Free Webcasts with Ustream.tv

I'm back-posting here, life has been busy over the last weeks, with Robin and I getting married on Oct. 6th. We had such a great time with fiends and family, but only a few of my folks in Germany were able to come to Denver to celebrate with us. So I looked into options to broadcast the ceremony, to enable everyone who couldn't make it to be with us virtually, while we were saying our vows.

This is where the story becomes worth a post on my participatory technology blog: The service I ended up using is called Ustream.tv and I can highly recommend it, if you're looking for a free, high-quality way to broadcast meetings, workshops or town hall meetings.

From their website: "Ustream is a platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. Anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can use Ustream to broadcast to a global audience."

The whole application is flash-driven, which allows you to easily broadcast and record your session, without worrying about complex IP configurations and similar issues of other approaches to streaming video. Since the viewer is in flash too, it's as easy to integrate into your website as a Youtube video. This also means your users most likely will not have to worry about having the right software installed (real player vs. windows media player vs. quicktime) since flash is pre-installed on all modern browsers. It's a hosted service, so you don't have to worry about bandwidth either.

A quick note on the camera. You'll need a decent webcam to produce a high quality video stream. Even though webcams are getting better today, most of them still won't give you the quality you're looking for. This is a big issue, but in my research I found the "QuickCam Pro for Notebooks" from Logitech to be the best in terms of lens, light adjustments etc. I can highly recommend it, it turned out to be the best webcam I've used and the quality of the streaming video exceeded my expectations by far.

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