With 6 mojo (mobile journalists) reporters in the streets of 5 different cities throughout France, a studio, a control room in Paris and some gear made of iPod touch, iPad and MacBook pro, it is possible to live coverage « la Fête de la Musique » during 4 hours. At the request of Spintank agency, Samsa.fr did this live coverage on 21st June 2017 on the official Facebook page of « la Fête de la Musique » owned by the French ministère de la Culture. A glimpse behind the scenes of this première that mixed the creativity of Samsa.fr and the combined services of two start ups: a French one (Dazzl) and an American one (Switcher studio).

6 reporters on the ground and a studio + control room that work with iPods touch, iPads and MacBooks pro.

[La version française de ce post]

Live covering an event that occurs in the streets of different cities throughout France is a technical and logistical challenge. You will find below a behind the scenes report of the live video coverage with 6 mojo (mobile journalists) reporters on the ground in 5 different cities, a studio + control room installed in Le Tank (a coworking space run by Spintank, the agency that requested Samsa.fr for this operation dedicated to produce a live coverage for the Facebook official page of la Fête de la Musique owned by le ministère de la Culture.

The « mojo » kit used by our reporters operated here by Marianne Rigaux (Samsa.fr).

Our 6 reporters used the following gear:

Mojo reporters : Julien Bouisset (Paris), Nadia Berg (Lille), Marion Ruaud (Bordeaux), Stéphane Rabut (Lyon), Mélody Locard (Paris) and the anchorman in studio Thomas Hercouët.

Each reporter used Dazzl app on his iPod touch. This French based start-up provides a service (for both iOS and Android devices) that allows different live video streams to be gathered over 4G or wifi and to ingest them into a simplified video control room to select the one to be « broadcast » at any moment.

The Dazzl control room.

The number of streams you can gather depends on the bandwith available on the switcher side. You need about 2Mps for each stream. In our setup, the MacBook pro with the Dazzl control room was ethernet wired to an FTTH connection. The stream selected in the Dazzl control room was then displayed on a player on another MacBook pro with Switcher cast app to allow integration on our final video control room: Switcher Studio installed on an iPad pro.

The second control room (Switcher studio) manages different streams connected over the same wifi network:

  • the live stream from Dazzl control room
  • the iPad filming the anchorman
  • the video player installed on a MacBook pro with Switcher Cast (for pre-recorded video)

The Switcher studio control room can also launch directly pre-recorded video if they are available on the iPad and add the final touch with logo and text over images. This iPad sent the final signal to Facebook live. A few hours before this operation, Switcher studio released a new version that allows up to 9 different sources (compared to the 4 previously available).

Last issue is related to audio. There is only one audio input through TRRS jack on the iPad, so we set up a network of wires to connect all our audio sources to an audio switcher. The audio output was then sent through an iRig pre to the iPad.

The diagram below sums up our set up.

Each reporter also had a regular smartphone with access to a dedicated Whatsapp group to coordinate with each other. But an intercom feature will be soon available through Dazzl app to facilitate conversation between reporters and control room.

The warmth of this first day of summer 2017 (about 40° C in Paris when we started live streaming at 6:00 pm) caused one of our MacBook pro and the audio switcher to overheat and lead to a Facebook live interruption.

The 4G network saturation in some places where the crowd gathered for la Fête de la musique was another issue experienced by our reporters. It was also extremely acrobatic for them not to have an audio return channel to monitor what they were streaming.

Finally, this very experimental set up allowed more than 50 000 viewers to follow the event via Facebook live. We strongly believe that this king of multiplex video setup will become easier to operate within the next months.