Category Archives: Ustream

Secure Video App for Enterprise Streaming & Comms

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Secure Video App for Enterprise Streaming & Comms

Ustream is launching its new Ustream Align secure video app. This mobile app offers a new, more convenient way for viewers to consume internal facing video assets. It greatly speeds up the time it takes for a viewer to access secure video content, letting them quickly dive in and start watching important training assets, executive communication or fulfill compliance training requirements.

Free to download and use, although requiring accessing content from an active Ustream Align account, the app is available from the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. It makes viewing internal video content easy and is suited across a variety devices and connections. This includes support for adaptive bitrate delivery, automatically optimizing the quality based on the viewer’s connection speed.

The application is debuting under the name IBM Cloud Video for Enterprise app, and being fully usable as part of an enterprise’s Ustream Align account. Read on to learn more about the new mobile app and the advantages it brings for enterprise content owners.

Clean Interface

The app offers little to no branding, outside of the main app icon which features IBM on it. After booting up the app, a plain, green screen appears with limited messaging welcoming the viewer. The internal navigation features no overt mentions to IBM, Ustream or Align. The only exception to this is the help menu, which can be selected before logging in to help guide the viewer through accessing their portal. This page does mention possible URL scenarios, which will show https://align.ustream.tv/999999 for example.

After logging in, the portal can show available videos or channels, depending on what content is being watched. The name for this content will be decided based on what has been input under “Portal Name” inside the account, found through navigating to Portal>Info. So in the example below, the “Your Internal Video Portal” text would be replaced based on the portal name of the account.

Secure Video App Channel List

Convenient

One of the greatest benefits of the app is viewer convenience. Rather than having to login each time a viewer needs to access a video asset, the app will remember them for their next session. Please note, though, that login sessions are not kept indefinitely on mobile devices. By default the app will log a viewer out after 30 days. Other companies might set a smaller session timeframe. Regardless, the benefit of having to reduce how often a viewer needs to login is still very large and can increase the likelihood of viewers accessing internal facing content, like training material or executive addresses.

Individual Viewer Tracking

A primary component of Ustream Align accounts is the offered individual viewer tracking. This will inform account administrators who is utilizing video assets on a per viewer basis. This viewership is tied to an email address, which is a required element for access internal content. This same rule applies for the IBM Cloud Video for Enterprise app, mandating either login through a corporate directory or email verification. Details included with this range from how much of the content was viewed (as total seconds or a percentage), where the viewer watched it geographically, and also the dates the content was accessed.

This functionality extends to the new app as well. Viewers watching your content from the app will not just be tracked as well, but will be noted as coming from the application as compared to viewing from a browser on a mobile device or laptop. This maintains the ability for content owners to track usage for compliance training, making sure that employees are accessing content regardless of if they prefer to do that over the application, desktop or another means of viewing. As content owners, this also lets companies know which viewing experience is preferred, and cater internal messaging to be mindful of this.

App: Accessing Your Portal

Secure Video App loginAfter installing the app on a device, there are four ways to get access to your company’s portal of video content. This involves entering a:

  • Team ID
  • Channel ID
  • Link
  • Clicking a Portal URL

Team ID
The easiest of these to communicate is the Team ID, as this is a custom URL slug of the company’s choosing. This is managed under Portal and Info. It appears at the end of the URL for the main video portal. For example:
https://align.ustream.tv/mycompanyname

With “mycompanyname” being the custom Team ID. Since the Team ID can simply be your company name, this is often the easiest ID for team members to enter as it’s often relevant and quick to remember.

Channel ID
The channel ID is a randomly assigned to the channel upon creation. It is located at the end of a channel URL. For example:

https://align.ustream.tv/channel/00928255

With “00928255” being the custom channel ID.

Link
The last method requires typing out the full URL. So in the above two example this would require entering in “https://align.ustream.tv/mycompanyname” or “https://align.ustream.tv/channel/00928255”. This is generally the hardest of the three methods to communicate, but if the full URL is already copied in the device it can be easy to just paste without the need to remove any part of the URL.

Clicking a Portal URL
Another way to access a company’s portal is through clicking content that is secured as part of a Ustream Align account. Once the IBM Cloud Video for Enterprise app has been installed, these links will present the option to open the content directly in the app. These links can be found on a website or included as part of an email. As a result, there is a built-in component of the app that can send email reminders to facilitate this need.

App: Email Reminders

If a user is having issues accessing the portal, the app can also send email reminders about the teams that email has access to.

So if another user is having issues accessing it, either themselves or someone on their behalf can enter their email address into the reminders field. This will launch an email to their address that will contain a list of teams they have access, showing the portal name followed by the full URL. For most individuals, there will only be one team listed. However, an enterprise has multiple Ustream Align accounts and members who belong to multiple teams on different accounts they might see a list of several different teams to login to.

End users can then click on the links in the email, which will offer the option to open these directly inside the IBM Cloud Video for Enterprise app. If opened directly in the app, the viewer will be dropped at their respective login page.

Please note that the email entered must be precise. While other fields in the app will ignore spaces and character case, the email field will not. So those having trouble with entering an email should double check that an extra space is not being added in by accident.

App: Logging In

After attempting to access your portal, the app will ask you to login. The experience will vary based on how the content was secured.

If the content was secured through Google SSO, a prompt will appear asking you to “sign in with your company Google login”, which will then involve entering the email and password associated with your company email address.

If you are using a corporate directory, such as Okta or OneLogin, a prompt will appear asking you to login before you are dropped to a page inside the app where you can login with a LDAP username, email or another combination depending on the provider being utilized.

