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Webcast Report - Graham Stanley

Webcasting Setup:

I'd hoped to try both Sam (using my PC) and Nicecast (on my Mac), but ended up just using Nicecast to stream because of lack of time. I'm hoping to try out Sam in August. I've included the details of my PC below too, as I've been using both during the Skypecast, and for recording.

PC: AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.8 GHz, 768MB RAM

- Windows XP (Home) 2002 , Service Pack 2

Mac: Mac Mini (Power Mac 10.2), Power PC G4, (1.5)

- Mac OS X - Version 10.4.6, Memory 512 MB DDR SDRAM
Wireless AirPort Extreme

As I said above, I've recently been using Nicecast to stream the audio. At first, I found it easier to concentrate on managing the hosting of a Skypecast, and while I was doing this I played with capturing the audio using various tools, from Audio Hijack (on the Mac), Audacity, and PowerGramo and Hot Recorder (on the PC).

When I started to use Nicecast, I continued using various tools to record, but also recorded directly from my PC (optical audio out from the Sound Blaster Audigy external audio card) to a Sony MiniDisc recorder as a back-up. I recenlty realised that I've been recording from the Skypecast, when I would probably get a much better quality recording if I was recording the stream).

I have been using a Plantronics USB headset to listen, with a separate Logitech USB mic. This has worked well - I found that if I used the mic on the plantronics and happened to cough, I'd lose the recording ability. The USB mic is also easier to turn off / on when need be. On the PC, I plug in ear buds, or sometimes a cordless Bluetooth headset (I have tried headsets by both Jabra and Plantronics) , and I have a Sony external condenser microphone (ECM-MS907).

I always use Audacity for post-production of audio. I have the new Garageband software on the Mac, and hope to try this out for post-production soon.

I found it took me a lot of time to get my head around what I actually needed to do, and I suffered from information overload at the beginning of my webcast academy internship. This is why I didn't get around to using Nicecast and actually webcasting (rather than Skypecasting) for a while. Lee Baber's Nicecast screencast really helped me understand the process. Launching into a twice weekly webcast schedule with EFL Bridges probably didn't help me from tackling the streaming part, but it has helped me to become a better host. Having a co-host is probably the best advice I can give people - I am fortunate to have been joined by Scott Lockman for many of the EFL Bridges World Conversation Clubs, and this makes it much easier to host the show, webcast, run a chatroom, etc all at the same time.

Another thing I've found with using Skypecasts is that I've been joined by a lot of curious people who have stumbled onto the skypecast. Sometimes they were English learners, other times teachers, andquite often people who were simply curious about skypecasting. A couple of times, these people threatened to take over the 'show' and so, it's a good idea to have a strategy worked out for this if you're going to use Skypecast. Having a list of discussion questions and a structure for the webcast is probably a very good idea too, even when your plan is to run a 'drop-in conversation show' such as the World Conversation Club.



Thanks Lee

Thanks Lee - it looks like you've got this figured out now - I'm going to try it out tomorrow morning and then use Nicecast for the EFL Bridges webcast later on in the day.

I want to record directly from the stream this time, so it'll be a good opportunity to put Nicecast through its paces.

Thanks again


Nicecast is not so nice

As we figured out tonight, Nicecast is not as easy as it first seemed, and although I checked to see that the stream was working when I webcast with this software, tonight we had difficulties with it - both myself and Lee Baber managed to start streaming, and our guests coulod be heard, but not ourselves when we were streaming.

I'd love to know what we were doing wrong, and (hello Susan and Jeff Flynn!) I'm hoping our fellow Mac Nicecast Webcasters out there can shed some light on the problem.

Troubleshooting Audio Settings for Nicecast

Hi Graham,

I got it figured out. Go to effects, application mixer, editor and make sure skype is selected... then click on advanced while still in the editor mode. (see pic) There will be three settings for input (Target, Right Channel and Left Channel) .Do not leave them on default! I set mine to Target-Built in Audio, Right and Left Channel both to number 1...When I had set the R and L channel to 1 and 2 respectively, Channel One could hear me but not my guests. It was only when I had R and L channel set to the same number both host and guests could be heard.Nicecast Advanced Setting

See the video Jason pointed out to us last night for more on Nicecast as well as the tutorial I did earlier (though mine needs redone now that I have more details to add!) --link below.




