood of android phones upon us I hope this helps someone out.

Both Full size cropped max quality jpg.

UStream-
Ustream1.jpg


Qik-
Qik1.jpg
 
I have a Sony Handycam 10.2MP HD camera and the last couple weeks i've been trying to find a USB that goes from the camera to our Toshiba Satellite laptop for the streaming (I have an account at Severe Studios). Anyone know where I can look? I've tried sony's site to no success
 
I have a Sony Handycam 10.2MP HD camera and the last couple weeks i've been trying to find a USB that goes from the camera to our Toshiba Satellite laptop for the streaming.


A 10MP camera is nice, but unless you’re sitting at home using some fast cable internet you not going to be able to stream anything near that. You’re just not going to have good enough internet connection to make that happen. To have a smooth flowing video I was using settings along these lines most of the year: 8fps, 320x240 pix at 35 kbps (with the adobe media encoder). I know there are others out there that are able to stream at better quality than that, which is why I am switching to a data card this year, but it will not improve it that much.

You are going to have another problem trying to stream HD. First I would recommend getting a firewire. I don’t think you are going to be able to stream with that camera through USB. There is the second problem. I have a Canon HV-20 (non streaming cam). When you hook it up to firewire the computer will recognize the camera if it is set to HD, but it is not a usable format by most programs (if any). You have to set it the output to SD. I don’t know if this is a problem everyone has, but driver support is just not there to make it happen from what I have seen.

I am just using my old SD camera (Canon Elura 70) for streaming, which can put out a great image, but most of the time the stream is going to look alot like the images D. Hayes posted above due to the downgrading necessary for a smooth flow. Ustream is a pretty good service, but I constantly had issue when I tested in the field. Also if you use a camera like the Elura 70, you cannot have a tape in the camera or it wants to turn off the camera every few minutes (which royally screwed me because I would have had an amazing stream of the April 29 tornadoes, but when the action got going I gave up on it and missed a golden opportunity.) The stream is always my last priority when it hits the fan (since I generally chase solo and care more about seeing the tornado myself than if the people watching do).

Streaming through the Adobe Video Encoder has turned out to be very stable for me. To stream I have to have 4 programs open. Most setups are not that bad, but make sure your computer is up to the task considering everything else you will have open (GR3, GPS, Firefox/Explorer, etc..). To keep the camera powered up all the time, plug it into a power strip that is connected to an inverter (400 watt wired to the battery works well for me). Also make sure your firewire cable is long enough for what you need (and buy a good one, because I bought a cheapo to start off and it just didn’t work. You get what you pay for).

Most important thing: Get everything setup and test it out often before the season begins. It will save you headaches later on. Test everything. Then test it again. And again.
 
For my streaming I am using my old 8mm Sony Handycam. The 8mm drive is broken, and I noticed the camera has a 'USB streaming' Icon on the side and sure enough was a built in option and works easily, this at least gives the camera a good functioning purpose and saved me the troubles of seeking other options.

Pictured here below with the windshield mount from filmtools.com
4748_83180288806_530973806_2002497_5042467_n.jpg


For internet I use only a Sierra wireless 875 air card through AT&T. Im currently looking into antenna/boost options. The stream works excellent at home but I have not done an in-field test.

I need to beef up my laptops ram as well. Currently only have 512mb which is enough to handle the stream but I'm thinking that wont be enough once I have GR3, streets and trips, spotter network and all that stuff running.

I chose to go with ChaserTV because their setup is by far the easiest. Adobe encoder and thats it. I used TVN before and their 3-application stream configuration was a nightmare on my poor older laptop.
 
You are going to have another problem trying to stream HD. First I would recommend getting a firewire. I don’t think you are going to be able to stream with that camera through USB. There is the second problem. I have a Canon HV-20 (non streaming cam). When you hook it up to firewire the computer will recognize the camera if it is set to HD, but it is not a usable format by most programs (if any). You have to set it the output to SD. I don’t know if this is a problem everyone has, but driver support is just not there to make it happen from what I have seen.

I Agree with Wesley here about trying to stream in HD. I tried it at first with a Panasonic HDC-SD1 connecting to my laptop via usb cord since no camcorder in HD that i know of has firewire set up, they only have the HDMI hookup which does not connect to most computers for live stream. Howevere, some of the newer computers do have an HDMI input but i have not tried this out yet with streaming live and testing the transfer rate with a data card. Overall, my results i found by streaming a HD camcorder by a usb to be used as a web cam was that the video was alot slower and more choppy when I streamed live. And also it may look good at home with a fist internet connecttion but once you get in the feild using a data card the transfer will be much slower for usb making it choppy.