However, if the account was secured with email verification, it will give you the oppurtinity to enter the email address so it can send you a code or an oppurtinity to enter an access code if you have already been sent a code.

App Portal vs. Website Portal

One of the questions regarding this new feature is likely what differences exist versus this experience and the one viewers can achieve from the website. As touched on earlier, the primary difference is the convenience element. It’s easier for viewers to access your content thanks to storing sessions on your phone. The email reminder is also something unique to the app experience, although works as a way to key viewers into accessing the portal in the first place. Refreshing content on the app is also easy, if a viewer has remained with the page open for awhile. All this requires is either navigating to a different page to refresh or sliding up on the main portal page when at the top, which will force a refresh.

While the app contains a surprising amount of parallel features, including support for the channel About section all the way down to accessible links, there are some features that do not work directly in the app. These features include:

  • Chaptering
  • Live Channel Off Air Settings
  • Q&A/Chat
  • Channel Cover Images
  • Portal Logo
  • Support for eCDN

Right now when content is offline, a simple off-air message is played rather than video content or an image. Some of these other features will be introduced in time, such as the Q&A module, while the app will expand with some new features not found on the desktop experience as well.

Summary

The IBM Cloud Video for Enterprise app offers an easy to use method for your viewers to access secure, internal content. A way that makes it super fast to access live and on demand video assets as needed. It’s presented in a clean interface that can be accompanied with your brand name to not distract from your message.

Want to try out the app with a Ustream Align account? Request a demo to unlock the additional viewing option this app provides for your viewers.

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Enterprise Video Portal: Customizable Experience

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Enterprise Video Portal

Looking to offer a customized video experience for your employees? Ustream Align offers an internal facing enterprise video portal. This portal is secured, allowing companies to limit access to intended viewers. This audience can be a mix of employees, contractors and other stakeholders.

Ustream has recently improved portal features, adding more ways to customize the end user experience. This includes ways to brand the portal with cover images and also a feature video tool that allows enterprises to highlight selected material.

What Are Ustream Align Portals

A Ustream Align video portal is an enterprise managed hub that offers access to video assets. These assets, which can be live or on demand content, are accessible over virtually any device, from desktops to mobile phones. Assets can be professionally created or user generated content, done through giving others the ability to live stream content that is then automatically archived for later.

An Align portal is for internal use only. Security features to restrict access to intended parties are mandatory. Content can’t be shared in an unrestricted fashion. This ensures a manager doesn’t inadvertently share company assets with external audiences. Once viewers login, they can navigate through a library of video assets, which can aid in training, keeping staff on message, or personalize executive communication to global firms.

Accounts can be managed by a team of individuals, each with access to their own channel or have them set to have global access to all channels to manage.

Channel Experience

Enterprise Video Portal Channels

All Align portals are split into two content types: “videos” and “channels”. Videos are previously recorded content, while channels can be live content with accompanying video galleries and other assets such as an optional Q&A module for viewer engagement. These channels and their associated videos can be segmented in a variety of ways. This segmentation can include by departments (marketing, human resources, etc), content type (CEO town halls, user generated content, etc), or a variety of other appraoches.

This channel approach can be used to develop workflows, for example an engineering channel might be managed exclusively by the engineering team. Alternatively, a trade show channel might be managed by the marketing team and attendees, who can upload content from the venue.

The above image is a sample channel structure, which organizes content by category but can easily be segmented by department as well. This is a backend view, demonstrating what administrators and managers will see. It can be noted in the screenshot that each channel also has certain managers associated with it.

Customizing the Look

Enterprises can customize the look of their channel portal, branding it and controlling messaging as well.

By default, the portal has a very clean, simplistic appearance to it, as seen below.

Enterprise Video Portal Default

Elements of this can be altered, though. These modifications include the ability to add a cover image or company logo. When uploaded, the company logo will replace the channel portal name, which in the example above is “White Label Portal”. The cover image, a large image asset that is 2560 x 852 pixels in dimension, works to build both a graphically appealing portal while maintaining a bit more control on the messaging side.

Like other elements of the portal, the cover image can be easily swapped out. Because of this, the cover image can work as a way to highlight in the moment or upcoming activities. For example, if an organization is in the midst of a trade show this cover image could be used to highlight that. It could also be used to announce an upcoming CEO town hall to spread the word.

Below is an example of this, showing a stock company logo, cover image and also curated featured videos as well. The result is drastically different versus the default, simplistic appearance the portal started with.

Enterprise Video Portal Custom

Enterprises can choose to have curated video content appear immediately after someone logs in, drawing attention to desired videos.

Enterprise Video Portal Featured VideosBy default, the videos area of an account shows all previously recorded videos. These videos can be a mix of auto archived live streams or video files that were uploaded. To aid in quickly finding relevant content, there is also a search function integrated in all accounts. Managers can always unpublish video assets as well. These assets will remain on the account, for other managers to view, but will be unaccessible through the portal for end users. This can help in removing outdated content or hiding assets until others in the organization can review.

As libraries of video content grow, though, there can be the desire to also highlight specific videos. To facilitate this, account managers can select featured videos to associate with their Align portal. This can be a recent CEO town hall, important training material, or even a series of content to highlight. This is an optional feature, while content can be easily added and removed from the featured area.

As with all video assets, a thumbnail is automatically generated to represent the content. This image can be customized, either through selecting a new one using the video thumbnail generator or uploading a new image.

Enterprise Video Portal Security

All Ustream Align portals are secured to ensure that content is internal facing only. Security types can range from integrations with corporate directories that use Single Sign On (SSO) methodology, such as Okta or OneLogin, to email verification.

