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Guest Post: Live Stream Encoders on a Budget

Earlier this year, Russ Lichterman from Wilmington University shared his experience in building a portable studio on a budget. Now, he returns with some new discoveries on a cost-effective idea for encoders.

Affordable Encoders for Live Streaming

By Russ Lichterman
As you know live streaming can be a bit of a struggle to find the perfect settings, the right encoder, and so on.  We have had a great deal of success with a “budget” encoder (The Teradek VidiU) and Kaltura live streaming.  But even our budget encoder is $700.  Quality encoders can easily be $5,000 and up (and can still be finicky about settings.)
Yet there is a whole community of gamers (many of them school kids, teens, college students, etc.) who live stream their video game consoles to services like Twitch.tv fairly effortlessly, and there is no way they’re paying thousands of dollars for streaming encoders (or spending hundreds of hours messing with settings.)  A few of them will let you paste in a manual RTMP stream link, so I decided to give one a try with Kaltura. It worked perfectly!
I used the only one that was in stock on the shelf at Best Buy. I ran an HD stream into it for over 5 hours – 720pHD at 2.5mbps. It worked 100%.  I asked a few people to check it out on their computers (as well as monitoring it from my own laptop). Here are some analytics on the test:Live Content Analytics for budget encoder
Now this is just one test, but it was more successful than every other encoder I’ve ever tried (except for the one we use regularly). I would say it performed equally well to our Teradek VidiU. This game capture device (Elgato HD60) is available on Amazon for $156 and is a regular shelf item at Best Buy (who will price match Amazon.)
Audience Analytics for budget encoderHere is a shot of the streaming software, with the live output in the background:
Live streaming with budget encoder

So if you’re looking to experiment with live streaming on Kaltura but don’t want to break the bank, give this a try.  I was shocked that such a low-cost device performed so well.

Interested in live streaming? Find out more about Kaltura’s live streaming solution.

Russ Lichterman spent nearly 15 years in broadcast television production before moving to higher education.  He has a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and an M.Ed. in Applied Educational Technology from Wilmington University.  He is currently Multimedia Manager at Wilmington University.  Feel free to contact him with questions at [email protected].     

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