DIY(ish) Video Streaming Setup

DIY(ish) Video Streaming Setup

Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

Listening to: Primetime - Tied Down
Photo: “my” back yard. Lots of shade from the trees in the summer (and yes, the fence has been fixed now).

I said the video/streaming setup down at Red Gate would be documented. So that’s on today’s bill.

Turnkey systems can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and that obviously was not a go. So we had to DIY it. The quality and features suit us and match some far more expensive setups but it all takes a bit more in the way of tech skills to keep running. We also wanted to keep the setup flexible to accommodate various needs and future expansion.

Stream Box:

A refurbished Lenovo M93p SFF with an i5-4570, 16 gigs ram, 500 gig SSD and Geforce 1030 running a arch-based linux distro and OBS Studio. Everything was on used/free/on sale. If that’s ever not powerful enough any other computer could be used with very little tweaking. I’m presently building a second machine for that room so solo artists and interviews can be done there without all the setup required for the main area.

Camera Setup:

Three Panasonic G85’s and a Panasonic G7. The stabilisation from the G85’s stock lens is rather terrific for handheld work and after the cameras were set up, it only takes five or ten minutes of training to get the operational basics down (on manual, fixed zoom with ability to snap focus when needed). One can hand them to any available staff or group that books. All cameras will shoot 4k video to the internal card (until full, no time limitations) and if filming at 1080p 30/fps, can also output raw HDMI to a NDI encoder for streaming. We also have a 40mm (panasonic) and 85mm (Voigtländer) primes available for special shoots. Neither is stabilised but both work with the in-body and electronic stabilisation and are much faster lenses.

Encoders:

These were the fancy bit. Three Birddog Studio NDI units. They attach to the camera rigs and send the HDMI video over ethernet to the stream box. Quality is great and they’ve proven dead reliable. They are bi-directional and also feature SDI so that we could accept a show which brings proper broadcast equipment. They work over POE so there are no additional power needs.

Network Equipment:

Two Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 8 60w POE switches, a Unifi Security Gateway and a lot of gigabit ethernet runs. We have two rooms wired now and will eventually do the front gallery as well. It means we can move a camera, plug it in and it just works, auto-configuring itself with the stream box. The administration is simple and GUI based so anybody should be able to pick up administration if I’m not available.

Lighting:

Mostly donated. The lights were updated with stronger bulbs and the lighting board apparently dates back to Expo ‘86 in Vancouver. We do have a 5600k Godox SL-60 with softbox and a few DIY work lights to fill in when needed along with a small ring light for interviews and the like.

The Best Bit:

Even during a global pandemic, I occasionally get to see a performance.

Totally worth the hundred or so hours of work :-).

3 minutes read
Safe Beer

Safe Beer

Saturday, Jan 23, 2021

Listening to: Sweeping Promises - Hunger for a Way Out
Photo: another Olympus D-360L pic circa 1999. Octoberfest. Get ten thousand Germans drunk in a massive tent and they… dance on the tables. Munich was a great place to live.

I do love to have a couple of beers and talk up a storm. In normal times it’s often available seven days a week at gigs or the studio (a music-oriented LGBTQ friendly all-ages ‘safe space’ venue full of interesting people). Alas it’s become rather complicated in the last year.

The best research I’ve found says that being thirteen feet apart outdoors or in a ventilated space should be safe. It fits with Ontario’s new rules and Europe’s direction. By coincidence, that’s the same length as the bar in the main room. So in theory, it’s a go. Two people, one at either end and keep the music low so you don’t have to shout.

I’ll run it by a local doctor I’ve been chatting with.

He gives me homework.

It’s awesome.

ps. Scientists just learned a lot more about dinosaur butts

1 minutes read
Firefox Addons

Firefox Addons

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021

Listening to: Dream Nails - Dream Nails
Photo: pic taken with my first digital camera, the Olympus D-360L (bought 1999 in New Orleans). Still works!

I use Firefox. One of only a small percentage of people who do these days. The market is dominated by Chrome and it’s derivatives. I could go on about how a mono-culture on web access is dangerous, or how that it would be headed by what is effectively an ad firm/data broker with little sense of ethics, but I’d be digressing.

