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ClearCaster: The Right Way to Do Facebook Live

November 13, 2017 by Dave Stubenvoll

Twenty years ago, every TV show had a live studio audience. That’s because direct feedback from viewers is extremely valuable: The broadcaster can hear their gasps and claps, gauge their performance and react accordingly.

Today, the nature of audience engagement has changed. Many broadcasts now happen online, where there is the opportunity to engage realistically with millions of viewers. Facebook Live has exploded in popularity because it allows the world’s largest online audiences to react and interact in an way that enriches the live experience for both the broadcaster and other viewers.

This is why we created the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance. It’s the first device that’s purpose-built to increase the success of Facebook Live streaming. We developed ClearCaster in close collaboration with Facebook: They expanded their APIs to support our professional appliance, connecting your live production workflow directly to Facebook Live.

Of course, there’s more to a successful live event than simply sending video to Facebook. Live events can be chaotic and stressful. But ClearCaster has a solution for your top streaming challenges:

  • You need to know the exact moment you’re actually live—so ClearCaster has a frame-accurate, go-live countdown clock.
  • Your talent needs to know what comments are coming in, without looking down at their iPhone at video that’s 10 or more seconds behind—so ClearCaster has a Talent View showing real-time follower feedback.
  • You need an appliance that is tightly integrated with Facebook—so ClearCaster is the only option you can select in the /live/create drop-down menu.
  • You need automated recovery when things go wrong—so if your network temporarily goes down, ClearCaster will automatically reconnect, and Facebook will pick up the stream.

More than one in four people on the planet are on Facebook, and many now stream live videos two or three times a day. In other words: To truly engage with your communities and groups, you need to be on Facebook Live. But streaming to this platform can present some challenges, even for professionals.

There are many steps involved in streaming-video delivery; thousands of different decisions are made along the way, from ingest point to frame size and bitrate to playback. And each time one of these decisions are made, the stream has the chance of coming out a little differently. For example, a video that’s created to the proper specs and works perfectly in one player may cause problems in another.

When delivering live streams that incorporate interactive elements, there are even more decisions involved. Facebook Live requires broadcasters to set up very specific stream configurations—any one of which presents an opportunity for an incorrect decision or unintended error.

ClearCaster takes all the guesswork out of this equation. Simply connect your SDI or HDMI source, and it automatically configures settings and incorporates real-time stream health monitoring, so decisions are made the right way every time when it comes to your Facebook Live event. This provides consistency throughout your live-streaming workflow—and it all starts with a piece of cable. Just plug in the raw feed from your camera, switcher or professional broadcasting equipment, and we’ll take it from there.

Now, Wowza is known as a software company—so, what made us decide to collaborate with Facebook to create a Facebook Live appliance? Tech guru Alan Kay is famous for saying, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

That philosophy really fits us at Wowza. Our goal is to help customers get their jobs done by extracting the hardest parts of delivering video, so even people who aren’t streaming experts can create compelling video apps and experiences.

ClearCaster takes your raw feed, then provides the resiliency and reliability to truly enhance engagement through interactive, live-streaming video. When we get the core hardware into people’s hands, we can continually innovate on the software capabilities, which plays to our strengths—to our customers’ benefit.

The ability to truly take the feedback of a global audience just begs for innovation. This will continue to be a tremendous area of growth, and Wowza will be right there on the forefront.

Got a comment? Drop us a line on Twitter @wowzamedia
Dave Stubenvoll

A co-founder of Wowza Media Systems, Dave Stubenvoll has over 23 years of experience in enterprise and consumer services. Prior to Wowza, the fifth new business he developed, Stubenvoll held various senior management positions. Stubenvoll holds two patents and earned an MBA from Carnegie Mellon.