Integration with existing corporate directories simplifies access to internal content. It’s one less login and password for an employee to remember, and creates a more seamless experience for employees, keeping in tune with the white label aspects of the portal. To simplify creation, there are numerous turnkey solutions available for integrating these. Below is a list of a few different providers and how to quickly integrate them:

This list is far from inclusive, though. This help page works as a general explanation on how to setup SSO on an Align account, which would include other methods like Microsoft Active Directory.

Alternatively, email verification is another option to secure internal video content. This approach requires viewers to check their email for an access code before being able to watch content. Consequently, this security method is slower from an end user perspective compared to SSO. From a management perspective, though, this method is easy to setup. The simplest approach with email verification involves selecting a corporate email domain. For example, managers can allow everyone from @mycompany.com to be able to enter their email to be sent an access code. This approach is not limited to a domain, though. Exceptions can be entered as well who can access the content. This makes it easy to add in outside stakeholders and contractors.

Summary

Enterprises can customize and evolve their video portal. This allows them to manage represented content, brand the portal experience and highlight videos or events.

Want to try out the customization features for the internal video portal?  Request a demo of Ustream Align to unlock an end-to-end solution for creating white label portal experience.

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Video Broadcasting Software: The New Producer 7

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Video Broadcasting Software Producer 7

Ustream is happy to announce the launch of Ustream Producer 7, the latest version of our robust video broadcasting software. The program is a full featured encoder that offers virtually everything you need for a professional live production while offering an ease of use interface. Functionality includes multi-camera switching, the ability to manage layers (overlaying text or graphics), social feeds, chroma key capabilities, screen share options, and the ability to broadcast in high definition.

The latest version of the encoder offers both new functionality and the feature set of past iterations, but with improved stability. Part of this includes reduced CPU usage from the program, reducing the need to upgrade equipment and offering enhanced performance on existing setups. New functions introduced to the encoder include ISO recording and alternative workflow solutions. Read on for highlights on these features and release notes to track all the changes compared to the prior iteration of the encoder.

New Feature: ISO Recording

Video Broadcasting Software Lower ThirdsOne of the more exciting new features from Ustream Producer 7 is the addition of ISO recording. This feature, an abbreviation of isolated recording, creates clean versions from your video workflow. For example, if you are adding lower thirds to a video to denote the name and title of someone, as being done in the image to the right, the ISO recording could save a version without the text overlaid.  The feature gives editors two versions to work with, and the ability to go back and manage the clean version. Use cases could be as simple as:

  • wanting to improve the aesthetics
  • correcting errors, such as an incorrect title
  • utilizing clean video as part of highlight reels

This feature is only available from Ustream Producer Pro. It is not available in the Studio edition.

New Feature: Shot Editor Panel

Ustream Producer 7 also includes with it an easy way to manage shot editor panel. This is used in conjuncture with the normal shot and layer process inside the software encoder.

Located on the left side of the encoder, the shot editor panel allows broadcasters to order layers within a shot. More powerfully, though, the feature lets broadcasters make visible or hide layers within a shot on the fly. For example, someone can overlay a transparent png image that would contain a graphic relevant to the topic being discussed. This shot layer could be quickly toggled off or another toggled on if, for example, there are a series of png images with each to represent a topic being discussed. The main benefit is through introducing another method to manage the video content, aiding in speeding up the workflow depending on the type of content being created.

Please note that keying up these layer changes is done through pushing the preview area to the live area. This accommodates minor editing before end viewers can detect the changes through seeing a staging shot. It also allows for smooth or abrupt transitions between alterations as well.

Video Broadcasting Software Shot Editor Panel

New Feature: Text Tool

Video Broadcasting Software Text ToolProducer 7 also greatly expands upon the text options available to content creators. This includes robust edit options for sources that can be live based, file based (.txt files supported), or rss based.

Broadcasters can add a single or multiple text sources to a single layer inside the encoder. Transition effects, such as fade or drop in/out, are available along with ways to control the speed of the transition. Text can also be set to scroll, either all the time or just if the text is too long for the available box size. Content owners can manage both the speed of the scrolling text, direction and also if they want it to “auto reverse” back and forth.

Rich text editing options are also available that include being able to manage:

  • Font selection
  • Font size (in points or using pre-selected sizes)
  • Font weight (100-900 scale)
  • Font style (italic or oblique options)
  • Font variant (small caps option)

The text box utilized can be managed as well, including setting the dimensions to scale with the text (default) or be fixed. The background color on the box can be edited through a color wheel or through entering in a RGB value, while text inside can be aligned or justified.

Release Notes: New Enhancements

Below is a full list of the new enhancements that were added to Ustream Producer 7 versus prior versions of the video broadcasting software. This release note list is all encompassing. It covers major feature additions like ISO recording to alterations to the available hot key functionality.