This is about add-ons. Mostly so I don’t forget what I’m using. You’ll probably want to go back to doing something more relevant to your life at this point (videos of goats cavorting is my go-to).

uBlock Origin - blocks lots of ads* and crap. Makes the web faster to browse.

Privacy Possum - reduces and/or falsifies data gathered by tracking companies.

Privacy Badger - learns to block invisible trackers.

Firefox Multi-Account Containers - lets you run each website in isolation.

Facebook Container - wraps Facebook automatically and generally screws with their tracking elsewhere on the web.

Decentraleyes - Messes with CDN (Content Delivery Network) delivery. Third parties that host web content and may monetise your data.

ClearURL’s - Removes tracking elements built into links and URL’s themselves.

HTTPS Everywhere - Just removed this one as the feature is now built into Firefox. Warns you when you load insecure websites (any password would be transmitted as plain text).

*I have no problems with seeing ads. I ran a site for a decade that depended on them for revenue. But those were topical, self-hosted and did not contain any trackers. Alas, many modern ad services are kinda shitty about that stuff.

2 minutes read
13 Feet of Kraftwerk

13 Feet of Kraftwerk

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Listening to: KRAFTWERK - Trans Europe Express
Rule: Don’t change a litterbox until Willy switches to a different one.

A article in The Guardian this morning tweaked a bit of a Kraftwerk binge. Revival of Trans Europe Express ‘key to EU’s carbon neutrality also reminded me of past train trips. Mostly in Europe but also a memorable one from Thunder Bay to Calgary after a stint of tree planting. There were half a dozen of us, many engaged in crafts or reading. I spent a lot of my time with a mutual crush (alas we both had a partner back home). It was really rather romantic.

Also in the news were a few articles relating the (welcome) news that various governments policies towards the pandemic are finally beginning to relate to the actual science. A spring 2020 article on particle transmission stated “safe social distancing” should be thirteen feet. Indeed “twelve feet” is finally a guideline in the province of Ontario and is now being put forward in France. The article also reminds us that good “home made non-medical” masks are only about 70% effective (properly fitted medical up to 95%). So distancing of six feet should be mandatory unless medical masks are worn. As they already should be in workplaces where staff cannot maintain distancing.

2 minutes read
Bullying

Bullying

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

Listening to: Still Little Fingers - Inflammable Material
Rule: Call it out when you see it.

Two incident over the last month have reinforced my views on free speech, end-to-end encrypted private messaging and hatred of bullies. Growing up as foreign-accented mouthy kid in prairie Canada, I saw a lot of the latter first-hand.

The first incident was in a coffee shop just before Christmas. A staff member seemingly wanted to talk to a customer but was literally shouted down by another employee. The offender let off a endless verbal barrage intended to purge the room of any other speech. I can’t imagine what they thought justified the behaviour or the motivations behind it but reactions in the room varied from uncomfortable to outright horrified.

The second was a article released today by The Guardian: Woman jailed for record 43 years for insulting Thai monarchy. I thought I misread the headline at first. It’s sad to think governments are so repressive (and “the west” is not immune. Business use SLAPP tactics to silence criticism, governments give themselves permission to assassinate their own citizens and reporters are routinely murdered worldwide.)

While the scales are vastly different, both of the examples above were intended to end discourse.

To prevent constructive (edit: changed from “free” in light of recent events) speech and suppress any further attempts.

Objecting to something on legitimate grounds is something to be encouraged. To discuss an issue in an open and fair manner. The matter may never result in agreement, but to prevent the conversation in the first place is:

Bullying

2 minutes read
Mobian

Mobian

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

Listening to: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Coma Girl (video)
Rule: every time I do something “brave”, I get a delicious treat. As a result, I don’t eat much pastry.

Well, that didn’t work out. Previously, I’d started “dog-fooding” Ubuntu Touch on the Pinephone. Not quite ready, had some issues with connectivity, both wi-fi and cellular. Almost there but receiving messages reliably is a must.

Just flashed Mobian. It’s not only reported to be the most mature of the options, but it’s also presently shipping as a special edition of the Pinephone (I’d say “get one, it’s only $150 USD”, but expect a bit of nerding over the next few months).

