Do you have an internet connection that I can tap in to?
I ask that questions 1,000s of times each year. If the answer is yes, the next question is “will it work.” This can be 5 to 10 of the most worrisome minutes of the week as you wait to see if you can connect to whatever you are streaming to. We typically use the NFHS Network which has worked well at most schools but most times Youtube and Facebook are blocked.
I recently spoke with the crew at Teradek and they told me about the VidiU Go. It’s a bonded cellular device that allows you to pull in multiple “connections” in order to get the best streaming signal possible. That’s what bonded cellular is - a way to “pile” a bunch of internet connections together so you get the best connection possible. As I dug deeper I knew I had to get my hands on one.
Imagine being at a baseball game on the road and being able to pull from cellular networks, a wireless connection, or even mobile phone wifi connections. All in one device that can sit on top of your camera.
When I got my VidiU Go, the first thing I said was “holy crap that’s small.” (Don’t believe me? Ask the students who I immediately apologized to and explained that sometimes I hear what I say the same time they do!). The base unit isn’t much bigger than a computer mouse.
I charged the VidiU Go and started setting it up. As is always the case, I didn’t read all of the instructions…. Well any of them. But set up was pretty intuitive. The optional USB modems go into the usb ports on the main chassis of the VidiU Go and the wifi antennas go in the only place antennas would go… SDI and HDMI inputs are pretty simple too. Remember this thing is not big so if you can’t find it, you shouldn’t use it!
Before you get started, you have to sign up for and put some money on a core account. (DON’T STOP READING HERE!) The core cloud account allows you the ability to stream over the variety of servers needed to get high quality shows on the web. It’s $0.50 per gig. It would cost me $4 a game typically to stream a football game and much less for all of the other sports. Don’t let that deter you. I know that getting money for things like this can be difficult but I assure you that there is a parent, booster, AD, client, someone who would willingly drop $300 a year to be able to stream the games. (There may be some sponsorship sales opportunities too… but that’s for later!)
Once I got online and got connected, it was a piece of cake. Seriously - click and go! If you are using YouTube, you can schedule a broadcast then pull it up on the VidiU Go and use that stream. If you don’t want or need to schedule the broadcast, you can simple add a title and description and go live for both YouTube and Facebook. I didn’t test twitch or Vimeo but I imagine they are the same.
As I was digging around in the settings, because I didn’t read the instructions nor did I think about what I was asking Facebook to do, I found a little gem that I hadn’t seen before. OVERLAYS!! That’s right, the VidiU Go has built in overlays - well there are two of them, text and scoreboard, that makes it plural so YAY for OVERLAYS!! Extremely simple overlays. Just about a powerpoint slide on a green background overlays but your viewer won’t mind. The text overlay does exactly what is says - overlays text. Though there is some green tinting around it; it looks ok. The scoreboard is a little nicer. You have several colors to choose from for the background and the text window is big enough for a short high school name or abbreviation then you can add the score. I will caution you though… DO NOT USE THIS FOR BASKETBALL. To update is kind of a pain but for soccer or baseball/softball the updates would not be too bad.
I am going to have a ton more to discuss next month including how it worked when we broadcast from under the bleachers and how it’s going to save me for our graduation!