them out. So make sure whatever unit you buy can
support the average length of your video shoots.
For connectivity, note that some cameras and on-camera encoders have USB ports for a single 4G modem. This sounds great, but single-modem connections
can be problematic. There might not be a cell tower near
by for that service, or capacity could be constrained by
others using that service. So you’d want a device that can
combine multiple 4G signals from disparate services,
preferably one that offers advanced codec support to
further reduce the outbound bandwidth requirements.
Fortunately, there’s an industrial-strength class of
portable encoders that include large internal or swap-pable batteries, multiple 4G modems, HEVC encoding,
advanced error-correcting protocols, and other desirable features like antennas to enhance signal strength.
Interestingly, these products often route their signals
through their own cloud infrastructures before connecting to the actual service that you’re targeting.
For example, although Facebook Live doesn’t accept
an HEVC signal today, you can stream HEVC-encod-
ed video from LiveU’s LU600 portable encoder into the
LiveU’s cloud management system with an optional en-
coder card, minimizing the bandwidth requirements for
your outbound stream. Within the cloud system, LiveU
will transcode the video to H.264 that Facebook Live can
accept, automatically and behind the scenes. You just
sign into your Facebook Live account and LiveU does
the rest. Streambox uses the same schema to deploy
its proprietary ACT-L3 AP Codec (Advanced Compres-
sion Technology–Level 3 Advanced Profile Codec) in its
encoders, like the compact AVENIR Micro.
Similarly, all industrial-strength products deploy
special security protocols like the Secure Reliable
Transport (SRT) protocol to optimize video transport
and minimize the effect of packet loss and other inter-
ruptions, and to encrypt the stream for greater securi-
ty. For example, Teradek deploys SRT with its Cube en-
coder and other products, while Mushroom Networks
has a similar technology called a Video Armor tunnel.
To deliver to services that don’t support the protocol,
the encoder routes the signal through each compa-
ny’s cloud network for delivery to your target service.
When choosing an industrial-strength system, figure
out the battery and power situation first, then the num-
ber of available modem slots. For 720p streaming, two
should be sufficient, but for 1080p, four is the minimum,
and more is always better, albeit more expensive.
Then think form factor. The aforementioned Bond
offers one of the smallest form factors and can even
be deployed atop a camcorder. LiveU’s LU600 comes
in a backpack with an integral battery capable of 3–4
hours of transmission and an LCD confidence monitor for viewing the encoded stream.
Although advanced codecs may feel like an extravagance, if you cut the outbound stream by 30–50%, you’re
cutting the number of modems you need to transport
securely, so a little extra CapEx up front could save
OpEx for the useful life of the unit. If you’ll be streaming through a company’s cloud infrastructure, check
costs, since this is free for some providers, but not for
all. As with all encoders, make sure the unit you buy
can connect to your camcorder, and check maximum
output resolution and data rate.
Prepare for the Weakest Link
While these units may sound like overkill for many
live events, connectivity is always the weakest link in
the live event workflow, particularly with 4G. If your
live event is mission-critical, you’ll want to spend more
to optimize reliability.
Jan Ozer ( email@example.com) is a streaming media
producer and consultant, a frequent contributor to industry magazines and
websites on streaming-related topics, and the author of Video Encoding
by the Numbers. He blogs frequently at streaminglearningcenter.com.
Comments? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check the
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LiveU’s LU600 can stream HEVC video, reducing outbound bandwidth requirements.