  • ISO recording from live capture sources – Ustream Producer Pro only (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Shot Editor Panel workflow (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • New Text tool featuring live text, RSS feeds and reading from text files, scrolling text (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • General stability improvements and decreased CPU usage (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • All sources use “Scale To Fit” by default (Mac & Windows)
  • Added additional default encoder presets (Mac and Windows)
  • Incremental numbers added for all “Text” sources (Mac and Windows)
  • Added tooltip that displays full source name in the “Audio Mixer”(Mac and Windows)
  • Added ability to update a single Replay Shot OR create new Replay Shots.
  • UI enhancements including Edit­In­Preview with integrated Shot Inspector (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Playlist changed to a new tabbed interface (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Shots inside of a Playlist now display a progress bar (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added Shuffle Playlist functionality (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added the ability to apply duration changes to all Shots within a Playlist Shot (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added “.” and “,” hotkeys for moving between Shots within a Playlist (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added default duration setting for Shots added to a Playlist Shot (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Global Hotkey Manager (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Video delay for individual live video sources (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Audio delay for individual live audio sources (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Re­designed Audio Mixer user interface (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added Panning to Audio Mixer (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Selective audio monitor toggle for individual live audio sources (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Source channel selection for live audio sources (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Audio output interface selection (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • GPU accelerated color correction (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Re­designed title system (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Customizable Social Media Shot (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Broadcast and recording statistics overlay in Direct3D 9 games (Windows)
  • Solid Color source (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Toggle to display System CPU usage or Application CPU usage (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added support for RGB video input from BlackMagic capture cards (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added 24 FPS Canvas Frame Rate option (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added support for Animated GIF playback (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • GPU accelerated H.264 encoder via Intel® QuickSync Video, NVIDIA® NVENC and Apple® Video Toolbox H.264 (Mac OS X & Windows)

For specifics on the GPU accelerated encoding:

  • Intel QuickSync Video encoding requires an Intel CPU with an Intel® QuickSync Video core, with a full list available here.
  • NVIDIA NVENC encoding requires an Nvidia GPU with Kepler architecture or newer.
  • Apple Hardware Accelerated H.264 encoding requires a Mac with an integrated Intel GPU.

Release Notes: Fixes

The following issues have been fixed between the previous version of Ustream Producer and version 7. In many instances, these issues relate to inconsistent problems, such as the fix for crashing that would sometimes occur when using Mac Screen Capture.

  • Fixed an issue where a stream may not start if the initial source was a still video frame (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Fixed an issue where transitions may not be triggered properly (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Fixed an issue where sending a DirectShow source to Preview and Live simultaneously could result in popping audio (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when using Mac Screen Capture (Mac OS X)
  • Fixed an issue where audio output device sample rate changes were not handled properly (Mac OS X)
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when using Local Desktop Presenter on systems with multiple monitors or GPUs (Windows)
  • Fixed wide character display issues with Social Media Shot (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Fixed a possible crash when selecting a BlackMagic capture card source (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Fixed an issue where searching Twitter with hashtag could fail (Mac OS X & Windows)
  • Added true cross dissolve transition on Windows

Supported Operating Systems

The following operating systems are supported by the software encoder:

  • Windows 7 SP1 64­bit
  • Windows 8.1 64­bit
  • Windows 10 64­bit
  • Mac OS X Yosemite
  • Mac OS X El Capitan

Summary

The new Ustream Producer 7 video broadcasting software provides virtually everything needed for a professional live production. The encoder offers powerful new features to empower broadcasters to improve their workflow, both during a live production and post through ISO recording. Faster performance with reduced CPU usage also makes this the best version of the encoder yet across numerous setups and without the need to upgrade internal equipment.

Want to take the new Ustream Producer for a test drive? Download a free trial and begin trying out the many professional features and looks you can add to your live content.

Download Free Trial

Roland “The Future. Redefined” Global Music Festival – Powered by IBM Cloud Video

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Roland - The Future Redefined
 

IBM today announced at IBC 2016 that Roland Corporation has selected IBM Cloud Video’s Ustream platform to live stream the musical instrument company’s historic, 24 hour international music festival and product launch. Beginning on September 9 at 4:00pm UTC, the showcase event will span major cities like Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, and Paris, and feature live musical performances and more than 30 product launches, leveraging IBM Cloud Video’s Ustream platform.

As a long-time client of IBM, Roland will expand its use of Ustream’s Pro Broadcasting service to broadcast from eight international cities throughout the 24-hour period. Having used Pro Broadcasting to create a regular cadence of live streamed product reviews and artist interviews, “The Future. Redefined.” brings an unprecedented level of scale to the viewing experience by tapping into a multi-CDN infrastructure with Ustream’s SD-CDN technology that has been used to serve live content globally to more than one million concurrent viewers on a single stream. Hosted on the cloud, IBM Cloud Video services are able to provide massive scalability with no additional investment in infrastructure or resources. Roland also leverages the Ustream Align streaming video platform for internal communications including sales enablement initiatives and company and personnel news.

“In the last several years, we have seen an explosion in how video is being used across enterprises, both as a means of internal communication, as well as a way to engage with existing and future customers via the cloud,” said Brad Hunstable, CEO of Ustream, an IBM Company. “‘The Future. Redefined.’ is a ground breaking event, and one that solidifies Roland is taking an innovative approach to connecting with consumers by creating a compelling customer experience that will drive the business forward.”

“‘The Future. Redefined.’ elevates our commitment to connecting with our community in a unique and engaging way,” said Christian Delfino, Vice President, Product Management, Roland Corporation U.S. “To make this event a reality, we needed a platform with proven scale and reliability to create an experience that will resonate with the artists we serve. In the course of our work with Ustream, it was clear that IBM was the ideal collaborator in developing this innovative event.”

During “The Future. Redefined.” Roland will unveil new synthesizers, digital pianos, electronic drums, DJ equipment, BOSS guitar related products, and a new genre of musical instrument never offered before by Roland. The Los Angeles grand finale event will be broadcast starting at 7:00pm PDT from a private VIP event held at Six01 Studio in Los Angeles, featuring artist performances by Echosmith, Saint Motel, Judith Hill, DJ Pierrre, and more. To take part in “The Future. Redefined.” you can visit  tfr.roland.com and use #909day.

