Autoline LIVE headed west last month. West as in the “City of Angels” and the increasingly-important LA Auto Show. It was the second year of broadcasting LIVE from the BMW booth on the show floor. But this year was a little different than last. Not only did we travel a tad lighter, but we also managed to literally “cut the cord” and broadcast wirelessly from the LA Convention Center with nary a satellite truck or Criss Angel in sight. How did we do it? It was all thanks to the 15-pound dynamo called LiveU.
LiveU is a student-like backpack, (known in-house as the LU-30) which contains a fairly simple setup. Inside are six cellular data cards (2 AT&T, 2 Verizon, 1 T-Mobile, 1 Sprint) that, once you connect to your video equipment, allow you to broadcast LIVE on the Internet. For instance, during our Autoline LIVE interview with Victor Muller, the chairman of Saab-Spyker Automobiles, our signal was sent back to the LiveU server (known as the LU-1000) on the east coast and then right to our Ustream channel and out to our audience around the globe.
And if all of this wasn’t mind-blowing enough, what really gave the Autoline LIVE broadcast a totally new look and feel this year was when we actually went for a tour of a portion of South Hall. That’s right, with videographer and the LU-30 in tow, our host John McElroy gave the thousands of eyes and ears watching and listening to his executive interviews an actual look around the manufacturers’ exhibit booths of Mazda, GMC, Cadillac and Audi. Couldn’t do that connected to some T1 line!
Now, of course LiveU isn’t perfect . . . just yet. The technology, at this point, only allows the use of one video signal and limited audio inputs which rationed us on the show floor. However, the next day, when broadcasting our weekly webcast “Autoline After Hours” from the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills, we were able to add an audio mixer that increased our capacity and allowed us a fantastic four-person conversation. And even though we did face video restrictions, LiveU still allowed us to have an a graphic overlay which was key to adding depth to both broadcasts.
In sum, what can the Autoline team say other than “LiveU is GREAT”? From our brief experience with the technology, we’re already discussing new and different ways to take advantage of it. And if our reaction, as well as those of our audience, is any indication, this “toe in the water” with LiveU was only the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to come for sure.