Freecaster extends its Tomorrowland live streaming with new partners in 2019

Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest electronic dance music festival, has joined forces with Freecaster to deliver high-quality, real-time video of each event, to be enjoyed by a global live audience online. We promise customisation, hands-on support and for our clients to reach unlimited audience worldwide. Since 2017, Tomorrowland enriched the online experience using Freecaster’s multi-channel video player to allow viewers to choose between different stages streamed simultaneously in the same video-responsive multi-bitrate video player.

Freecaster enjoys working for clients such as Tomorrowland who continuously raise the bar. In 2019, Freecaster worked intensively alongside Flowplayer and Fastly to provide a seamless 72-hour, non-stop live streaming service.

“The target for our customer was to expand the festival experience to the electronic community, with the opportunity to follow the main action of the festival live and experience the thrill of Tomorrowland.” Ray Dulieu, CEO and founder at Freecaster.

Seamless multi-channel streaming

Tomorrowland is a massive event, a world of different experiences with multiple acts performing live at the same time. It was essential for Freecaster to convey this experience and choice online by offering multi-channel live streaming. We received four video feeds onsite at the festival, as well as a dynamic DJ line up allowing viewers on web and mobile a seamless switch between the different live stages within the same HTML5 video player. Freecaster’s Online Video Platform streamed live on Tomorrowland’s website, app and on partner networks. We also delivered five radio feeds for selected internet radio networks.

The platform was supervised throughout the two weekends of the festival using Freecaster’s monitoring dashboard fed by data from Fastly, Mux and Touchstream. The interface gives a precise overview for the monitoring engineers, shows traffic stats (impressions, unique visitors, countries, and more) and can be accessed by Freecaster remotely anywhere in the world. This close monitoring and flexibility ensures the platform is stable and any issues can be promptly addressed, resulting in a seamless customer experience.

“The new version of our video player, with the multi-stream features, allows live streaming, live switch from one stage to the other and gives a clear view of what is coming next.” Ray Dulieu, CEO and founder at Freecaster.

Advanced live video player

Freecaster selected Flowplayer to provide a unique experience for Tomorrowland’s live streaming audience. Flowplayer worked using FP8 – Native, its award-winning HTML5 player. Building the player completely from scratch, Flowplayer has succeeded in adapting to the HTML5 world of today’s web. The player size is reduced to a minimum, significantly enhancing stability. The small codebase results in faster load-time and fewer possibilities of errors.

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Flowplayer worked in close collaboration with the developer unit at Freecaster, implementing FP8 together with the Freecaster platform. Deep shared understanding provided the basis for a joint roadmap to meet the high standards of Tomorrowland festival and deliver the best possible performance and user experience. Together we reached more than 10 million music fans, live streaming worldwide.

Global delivery

CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) helps Freecaster multiply traffic for live streaming events. Freecaster joined forces with Fastly to deliver global live streaming of Tomorrowland 2019, and used Fastly’s edge cloud platform to live stream 3PB with 250 Gbps average transfer rate (reported by Freecaster, as of September 2019). Fastly’s fast and globally distributed network ensured all video streams played instantly, without buffering or interference, while independent, real-time functionality meant that Freecaster had control over configurations.

In the build-up to the event, the Fastly and Freecaster technical teams collaborated over a dedicated Slack channel and numerous scoping calls. During the event, Fastly’s Network Operations Centre provided Freecaster with Live Event Monitoring, daily reporting and dedicated on-site support.

“Fastly’s network speed and self-service features helped to considerably improve the performance of our live streams for the largest dance festival in the world. Fastly also provided a dedicated team of network engineers to monitor the event from their Network Operations Centre, ensuring any issue that could arise would be addressed quickly. Offering more than peace of mind, it allowed our teams to focus on other areas of the delivery workflow during the event.” Ray Dulieu, CEO and founder at Freecaster

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Radio France transforms Maison de la Radio with next generation IP technology with Orange Business Services and BCE

Following a public tender, this project was entrusted to Orange Business Services, a global digital services operator and integrator, and to BCE, a European expert in media services, and is the largest of its kind in the European media sector to date. The migration to the latest generation of IP infrastructure is key to facilitate the development of audiovisual broadcasting and production tools. This project is part of Radio France’s ambition to invest heavily to modernize its production and broadcasting tools for all radio and radio-related content by 2022.

The transformation program led by Orange Business Services and BCE involves the infrastructure of all Maison de la Radio’s studios. The new audiovisual production facilities will rely on a robust, next generation IP infrastructure based on Cisco technology for the transport and broadcast of voice and video.