I would recommend like Wes did about getting a SD or MiniDV camcorder with firewire because the video streaming is alot more clear and smooth then going usb. This is why most people go with this time of setup to stream. And if you want to get the best HD like picture get a camcorder with 3ccd. The larger the optical sensor size the better quality you will get (1/4 and or 1/3 would be best, 1/6 is usable though).

I know since HD camcoders are becoming more popular some newer models may one day be able to support the format to make it usable and with the newer computers with HDMI inputs could be great. Please let me know if anyone has tried the HDMI connection into the new laptops with the HDMI input for strewaming live. would like to know how it compares to firewire. Hope this helps
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Both my HD camcorders (SONY FX-1, and HC3) have firewire.
I have used the HC3 to stream, but I set the output to be in SD. I can't imagine the bandwidth to get a good quality full HD video stream. I'll stick with SD for now until the new 15G network is fully operational all over the place.
 
There is a device you can rent online for a cool $2,500.00 per month that will allow you to reach HD quality via 8 data cards used in tandem.
I think other chasers would be ready to hunt you down though for taking up 8 chasers-worth of bandwidth!
CTV did some testing in HD recently for a customer and, while successful, it's only feasible for those corp customers who can afford the equipment and the bandwidth to make it happen.
 
After some checking the laptop I have does have an HDMI connection. Should I give that a try? Guess it wouldn't hurt to test it out...see if it works.

And for those who asked, the camera is a SuperSteadyShot HDR-SR11. That what you were asking for?
 
I use a Sony HC36 miniDV with firewire connection. One thing to point out is that firewire is dedicated 400mbps so the upload stream into the laptop does not have to share usb bandwidth with the datacard. Because video stream becomes encoded in the laptop and then only has to go one-way outbound to the internet through the datacard, choppiness is less likely if not eliminated depending on the quality of the data service.

I use a Verizon UM150 data card with a +9db external mag mount antenna.

I started experimenting with streaming back in early 2008 and at the time I decided instead of investing in an expensive dash/window camera mount I would experiment first with something more simpler. I created a self-made dash mount by mating an inexpensive suction cup GPS mount with the header of cheap consumer tabletop tripod. Total cost: $30 The result is shown in the following pictures:

dashcam-1.jpg

dashcam-2.jpg


The result was so impressive that I used it all year in 2009 and will continue to do so until it breaks.

Because I stream with Severe Studios, I am using MS Expression Encoder 2.1 for my encoder. (Expression Encoder 3 is available but I am still doing trial runs with it). It is vastly improved over WME and very stable. Expression's look and feel is "similar" to Adobe FME making it simpler to use and configure. It's multi-video source feature allows me to hook up multiple cameras simultaneously, and switch back and forth between them on the fly with one click while streaming (one streaming camera at a time), and I have experimented with having an additional webcam connected and it works great. This feature is great if you want to have a second camcorder or webcam facing out the back or side windows (or at your face ;) ) and switch to it when needed.

My laptop is a dual core 2.2, with 4Gb ram, so loading it up with GRL3, SN, Streets and Trips, Skype, and other various chat/IM apps is handled well. Bumping up RAM is the single most important thing you need to do.

Whether or not you want to get distracted by all these features while chasing is a matter of personal choice. The goal here is to enjoy the chase and not get overwhelmed by all the technology.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Im currently looking into antenna/boost options. The stream works excellent at home but I have not done an in-field test.

I need to beef up my laptops ram as well. Currently only have 512mb ...

I used TVN before and their 3-application stream configuration was a nightmare on my poor older laptop.

When you look for antenna boost option just use ebay and find a used wilson or cyfre amp and a mag mount antenna. You will notice a diffference the first try out. Just watch long enough and you should be able to score a setup for under a $100.

I have a computer with dual core 2.2 processor and 4 gb of ram and the TVN setup still rough on that computer. I actually had to use Webcam Max with ManyCams to get what I needed to happen so it was a 4-app for me. Definitely bump that ram as high as you can. To be sure you get the right ram use - http://www.crucial.com/index.aspx. They are very good.
 
After some checking the laptop I have does have an HDMI connection. Should I give that a try? Guess it wouldn't hurt to test it out...see if it works.

And for those who asked, the camera is a SuperSteadyShot HDR-SR11. That what you were asking for?

I'm pretty sure that HDMI port is output only. I could be wrong, but last time I checked there weren't any laptops available with HD tuners.

