Parent Power - How a Group of Travelling Parents Put Together a Live Stream of an International U18 Match at a Pitch Without Power or WiFi
[editor's comments below with technical details from Richard Topping]
I've always been a big advocate of harnessing the tremendous energy and talent parents bring to the game, both behind the scene and in this case, from the sideline. This was the case on Tuesday when a group of parents travelling with the Canadian U18 teams put on a live stream of the two Canada vs USA matches for the public to watch on YouTube. Here is the link to the games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5216&v=UcoJ0aKC74I
The quality of the live stream was better than we've seen on many broadcasts and it was done at a field that had no wifi and no electrical outlets. It was beyond the scope of the national unions to put this together and officially both USA Rugby and Rugby Canada had announced, "no live stream". Enter the MacGyvers of the rugby world, the travelling Canadian parents. I spoke to two parents who took the lead on this Dirk Snyman and Richard Topping, both from the Oakville Crusaders club in Ontario. How do you put together a live stream without power or a wired or wifi internet signal?
First up was to buy a T-mobile travel card from Amazon for unlimited everything for 10 days... about $25 CAD. The 3.5 hours of streaming used about 6.6 GB of data.
Next buy extra batteries for your laptop, Richard and another parent went shopping locally and bought batteries for the laptop they were using. The smaller backup battery (350 watts) ran for about 45 mins only. The larger 800 watt battery ran until the end of both games with about 40 mins remaining. The laptop was running Windows 10 and had a i5-6200U CPU with 8GB RAM, it was a couple of years old. You would also need enough extra battery power for your camcorder to record for the approximately 3 hours (2 games). They were using an older Panasonic model camcorder, about 8 years old, that had HDMI output.
The key to making this work was that Richard had packed away an HDMI to USB 3.0 capture card in his suitcase. This takes the camcorder HDMI video output and encodes it to USB 3.0 to create your laptop's video input. He used a "EZCAP287 USB3.0 1080P HD Game Live Broadcast Video Capture Box" which if you google it costs less than $100 CAD. It was the only specialized piece of equipment needed to make this work and fortunately Richard had been dabbling with the idea of live streaming for his club next season so decided to sling it in the suitcase, just in case.
The laptop was "tethered" to Richard's mobile phone through another USB port which provided the live internet connection to take the place of a wifi or wired internet connection. That was basically it, a mobile phone with a sufficiently large data plan or prepaid card, a laptop with USB 3.0 input, an external HDMI to USB 3.0 encoder, a camcorder with HDMI output. Add in some external mics and an audio mixer if you want to add some extras in the commentary department.
Almost forgot, the software running on the laptop to make it happen was Streamlabs OBS - Open Broadcaster Software
, it's free software you can download online. Richard added an OBS scoring app called FlexScore which allowed him to add a scoreboard and clock.
So kudos to Richard, Dirk and the rest of the parents who supported the effort, well done.