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  • 1. Capturing and Broadcasting Video with Windows Media Encoder This tutorial will walk you through installing and setting up Windows Media Encoder (a free Microsoft download). It will allow you to: a. Convert many files to windows media format for playing through a Media Services Server or Windows Media Player b. Capture video/audio and convert (encode) it to Windows Media format c. Encode and forward a live stream from Video or Audio output using webcams, DV Cameras, some TV Tuner Cards, and sound cards sources along with any other static video and audio files. This live stream can then be forwarded to a Media Services Server to be distributed to any Windows XP client through a web browser using the http protocol. In effect you can broadcast a Radio or TV Station on an Intranet (and even, with care, the Internet) with no additional software installation required for clients with Win XP computers. The link for downloading Windows Media Encoder 9 Series is here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx You will need a computer. If you are capturing video then obviously a video device such as a DV Camera, Webcam or TV/Capture card attached and recognised by Windows will also be needed. You can have more than 1 device attached. Without opening a can of worms, be aware that Windows Media Encoder plays best with TV Tuner Cards that do NOT do their own hardware based MPEGII encoding as the native TS Stream it looks for has already been converted to an MPEG II file and does not handle digital tuners at all. Look for cheaper Tuner cards that use software to de-multiplex the streams. If in doubt ask the manufacturer. Media Encoder can be installed on any Windows XP workstation (any old curriculum workstation will do – yes it does work with the new SOE V3.2 and you can even use it on a NB4T). Install the Media Encoder by double clicking the downloaded file (above) and accepting all the defaults. Open Media Encoder (it adds a shortcut on the Programs menu under Windows Media). Encoding Type You will get the wizard asking you what to do. For this tutorial choose Broadcast a live event. This program will also capture and/or convert most sources into Windows Media Format for later on if you’re not entirely comfortable with the “live” aspect.
  • 2. Choose the Capture Device It will ask you what you wish to capture. If it detects a video device (webcam, TV tuner card or attached DV Camera) it will give you the video options as well. If you have multiple video devices or sound cards (devices) then this is also the place to select the primary one. If you plug in a web cam or DV camera it will default to this device Click the configure button if the devices offer more than one input (i.e. soundcard with line-in, wave-out or microphone). Configure the Media Server We are going to use our already set up Media Server so we chose this. Our second tutorial on setting up Windows Media Services on Server 2003 is also available. Just ask. I’ve put generic names in here but add the ones that match your Media Services Server name (eg. curric4064-04). It will create the new stream on the fly (if you have security rights to your media server) so add your new Publishing Point name here as well. I have so far left the Copy Settings from box as it is (default) and had no problems. If you tick the Remove publishing point box, it will delete the publishing point from the server after you stop the encoding locally. I have, to date left it there for next time. If a student doesn’t have permission to add a Publishing Point here a dialogue box will pop up asking for suitable user credentials. Add your details to allow it to be created.
  • 3. Encoding Quality vs Speed What quality do you want? For video you can select the type of output required now or manually choose the screen resolution of the output and also the audio quality later on in properties. VHS quality video (384 x 288) and FM quality audio is fine for most purposes. Encoding at DVD quality video or better requires a new and reasonably fast computer. I have seen my laptop choke while encoding at DVD quality for live streaming but it did do it for a few seconds. Bear in mind there is no point encoding at a higher quality than that of the captured source. Web cams are typically no better than VHS quality. The encoding stage (compressing it to a smaller file size using a computer) is the bottleneck for streaming. On a LAN the actual stream takes up very little bandwidth once encoded and can often be handled by fast Internet connection. Archive Broadcast? Do you want a copy of this broadcast for listening to or watching later on? If yes then choose a location to save the file to. Be aware that this file could get large if video is included and if left on by accident for an ongoing stream, it will fill the hard disk eventually. Click Next when done. If you are capturing only then this is where you will choose the location to save the file to and you would not see the push to server setup window. Descriptors & Copyright This next screen lets you add display info to the stream that will be shown at the bottom of stream when played. Click Next when done Uncheck the Begin Broadcasting when I click Finish box and click Finish unless you are ready to go. Next we will look at optional configurations.