 

IBM Cloud Video LIVE at IBC 2016

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IBC 2016

IBC 2016 is finally here and Ustream is over the moon with excitement. The “International Broadcasting Convention” – or “IBC” as we call it in the biz – is an annual trade show for broadcasters, content creators/providers, equipment manufacturers, and other participants in the broadcasting industry, hosted at the beautiful RAI in Amsterdam. Not only is this the first year that Ustream has had the pleasure of attending IBC, but we also get the added bonus of being joined by our entire IBM Cloud Video group. This is the perfect opportunity for us to show you how the IBM Cloud Video platform merges robust multiscreen video logistics management with live streaming capabilities to power live and on-demand video across devices, at scale.

Book a meeting in advance to reserve a time to speak with one of our IBM Cloud Video experts and stop by to visit Ustream and the IBM Cloud Video team in Hall 14, Booth A-10. You also do not want to miss out on our panel discussions on Friday 9/9 and Sunday 9/11 hosted in the Content Everywhere Hub Theatre. See below for the IBM Cloud Video schedule of events:

  • OTT for Sports & Live Events // Friday Sept 9th @ 3:30pm
  • IBM Cloud Video Streaming Best Practices // Sunday Sept. 11th @ 10:30am
  • IBM Cloud Video: Intro to the Future // Sunday Sept. 11th @ 12:00pm
  • Streaming Video: Challenges, Opportunities & What’s to Come // Sunday Sept. 11th @ 5:00pm

Book a Meeting

Help Ustream win big at the 2016 Streaming Media Magazine Readers Choice Awards

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Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 3.46.43 PM

Ustream has always been a fan favorite at Streaming Media West, and this year is particularly exciting since we have the privilege of being nominated for one of the highest honors in the online video industry – the 2016 Streaming Media Readers Choice Awards! It is the only awards program in which the winners are decided by video fans like you. We cleared off a new spot on the trophy shelf, but we need your help to take home the crown. Don’t miss your chance to help Ustream keep our winning streak alive and retain the title of being the best video platform in the industry for the sixth year in a row. To cast your vote, visit the 2016 Streaming Media Readers Choice Awards between now and September 26th. This time around, Ustream is up for a total of FIVE categories and we are looking to sweep the competition:

  • Live Streaming Video Platform
    • After taking home this award for 3 years running, it’s a no brainer that Ustream is the best in the business for live video streaming. Simple enough for beginners, yet powerful enough for professionals, Ustream is the destination for anyone looking to live stream video on the web.
  • Enterprise Video Platform
    • Ustream Align made its debut early last year and took home the award for the best Enterprise Video Platform. Align is optimized for internal communications, keeping your video secure, minimizing the impact on your network, and reducing the need for IT support making it the perfect internal communication solution for your business.
  • Media & Entertainment Video Platform
    • Broadcasters, cable networks and service providers need to be able to publish their online video quickly, to any device, at broadcast quality. Ustream’s flexible publishing and syndication options helps them manage the distribution of their content.
  • Small/Medium Business Video Platform
    • When a business needs a video platform with functionality beyond YouTube, but isn’t looking for a full enterprise or OTT solution, Ustream is the platform they turn to.
  • End-to-End Workflow Solution
    • Whether it be for entertainment or enterprise, when content owners are looking for a soup-to-nuts video workflow solution that includes professional services and consulting, Ustream is the best choice.

You don’t want to miss Streaming Media West this November as online video experts, producers, media and broadcast executives, content creators, and your streaming media peers come together to learn about all things online video. Streaming Media Magazine is the premier publication for online video experts, producers, broadcast executives and content creators to stay in the loop on the freshest news and latest trends. That’s why being chosen as the best in the business by video fans like you is one of the industry’s highest honors.

Cast your vote from now through September 26th. Streaming Media will announce the top three candidates in each category on October 31 and present the awards at Streaming Media West on November 19th. What are you waiting for? Now is your chance to vote!

VOTE NOW

Live Q&A with Moderation for Streaming Video

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Live Q&A for streaming video is a highly engaging, interactive and effective way to educate an internal workforce or promote your brand to external audiences. With Ustream, this feature is accessible as a module and can easily be synced with video content through a combined embed code or accessed directly from a channel page.

Live Q&A for Video Playback

Ustream continues to expand on this feature, introducing both a private mode and external functionality. These combine with an already existing, internal based solution and rich, ease of use moderation tools that allow content owners to cater the module to their specific application. This article goes over possible use cases for the feature before talking functionality and finally tips to be more successful in executing content with a Q&A component.

Live Q&A: Internal and External Use Cases

The Q&A module is a powerful collaboration tool that can add both additional insight to video assets and foster engagement from participants.

The Ustream Q&A, through a recent update, can now be used for internal and external streaming content. Consequently, the module can be used for a variety of use cases on both sides of the spectrum, helping to increase engagement, interest and also allow participants to give future content ideas.

Webinars (External) – The go-to use case, webinars consistently have a question and answer session. A live Q&A segment in a webinar is a great way to increase interest and cast a wider net than your original outline might have offered you. For example, if someone is doing a presentation on sales enablement and they haven’t outlined a viewer’s area of interest, a Q&A session can motivate that viewer to attend knowing they can still ask questions relevant to them.

Interactive Interviews (External) – Make an interview with a thought leader or celebrity more memorable by opening up the floor to viewer questions. The Ustream Q&A module can totally mitigate undesired questions during this process, either setting enquiries to private (viewable by the question asker only) or under an approve only visibility setting. For those seeking brand awareness, this can also help the venue go viral, with viewers passing along the link to get others involved in hopes their question might be answered and viewed by others.

Learning Sessions (Internal) – Companies can run learning sessions, going into more depth on a topic for sales enablement or to help out the company as a whole in product messaging. The module offers a perfect oppurtinity for employees and stake holders to ask questions as well. For example, if something was glossed over that is seen as important, participants can chime in. In fact, not only can they ask and vote on that question, but the answer and original enquiry can live with the resource to help educate future viewers of the on demand version.

