In March of 2021, we installed our first ever 4k live streaming camera, Sea Breeze Cam. After it was installed, I discovered that our standard streaming servers, couldn’t cope with transcoding 4k footage. Transcoding is the process of converting the live stream from the camera to various bit rates so the correct quality of live stream can be delivered to your device.
A 4k live stream is transcoded to the following:
2060p (4k or UHD)
1080p (Full HD)
If you are watching one of our cameras on your mobile phone, the system won’t send you the 4k stream as most phones won’t cope with such a bit rate. The server will detect your internet speed and screen size and adjust the quality to match. If you are watching on a 4k monitor or TV, the server will send a 4k stream, as long as your broadband is fast enough. All of this happens automatically for all users without any interruption. You can manually change the quality of your stream by clicking the cog at the bottom right of the player (PC’s and laptops).
Our old servers were not powerful enough and couldn’t transcode a single 4k stream so I made the decision to upgrade the server from a single CPU (4 core) server to a dual CPU (24 core) server. On paper, this is 8 times as powerful!
Since then, we were getting a handful of reports that the live streams were freezing and jumping, something that I could not replicate myself.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been working with our streaming software supplier and we believe that we’ve now fixed the issue. The problem was the huge amount of RAM in the server. The operating system couldn’t cope and when it filled up, it killed the streaming software and the cameras went offline. This has been happening on average every three weeks and would require me to reinstall the whole operating system and Wowza Streaming Engine This took about three hours. This was hugely frustrating for everyone, myself included as the previous servers have worked almost flawlessly since 2015.
Anyway, we currently have two servers running alongside each other (with a different OS) and they seem a lot more stable. Over this bank holiday weekend, we will split the cameras between two servers to balance the load as we have three special trains over the weekend. Over the course on the next week I’ll be moving the streams to the main server and then hopefully we will have a reliable system again.
If you have been experiencing issues with the live streams, please comment below on this post as I’m relaying all information to the streaming consultants.
Thank you for your patience during the past few months. A lot of us have been scratching our heads as to the course of the problem but hopefully, we can all enjoy the high-quality streams again.
Our next upgrade is an additional broadband connection at Sea Breeze. Black Swan Cam and Sea Breeze cam are both sharing the same connection. With second broadband for Sea Breeze, the 4k stream will be even better than it is now.
We also plan to upgrade the Blenheim to 4k too in the near future.
Neil Salter (Beach Cams Man),
Founder of Dawlish Beach Cams
I continue to have problems of freezing with all of the railway cameras particulary on full screen. When initially opening the stream the quality is low, by maually freezing the stream for a second or so on restreaming the time jumps forward by as much as 35 seconds with the quality much better. However the picture continues to buffer with people suddenly disappearing from view as they walk the wall.
By setting the bit rate to 720 there is an improvement but still on occasion buffering does occur albeit to a much reduced extent.
I shall stick to the 720 for the remainded of my contract
thanks for your help
Thanks Michael. All of the streams should be on the new server by the end of next week and we have another Broadband connection going in for Sea Breeze and Black Swan Cam as those two cameras share a connection with the cafe. I’m hoping that this will resolve the issues.
Thanks for bearing with me.
Thanks for your update, Michael. I’ll be in touch. Have you tried setting the bit rate to a fixed rate E.G. 720p? You can do this with the cog on the bottom right. I just want to see if it does it also at a fixed rate so I can pass on the info to Wowza.
I’ve made some adjustments to the player now so it sends a higher quality stream at first. It was set to ‘fast start’.
I’ve had stuttering, freezing & SD where should be an HD stream for many weeks. Basically all unusable except for Sea Breeze that was 95% OK. Using several old & new macs, I tried different browsers, have low latency full sync FTTC. I didn’t mail you as I have been ill & couldn’t construct a coherent sentence!
I saw your post and wanted to report my tests of today = the same issues. Interestingly the stream was OK when you used dual servers for the morning passing of this past weekends steam special on Bleneim – that was fine other than it jumped into SD for a few frames here and there, no stuttering or freeze.
Pause & restart stream doesn’t help. Safari is bad, Firefox is marginally better in that sometimes I can get Salty or Blenheim to stream OK for a couple of minutes, possibly as it uses a larger app buffer. Safari does not show the setting for stream res, Firefox it makes little difference unless you go down to 320 or so.
I was involved in streaming video in TV engineering development back in the days when succesfully receiving a postage stamp live stream on the public internet was a red letter day & everyone said it would never catch on 8) I am out of touch with recent streaming systems as retired but happy to help if you need, just email me.
Lets hope the new server sorts it out, love the cameras.
Just to give you all another update, the server crashed again today and finally, a CPU test failed and the hosts are replacing the components.
I’m trying to get a new server as I’ve spent thousands on this server so far and it hasn’t worked properly since March 18th, when it was purchased.
We never had these issues before this date so I am coming down hard on the hosts, again!
We are running on another backup server again.
I’m so sorry for any inconvenience.
I believe the buffering and jumping issue is fixed now.
Please let me know your results.
Firefox -all HD cams working well on 720 other than Blenheim that freezes & Black Swan that stutters a bit. 1080 ditto other than Black Swan that freezes after 1-2 secs.
Safari – straight to HD on all but freezes and stutters every few mins ( I think safari defaults to 1080 with no option and it’s app buffer is too small.) Better than before but I’ll stick with Firefox.
As you know, viewing and panning across moving, rippling water is a tough task for cams to serve and servers to process owing to the huge data volume compared to street scenes etc. Black Swan seems to suffer from this more than others.
Tests were before 0700 this morning so server load later may change results.
BTW- I’m logged in on Safari but keep getting “Error: You have entered an incorrect reCaptcha value
Click the BACK button on your browser and try again.” when trying to post, I can see no Captcha – all ad blockers off etc. Firefox works
Anyway I’m grateful that the cams are watchable again, many thanks 8)
PS – new player on some cams works well, allows selection of lower res and plays more smoothly even on Safari