The SR-11 is a hard drive camcorder and does not support streaming over the USB connection. The USB is for file transfer off the hard drive only. To stream you're going to have to use the camcorder's composite output and get a USB composite video tuner like the EasyCap USB off of Ebay. I have the XR500v and its the same deal. I've looked into using the HDMI output on the camcorder, but I'd need external hardware to get it into the laptop, and then there is no way to stream it out as video at that resolution. I was hoping to just stream high resolution stills, but with the hardware limitations, I'm just streaming through the SD composite output.
 
There is a device you can rent online for a cool $2,500.00 per month that will allow you to reach HD quality via 8 data cards used in tandem.

I was just talking to another chaser about that last night, sounds like it works well for carrying a couple different providers as well, should you be out of a service area of one...
 
Would something like and I-Link cable work? Found one on Sony's website that might work going from the camcorder to laptop. I THINK it will work for streaming...but does anyone know for sure?

EDIT: This is something I found on Ebay. Wondering how well it would work in a storm chase scenario. Sure looks nice though! Is this plausible to use for streaming? Ebay
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Would something like and I-Link cable work? Found one on Sony's website that might work going from the camcorder to laptop. I THINK it will work for streaming...but does anyone know for sure?

From what I can tell I-Link is just another name for firewire, so that should work. Just make sure you are getting the correct pin connectors. Most laptops and camcorders use 4 pin connectors. Desktops tend to use 6 pin connectors. My bet is you going to need a 4 to 4 connector. BHPhoto.com carries a nice selection.

The Ebay item looks like fun, but just moving the camera around manually seems much easier to me.
 
ilink is sony's name for firewire aka IEEE most if not all, as you pointed out, that are built in laptops are 4pin. I think all the cameras that have firewire are 4 pin too, all that I saw anyway, so a 4 pin to 4 pin is all you need. Skip the expensive name brands. In most cases the cheap $3-4 dollar ones you can pick up work just as good as the $40-50 ones. Length is really all you need to consider.
 
This post is somewhat unrelated but I just wanted to say thanks to this forum on the inspiration and technical ideas for my streaming setup. From what I have learned I think I may try streaming this spring when I am out chasing.

Im using an Asus netbook with the Atom processor and a 8 cell battery with a Logitech 9000 HD USB camera and Altell data card mounted on my aicraft to stream live video of us flying with Whooping Cranes. Its pretty cool to be able to show this live - amazing what technology has allowed...
http://www.zaplive.tv/web/omi-trk-01/home
 
When you look for antenna boost option just use ebay and find a used wilson or cyfre amp and a mag mount antenna. You will notice a diffference the first try out. Just watch long enough and you should be able to score a setup for under a $100.

I have a computer with dual core 2.2 processor and 4 gb of ram and the TVN setup still rough on that computer. I actually had to use Webcam Max with ManyCams to get what I needed to happen so it was a 4-app for me. Definitely bump that ram as high as you can. To be sure you get the right ram use - http://www.crucial.com/index.aspx. They are very good.

Thanks for the site recommendation. Just ordered my upgrade today! From 512mb to 2gb I go - should be more than enough.
 
Please share with us your setup because I rather use a good webcam with a large sensor in it that I can put in a dome on top of my vehicle.

Please mention the hardware, software, websites, plus and minuses.


Alright, I use the Microsoft HD Cinema Webcam tied into an Acer Aspire 5315 Notebook. The computer is running Vista Home with 1GB of ram on a 1.86Ghz Celeron Processor. Ive got a Delorme Earthmate LT-40 GPS Puck tied in with the Delorme Serial Emulator. I run the GR Level 3 software tied into various ShapeFiles which let me see Street-To-Street where im going. To stay connected and ahead of the storms. I use a UM-175 Starcomm mobile broadband internet card through Verizon. To go with the Internet Card, Ive got an External Antenna which boosts my signal up. I dont know what its called, So ive included a picture at the bottom of this post. On the Inside, I use a NEXTECH 175watt power invertor that runs my laptop and charges my cameras when neccesary. Ive got a Sony A-200 DSLR for shooting and a Sony HDR-FX7 for filming. I have paid for a package through ChaserTV.com and that is who helps Broadcast my stream.


DSC02090-1.jpg


DSC02108956x639.jpg
 
Link to my website in my signature for my setup. I haven't posted the pics of the camera mount yet. It's a Microsoft Webcam in small dome mounted on top of the vehicle.
 
Back
Top