Training (Internal) – Adding a Q&A segment to training material creates an easy way to involve a workforce while also aiding in the educational value of the content. For example, it can allow participants to go into a desired depth on a topic, helping out the presenter to get a feeling for how detailed the training needs to go.

While a popular use case for Q&A is attendance related, the Ustream platform has individual viewer tracking. This tracking is tied to an email address for the Ustream Align internal video platform and also those who registered through the external facing Marketing Module video registration form. Due to the fact that viewing is tied to a completion rate, this makes individual viewer tracking a much more effective way to monitor attendance.

Live Q&A Viewer Experience

Live Q&A Module on MobilesUstream offers a clean interface for the module. This includes grayed questions from participants with bolded answers from account administrators. To keep the view as relevant as possible, longer answers will be truncated and can be expanded on by clicking to read the full answer.

For the viewing experience, on desktop environments the Q&A lives to the right of the player while a button allows the module to be popped out. Through this feature a viewer can use a multi-screen setup to watch the content while participating in the Q&A session on another screen. The module is also mobile compatible, although rather than placed next to the player the module appears directly below the player, as seen on the image to the right. The pop-out feature presents the perfect method for viewers to be watching full screen on a large monitor while navigating the Q&A module on their mobile phone screen to participate.

Account managers have full control over the module as well. This includes optional approval steps, the ability to remove undesired questions and also controlling view settings. Content owners can modify the settings to the Q&A module directly from their account. It should be noted that the module can be enabled in conjuncture with the social stream feature, which offers real-time chat functionality through Ustream accounts or social network handles. The module can be embedded onto a website as well through using a combined embed that will house both the player and Q&A component.

Question View Settings

Content owners can modify how questions are seen by other viewers, including open visibility and a private mode as well.

  • Q&A Module SettingsAll questions
    An open question session where anyone can ask, although only account managers can answer as with all settings
  • Only approved questions
    Before being visible, questions have to be approved by an account manager through checking an “approve” option
  • Only questions that are answered
    Only enquiries that have been answered are visible, and as question can only be answered by an account manager it’s similar in function to approval
  • Private mode
    A new feature that creates a private experience where question askers can only see their own enquiries and not those of other participants

View settings are unique to each Ustream channel. So an organization can set one channel to all questions, to foster full collaboration, while setting a more sensitive channel to private mode to protect the identity of those asking enquiries from being seen by other viewers.

Question Voting

Voting can be enabled for questions, allowing participants to single out enquiries in order to bring attention to ones that are most relevant to them. This adds a number field to the left of the question, highlighted in red when it has been voted on or showing a gray 0 if no votes have been registered for it.

Live Q&A Module on Desktop

Tips to Improve Q&A Response

While most of this article has covered use cases and feature functionality, let’s examine how an organization can improve their Q&A module response to get the most value.

  • Verbally mention the Q&A
    It can help to draw attention to the module. This will not just educate first timers, who may not realize they can ask questions, but also make it clear that their participation is appreciated.
  • Place Q&A as an agenda item
    If you are doing a webinar, or really any presentation that is going to involve an agenda, spell out the question and answer session in your agenda. This can give viewers an idea of when the Q&A will take place, if the plan is to verbally answer the questions being asked, and also motive individuals to stay toward the end.
  • Feed the module a question
    Regardless of the level of coaxing for an audience, sometimes a presenter will be stuck in a situation where no one is participating or the participation starts too late. To help the process along, key up an individual to ask a question during the webinar, ideally early on. This can nudge some on the fence to participate as well, removing the feeling of being “the only one with a question”.
  • Restate and rephrase when necessary
    Don’t feel shy to restate a question before verbally answering it, either making it more relevant or more focused if the original wording was slightly scattershot. With the Q&A module, administrators can also edit the original questions as well. This can help in a scenario where someone asked a valid question but mentioned something they shouldn’t have at the end, which can then be edited out.
  • Prepare an exit strategy
    While content owners will often be presented in scenarios where the Q&A session is not as active as desired, the inverse can also happen. There will be occasions where the Q&A session is too active, threatening the length of the archived version of the presentation later on. Consequently, it pays to plan an exit strategy. This can take shape in the form of giving the Q&A session a specific length, stated before it starts, or offering to take more questions offline. Due to the way the module is setup, administrators can easily keep answering questions through text responses long after the broadcast is over.

Summary

The Q&A module adds powerful engagement to your video content. The feature works with both Pro Broadcasting, as an external solution, or Align, as an internal solution with specific controls for administrators as well. This includes on the setup side and also management, from approving to editing or removing questions.

Want to try out the Q&A module for yourself?  Request a demo of Pro Broadcasting or Align to unlock an end-to-end solution for delivering engaging video to external or internal audiences.

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Ustream Broadcaster Software for Mac

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Ustream Software Broadcaster for Mac

Looking for some live encoding software? The Ustream Broadcaster software for Mac allows content owners to quickly stream to a live channel or record video content for later use. The desktop application includes additional features to aid the presentation of your video content as well, including screen sharing capabilities, camera switching and being able to broadcast in high definition.

Webcam Broadcasting and Recording

Ustream Software Broadcaster Channel SelectionThe broadcaster software for Mac offers a quick way to begin streaming from a webcam. This can include built-in webcams, on laptops, or external webcams. It can be linked to a Ustream account as well, allowing content creators to choose between available channels.

