CHOPS Live

These exciting live events on the Web were presented to the world during April 2012 as part of a promotional campaign for our client, The Indie Music Fest, out of Las Vegas, NV.

The folks at IMF had been planning to use CHOPS as a live host of their two-day event at the Henderson Pavilion, featuring more than 35 indie music artists, when they discovered at the last minute that they had not provided for a projection and screen technology to show him. However, the show must go on, so we continued to produce our fourth and final live webcast on April 19th from our studio onto the Indie Music Fest Facebook page.

Webcasting onto a company Facebook page is made easy with Ustream.tv’s Facebook tab. We connected up to Ustream with a media server application called “Xsplit” which allows me to configure it in several ways to accommodate my show design. First, I start with the live animation of CHOPS, which is captured from the separate Digital Puppeteer computer using a Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro capture card that is recognized by Xsplit as input. I line up a few of the band’s music videos to play on demand in other buttons on Xsplit. Finally, using GoToMeeting’s HD Faces software, the artists join us via webcams and each webcam position is inserted into Xsplit by capturing a section of my computer screen.

To play it safe, we meet in advance with each band and test their webcam and audio in a “production meeting” also using GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting has been very reliable as far as camera and sound quality are concerned, particularly if our guests can connect on a land-line for the audio. The production meeting is also a time to introduce CHOPS, and to explain how I’m planning to run things. Occasionally we will use Console Call for audio conferencing.

In preparing for the live streaming broadcast, I ask my guests to arrive about 30 min. in advance, so I can make the final settings on Xsplit, run through the videos and make final adjustments. It’s also pretty normal to deal with a last-minute connection problem that our guests might have experienced due to late arrival or a change in the computer/webcam connection.

Gary Jesch as CHOPSXsplit allows me to start streaming to Ustream, uploading at about 1.5Mbps, and it seems to hold that consistently throughout the program. We notice a delay of about four seconds between our systems, so we avoid monitoring the end result on Facebook unless we are using headphones on a separate computer. Otherwise our audio is completely trashed. However, since GoToMeeting will see the output of Xsplit in our local webcam window, we can show our guests the program and let them hear CHOPS and themselves as they are showing up on Ustream in real time.

The audio sources on my computer are configured to bring the audio provided in the GoToMeeting session into the audio source for Xsplit, so we can easily hear CHOPS, the bands and the music videos via Ustream and in the recording. Xsplit also allows me to make adjustments to the levels on the music videos as needed.

When the show starts, I bring out CHOPS and control him and the Xsplit interface at the same time, switching between him and guest webcams and videos with a click of the mouse. It’s a very effective live show, because while I’m performing as CHOPS, the audience can’t see me running the show controls. It’s a one-man job like driving a race car, and with practice, it gets better each time. However, since it’s live and we’re working with several bands, anything can happen, which keeps it interesting.

Below you will find the links to the replays of our four shows, now stored on YouTube.

CHOPS Live4 – Replay from April 19, 2012

CHOPS Live3 – Replay from April 12, 2012 

CHOPS Live2 – Replay from April 5, 2012

CHOPS Live1 – Replay from March 29, 2012

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