Direct link to the MacBreak Tutorial and a question for Lee

To save a bit of hunting around, here is the direct link to the MacBreak tutorial mentioned:

MacBreak 11

Lee, in your tutorial you change the source from audio to application at the start of your screencast. I do not do it this way, I always leave the source as the audio mic and simply hijack Skype as per the rest of your instructions. I think by switching source to the application, which you set to Skype, you may actually end up causing the problem that Graham descibed of listeners not being able to hear the presenter. I had that problem on my first webcast but since sticking to my settings described above i have not experienced the problem. notice that when hijacking you can adjust the crossfade between the source (your mic) and the application (in this case Skye, or whatever other app you choose to hijack, eg iTunes).

I would be interested to know if you have tried it the way I do or if there is another reason for you using Skype as the source, as I don't see why you would set it as the source but then also hijack it.

Nicecast Set Up

After reading your post, I went to Nicecast Help under the "Host Your Own Talk Show" and found the instructions below. I will go and try it but it makes sense that it should work just fine. I'm guessing that my solution to the problem of hearing both sides must have been a type of workaround..somewhat like a double negative. See "Note" below about some input devices - that is what I was doing to fix the problem. I changed the advance settings as seen in the picture in the earlier post and it worked around the problem. Well, here is the follows the same steps you mentioned. According the instructions (and as you said), For Source in the Broadcast Window - only one source needs to be set - either Application or Audio..not both. Thanks Brad...Lee:

Set Up - For our example we'll be broadcasting from Skype, but everything applies to iChat as well. To set things up for each use:

  1. 1) Plug the microphone and headphones in, then launch Nicecast and Skype.
  2. 2) In Nicecast's Source drawer, set the first pop-up to Audio Device and then select your microphone for the Input Source. This should be the same device selected in Skype's Audio preferences for Input.
  3. 3) Next, open the Effects window, and insert the Application Mixer plugin. In the Application Mixer's editor window, set Skype as the Application, and leave the Crossfade at 50%. Once this is set, hit Hijack in the Application Mixer's editor window.
  4. 4) Finally, press the Start Broadcast button in Nicecast and chat away.

You're now broadcasting out, and you're ready to go with the actual show.
But what's going on here exactly? The audio from your microphone is going two places, into Skype and also into Nicecast. In Skype, this audio is sent to the person to whom you're speaking. In Nicecast, this audio is mixed with the audio pulled from Skype, specifically the other speaker's portion of the conversation. This is combined together seamlessly to make one audio stream of your conversation.

Broadcasting - Once you're set up as instructed above, you're set to go. Speak using the microphone, and accept calls through Skype. You can also play any desired audio in iTunes, and grab that with a second instance of the Application Mixer plugin. That's all there is to it. Enjoy!

Note: One additional step for some input devices, particularly headsets, is to adjust the Advanced Hijacking Options. Click the Advanced button in the Input tab to access this window. Choose the headset as the Target device, and change the Left Channel and/or Right Channel to 1 or 2 - do not leave them on Default. You should then hear the other party on the right or left ear - and they'll be recorded.

Nicecast working

Thanks Lee - I changed the configuration as you suggested, used your screencast again to make sure that everything else was working well, and it worked.

The last thing that foxed me just before I rechecked yourscreencast was making sure you select the microphone on 'audio source' just before you start broadcasting - if you leave this set to 'application' (i.e. Skype), it won't work.

I also recorded direct from the stream today, so I'll see if that makes a difference to the audio quality (previously I was recording the skypecast)- I hope it worked as the World Conversation Club today was principally a heated discussion between an Israeli and a Moroccan about the situation in Lebanon. All very interesting and informative, and we had a number of other people joining just to listen.

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