As some of you may know, when I draw Starcrossed or work on commissions I try to stream live on Ustream.tv while I work. Earlier this fall I ran into some trouble with the web app on Ustream.tv no longer being compatible with my webcam – a cheap little Dynex 1.3 Megapixel cam, but it did the trick! – I’ve tried Justin.tv and LiveStream.com but they all use Flash video and the new “Google video adapter” which I believe is the issue.
Enter the iPhone4. This fall I upgraded to the iPhone from an old Sony Ericsson. The iPhone solved my streaming roadblock. I can stream live video directly from the phone. I stream over wifi for obvious reasons but it’s possible to stream over 3G as well. Unfortunately, there are definitely some limitations when it comes to the (free) streaming apps available.
Currently, Ustream.tv has the best setup with regards to ease of use and keeping a constant stream up. The video quality seems to be the best as well, which isn’t saying much. It’s straightforward to set up, especially if you have an existing Ustream.tv account, and just a few taps has you connected to Twitter and Facebook for when you want to let viewers know when your stream goes live. Unfortunately, either by human error or shortsighteness of the Ustream Live Broadcaster app, whenever I get an alert on the phone the stream shuts down. I’ve tried putting the phone in airplane mode, turned off notifications and the 3G network to no avail. It’s nothing to put the stream back up again, but there is a good 15-20 second delay to the live stream. So, by the time I realize the stream is down and relaunch sometimes a minute or two has gone by and I’m sure some new viewers assume the stream is done and leave. Despite the relative clarity of the video resolution with the Ustream iPhone app I get a yellowish tint and a slight rolling distortion flowing through the video. Also, unless Ustream.tv features your channel, you can’t watch it in the Ustream Viewer which is a separate app.
I’m not a fan of the Justin.tv web interface to begin with. Their iPhone app is very similar to the Ustream.tv app with two major differences. First, you can view any channel you want on the iPhone via the app. Second, when I compared the video quality from the Justin.tv app to the Ustream.tv app the dramatic change – and inability to compensate within the app – to a super wide shot was enough for me to kill the thought of using it. I would have to put the iPhone almost on top of the comic to get a decent shot and it would constantly be in my way when I draw. Ustream.tv won out over LiveStream.com in video quality as well.
None of these apps utilize the great video camera in the iPhone4. Ustream.tv just comes the closest.
The iPhone is positioned to my left and a bit above my head as I draw. So the audio is sometimes hard to hear. It’s related to the way things are setup in my studio rather than a problem with the hardware or software. I’ve had mixed reports from the live chat on audio quality. I have to remember to turn my head a bit and talk towards the mic which is in the base of the iPhone. I’m working on a solution for that, but until I return to an in-studio webcam setup (Hoping to upgrade to HD.) and my Yeti podcasting mic the current audio is at the least adequate.
The Ustream.tv iPhone app allows me to automatically record and post each video to my Ustream.TV channel. You can add highlights if you find a particular section amusing or interesting. I’ve posted some shorter clips to my YouTube channel as well but there is a limit of 15 minutes so you only get a snippet. I’ve also embedded the live stream and chat room from Ustream.tv here on StarcrossedOnline.com to make everything accessible in a pinch.
I normally draw Starcrossed on the weekend. I always post to Twitter and the Starcrossed Facebook Page when I’m streaming. So follow me on your preferred network to catch the link. Feel free to stop on by the chat room and say hi. You can view as a guest, or signup for a free Ustream.tv account and join in the conversation. You can become part of my “crowd” on Ustream to get an email when I launch a new live stream.
Hope to see you there!