The program is quick to launch, and offers an immediate prompt asking if you would like to START A BROADCASTER or START A RECORD. Selecting either option will begin a process that will allow a selection for which channel on the account the content should live on.

It should be noted, all Ustream accounts include auto archiving. So doing a normal broadcast will still save a recorded version to the account afterwards. The advantage of doing the recording option is the ability to pre-screen the content before publishing. Content owners can even download the asset, edit it through another program, and upload it again to the Ustream platform if they prefer.

Screen Sharing

Although the encoder is ease of use based, it offers some cool features not found in some alternatives such as Ustream’s web broadcaster. One of these features is the ability to easily and quickly share your screen. The software contains an easy way to switch back and forth between broadcasting from a webcam to showing what’s on your screen.

Use cases for this can be many. These can include sharing presentation decks to enabling effective platform demos for cloud based services. Be mindful, though, that the encoder will share the entire screen. As a result, be conscious of background applications, like software chat programs, that might pop up while you are sharing your screen.

Screen Sharing Broadcaster Software for Mac

Camera Switching and Source Switching

Content creators quickly switch between cameras and sources using the encoder. This functionality is done through using the two action buttons contained to the right of start. Clicking between the webcam icon to the monitor icon will enable screen sharing. Selecting the webcam icon, though, can be used to switch between multiple cameras if available. This can range from external webcams to those built right into a laptop. Broadcasters can also select from as many different, attached webcam cameras as their operating system will support as well.

Content creators can also select an audio source or adjust volume levels. This is done from the Preferences area of the desktop application, though, and therefore it’s recommended to test these settings to the desired levels and sources before starting.

High Definition Broadcasting

Ustream Broadcaster Software for MacThe Ustream broadcaster can live stream at three resolutions:

  • 360p (Low)
  • 480p (SD)
  • 720p (HD)

It’s recommended to broadcast in high definition, at 720p, if your upload speed can support it. The reason for this is the adaptive bitrate streaming technology that Ustream utilizes will automatically create lower bitrates and serve the most appropriate one to your viewers based on a few factors, such as if they have the download speed to support it. The goal here is to avoid buffering while giving those with a faster connection improved video quality. In terms of making a judgement call on if your upload speed can support it, it’s recommended to not broadcast at more than half of your upload speed. As a result, to do 720p, it’s recommended to have an upload speed of at least 3mbps. To learn more about the relationship between your connection speed and streaming, please consult this support article. That said, the application adapts the bitrate to provide the highest quality streaming experience possible on the connection the user has, within sensible limits.

If you want higher video quality than 720p, check out Ustream Producer that can broadcast at 1080p.

Summary

The software version of the Ustream Broadcaster brings with it some powerful features not seen in the web version. This includes higher quality streaming and key features like screen sharing. Just like the web version, this encoder is free as well.

The Mac version of this software launched this week, on August 2nd. Stay tuned for the PC version, which is coming soon. The Mac streaming software can be downloaded now and allows login with Ustream accounts.

Interested in experimenting with this new software encoder? Try out Pro Broadcasting and empower your whole team from a range of ease-of-use applicants, like this broadcaster software for Mac, all the way up to professional encoders.

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Individual Viewership Data & Audience Metrics

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Individual Viewership Data & Audience MetricsHow well do you know your viewing audience? Are you handing your sales team a list of prospects, but want to offer more insight about how interested these leads are? Ustream provides robust individual viewership data and audience metrics to inform marketers and live event producers on the effectiveness of their video content while enabling sales through being able to more intelligently identify highly engaged prospects.

Individual Viewership Data

Ustream has offered individual viewer tracking for internal audiences through Ustream Align, giving organizations an opportunity to track the use of internal video assets. This functionality is now available for external use cases as well, giving marketers and event organizers additional methods to track engagement down to a per user level.

Found under Tracking, this tool can sort by video or by user. For example, a content owner can see all users that watched a specific live stream, or alternatively can select an individual user and see their viewing history. From the platform, account administrators can quickly see how much of the content (as a %) each viewer watched and the date that the video was accessed. These metrics only skim the surface, though. Through downloading a full report as a CSV, administrations get access to rich, extremely detailed viewership data. A partial list of metrics in the full report include:

  • Type of content (live or recorded)
  • View type (if they watched it on Ustream or on your site)
  • When they started watching (time stamp that is down to the minute)
  • When they stopped watching (time stamp that is down to the minute)
  • Country viewed from
  • Region viewed from (States for inside the United States)
  • City viewed from
  • Device and browser used
  • Time spent watching content (in seconds)

This data is presented either through anonymous logs, with each anonymous user being given an identifier number, or by associating access to an email address. In order for the email address to be listed, this requires adding a registration form to the video player, which is done through the Video Marketing Module.

Video Marketing Module and Tracking

The most powerful use case with the individual viewership tracking is through combining it with the Video Marketing Module. When activated, this module adds a registration form inside a video player. This allows content owners to place required or optional fields for a viewer to fill out before getting access. Doing a product launch? This tool offers a great lead generation opportunity, granting actionable insights like not just emails for follow up, but also the ability to get further details like the industry of those interested in the product.

When paired with individual viewership tracking, this module adds powerful insight through replacing “anonymous” users with the actual email of the viewer, enabling lead qualification through seeing metrics related to interest in the content and also demographic data. Content owners can choose to have any number of fields before the video, although the email field will always be included. As a result, any viewer navigating through the registration gate will have their viewing data associated with their email.

Registration Gate for Viewership DataFields a content owner can request to be filled out as part of the registration form include:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Company
  • Job Title
  • Country
  • Zip
  • State
  • City
  • Address
  • Industry
  • Company Size

Available options are updated, so when requesting a demo be sure to ask if a desired field is not listed as it might have been added.

