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DEF CON TV and DEF CON 23 / DCTV

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  • DEF CON TV and DEF CON 23 / DCTV

    A discussion from last year and this year on DCTV lead to a request that video streams piped to hotel rooms should always focus on slides.

    As a poll, to see what everyone's opinions are on this, I've tried to describe all of the options and put them into a multi-selction poll - choose all of the boxes that you agree with.

    If *new* resources are needed to support something, there is often a need to pay for those resources. If people are needed to do something new, those people receive benefits through the purchase of badges, whether they get a T-Shirt, or a Free Human badge, or something else. New features, more space, more demands from hotel, increases to insurance, all drive increases in costs.

    Cheapest options:
    1) Leave things as they are. Focus only on the speaker:
    * It makes recognizing someone speaking at a talk easier if/when you run into them in-person
    * It makes it easier to find them if you know what they look like
    * It is what we are doing right now, so would be no added cost

    2) Do not focus on speaker, instead focus on the slide-projector, or a duplicate feed of video from the data projector
    * It may be possible for the same resources we have now, to be adjusted to point to JUST the projection screens, so no need for more people or parts.
    * When a speaker has no slides, the video feed is of static content, or blank screen
    * If the speaker uses "tiny" font, it may not be readable over the TV-quality displays in hotels (suggestion from Snapshot: give suggestions for font style/size to speakers for slides before they submit talk.)
    * When there is a panel discussion, or a game in a speaker track, you do not see the players, only the content on the projection screen

    3) Bump prices to pay for people (with resources for volunteers, or professional outsiders) to sit in every track, and switch video as needed based on content
    * New services need funding. That happens by stoping services elsewhere, or increasing prices.
    * Since talks start at nearly the same time, we would need a person for each track, not one person running to all tracks at start of every talk
    * If even more equipment was purchased, multiple cameras per track could always feed through hotel-provided conduits (for fees from hotel) to a single room, and then one person could select video source for each track, but this would probably cost a lot more, up-front and on-going compared to one camera per room, and people to switch sources manually.

    4) Do not bump prices of badges, bump prices of people staying in hotel that can use this feed if they used the "DEF CON" rate.
    * Similar to above, but cost to be paid by people staying in hotel
    * May not be "possible" -- depends on the equipment the hotel has, and their willingness to provide it, and how much money they can make by offering it

    5) Make feed part of hotel "pay-per-view" so people staying at the hotel only pay if they use it.
    * Might have an undesirable effect of clogging up speaker tracks with more physical bodies, because of extra costs beyond a badge to attend.
    * May not be "possible" -- depends on the equipment the hotel has, and their willingness to provide it, and how much money they can make by offering it

    6) Buy more channels from the hotel (assuming available, this would have a cost from the hotel, too.)
    * Hotel would likely charge us, and increase costs, which increases costs for attendees.
    * Occupy 2 channels per track, one with speaker, one with slides, never change camera angles
    * People can choose which they want to watch from their room.
    * May not be "possible" -- depends on the equipment the hotel has, and their willingness to provide it, and how much money they can make by offering it


    I have no visibility into the economics of DEF CON beyond the basic understanding:
    * If you want a new service, feature, property, costs must be passed on to consumers.

    Sometimes, it is possible to re-purpose existing HR (Human Resources) and property to do something different, and not increase costs, but most of the time, people want new features.
    16
    Exactlyt what it is now: 1 video of speaker
    0%
    0
    Change it: 1 video, always of projector screen
    62.50%
    10
    change it: increase cost to pay more people: change video as needed
    25.00%
    4
    change it: new video, cost to guests at "DEF CON" rate
    6.25%
    1
    change it: make hotel charge guests that use it "Pay-Per-View" fees
    0%
    0
    Change it: Buy 2x more channels from hotel: 1=speaker, 2=slides
    12.50%
    2
    I have my own idea,and will suggest below..
    0%
    0
    This poll is a horrible idea.
    6.25%
    1
    You're a horrible idea, and a towel.
    12.50%
    2
    I don't care.
    6.25%
    1

    The poll is expired.

    Last edited by TheCotMan; August 18, 2014, 17:51.

  • #2
    Re: DEF CON TV and DEF CON 23 / DCTV

    i feel like there might be an Option #7...

    each of the 4 or 5 main speaking tracks (hell, would be awesome to have the village mini tracks also on this) gets a high-end rig which takes inputs from VGA/HDMI/whatever the projector uses and also has a single digital camera feeding in.

    have a properly trained-human sitting there to operate this in each track. the human operator has the following duties...

    1. make sure shit is running
    2. make sure shit is in focus and the feed is working
    3. edit the "title card" with speaker's name and talk title
    4. be in contact with the media / DCTV office

    ... before a talk starts, the speaker Ops proctor (did we have those this year? ours was the very last talk so we didn't really get an introduction, etc, but i assume the speaker Ops staff has the full rundown) confirms with the operator on the spelling of the speaker name(s) and talk title. the DCTV feed Operator edits things in the capture/streaming rig

    the resultant stream would be...


