As technology gets smaller and less expensive and the ability to use personal devices in the classrooms become more popular among schools, I have noticed a rise in school districts interested in starting their own public relations teams. There are several great ways to create videos and post them on sites such as YouTube, MediaCore, Vimeo and now even Facebook, but the ability to create compelling educational programming that can be pushed out to the community in real time has never been easier.
When I first started broadcasting and working with live video, the way I did it (and still suggest to others) is to take an iPad or Webcam and sign up for a free uStream account. It’s simple, and if you don’t mind the fact that every 10-15 minutes your viewers receive a commercial break from their live programming, it’s a free alternative to what is a pretty expensive paid version.
About two and a half years ago, I learned about a broadcasting application that not only streams live video to any number of CDN’s (Content Delivery Networks) but does so at a very high quality. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to one of my best friends in the podcasting world…. Telestream Wirecast.
Overnight, thanks to Telestream Wirecast, the TeacherCast Podcast transformed into the TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting Network. I found myself able to create live broadcasts quickly, and then by performing simple edits have my content up on TeacherCast at lightning speed.
What Are WireCast Alternatives?
What are the other alternatives to a broadcasting switcher application? In the world of internet broadcasting, there are two big players. The first is Telestream Wirecast. An affordable (we will get to this part below) software based application that can be installed across both Mac and Windows platforms and easily deployed with little setup to create amazing content. The other way of doing live shows is to purchase a Tricaster. This hardware based solution starts at $5,000 and THEN you add the additional components. Where some may suggest using this because it’s what is used in the “real world” it’s far beyond most school district budgets.
What About Google Hangouts?
For most of you, the concept of a Google Hangout on Air comes to mind when you are thinking about FREE live broadcasting. True, the GHO is a great vessel for creating a basic broadcast and sharing it with the world. True, the GHO does have features that allow you to do screen sharing and lower thirds. True, the GHO allows you to add external cameras and microphones.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that there is no value in GHO. What I would like to have you consider for a moment are 10 reasons why your school might be interested in trying out Wirecast, a pretty amazing broadcasting platform.
What Makes WireCast Awesome?
Cost … Cost … Cost
There are three versions of Wirecast on the market that fit any school districts budget. If you are interested in trying WireCast, you can do one of two things. First, you can check out a FREE demo version of WireCast and play with all of the bells and whistles that the pro version (Win / Mac)has to offer. It’s pretty awesome.
The second way that you can check out Wirecast for free is by using YouTube LIVE. An alternative to Google Hangouts on Air, YouTube LIVE allows you the ability to download a free (stripped down) version of what is essentially Wirecast and learn how to work the basics of a broadcasting switcher.
For those who are looking to take things to the level, WireCast Studio (Win / Mac)offers the best value for any district looking to create custom branded video programs. We will get into the many reasons why this is awesome below.@Wirecast is the perfect video solution for any school looking to take video to the level. Click To Tweet
Send Your Students Anywhere Using Mobile Phones and Tablets
One of the best features of Wirecast is the ability to connect with IP cameras. If you have a wireless camera at your disposal you can connect the IP address to Wirecast and it will record without the need for any messy wires. What does this also mean? That means that students with access to iPods, iPhones, and iPads can download the FREE Wirecast app and, as long as they are on the same WIFI network broadcast live from ANYWHERE on your campus. Imagine sending 10 students to the basketball game with a few walkie talkies. Wirecast gives you the ability to remotely record each of those cameras onto separate channels. If you are willing to go the extra mile, you can even setup your broadcasting canvas to include multiple video feeds at the same time. Pretty Cool!
Create Fully Produced LIVE Shows
As stated above, Google Hangouts do allow you to switch between “talking heads” and screenshots… but we all know how much time that takes and how difficult it can be. It doesn't do anyone any good when putting n a live show. Wirecast allows you to do live compositing using multiple layers of video (think Photoshop for Video). You can add titles, lower thirds and even setup Picture in a Picture to create uniquely branded visual experience.
Social Media Integration
Have you ever wanted to do a live show and bring in your audience for an interactive presentation? Through Wirecast, you can display tweets from a given hashtag or user name. These tweets can be auto updated at a given interval to constantly provide live updates during your show.Through @Wirecast, you can display tweets from a given hashtag or user name! Click To Tweet
One of the biggest advantages that Wirecast brings you is it's ability to do LIVE Chroma keying. This means you can have fun pretending to be your schools weather person or to create “remote broadcasts” all from your classroom. Do you have another class with a green screen? Wirecast is powerful enough to merge two green screen effects together to make it seem like two people are in the same room at the same desk, when they are miles away from each other. Green Screens are great for news desks, puppet shows, mystery Skype and much more!
Are you interested in capturing LIVE Sports and broadcasting to your community? Wirecast Pro comes with a powerful Instant Replay feature that allows you to go back in time and showcase live video to your users!
For those who really want to create a pretty amazing sporting experience, Wirecast Pro provides the ability to do live scoreboards. These customizable graphics allow you to broadcast your games and instantly keep your audience updated with what is going on in the game.
LIVE Streaming to Multiple Sources
Thanks to the power of Wirecast, your live broadcasts can be exported to several great CDN's such as YouTube, Twitch, UStream, Wowza, Microsoft Azure and many more.
When I first started broadcasting the TechEducator Podcast, I started each show by playing 3 intro videos. This was a very difficult process that involved timing each video's beginning with the ending of the previous movie. Wriest now supports the creation of Playlists. Today when I broadcast, I have all of my intro videos in a playlist and Wirecast not only streams them flawlessly, but tells me exactly how much time is left on the overall video feed so I am ready to go when the camera hits the live feed.
64-Bit / Retina Display Support
One of the best features of Wirecast is it's ability to run on almost any machine. I have used it (minimally) on my Macbook Air and in a pinch, it does a fine job. Where Wirecast really shines is when you can take advantage of it's native 64-bit architecture to produce high resolution, high quality broadcasts that now support full 2880×1800 Retina Display Support.
What are you waiting for?
So… If you think your school can survive using Google Hangouts, I suggest you to consider looking into Telestream Wirecast. An affordable way to create a branded digital environment where you can share your school district with your local community and beyond.