Assessing Lead Quality Through Audience Metrics

The Video Marketing Module gives an effective way to transform a video project into a more direct lead generation effort. Individual viewership tracking takes that data and presents insights to better inform sales teams or aid nurture campaigns to convert these users into paying customers. The most immediate benefit is simply being able to see how interested the user was in the actual content. If someone registered and only watched a few seconds before leaving, this might be a sign they were expecting something else. Another useful metric is seeing when a user stopped watching, using the specific time stamp metric. If the video content in question was a live stream of the product launch and the viewer stopped watching before the product was unveiled, that’s likely a sign of weak interest.

While the data can be used to sniff out uninterested viewers, it can also be a powerful way to inform a sales team which prospects could be more likely to convert. For example, back to the product launch, if a viewer watched the full live stream that would be an extremely positive indication they are interested in the final product. Organizations can also mine geographic data, knowing areas that are more likely to convert and targeting viewers who are watching from those regions. Similarly, this data, along with the device used, can help power more targeted nurture campaigns. For example, knowing someone watched from an iPhone might aid in messaging more directly targeted to this audience, especially if the product functions with this device.

Video Registration Form Tips

It’s no industry secret: the fewer fields that are required of a user on a form, the more likely they are to fill out that form. Many studies have been conducted to confirm this. Thanks to the addition of individual tracking, content owners can remove certain fields while still getting access to that data. This information includes: Country, State and City, which is passed through automatically with viewer tracking. The data for these fields will populate based on their IP address from where they are accessing the content. Because of this, the data might not always be 100% accurate at the city level, due to how the ISP was set up, but should be accurate at the country level.

Summary

Individual viewership tracking offers an extremely robust way to gauge lead interest, along with rich, highly detailed demographic and user data. Better inform your sales team or better segment your audience for nurture campaigns, enabling quicker paths to prospect conversion.

Want to start gathering more informed engagement metrics around your leads? Try out the Video Marketing Module and starting adding a more easily visible lead gen method to your video projects.

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Video Thumbnail Generator & Editor Tool

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Video Thumbnail OptionsA video thumbnail is an important component of hosting video content online. In many instances, it will be the first thing people see related to the video asset. This can be for external facing assets from a simple Google search, where thumbnails appear in the Video results. It’s also important for internal facing assets using Ustream Align, where channels can be created with a supplemental video gallery with each additional on demand video represented by a thumbnail.

Consequently, a video thumbnail acts as not just a method to preview what the video is about, but also as a “mini-poster” to market that asset. As a result, it’s important to not just make sure a thumbnail is associated with each video, but also to make sure it’s the most relevant it can be. For those looking for a solution that offers greater control over their video thumbnails, Ustream has a suite of cloud based features that include thumbnail generation, selection and also methods to edit the video asset itself in the cloud, which have been recently updated.

Video Thumbnail Generator and Selector

Ustream has historically auto generated a thumbnail based on the video asset, which can be either a video file that is uploaded or an auto archive of a previously live stream. This auto generation aspect still exists, and allows for a large batch of video files to be uploaded and quickly utilized.

Video Thumbnail Selector SliderHowever, what if one of the generated thumbnails is not ideal? For these instances, the video, through the Video Manager, can be selected to bring up a series of thumbnail options. One option given is to pick a new video frame from the on demand content. Choosing this will launch a lightbox, seen to the left, that displays a slider. This setup offers content owners not just precise control over selecting a thumbnail, but also a very quick method to choose a better one.

In execution, the video can be watched and paused, through clicking the video window, when the desired image is onscreen. The user can also utilize the arrows to move, at 1-2 second intervals, to find that perfect still to represent the on demand video.

After being selected, the new thumbnail will automatically be used for that video asset. This can be changed at any time, going back and choosing a different frame from the video to represent the content.

Custom Image Uploader

Content owners aren’t locked into using a frame from the video either. Alternatively, they can select to upload an image file as well. Formats supported include GIF, JPEG or PNG files. Animated GIFs can be used, however, after being saved it will use the first frame as the image and not be animated. The recommended pixel size for the image is 1920 x 1080. Different sizes, both larger and smaller, can be used if desired though. It’s suggested to not use an image that is larger than 10MB in terms of the file size.

The final image will be presented in a 16×9 (traditional “widescreen”) aspect ratio. If the image being uploaded is a different aspect, the platform offers cloud based cropping capabilities.

Video Thumbnail Editor: Image Cropping Capabilities

Video Thumbnail Cloud CroppingContent owners don’t have to take a thumbnail image and tweak it to the right aspect in a program like Photoshop. Instead, they can speed up their content generation process through cropping the image directly on the Ustream platform.

This process is launched automatically after a video thumbnail image is upload. It includes a window used to crop the image and also a preview on the right of what the final image will look like. After setting the cropped version as the thumbnail, the image can be cropped again by uploading the file another time and going through the cropping process once more.

Cloud Video Trimming

The more robust thumbnail features join the previously launched video trimming tool found in the platform. This has also been updated to be HTML5 based, allowing for cloud based video editing through mobile phones and other devices that don’t support Flash technology.

This tool allows content owners to trim the video as needed, removing undesired footage at the start or end of the content. The cloud based video trimming is non-destructive, meaning the video can be edited later on to restore portions of the video that were previously trimmed.

Summary

Ustream offers an impressive array of cloud based features for managing video assets, expanding into rich functionality surrounding thumbnail generation.

Interested in using these thumbnail features on your video assets? Try out Pro Broadcasting and begin effectively promoting your video assets through highly relevant thumbnail images.

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