  • 4. Initial Control Screen Here is what you see when it is ready to start encoding. You can Start, Stop and Pause encoding here if required. . If you click Properties you will see all the configurable aspects of our capture. Here you can add other live sources (we have had 3 webcams working on one laptop). You can add files such as Adds or lead-ins and lead-outs and what you want encoder to do if one of the sources tops (such as stop encoding or roll to another source). These features are awesome for
  • 5. TV station like broadcasting and the preparing of sources and these steps is where most of the student learning takes place. Adding Extra Sources Give the source a sensible name. Choose the source type and then browse to it if it is a file. Choose the action to perform after the source stops or finishes. This will allow you to roll to another source or to stop encoding altogether automatically. Click Apply when done. Trim Source Files Play Times If the source is a “file” you can set the Mark In/Out times to 1/1000th of a second (i.e. choose part of the file to be played only). Deinterlacing If you are using a digital video camera then the raw video is likely to be interlaced (only every second line is captured in each video frame to save time, storage and processing power). When an interlaced source is converted you will often see “jaggies” around the edge of fast moving objects as the 2 frames are
  • 6. blended. To remove interlacing choose the Processing tab here and then select Deinterlace. Do you need to do this? Try encoding a small sample without doing this and see as it does add to the computers workload. Only video above 320 x 280 resolution can use interlacing so web cams are not an issue. Controls Overview Choose View, Sources from The Audio pane Click Properties and you can The Video window the top toolbar and you can show current edit sources (not the ones shows the output flip from source to source sound levels being played at that time) in being streamed at using the Source pane. being encoded. the Properties window. that time. Bear in mind we did a live recording & encoding with a $100 web cam, some plasticine and a 1 ½ year old notebook. We didn’t run on batteries or do it wirelessly for the school wide stream but we did try it his way with a few dummy runs around the school and it still worked fine. The Windows 2003 server (that we discussed setting up in the next tutorial) simply acts as the Media Server to forward the stream school wide through the Intranet. Be aware that by default there is a delay (~ 15 seconds) as encoder, server and client media player all buffer the stream before showing you. We have also seen occasional audio/video sync issues when you first start. These usually fix themselves after a few seconds of streaming. Some useful tips and articles regarding these and other issues can be found at Microsoft’s web site at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/broadcast.aspx
  • 7. Internet Explorer and Embedded Windows Media Player At the client end you can embed their Windows Media Player into the web page (we used the in-line frame of the daily notices on our Intranet) to embed a media player at 320 v 288 resolution. This last screenshot shows an alternative intranet home page with our Daily Notice in-line frame now containing an embedded Media Player instead. This was where students watched the notices Double Clicking the embedded media player toggles it from normal view to full screen view and back again. For multiple or stop/start streams we recommend using a simply hyperlink to the stream (or asx link discussed at the end of this tutorial) that opens Windows Media Player standalone. Having 2 or more web embedded players on the same page didn’t behave well and if you stop the stream you need to refresh the page. When a stand alone media player is called it waits until the stream restarts and automatically begins playing again. For large scale access (school wide) we strongly recommend a media server be established to take the load (see us for this handout if you are keen). A media server will trickle out only what is needed to keep the client’s media player happy at the other end and avoids the entire file being downloaded when only a few minutes may be played by the client before they choose to stop. A comprehensive tutorial handout on setting up Media Services is available from John & Jim. Just ask. Can you think of ways to use this technology? Have fun. John Atkins & Jim Arnott
  • 8. Curriculum Ideas The more we think of, the more we think of…. 1. TV stations to broadcast content at specific times (lunch, recess and during from class for example) with their students. Many of the learning and assessment opportunities take place prior to the small amount of time actually spent broadcasting. The preparation of content, stories and interviews along with actual broadcasting would encompass many aspects of the Arts, English and Technology outcomes. 2. One of the English teachers would like to use this as tool to assess the Speaking and Listening outcome. She is willing to do the Daily Notices as a means to this end but will also record their efforts. 3. Video students during their sport showing their action while kicking, hitting a tennis ball etc. Play the video back and analyse any areas that could be more efficient or improved upon. This could even scale to team tactics during football matches. Our Phys Ed staff are already doing this. 4. Resource base: with a cheap TV card we can capture free to air broadcasts that are educationally useful and add them to a Media server for instant access the next day. Take the time to set up a web site and have hyperlinks to every program (with the program blurb attached and any worksheets that staff create to go with it). 5. Promotional Tool: we already have a lot of media produced both students and staff including PhotoStory videos of excursions, visits, swimming and athletics carnival videos along with audio and video grabs from whole school assembly items. This gives us an avenue to have them accessed by parents in the foyer of our school on-demand everyday or at parent evenings as displays. Parents can come and see what their kids are capable of achieving. 6. Showcasing student achievement to their peers and staff. We already display video and sound bites from concerts, performances on our Intranet. Peer recognition is a very powerful motivator for students. 7. Point of Need Professional Learning: set it to screen capture and record how to enter School data for reports or anything that you want someone else to be able to do. Capture instructional voice overs at the same time. 8. Induction: The creation of student and staff induction videos could provide welcome messages, video tour guides to essential venues and “how to” guides regarding buses, canteen queues, network logon guides etc etc.
  • 9. Appendix ASX files An ASX file is a playlist file for Windows Media Player. It has 2 benefits: 1. It allows multiple media files to be played one after the other automatically and the “skip” >> button will go to the next media file as highlighted in different colours. It will show all of the media files or “episodes” in sequence in the right hand pane and an episode can be selected by clicking on it. 2. It tells Media Player to begin playing before it downloads the entire file (reducing start lag times) An asx file looks like this and is saved with the file extension .asx (the format looks a little like html/xml). Each colour represents an episode in a series. <asx version = "3.0"> <entry> <ref href = "mms://CURRIC4064-04/Episode 1"/> <Title>Episode 1</Title> <Author> Broome SHS </Author> <Copyright>Broome SHS</Copyright> <Banner></Banner> </entry> <entry> <ref href = "mms://CURRIC4064-04/Episode 2"/> <Title> Episode 2</Title> <Author> Broome SHS </Author> <Copyright>Broome SHS</Copyright> <Banner></Banner> </entry> <entry> <ref href = "mms://CURRIC4064-04/Episode 3"/> <Title> Episode 3</Title> <Author> Broome SHS </Author> <Copyright>Broome SHS</Copyright> <Banner></Banner> </entry> <Title>Series Name</Title> <Author></Author> <Copyright></Copyright> <Banner></Banner> <LogURL href = ""/> </asx> A number of free asx editors are available (often called asx playlist editors) for download but notepad is fine for editing. Media Server Services Using a Media Server to distribute content has several advantages over plain hyperlinks to shared files and even over using asx files. 1. The server trickles out just enough data to keep the client media player at the other end happy. The whole file is only downloaded if you play the entire file. If you stop playing a media file half way through the media server stops trickling it out. 2. You can set permissions on media files so that only selected users (or AD groups) can get to them. 3. The source media files are hidden so users can’t download copies of them. 4. Files can be broadcast (live at all times) or on-demand (each user gets to stop, start and FF/RW the playing of media files. As said before, setting up a media server is highly recommended for large scale or multiple media files. The tutorial on doing this can be obtained from Jim and John

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