Smartcom:tv, a company that produces live and on-demand events, utilized the Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding service to support live streaming of the annual event Finnmarksløpet, a 500 kilometer and 1000 kilometer dog sled race in the most northern part of Norway. The race, which spans an entire week and is comprised of a series of grueling challenges in the bitter cold, was available to viewers for free--live.
Smartcom:tv, which produced the event for the race's organizers, aimed to live stream the event non-stop from four high-performance Web cameras built for outdoor use, which were placed at various checkpoints across the intense course. In addition, both the start and finish of the race were streamed live--including live interviews. The three-hour coverage period marking the start and finish milestones also included video advertising and the integration of highlight reels.
Most importantly, Smartcom:tv was focused on providing a dynamic bitrate environment for both Flash and HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) audiences--with 3 bitrates targeting each platform--and Finnmarksløpet was also hyper-focused on delivering live content to both iPhone and iPad users, regardless of whether they were on a WiFi or 3G connection. To accomplish this, Smartcom:tv used RTSP re-streams from the four Web cameras to RTMP input to the Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding service. Smartcom:tv was challenged with receiving multi-bitrate streaming from Internet connections with limited bandwidth.
To solve this, the Smartcom:tv team sent a 1024x576 1000 kbps video stream from each Web camera to the Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding service, allowing it to manage the "heavy lifting" required for transcoding a total of six live streams per Web camera--three Flash and three HLS.
The Smartcom:tv team took advantage of Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding customization during both testing and on-site implementation through API requests that allowed the team to connect live API jobs from the Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding interface with the Brightcove Video Cloud Smart Player. As a result, the team could monitor Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding jobs via Zencoder.com, and then follow the resulting output per bitrate in the Akamai HD debug player. This allowed the Smartcom:tv team to monitor every step in the encoding value chain, offering tremendous peace of mind during the live event.
"Ultimately, we streamed 600 hours of content live as part of the Finnmarksløpet 2013," said Tore Nergaard, managing director at Smartcom:tv. "We were delighted that Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding was able to transcode all of this material as soon as the service received the API requests. We have been incredibly impressed by the functionality and speed of Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding."
In short: Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding allowed Smartcom:tv to bring only one high-performing encoding unit to the streaming location, stream in the highest quality available through that single Internet connection and "sit back and relax" while Zencoder Live Cloud Transcoding was hard at work. Most significantly, Smartcom:tv was able to stream six separate video streams from a single location, regardless of broadband connectivity. Beyond that, they accomplished this without any additional hardware investment.
Live streaming compared to a long, cold, treacherous dog sled race? Now that's a piece of cake!