Panasonic AW-360C10 360 camera.

This is our last installment before the actual eclipse. We’re less than 24 hours away from the event and we’re just wrapping up the finishing touches, doing one last test.

As expected, the Panasonic AW-360C10 arrived on Sunday. We had learned a lot about the camera over the previous 48 hours and were ready to go once it arrived. The camera has one power connector that plugs into the base AW-360B10, as well as 4 unusual looking cables that appear to be mini-USB to HDMI with the 4 USB connector plugging into the camera and the 4 HDMI connectors plugging into the base. Recording is done externally. In our case we’re using an Atomos Shogun Inferno using a standard HDMI-out connector from the base to the HDMI-in on the Atomos. Finally, we run an SDI cable from the Atomos to our encoder.

Here’s where things got complicated. Our encoder is an Elemental Live with 3G-SDI in. That caps out at 1080p. While the Panasonic equipment can produce a 4K picture, our encoder cannot. The Atomos can downres the 4K picture to 1080p easily. And the Elemental Live is rock solid. Unlike our hit-or-miss testing with the Allie software running on a Windows 10 laptop, we knew every time we hit “start” on the Elemental Live, we would get a live stream that would run as long as we wanted it to. But while the Allie+laptop combination could produce a 4K picture, the Elemental Live+Atomos combination could only produce a 1080p picture.

Panasonic AW-360B10 base unit.

Our solution? Do both! Ultimately, we’ll only know on Monday just how well each workflow progresses and how good of a picture each produces. But, unlike the Allie which only records on YouTube, the Panasonic is recording everything in 4K locally on the Atomos. The Atomos uses 3.5″ SSD hard drives that can be easily ejected and put into an SSD-to-USB dock, so transferring the recording after the fact shouldn’t be difficult.

The live stream begins at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Watch it on OSU Live.

Elemental Live encoder.

 

Atomos Shogun Inferno recorder.
The view from the rooftop showing the exact spot we will be placing the 360 camera. The roof of Weatherford Hall can be see on the left and you can barely see the roof of Austin Hall on the right. In the distance is Reser Stadium, and the green field before it is Student Legacy Park where the University’s Eclipse Festival will happen.

Access to the rooftop is restricted and must be managed carefully. A whole team has been working on this project, which includes videographers and engineers. Having the vision to do this is one thing. Implementing it is another thing entirely. The team has been working tirelessly to set up equipment and run the necessary cabling to the rooftop to make this possible. The rooftop already has power outlets, but network ports and – as it turns out – coaxial cable were also necessary.

Our Allie streaming rig. A Dell XPS13 laptop running Windows 10 and the Allie camera with our homebrew mount (a Clorox tub wrapped in tape).

Everything would be run from a utility room on the roof, through conduit, to the server room immediately below. Our testing was being done in the server room so moving things upstairs to the utility room meant nothing would change other than we’d be 20 feet further down an Ethernet cable.

Our testing also gave us an opportunity to see how long it would take us to set up. We’d done the testing so often now that in 20 minutes we were ready to start streaming.

Come the morning of the 21st, wearing a harness, tethered to a safety line, and under close supervision, we would move everything out to the edge of the rooftop, secure everything with tie-downs, and being our stream.

And then a new opportunity presented itself: a new 4K capable 360 camera not yet on the market would be arriving on the day before the eclipse. The Panasonic AW-360C10 (and it’s companion AW-360B10 base) is a high end professional 4K 360-degree system. But could we get it set up and running in time?

We’ve been gearing up for this eclipse for a long time. While some may be coming to the realization that there’s an impending eclipse a little late to the game, we’ve been exploring our options since 2016. Very few groups on campus (or nationally, frankly) are as well positioned as we are to make a show of this, and do it right. I’ve spoken to some YouTube science communicators in the past few months about their plans. A number of them are planning to travel to areas directly in the path of the eclipse with nebulous plans for live streaming the event. What, I believe, many are not considering is the impact to infrastructure from so many people traveling to such a small area. FiveThirtyEight has explored the demographic impacts of such a massive, compressed population shift. The Eugene Register-Guard writes about the “Eclipse apocalypse” while authorities in Lincoln City are cautioning people that “You might have to stay at your home for 3 or 4 days, have your supplies ahead of time, if not longer.” Cellular service is likely to be non-existent. Holding up your iPhone to live stream the eclipse is a non-starter.

