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University of North Texas | Streaming From School

Nov 10, 2010 3:03 PM, By Blair Liikala

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS PRODUCES INTERACTIVE CONCERTS

During the 2009/2010 academic year, 30 interactive concerts were streamed from the University of North Texas to more than 100,000 viewer/participants.

During the 2009/2010 academic year, 30 interactive concerts were streamed from the University of North Texas to more than 100,000 viewer/participants.

Photos: Courtesy University of North Texas

Using the Internet to broadcast live events has moved beyond being merely trendy to being expected or even essential. Public expectation and desire have been proven by record-breaking traffic for events like the World Cup and the Presidential Inauguration. Fortunately, live streaming is now becoming more affordable than ever. The University of North Texas (UNT) is one of a small group of colleges implementing this technology within their music programs to broadcast concerts live over the Web.

An operator can zoom in on viewers’ family members during the performance.

An operator can zoom in on viewers’ family members during the performance.

The major benefits are obvious: lower costs, larger audience, instant feedback. But they can also be more subtle. The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a study suggesting that the use of online media can more than double concert attendance and interest in the arts. As one of the largest music colleges in the nation, UNT has seen dramatic success in the year since starting online concert streaming.

Live streaming at UNT began with a push from the Wind Studies division, which was looking for a means to reach a remote audience. With just four months on the job as director of recording services for the UNT’s College of Music, one of my main global goals was, and still is, to transition from hard media to Web-based distribution. The DVD market was too costly, with high production costs and relatively few sales. Moreover, many users ultimately encode these DVDs for their desktop and mobile viewing.

To make the change, we had to construct a system that produced better than the stereotypical small grainy video, with low overhead costs and without interrupting daily archival recordings. The solution was a combination of repurposing an older standard-definition video suite and using remote-management tools. UNT’s network was no match for a worldwide content delivery network so we connected with Ustream.tv, a growing live-streaming platform, to provide the primary video distribution through the Internet and their mobile-streaming possibilities, including their iPhone app. Starting with a free service like Ustream or Livestream allows anyone with a Web camera to broadcast video, and that is where we started—with just a little more equipment on the front end. Once the enthusiasm took hold, it opened the doors to expanded internal development of projects.

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