Online video, as we are often told is the future of broadcast. With heavyweights such as YouTube introducing 1080p streaming next week and the growing ubiquity of broadband, new and exciting distribution technologies are popping up on a weekly basis. Producers of online content were giving yet another weapon in their growing arsenal last week as Livestream introduced the ability to stream content live to iPhones.
Livestream,(formerly Mogulus) allows users to broadcast live video from a virtual studio to an online audience. Much more than a simple feed, Livestream includes the ability to mix multiple live cameras, overlay graphics, and desktop streaming with 3d effects. Available in ad-supported free and paid flavours, Livestream has a web-based app as well as a desktop client – Procaster.
The iPhone streaming functionality offers a turn-key streaming service using H.264 HTTP live streaming, which is included in the native Quicktime. Livestream Procaster includes a free streaming encoder, which means that no third party application or license needs to be purchased in order to stream live to the iPhone using Livestream.
Set up was relatively straight forward. The desktop client was relatively small and available for the Mac and PC. Before you get started you need to sign up for a free Livestream account that gives you a www.livestream.com/YourNameHere URL for your viewers to head to. A few minutes later I was ready to go.
The Procaster software is incredibly straightforward, yet allows you to broadcast images from your webcam, screen or game you are running – with the ability to switch between them on the fly. You can even integrate a Twitter feed. I gave Livesteam a go and broadcast footage of the office coffee pot to the world, alternating between a DV cam connected via Firewire 400 and a Logitec Pro 9000 webcam. iPhone streaming over a weak 3G signal was a little laggy, but when I switched to a 2Mbps Wi-Fi connection the quality improved dramatically. The image quality was surprisingly sharp from my Logitech Pro 9000 webcam and captured fast moving images at a reasonably smooth frame rate. The DV footage was clear but seemed to increase lag to an iPhone on a 3G signal.
One significant advantage this system has is that viewing the feed is as simple as navigating to the www.livestream.com/YourNameHere URL from the iPhone browser. “A key breakthrough is that the service doesn’t require any proprietary player or application to be installed on the iPhone. Producers are free to integrate the iPhone live stream with their own website, iPhone portal or iPhone application using the API provided,” explained Livestream CEO and co-founder Max Haot.
Whilst lacking the sophisticated feature set of more expensive packages such as BoinxTV (Mac OS X only) for a simple broadcasting set up, such as a conference, open mic night or low key gig for a band, Livestream offers a compelling proposition.