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Using Azure Media Services Explorer for Live Encoding

Posted on 27 mai, 2015

Senior Program Manager, Azure Media Services
Since its launch in October 2014, we have been adding many new features to the Azure Media Services Explorer (AMSE) tool. In this blog, I will walk you through the steps for using this tool for live encoding (see this for details on using the Azure Management Portal). This blog assumes that you are familiar with the live encoding feature in our service.  

Getting Started

To get started, follow the below steps:
  1. Install the latest (v3.20 or newer) Azure Media Services Explorer (AMSE) tool
  2. Ensure you have a reasonably high (10-15 Mbps) sustained BW connection to the Azure data center where you will be creating the Channel
  3. Ensure you have access to a live encoder that is capable of sending a single bitrate live stream over RTMP or Smooth Protocols. For convenience, the rest of this document will refer to the freely available trial version of Wirecast Pro (v 6.0.3 and newer) from Telestream.
Note: if you intend to test with RTP, please contact us at amslived@microsoft.com. The requirements on network connectivity are much more stringent for this protocol.
 

Streaming a Live Event

First, launch the AMSE tool, and connect to your Azure Media Services account. When the tool launches in the toolbar, go to Live\Create channel: Create Channel   In the window that opens, specify a Channel name as “Standard” in the Live Encoding option and choose RTMP as the input protocol. Then, hit ‘Create Channel’ button. I would recommend that you don’t restrict the IP address in your initial tests to facilitate debugging. Create Channel v2   Wait for the Channel to get started as this may take as long as 20 minutes depending on how busy the data center is. While waiting, you can proceed and set up Wirecast Pro. Launch the application, and hover over the “+” button: Wirecast001   Select a camera feed, such as “Integrated Camera Shot” as the source. Please note, you should avoid using a file as a source. Wirecast002   The camera’s output appears in a small ‘shot’ window. Click on it and your camera’s output will appear in the Preview window. Next, configure the output of Wirecast. On the Main Menu, go to Output -> Output Settings: Wirecast003   In the “Select an Output Destination” dialog box, select RTMP Server: Wirecast004 In the “Output Settings” dialog, choose “Azure Media Services” as the Destination and you will get the following “Output Settings” dialog that needs to be edited: Wirecast005   Note how the “Encoding” preset has been pre-selected to “Azure H.264 720p 16:9”. However, you need to modify the encoding settings via the “New Preset” option: Wirecast006   Give it a new name, such as “Test for AMS”. In the options window, set the H.264 encoder to “MainConcept H.264”, and save the preset. Note that the aggregate bitrate for video and audio should be at most 10 Mbps, and below the sustained bandwidth you can maintain from the system you are running Wirecast on, and the Azure data center where you are creating the Channel. Wirecast007   Next, enter your channel’s ingest URL in the Address field. You can get this from AMSE, by clicking on the Channel row in the “Live” tab, and selecting “Copy Input URL to clipboard\Primary Input URL”: Wirecast008 The Wirecast dialog should now look like this: Wirecast009 Hit “OK”, and now go back to AMSE and verify that your Channel is in the “Running” state. You are now ready to start streaming – click the arrow in the Wirecast window: Wirecast010 Start pushing live encoded data to channel by pressing the Stream button. The indicator ‘light’ on that button turns to red when streaming starts. Wirecast011 Wait for a minute or so, and you should be able to get the “Preview URL” for your Channel for the output of the Channel verifying that the live encoder is running. Right-click on the Channel in the AMSE tool and use the option as shown below: Wirecast012 You can paste this URL into the “URL” box of the Azure Media Services Player and view the output. Once you are satisfied with the Preview video, then you can try creating a Program, and playing that stream on other clients.
Note: Once you are finished testing (or your live event ends), you should stop any Programs and the Channel – this will stop the billing for your use of live encoding.

Known Issues

  1. Channel start up can take up to 20 minutes, depending on how busy the data center is
  2. When using Wirecast Pro, you must use the MainConcept H.264 encoder option
  3. If you make a mistake in connecting the live feed to the Channel, you will need to reset that Channel (Ctl+Shift+H) – this can take up to 5 minutes to complete