“The combined expertise of Orange Business Services and BCE, complemented by the professionalism of Maison de la Radio’s project teams, will allow us to innovate and facilitate the production and broadcast of programs while meeting the highest standards required by the media sector,” comments Patrick Fasso, Technical and Information Systems Director at Radio France.

To ensure perfect convergence of the IT and media broadcast worlds, Radio France’s project teams are supported by Orange Business Services, the market leader for solution integration. Orange Business Services will ensure that all of Radio France’s needs are met, including mastering its next generation tools. The SMPTE 2110 standard, a specific protocol for the media industry, has been retained.

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Radio France / Christophe Abramowitz

Radio France’s teams are supported by BCE France because of its recognized expertise in the customized integration of media ecosystems, apparent at many European radio and television stations. BCE has in-depth knowledge of the sector and the needs of the media, and is a master of IP workflow infrastructures which it has demonstrated to Radio France in the past, for example, during the transition of France Info to the Maison de la Radio premises.

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BCE automates RTL TVI trailer generation

As the technical provider of RTL TVI, BCE is responsible for broadcasting RTL TVI, CLUB RTL and PLUG TV channels from Luxembourg. Providing many services for the company, BCE was looking for a solution to automate the production process of the customer’s trailers.

BCE turned to the Automate-IT solution developed by the publisher Embrace, which went into production in early summer 2019.

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Automate-IT automates the process of packaging, generating and delivering trailers by aggregating data and media. As a result, the users can avoid any non-creative tasks, produce more for broadcast or social networks and always in perfect compliance with the graphical chart of their company.

“With an increasing volume of trailers, it was critical for BCE to find an intuitive solution, allowing the automation of the production workflow. The Automate-IT solution perfectly meets this need and integrates particularly well into our private cloud hosted in Luxembourg” explains Frédéric Fievez, Projects Development Director at BCE.

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The Automate-IT platform is focused on three features:

  • A simple creative process for the production and validation of trailers through HTML panels accessible from any PC at BCE, including for the most sophisticated channel branding.
  • API-controlled Adobe® After Effects and Media Encoder solutions that are used daily by the on-air promo team.
  • A workflow engine that integrates and adapts easily to BCE’s editorial and technical contexts. In addition, the platform allows a secured connection with the business information and management systems.

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These points fostered the integration of the solution into BCE’s production workflow and its adoption by the operational teams. At the launch of the service, BCE automatically produces more than 200 trailers per week for RTL TVI and about 25 per week for PLUG TV already.

“We are particularly proud to have had the opportunity to participate in a project with BCE whose DNA, for almost a century, has been marked by technological innovation and operational excellence”. Concludes Julien Gachot, CEO at Embrace.

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For more information on the Automate-IT solution and the project with RTL TVI, meet us at the IBC on BCE booth (Hall 7, Stand 7.C37) and Embrace booth (Hall 6, Stand 6.C26).

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The RTS chooses StudioTalk to video broadcast its radio programmes

The Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) is a public service audiovisual company, owned by the media group SSR (Swiss Broadcasting and Television Corporation), which offers programmes on four radio channels, two TV channels and numerous digital platforms.

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Studio for the “Forum” show at RTS

“The RTS project uses all the strengths of StudioTalk, whether in production, channel branding, monitoring or distribution. Working hand in hand, we were able to make our solution evolve to meet their needs,” comments Olivier Waty, Workflows and Media Solutions Director at BCE.

StudioTalk, a solution developed by Broadcasting Centre Europe (BCE), is a complete solution for live and non-live video production with the management of the editorial content of the shows, the channel branding and the sets as well as the broadcasting of the programmes on any platform.

Stéphan_Mahrer“We needed to take a new step with “Forum”, and we were looking for a solution that could offer us all the tools we needed to make television from the same interface. StudioTalk was the answer.” Explains Stéphan Mahrer, Responsable mise en image des productions radio at RTS.

In order to enrich the user experience on the Internet and on social networks, it was important for RTS to shoot its most important radio programmes, namely “La matinale” and “Forum”. Using StudioTalk, RTS creates real talkshows, broadcast these on their website, on social networks and especially on television.

“For StudioTalk users, it’s very easy to find all the tools they need to do their production, whether it’s Picture in Picture, enrichment or the management of the screens on the set. The user also has the option to switch to the automatic production mode to perform another task during a broadcast and then regain control in due course,” adds Stéphan Mahrer.

