We recently introduced the live dashboard for live and webcasting events. The live dashboard provides feedback on the incoming stream and give proactive advice when something goes wrong. We created this dashboard in response to customer feedback about how their webcasting events were going. We found that many of the issues people have with live streams arise from mis-configurations of encoders or problems with the upstream connection. The first clue is often viewers reporting problems, when it’s already too late to fix.
Addressing that first connection – between the encoder and Kaltura – was the task at hand. How can we provide better feedback to producers in real time? That’s where the live dashboard comes in to the picture.
How the Live Dashboard Improves Webcasting Experiences
Let’s start at the top. The dashboard provides an overview of the stream. You’ll notice that this stream health indicator is yellow, indicating there may be some issues with my configuration. You’ll also notice that Redundancy is Off. In the image below, the stream is only being sent to the primary URL, so redundancy is not available. We always recommend to stream both to primary and backup, so in case anything goes wrong, the player will automatically fallback to the other stream.
To determine the health of the stream, Kaltura runs a set of diagnostic checks on the incoming stream and the connection to determine if there are any issues. These checks are the real “brains” behind the dashboard. These checks are performed throughout the live stream, providing feedback throughout the event.
The diagnostics analyze the encoder settings and look for inconsistencies or changes in configuration. They also ensure the encoder is configured with optimal settings for a Kaltura live stream.
Examples of Live Stream Issues
For example, you can see below that the incoming bitrate is different from the declared bitrate. For a good, consistent live stream experience, Kaltura recommends configuring the stream with Constant Bit Rate (CBR) instead of Variable Bit Rate (VBR). You can see that the dashboard didn’t just identify a problem as soon as it occurred, it also provided specific feedback on the encoder settings.
Another such example is configuration of key frame interval. You can see that the stream has a very large key frame interval while the recommended value is only 2 seconds. The benefit of having these diagnostics run on every stream is that you no longer rely on a handbook for best practices. You also aren’t depending on a saved configuration that may have been changed. Instead, the system will provide real-time diagnostics on each live stream. All encoder configuration changes can be done during preview, before the audience even sees the live stream.
More Helpful Live Stream Diagnostics
Additional diagnostics are also run on the connection itself. If connection is suddenly lost, the dashboard will alert the producer. In addition, if there are intermittent disconnects, or Kaltura identified there’s insufficient bandwidth for the upstream, the dashboard will also show errors on the stream. For example, trying to upstream high quality on a slow connection may cause frame loss. The system will identify this state. The dashboard will show an alert recommending you move to a more stable connection (if you’re running on Wi-Fi, for example). Another option would be to reduce the quality of the stream sent to match network conditions.
Kaltura performs additional diagnostics across the entire live stream, from receiving the stream all the way to the player. The first part, the connection between the encoder and the Kaltura cloud, is critical to the success of the entire broadcast. The live dashboard is there to assist Kaltura admins and webcast producers. You’ll notice the dashboard is available both in the Kaltura Management Console and as part of the webcasting application. We hope you’ll find it useful in your next broadcast!