AFO Live Stream – Thanks for all the help

IconI want to take a couple of minutes to say thank you to all those who helped make the live stream from AFO possible. Although I do a tremendous amount of work prior to and during the event, I could not do it on my own. So, I want to be sure the credit for spreading the jam in this way is spread around.

First of all, this is the first time I have asked for funding help. The FPA awarded me a Spread the Jam Grant to help cover the cost of software. This made a huge difference in the quality of the stream I was able to produce. Thanks, Freestyle Players Association.

I also asked for help funding a new camera and other miscellaneous equipment. The money also ended up covering some of the extra data usage cost. I feel a little weird asking for money, but its just not sustainable for me to fund everything myself. I really appreciate those who pitched in: Randy Silvey, Rodney Sanchez, Berlin Jammers, Judy Robbins, Mark Davis, Paul Kenny, Boguslaw Bul, Larry Imperiale, John Titcomb, Greg Marter, and Graf Mordi.

While cost is one aspect of this project, doing the actual work is what really makes it happen. This year we had 3 cameras, a commentator, and a technical director. To make things work it took a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 people working together to make it happen.

Commentating was none-other-than John Houck who is one of the legends in the sport. John volunteered most of his weekend to hang out with our viewers, keeping them engaged and entertained by calling the action between rounds, telling stories, and conducting interviews. Prior to AFO, I thought that adding commentary would be something special to the live stream. But, John because of who he is, coupled with his humorous anecdotes, added more than I could have imagined.

There is a long list of people who took a turn on the camera: Tita Ugalde, Mary Zurn, Larry Imperiale, Alan Elliott, Enrique Ortiz, Lori Daniels, Lisa Hunrichs, Amy Schiller, Doug Korns, and possibly other people… as I lost track at some point.  Operating the camera is one of those tasks that can boring and tedious, yet it integral to bringing a quality broadcast. I’m so pleased that so many people were willing to jump in and help. And, WoW, looking at the recordings, everyone did a great job.

Also, a special call-out to Tita Ugalde who came specifically to help with the live stream and sat at the most important camera position for all of Saturday and Sunday. The steady routine footage and view of the interviews were courtesy of Tita’s camera work.

Another big thanks goes to those who helped setup and takedown. If you haven’t seen it before, the live stream gear is a rat’s nest of wires and boxes going every which way. The first day took nearly 90 minutes to setup, with help.  I know I can’t remember everyone who helped, but here are a few that stand out: Matt Gauthier, Ryan Young, James Wiseman, Enrique Ortiz, Doug Korns, John Titcomb, Gerry Geare, Rodney Sanchez, and Lori Daniels. Sorry if I am forgetting to name any other of my Rat’s Nest Assistants; it’s a  whirlwind getting everything going and in the flurry of activity – every bit was very helpful.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to specifically say thanks to Doug Korns. When I was not able to act as technical director (run the computer and coordinate between all other volunteers) Doug stepped into this role. Doug also helped out at FPA 2014, so I knew what he was capable of.  On Day 1, we sat together and went over the software and the process. From then on, Doug took over anytime I needed to get ready to compete. In fact, on Sunday, Doug was fully in charge in the Technical Director’s Chair. I set-up the equipment and walked away. Doug did the rest.

An important aspect to recognize about the Technical Director role is that it requires 100% focus nearly the whole time you are there: watch all cameras and choose the best camera angle to display on the stream.  Between rounds, the Tech Dir is typing in players’ names (while trying to correctly spell the names), as well as choosing when to turn the camera on and off, starting and stopping the recordings of each routine, tune the audio (so the audience hears the right source), tell everyone else when to talk, where to point the camera, to stop zooming so close, etc.   And, if something goes wrong, the Tech Dir has to fix it while still keeping things moving on the broadcast.  This is a tough job, and Doug’s willingness to take this on shows how much he loves and wants to give back to the sport and our community. THANK YOU DOUG!

At this event I also tried to do more promotion than I have in the past. To that end, I want to thank Crazy John Brooks for his advice and encouragement and for connecting me with the PDGA. Also, thank you to Lori Daniels for similar encouragement and for making the connection to WFDF. And, thank you to the PDGA and WFDF for promoting the live stream. It’s really awesome to be a part of different disc disciplines partnering together towards our shared common goal: To play Frisbee and share our joy with the world!