More than an advanced production solution, StudioTalk also allows the RTS to monitor its equipment via a real-time monitoring interface of all the elements of their workflow.

Philippe_Staehlin“In StudioTalk, we have access to a technical supervision that usually appears on more expensive systems. This allows us to have an overview of the services and monitor the operations. This will allow a person to perform complex support tasks even for a Level 1 intervention support, restarting one or another system to ensure its availability during live production.” Explains Philippe Staehlin, Chef Secteur Systèmes Broadcast at RTS.

BCE has also supported the RTS teams in the integration of their new studio. The solution has been customized to meet the customer’s expectations. Working hand in hand, RTS and BCE made the solution evolve and to allow any employee, with a technical background or not, to use the solution easily.

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StudioTalk at RTS

“In this project, what was really important for us was the relationship with BCE, we found a real partner with whom we made our show and our tool evolve at the same time.” Concludes Stéphan Mahrer.

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SFJAZZ Requires Rock-Solid Stability of FOR-A Switcher to Produce Over 400 Live Shows a Year

As the first concert venue designed specifically to optimize the acoustics and performance of jazz music, the 36,000-square-foot, $64 million SFJAZZ Center has a reputation for quality. And with over 400 live shows recorded each year, reliability and durability rank just as important to the Center’s video supervisor.

When it came time to upgrade the six-year-old FOR-A HVS-350 video switcher, SFJAZZ Video Production Supervisor Jake Drake turned to the same vendor he’d used for the past several years of live production. “The stability of a FOR-A product is unmatched,” explained Drake. “We turn it on, and it just keeps on running. We do over 400 shows a year of live music, plus another 40-50 with our rental partners. This switcher is heavily used. We need 100 percent, rock-solid stability. FOR-A is where it’s at for us.”

Drake said he’s extensively demoed competitive products from other top manufacturers, but FOR-A’s customer support and the feature-rich design of the FOR-A HANABI HVS-490 video production switcher rose to the top of his list.

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Robert N. Miner Auditorium

The new HVS-490 was delivered quickly and has already been put through its paces on numerous live shows since its installation in May. FOR-A provided SFJAZZ with a loaner switcher free of charge while Drake waited for his new switcher.

“Features such as the web panel, macros and two M/Es have been a big advantage to us already,” said Drake. “With the macro functionality, we’re able to do a complex picture-in-picture. Having two M/Es is also huge for us. We’re able to preview transitions. Any M/E can be assigned to multiple monitors on stage – using the same control panel. Overall, it packs so much more that we can achieve into one switcher.”

The SFJAZZ media suite is located a floor above the SFJAZZ Center’s Robert N. Miner Auditorium. Live shows are switched and cameras are controlled remotely by one person. Drake has found the web panel feature a huge help in this regard.

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SFJAZZ Performance, Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

“Having this web panel feature and controlling the switcher via a computer allows us to streamline our productions in a way we couldn’t before. We just installed this feature, but I believe it’s something we’ll take advantage of a lot in the future.”

High-profile corporate clients such Fortune 500 companies and regional performing arts presenters recently produced live programming from the SFJAZZ Center using the venue’s video production team and facilities.

Riedel Artist and Bolero Wireless Enable Integrated Comms across University of Georgia Sport Venues

The system now fully integrates multiple sports venues across the campus to streamline linear broadcasts and live streaming of sports events, video board presentations, and in-venue fan promotions.

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The University of Georgia is the flagship research university for the state of Georgia and one of the oldest public universities in the United States. As a Division 1 member of the Southeastern Conference of collegiate sports, the University of Georgia competes in 19 sports, and its teams have won over 40 national championships.

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A new Artist 128 mainframe was installed in the central core that services Sanford Stadium and the Stegeman Coliseum and is linked via fiber to frames at the Foley Field baseball facility, the Jack Turner Stadium, the Turner Soccer Complex, the Gabrielsen Natatorium, and the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. In addition, a Bolero wireless intercom system comprised of 15 beltpacks and seven antennas (some antennas are routinely moved to handle various other requirements) replaced a wired solution that was in place at several venues. The new Bolero system integrates directly with Artist and enables all user groups, such as the band, cheer squad, DJ, operations team, and video control team, to communicate using a single system, without conversion or being on a party line.

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The solution has proven particularly valuable at the men’s and women’s basketball and gymnastics events where multiple wireless channels have replaced an existing party line setup.