Corvallis, Oregon, home to Oregon State University, is one of the most opportune spots for eclipse watching, with one of the lowest likelihoods of clouds. Oregon State University is inviting thousands to come and participate in the OSU150 Space Grant Festival. The campus is likely to be crowded with eclipse tourists and classes have been canceled for the day. This may put unprecedented loads on the campus network.

Fortunately, we have a plan.

First and foremost, Oregon State University has an array of live streaming webcams all across campus. These are full framerate, high bitrate, high resolution webcams, wired to the campus network (no wi-fi involved). That alone should make for a spectacular show as you watch the moon’s shadow as it crosses in front of the sun, starting at 9:04 am, reaching totality at 10:17 am, on August 21st.

Furthermore, a number of research universities spanning the nation, from Oregon to South Carolina, are collaborating on the Eclipse Ballooning Project, where high altitude balloons with cameras attached will be launched from coast to coast to live stream the experience via the NASA Channel. Oregon State University is collaborating with Linn-Benton Community College on this project, kicking off the show by launching a balloon from an OSU research vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

Lastly, we come to the Learning Innovation Center at Oregon State University, one of the newest and most technologically advanced buildings on campus. It happens to be one of the tallest buildings on campus and we happen to occupy the top floor of this building. With access to the roof, and having undertaken the proper safety precautions, we are preparing to outfit the rooftop with an array of high end professional video cameras with the intention of recording multiple aspects of this event.

A panoramic view from our rooftop looking southward. The sun will travel from left to right.

We have a spectacular view of campus from our rooftop. So beyond simply recording this event and relying on our regular array of cameras to live stream the eclipse, we’re going to be taking this one step further, by live streaming the eclipse from the rooftop of the Learning Innovation Center using a 4K 360° camera.

We’ll talk about our evaluation process for selecting a 360° camera for this project in our next entry.

ReelSEO.com is reporting on how YouTube has started testing a responsive video player. In the world of web, “responsive” means components of a web page that resize with your browser. So a bigger browser would have a bigger video window and a smaller browser would resize accordingly. I just wanted to point out that the wizards at Central Web Services implemented this same functionality into OSU Live a year ago. MediaSpace 5, which we rolled out two weeks ago, also has a responsive video player. It’s nice to be ahead of the curve on this.

Hi and welcome to the first entry in the Video Streaming Blog @ OSU. I’m Raul Burriel, the streaming media coordinator at Oregon State University. I work in the Academic Technologies division of Information Systems. Specifically, I work in the Media Services branch and my job is to help get your videos – and audio – online for delivery. That encompasses both synchronous (live, real-time) and asynchronous (on-demand) content. If you’ve got a video you want people to watch online, or you want to stream an event live, I’m probably the guy who’s going to help you get that done. And we do that we a pretty advanced suite of tools.

Our top top of asynchronous content delivery is OSU MediaSpace. MediaSpace is our campus media delivery platform. Created by software developer Kaltura, MediaSpace is a cloud based (cloud = hosted on servers on the internet, not on campus) solution which allows a content owner to deliver his media (audio or video) to a select audience. That audience can be one person, a handful of people, or everyone. MediaSpace isn’t a means of archiving and storing your content, but of delivering it for playback, a kind of campus YouTube.

So why not use YouTube? YouTube serves a purpose and oftentimes you may find content that’s been uploaded to MediaSpace also available on YouTube. But because of FERPA regulations, we discourage the posting of academic content – particularly content that shows students or records their voices – on a publicly accessible unrestricted site such as YouTube.

MediaSpace allows for any person at OSU – student, faculty or staff – to log in, upload content, and share it to mobile and desktop platforms alike. All you need is an OSU Network ID (ONID) and you can get started, at no direct cost to you or your department. Furthermore, you can restrict your content based on the ONID of other persons at OSU. That means an instructor can restrict their videos with their students exclusively. And a student can upload a classroom assignment with their instructor without fear of other people seeing it. And MediaSpace also integrates with OSU’s Blackboard. In fact, anything uploaded to MediaSpace can be shared anywhere on the web, including a WordPress blog, a Drupal page, a regular HTML page, or a Facebook page. It’s entirely up to you as to how you want to share your content.

If you’re looking to live stream an event, we can help you with that too. OSU hosts its live content at OSU Live. This is our integrated portal for our featured content. Here you’ll find a selection of our best videos along with our featured live events. Our live events are designed to play back on both mobile and desktop platforms. Furthermore, we include a text chat so online participants can interact and in the event of a Q&A session, they can contribute questions to the speaker.

If you’d like more information about these services, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 541-737-4546.