AFO Live Stream – Day 3

John Houck interviews Dave Murphy at the American Freestyle Open

John Houck interviews Dave Murphy at the American Freestyle Open

The American Freestyle Open 2014 is now behind us. Here’s a brief review of the live stream project for the final day.

We had 400 unique viewers and peaked at 72 concurrent viewers. It seems there was more interest in the finals than other rounds as people who tuned in , stayed tuned in. However, with >600 unique views on day 1, it’s clear that the PDGA and WFDF co-promotion added to the traffic.

Operationally, things went off very well with only minor glitches that including internet becoming unstable and camera memory filling up. The main learning I came away with is that we need better coordination between the tournament MC and the live stream commentator. In the gym, the audience could tell that John Houck was speaking, but could not hear him and became frustrated that they were missing something. At some point we began doing the interviews on the MC mic so the audience could hear them.

With a total of 1231 unique views across the 3 days, I’d say the AFO stream was a success. Look for the routines and interviews to be posted on youtube soon. And, if you watched the live stream, let me know what you thoughts in the comments section.

AFO Live Stream – Day 2

IconA quick review; 220 unique views and 35 peak concurrent viewers. Feedback has been ultra positive. People like the interviews and the “commercials” between rounds.

Today I worked at the audio levels and I think they were good. Not really any major snafus except for rain on the camera lenses. I tried pick up audience ambiance by turning on a long range microphone at low volume. I’m not sure it worked, but it certainly did not detract. And, I really enjoyed interviewing the teams after their performances. Turns out, its not as difficult as I thought to be both the technical director and the host.

Jake Interviews James and Lori

Jake Interviews James and Lori

Seeing the drop in unique views is a little disappointing but I imagine the the PDGA and WFDF promotion yesterday drive the extra traffic. I am thinking that future events, I should time partner announcements with finals day so that new viewers will get the best experience possible.

If you watched today, tell me how it was. The feedback helps make the broadcasts better. And, let’s brain storm on how we get more eyes on the next broadcast. Finally, tune in tomorrow. John Houck will be back as the host. And we’re sure to have shredding routined. Thanks for all your support.

AFO live Stream – Day one

Matt and Jake live streamed from AFOToday was the first day of Live Streaming from AFO 2014. It was alot of work, but I’d say it was successful. We had 611 unique views and peaked at 49 concurrent viewers. We also had player interviews and “commercials” (pre-recorded videos of Freestyle, including brand new learn to jam videos), and an awesome host, John Houck.

And, we had promotion from the PDGA and WFDF. Disc sports unite!

We also had a few things go wrong. For instance  John’s Mic volume was to low compared to everything else so he couldn’t be heard very well. And the stream bit rate was set so high we burned through way too much bandwidth. Whoops.

But, all-in-all, I’d say a success. But I want to know what you think? Did it look good? Sound good? Good filler between the play? Please leave feedback in the comments section.

Tomorrow, we do it again.


AFO Live Stream Update – The Budget

Here’s a quick update on my planned budget and how it’s tracking. Planned

Item Budgeted
Wirecast $495
Camera $400
Misc $105
Total $1000

Actual (so far)

Item Budgeted
Wirecast $845
Sony HDR-PJ540 $365
Microphone Adapter Cable $8
Camera Hot Shoe Adapter $20
Microphone Foam Wind Cover $3
Total $1241

Yes, I’m already over budget. Wirecast has two versions, standard and Pro. It turns out that the Pro version is required to control A/V sync properly. It costs $995. I contacted their sales department and got a %15 discount. Total cost: $845. I decided it was worth the extra cost since that feature was specifically one of my stated goals, especially with the discount. The camera I bought has the perfect features for this live streaming project and retails for close to $600 new. After shopping on ebay for a bit I ended up with a used one for $365. The other miscelaneous items are to connect a microphone to the new camera. There still may be a few small items yet to purchase, but I’m hoping to get by with what I already have, or can borrow. I was hoping to stay under budget enough to squeeze in a Pelican case to protect all of the equipment during travel. Alas, that may have to wait until next time. I’ll post a budget update if I acquire anything new. Thanks to everyone who has donated to the fundly campaign. Now you know exactly where the money is going.