“When it came time to upgrade our comms capabilities across campus, we knew we wanted to stay with Riedel and Artist. And then the introduction of Bolero made it a no-brainer,” said Mike Bilbow, Assistant Athletic Director, Digital and Production, University of Georgia Athletic Association. “Bolero gives us so much more flexibility, and its reliability and sound quality are bar-none – both critical factors for events with 90,000 cheering fans. With many of our users connecting wirelessly now, we’re able to save money on cabling infrastructure. And it’s great to be able to salvo presets for each event, which frees up our engineering staff for other duties.”

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“We were proud to partner with Alpha Video for all of the wireless and wired intercom for UGAA’s broadcast infrastructure expansion,” said Dave Caulwell, Regional Sales Manager, Northeastern U.S. at Riedel North America. “We value and celebrate the trust that the UGAA has put in Riedel Communications, making us the heart of their broadcast communications network.”

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CP Communications Covers Multi-Venue CrossFit Games with Hybrid Broadcast and Production System

CP Communications, a leader in innovative solutions and services for complex live event productions, exhibited the full power of IP streaming and bonded cellular networking for live sports production at the 13th CrossFit Games, which represents the world championship event for the athletic competition. Contracted by Carr-Hughes Productions, CP Communications provided all content acquisition, networking and delivery services across all areas at the multi-venue, 20-acre Alliant Energy Center complex in Madison, Wisconsin. The complex includes an exhibition center, vendor pavilions, a sponsor’s row, a beer garden and an outdoor competition area – North Park Stadium – built specifically for this event.

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CP Communications established a base at the exhibition center outside the Alliant Energy Center, and built a fiber infrastructure from its 40-foot CP-1 Digital Communications Trailer to cover the entire competitive course. The fiber infrastructure also delivered the live event production feeds that were distributed throughout the complex, allowing fans, participants and sponsors to watch the events in real-time. The 13th CrossFit Games took place August 1-4, with a focus on aerobic, weightlifting and gymnastics for the nearly 200 male and female participants.

The fiber infrastructure was based around four, 48-strand fiber trunks to a demarcation point, where anywhere from 24 to 60 fiber strands were run to the various competition and spectator areas. The fiber network accommodated all audio, data, and video acquisition, transport and distribution services required between these locations and CP-1, which served as CP Communications’ production workspace in the broadcast compound. MultiDyne VF-9000 high-density video fiber transmission frames and MD-3000 fiber transceivers were used at all locations to move and process signals between any point, with a Dante® network deployed to support audio and intercom on the same fiber backbone.

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CP Communications’ technical personnel covered the event outside using multiple cameras (a mix of wireless RF handhelds, PTZ and POV cameras, and hard cameras on scissor lifts), with Mobile Viewpoint Airlinks used to encode and deliver signals over a bonded cellular network.

“We employed six bonded cellular rigs to cover events outside the Alliant Energy Center campus, including the ruck race and the swimming events downtown,” said Kurt Heitmann, CEO, CP Communications. “All of our wireless audio, communications and video systems worked seamlessly both inside the coliseum and outside at North Park Stadium, including our traditional CODFM wireless cameras. This flexibility is yet another example of our leadership and expertise in building customized, hybrid systems to ensure reliable event coverage across multiple sites. While we remain RF specialists, we can simplify the overall infrastructure and ensure 100 percent coverage by leveraging the power and flexibility of IP and bonded cellular networking.”

The CrossFit organization also served as the World Feed host broadcaster, providing a completely IP-based world feed to various websites and social media services (including YouTube and Facebook) in multiple languages. CP Communications engineers monitored the all fiber, IP and bonded cellular feeds on board CP-1 — including the acquired signals coming back to the trailer, and the world feed transmissions going out.

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“We provided H264 video from the Airlinks and managed the bitrate with a ceiling of 16 Megabits per channel,” said Heitmann. “Using the Mobile Viewpoint LinkMatrix, a cloud-based management portal, we could easily make adjustments and troubleshoot on the fly. We are able to adjust parameters like bitrate in real-time to ensure continuous high-quality performance from the bonded cellular transmitters.”

CP Communications also took advantage of the public internet by deploying a Unity Intercom system for team-wide communications.

“We communicated with our entire team over a standard public network, which enabled us to react quicker to technical issues and even use Wi-Fi hotspots as necessary,” said Heitmann. “The Unity system is a cellular system that also matches with our bonded cellular cameras. It gives us the freedom to move as needed and still keep the lines of communication open, which is vital to the success of a project of this enormity.”