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How Webcasts Work

August 5, 2009

Start with your event. Add a camera to video tape the event. Add some computers to take the video and convert it for the webcast. Add the Internet to get the global reach. Put them all together and you have a live webcast.

The diagram below illustrates how a live video webcast works. Live audio-only webcasts work similarly, except that you need audio equipment, not cameras.

1. The Camera. To video tape the event, you need one or two video cameras, a mixing board, and a crew to operate them.

2. The Computers. To webcast and monitor the event, you need two computers and the staff to operate them. One computer accepts a live video feed from the mixing board and encodes it for live webcast. With the second computer, you monitor the actual webcast so that you see what viewers are seeing.

3. The Network. The two computers connect to two data ports in the room where the event is taking place. The encoded video stream travels from the encoding station through the data port and over the campus network to the Real Server.

4. The RealServer. This machine, located in 111 Cummington Street, actually webcasts the event to the world.

5. The Viewers. Anyone anywhere in the world can watch the webcast, provided they have a computer connected to the Internet, a Web browser, and the free RealPlayer or RealOne software.

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