As I promised before, I will share with the steps to set up a webcam to broadcast real time video with Windows Media Encoder in this article.
Before I begin, please visit my webcam page to experience what you are going to create. (It will open a new window.)
There are two part of this article. The first part is the client side configuration. Please make you check you can view the content of my webcam from your Windows client. A simple troubleshooting guide is included.
The second part is the server side configuration. I will guide you to setup the hardware and software on the server side, so you can broadcast what your webcam captures to the whole world.
Client side platform supported
Your experience will depend on the operating system you are using.
- Windows XP. You should not encounter with any problem if you are using Windows XP, since it includes Windows Media Player Windows Media Player 8.0.
- Windows 2000. If you are using Windows 2000, which includes Windows Media 7.1, you will be prompted to install Windows Media 8.0 codec. Choose Yes if you want to continue to view.
- Windows 98, Windows 95 I haven’t tried yet, but it should be more complex to get it work. It includes Windows Media Player 6.4 by default.
- Mac. If you cannot view it, try download Windows Media Player for Mac OS X. To be honest, I haven’t tried to view my broadcasting on a Mac computer now.
- Solaris Download Windows Media Player 6.3 for Solaris. I was working of Solaris when I was in Tele cooperation Lab when I was a senior in SJTU. But I believe not so many people is using Solaris now, especially for viewing online media.
- Other OS. I don’t know how to view it. :-(
I am using broadband in my home. You should also use a high speed connection. I have tested it from different locations around China. It works very good for both broadband connection or T1. My friend Bill Lum also told me that he can view the video smoothly in San Francisco. For modem dial-up, maybe you can only see black window, with “buffering” always there on status bar. Try a faster connection.
Troubleshooting when connecting
Check the status bar of the Windows Media Player. The correct status bar sequence should be
- Connecting to Media…
- Buffering: xx% complete…
- Buffering: 100% complete…
If you see Ready in status bar but the video does not come out, it means there is a connection problem, or the Windows Media Encoder is not running on my server side.
If you can only see stable Buffering, it must be a speed problem.
Hurry, tell me how you made it
Well. After addressing the client side requirements and troubleshooting steps, let’s take a look at the server side.
A normal computer that can run Windows XP is fine. Mine is a Intel Celeron 440, 256M Memory. Pretty low configured, isn’t it?
I am using Windows XP. Windows 2000 will also do.
Any webcam should be fine. I am using Samsung Anycam. The only annoying thing I met was, Windows does not natively support it, so I need to download driver separately for it.
Broadcasting from home does not need a Windows Media Server, the only software you need is Windows Media Encoder. It is FREE. You can download the latest version from Microsoft web site.
Install the Windows Media Encoder
Download Windows Media Encoder (9 MB) first. Installation the Windows Media 9 Series is as easy as installing any other Microsoft product, even easier. Click Next forth and click the Finish button will do the work. The only additional step you need to go is choosing “I agree” at the End User License Agreement page.
Configure Windows Media Encoder
Follow the New Session Wizard. It should be very easy step, since more of the questions are easy to understand. Here are some tips:
- Select “Broadcast a live event…” since you are not broadcasting a piece of video you have recorded.
- Select the camera in Video source.
- You can select your Audio source too, but don’t expect the sound effect is good. You can use a .WAV file as background music.
- HTTP port. Just leave it as it was — 8080. Change it if you have to.
- Always select Pull instead of Push, since you don’t have Windows Media Server.
- For profile selection, you can try different profile that meet your needs. The common rule is, the higher the resolution is, the more bandwidth it requires. I am using 320×240 in size, 15 fps, and on 100 kbps.
- Think carefully when entering Title and Author, it will be displayed on the viewer’s media player.
- Finally, do NOT select save the video to file unless the video is really important or you have enough disk space.
After everything is done, click “Start Encoding”. Congratulations. The server part is done.
How about the client then?
To test, you can open Windows Media Player, click Open URL… on the File menu. In the “Open URL…” dialog box, enter your media source like this,
(It is valid source and you can try to open it)
Substitute the source with your server name and the port you chose.
If you can see the video, you can go ahead to create a web page so others can directly view it on a web page as I did.
You can copy the source code of my page into your page. You are free to do so and you don’t need to link back since I got the source code from MSDN sample.
If you have successfully setup your own Windows Media server and can broadcast to the Internet, I will congratulate you on the achievement. I will feel very happy for the 1.5 hour I have spent on this article. My only requirement for you is to write a comment under this article and share the URL of your online broadcasting station with my readers.
“Oops. It does not work as you said”
It may also be common. Write a comment under this article so all the community members, including me, can help you on that.
- I am happy that Joe setup his cam using steps listed in this article. Thanks for linking back. See his cam Nov 24, 2002