    ...and that is well worth the cost involved if it means the streams are all archived and published at a later date. What would this cost? My back of the napkin math says in the neighborhood of $20,000... that's for the rigs, the staff, and possibly the streaming, depending on how well you wanted to do the streaming. Spread across the whole of DEFCON attendees, that's well worth the extra coupe dollars that it adds to the cost.

    Of course, that's now how it works, though, is it? DEFCON has to cost an even number of dollars easily divisible by $20 and you can't just make next year cost $223 or something. Realistically, unless Jeff is bumping it to $240 and doing a lot more cool stuff with that extra scratch (and who knows the extra costs of being between two hotels this coming year, etc) then there's no chance of this.

    In the end, we've been doing DCTV at the con for a LOOOONG time...


    ... and i think we're at the point where if we want to really really do it amazingly, we have the technology and the means.

    P.S. streaming really is the way to go, in my view. Use of the in-room TVs is very limiting and fraught with volume and scanning issues unless we can go totally digital.


    Maybe that's like "Option 3+" in your poll (was there a forum poll or just a multi-point discussion?) but that's what i'd support. People like IronGeek have gotten their system so fine-tuned that it's the gold standard against which all other con recordings are judged now. We have the means to measure up to that and really do it solid.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

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    • #3
      Re: DEF CON TV and DEF CON 23 / DCTV

      Just some of my thoughts...

      With as many folks not being able to get into talks they wish to see, improving the DCTV reliability and quality would be very valuable. Without having a full knowledge of the setup infrastructure for DCTV, I can only comment on what I've been able to see in room. I've had a long history of working with video and audio production and try not to set my personal expectation too high.

      Quality of singal pass-thru Video/Audio to DCTV/house:

      I assume that the quality of the recorded content is of higher quality than what is piped to the rooms or it would not be worthy of sale. I would assume that getting a good recording may be priority one and that pass thru of signals is a requirement, of lesser focus to the vendor recording the talks; an accommodation more so than a mission requirement.

      If the video was being done by a vendors, I would set contractual expectation of calibrated audio and appropriately lit video pass-thru to the house. Setting a 0db reference tone (1khz works well) throughout the chain would alleviate the distortion that made some channels (historically) unfit for listening. The signal quality between tracks varies greatly with some being too fatiguing to remain watching.

      White balance: enough said

      Balanced outs. Avoid mini jacks for anything and for that matter, unbalanced outputs. If you have to use them, then use appropriate DIs. Even worse when folks seem to think that passing lappy/tablet audio through unbalanced cables to a MEGA soundsystem is not a problem. That is a considerable amount of watts of soundsystem hanging off of <$0.50 of cost reduced, consumer electronic components. Thats without even getting into D/A quality and S/N.

      Shots:

      Static shots are fine, but mirroring demos/slides would greatly improve the CCTV viewing experience. It was mentioned as one of the options. Also it is possible to PiP the talking heads against the slides/demo with a live video mixer. Alternatively an easier option would be to mirror the audio on two CCTV channels with wide shot video on one, with talking head on the other. This effectively doubles the CCTV channel need. Video mixer option requires hardware investments.

      Lighting should be calibrated by using a light meter. Some of the channels were so under lit that it was impossible to see the talking heads. Light the subjects and the quality of the video will increase by a magnitude. Digital video does not react well to low light situations and injects noise into the frames.

      Accessibility:

      If possible, mirror track presentations to chill out areas to allow for attendees who are unable to get into talks to have access to the presentations. Since not all attendees stay at the hosting hotel nor are able to get into the track-n, it might be of high value to those attendees to facilitate greater accessibility to the content.

      Quality control:

      Underlit shots and distorted/poor audio can be monitored from the hotel TVs. It would be excellent if someone could take a look from time to time and engage to communicate targets for appropriate corrections. Calibrate and test daily before the action starts. Check randomly or have twitter target for qual control/feedback.
      Last edited by goathead; August 19, 2014, 11:07.
      If a chicken and a half, can lay an egg and a half, in a day and a half... how long would it take a monkey, with a wooden leg, to kick the seeds out of a dill pickle?

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      • #4
        Re: DEF CON TV and DEF CON 23 / DCTV

        Over the past few years, I've had three primary complaints (ordered by importance to me):
        1. Inability to hear the speaker (usually due to volume issues, speakers not being close enough to the mic, or multiple speakers only one of whom is using a mic)
        2. Inability to see the slides
        3. Inability to see the speaker


        Personally, I'd like to see DCTV streamed, but it probably wouldn't get as much use as I want to believe - every time I watch it, it's cause I overslept and only end up watching until I finally drag my ass out of bed. It would be super cool to have it ubiquitously available in some fashion outside the rooms though, for the talks that are so full you have no chance of getting in. Does the quality improvement of streaming override the availability benefits of in house TV?

        As far as format, I think a PiP or side by side setup like DO mocked up would be ideal. I do want to see the presenter, but what [s]he's presenting is simply more important.

        Bottom line, it's worth some scratch to me to be able to hear the presenter and see the slides. In a perfect world, I'd be able to see the presenter too - PiP please!

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