The AFO Live Stream Vision

In my initial request for help streaming AFO 2014, I set a goal of making it the best live stream ever. So, what does that mean? Well, I am starting with very lofty goals. I think they are doable, but they will take alot of of work. So, don’t be disappointed if only some of this comes to fruition. If we don’t make it for AFO, there’s always the next big event. Here they are in a nutshell:

Improved Software: Since FPA 2013 I have been using open source (free) software. While it works, it is not as fully featured as a paid software package. I’m planning to purchase Wirecast. This will allow me to keep audio & video in sync and to support multiple quality streams. It also opens the door for better graphics embedded in the stream.

Better Graphics: Ryan Young is working on an electronic judging system. As part of that effort he will output a screen that includes scores, players names, and other information. I will be able to pull that into the stream.

3rd Camera: Most events I have streamed use a single camera because it is the easiest to produce. However, for major events I like to setup 2. It gives better viewing angles and a more professional feel. So why a 3rd camera? 2 reasons. 1st, I want the 3rd camera to be fully wireless. This way it can move in the jams and find the best viewing perspectives. 2nd, I’d like to add post routine interviews to the stream. A mobile camera, with microphone will make this easier.

Commentators: Most professional sports broadcasts have commentators. My hope is that commentary will help keep new viewers tuned in and maybe turn them into fans. All I need a 1 or 2 extra mics, a better mixer, and 2 knowledgable people willing to add commentary. Anyone want to volunteer?

Audience Audio: I’ve had numerous requests to mic the audience. Viewers like to hear the cheers as a team shred. I’ve been trying to figure this out since FPAW 2013. I almost had it working at FPAW 2014, but the software I had was too limited and I had to turn it off. With the new software, I will try again at AFO.

Better Promotion: I know we have a good product. And I believe the more people who see Freestyle Frisbee, the more people who will become fans or even become players. So, getting the word out about the live stream could be the most important aspect of all this. Exactly how to do this, I am still figuring gout. Any ideas? Perhaps this is a good topic for future posts.

So, what do you think of the list? Will these items improve the stream? Think we can really pull it off? Which items are the most important? Let me know in the comments, or by sending an email. And if you want to help, don’t forget to donate at my Fundly campaign.

AFO Live Stream – first milestone

A few weeks back, I submitted a Spread the Jam Grant to the FPA to help with the cost of professional live streaming software called Wirecast. This software is integral to making the stream better. It allows for controlling A/V sync, managing multiple cameras, producing multiple quality streams, and much more.

Well, today the FPA approved my grant request. So, I now have Wirecast up and running on my streaming laptop. I am learning it’s ins and outs and preparing it for use at AFO 2014.

In the next day or two I’ll share a little more about my grand vision for live streaming AFO 2014. But, this software is a key component. Thanks to the FPA for supporting this endeavor!

Also, thanks to everyone who has donated so far to my fundly campaign. It’s just shy of 40% of my goal.

Live Stream for AFO

ls1The AFO team has asked me to live stream the event. They want to make this the best live stream to date. Of course I said yes! I love that I can help bring my jamily closer together and maybe even spread the jam.

But, I can’t do it alone. It’s truly a community effort. Tournament directors pitch in money, equipment, and internet access. Jammers on site volunteer to run a camera or man the computer system. Other jammers and friends donate their cameras, tripods, microphones computers, and more. And, of course I put in lots of time and money as well.

Knowing that we are such a community oriented group, I am making the call out for help to make the live stream at AFO be the best live stream to date! If you will be at AFO and are willing to run a camera, help with setup, or anything else, please let me know. Also, if you happen to have a video camera, tripod, microphone, or audio mixer, and are willing to bring it along, let me know what it is. I’m hoping to setup a 3rd camera for AFO…the first 3 camera freestyle frisbee stream.

For AFO I am also trying something new. I have started a fundly to give more people the opportunity to help out. Funds will go directly towards covering the costs of doing the live stream.

If you enjoy the live streams and want help make them continue, please do what you can to help. Or, share the link and spread the word.

One last thing. I don’t want to inundate everyone on this list with regular status updates and continual requests for help. So, if you want regular updates, check the blog at

Thanks. I’m looking forward to jamming with everyone at AFO and sharing the competition with everyone who can’t make it.