Ragmala Television and Radio is off and running. We have been blessed to find space on the web first through www.Shoutcast.com with their awesome Radio broadcasting plugins for Winamp and now with UStream. All these folks are making great efforts to make it easy for guys like us to be on the air and available to you 24/7. Thank you!
On the subject of UStream, when we first started broadcasting the stream was choppy and I started to learn more about what it would take to get a quality broadcast. I quickly found out that it helps to get a fast computer with lots of RAM! and ..... the DSL uplink has to have a minimum 512k upload to be able to do any streaming that's decent enough.
Handling the audio programming was no problem. That's what I've done all my life. As a matter of fact, when I first came to the US back in the early 70s, I was invited to play at local radio station KUSP in Santa Cruz, California. Within a short time I was recruited to do a radio program there and as a result received a broadcasting license! Wow... those were the days. I would start the station off in the early morning hours. That was a great thrill and a fantastic learning experience. The other side of this was that, It was a perfect platform for me to bring over my instruments and my father and students would often join me to give regular performances. Almost 40 years latter, here I am doing it again. The time line has progressed but my love for broadcasting is seeing a new direction thatnks to the Internet.
Coming back to Webcasting ....
Just a few weeks ago, After I had figured out how to work the Shoutcast servers, I came across the UStream TV site while searching for a relay server for my shoutcast stream. Joining Ustream and starting my first broadcast could not have been easier. Within 5 minutes, I was streaming. I had a logitec Orbitcam from ebay and the picture was good but the audio was the worst. There was too much saturation and distortion. I thought this might be a defected one so 'i returned it. After that I sat around for about a week with no camera to broadcast. Then, as if by divine intervention, a friend gave me an old DAK A/D converter. I read up on this and it turns out it can take a regular analog camera out and turn it into a 394 digital signal that the computer can read. I spent no time setting this up and within miniutes I had my Sony VX3 - 3 CCD camera connected to the computer. I turned on UStream and low and behold it recognized this input and there was my picture. I felt exilerated. Now all I had to do was to get my son, Keshav, to join me in on the stage and we were broadcasting our first live performance.
Then I hooked up all I had, my vcrs, DVD players, Camcoder, and the live camera feed into a switcher and I was the proud owner of Ragmala TV!
After a few weeks of this, I started to dabble on the help pages of UStream. I don't know what I was trying to look for. But perchance my eyes glanced through some information on how the stream can be jazzed up with a software called Webcammax. I immediately browsed their site doing flybys more than a few times trying to assess whether it was worth the effort to put this software on my computer. Usually I put something there and forget to do anything about it :)
I went ahead and downloaded WebcamMax and put it on my computer. Let me tell you the excitement of all the things I found it did was overwhelming. It took me a while to digest it all quickly but everything I clicked on gave a really neat result. You can broadcast from a webcam, you can pull video from your hard drive and put it on the air, you have a boat load of effects you can mess around with to give that silly or serious loook to your broadcast. My instant favorite was the doodling plugin. Great for adding some quick pointers on the video streams or drawing a moustache on someone you want to be silly with. The other effect I appreciated, and use a lot, is the text tool. You can have a title on top of your stream in a few seconds! You have access to all the fonts on your system and there are some limited but cool effects that can spice up the title's look. The titles can also be resized very easily and quickly using sliders to get that just right fit on the screen. There is also an "Online" button that lets you download more effects fro the Wecammax server over the Internet. The catch is you have to be a registered user. but at $20 for 6 months that's a steal. Talking about the cost of this software, Webcammax gives out only licenses to use their software. This might sound corny but on the bright side, you can update to the latest since you are buying into the technology present and future. The other good news is that if you pay for a lifetime license, you can enjoy the benefits for as long as you want to. The cost for this is $50.
In the one week I've used this software, I love the fact that I can stream video right from my hard disk bypassing any A/D or D/A conversions. This in itself is worth the small fee charged by Webcammax to get up and running. AVis, MPGs, WMVs all work. I'm sure there are formats that Webcammax does not stream but I know that the popular ones are included. Personally, I don't like to get silly over the webcast but those silly prankster effects can be a great way to spend tiome making your kids videos. Heck, that'll probably keep your kids busy for hours! That's a great deal there too.
So thank you Webcammax! And oh yes, this is for PCs and not Macs ;)