Round #2. Let’s see how it goes…

1 minutes read
Signal Down Enter The Matrix

Signal Down Enter The Matrix

Friday, Jan 15, 2021

Listening to: Aerial East - Running Up That Hill
Photo: I hate sleeping alone. Inanimate anthropomorphic objects are not an acceptable substitute.

After WhatsApp’s recently announced policy changes (now “delayed” three months), a lot of folks are trying to switch to Signal. Which is awesome. But Signal is struggling with the influx of users at the moment (read: it’s down).

Another option, one I use, is Matrix. It’s easy to get going, just install one of the many Matrix Apps on your device and there is usually a wizard to step you through signing up. You may get a choice of servers to use and there are… thousands. Do the research or just accept the default. They are all independent but communicate with each other. It’ll be fine.

Matrix is arguably more powerful than Signal, and is also IP based (so you need a data plan or WiFi). No need to hand out your phone number thou (umm, don’t), in fact most logins just require an e-mail address for verification and password resets etc.

ping me @flay@ubports.chat if you do sign up.

ps. I use Fluffychat but Element is a good bet for most users. Hell, try a few.

1 minutes read
Dog Fooding

Dog Fooding

Thursday, Jan 14, 2021

Listening to: Joan Jett - Crimson and Clover (video)
Photo: Old phone takes pic of new phone. In a saucepan. Classy.

“Dog Fooding” is a strange term I only heard a couple of years ago. In this context it refers to using a technology full-time while still in development. Bugs and all. Beta testing full-time.

My old phone had died (well before it’s time, grrrrr!) so I’d purchased a used Google Nexus 5 and flashed it with a series of alternative operating systems. Ended up on one called “Ubuntu Touch”, a version of linux for mobile devices originally created by Canonical then taken over by the “Ubports Foundation”. It’s been great. But the phone itself is growing old now and the battery isn’t lasting long. Not being an easily replaceable part (also grrrrr!), the next step had to be researched.

Enter the PinePhone. A device created by Pine64, a non-profit collective, for the express purpose of open-source operating system development (“build the hardware and they will come”). I bought in early with an edition simply known as “Braveheart”. There was no shipped OS but several were in development, none yet ready to be a used on a daily basis. Over the last year over half a dozen usable operating systems have appeared. Later versions of the device had updated hardware so this Braveheart version only runs a couple of projects well. One of them being the same OS, Ubuntu Touch.

Switched the SIM card over today. While not yet ready for the general public, it’s good enough for my day-to-day use. Let’s call it “quirky” at the moment. The camera isn’t presently reliable but otherwise it seems to work fine. I often carry a Panasonic G85 about anyway (it goes in a small sling bag with a couple of lenses).

And will order the motherboard update so it can run some of the other projects built for later Pinephone versions. Oh, did I mention? The Pinephone (and indeed most of what Pine64 creates) is entirely user repairable and up-gradable. They even guarantee part availability for five years. The later version will also work as a (low power, albeit) desktop computer if you connect it to a available dock, keyboard and monitor. That’s called “convergence”.

Neato.

2 minutes read
C-11

C-11

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

Listening to: Tom Tom Club - Genius of Live   Photo: Home on a Sunny Day (built around 1913)

The CBC has an opinion piece posted “Digital privacy law is being updated for the first time in decades, and it’s imperative we get it right” about the upcoming digital privacy bill C-11. It’s important.

People’s lives are their own and they should have control on who has access to the details of it. Let’s not let the corporate mono/duopolyies decide.

1 minutes read
Fraser River Park

Fraser River Park

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021

Listening to: Negative Scanner - Nose Picker

Photo: Fraser River Park

Stanley likes digging a hole at the beach, dropping his ball into it then barking at the ball for a spell. Dig another hole, move the ball, bark at the ball…

Brain the size of a pea, I swear.

1 minutes read

About Me

A dorky artist living in Vancouver, BC.

email: flay@pm.me

Matrix: @flay@ubports.chat

Mastodon: https://fosstodon.org/@flay

text/Telegram/Signal:

2 x 3 =

6 x 0 =

2 x 2 =

2 x 3 + 1 =

1 x 2 =

1 + 2 =

2 + 2 + 1 =

1 + 1 + 1 =

5 - 2 =

12 - 8 =

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I know, I have a problem. Could be worse?