When I first started this blog my intention was to focus on video sites like YouTube, Metacafe, etc. But, since Ustream.tv has arrived on the scene I’m going to include tips to improve your live streaming video as well.
My first tip is on how to embed your current Twitter status in your Ustream video. I spent a few days obsessing on how to get this done and finally figured out how. I’m sure this isn’t the best technique, but as far as I know it is the first… and it works.
Things you will need:
TwitterStream PHP Script – This is the PHP script that generates an image based on your current Twitter status.
WebcamMax – this is a really good webcam effects application to add pictures, flash, text and other stuff to your streaming videos. They have a free version but it puts a huge logo at the top of the screen. I went ahead and bought a copy for $29.95 and am very pleased. I haven’t got this to work with Superwebcam yet.
RoboTask – RoboTask is a task automation program for Windows. I didn’t look around too much and this was one of the first programs I found. Basically you need a program or script of some kind that will download an image file to your computer from the web (location of the PHP script that grabs twitter status). I’ll explain more later…for now, download it as it has a free trial. I’ll update this post as better solutions are discovered.
Step 1: Install TwitterStream PHP Script – Ok, so first download the TwitterStream PHP Script and create a directory on your web host called “twitterstream” or whatever you want to call it. Modify variables in script as desired. The Main variable you will want to change in the twitterstream.php script is the one at the top that points to your Twitter status:
$ch = curl_init(“http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/manatee.xml?count=1″);
Change manatee to whatever your Twitter name is. There are other variables you can play around with: text color, background color and transparency. By default it is set to transparent with white text.
Upload the twitterstream.php script and image.png file to that directory. You must upload the included image.png or it will give an error. Test it out by calling the twitterstream.php script in your browser. It should show an image of your current Twitter status. (Apologies for sloppy code… I’ll try to clean it up soon)
Step 2: Download and Install RoboTask – Once you have Robotask installed, create a new task by clicking the add task button in the upper left corner.
A new window will open. Name your task if desired, then click the “+Add” button on the bottom. Select the fifth category down labeled “Internet” and then select “Download File“.
Finally, paste the URL to your installed twitterstream.php script in the field that says “File to download”. Choose a location to save the twitter status PNG file on your computer in the “Save in Folder” field. Pick a filename for the image file in the “Safe As Filename” field. Remember this name and the location it is saved – you will need it for the next step. Select the “Overwrite” radio button and click OK.
You can then choose to have RoboTask download the twitter image file as often as you like to see if the Twitter status has changed. I have mine set to check every 5 minutes. To do this, click the Triggering Events tab and select “Cyclic” under the General category:
Now you should be good to go – just click the Play or “run task” button and your task will be running. What this does is run the PHP script remotely and download an image created from the script to your local computer. If anyone knows an easier way to do this please leave a comment.
Step 3: Add Twitter Image to WebcamMax – Download and install WebcamMax. Once you have installed it and your web cam is working with WebcamMax you can then add a Media effect and this will show up on your video stream. Click the yellow folder underneath the big red X and select the twitterstatus image that is downloaded by RoboTask to your local computer from step 2. You’re almost done…
Now you need to adjust the image width to 1000 pixels and height to 20 in the effects editor. You can get to the editor by clicking on the blue icon in the lower right under your webcam image. You can keep the image in a fixed location or have it scroll. You can also have multiple images in rotation so you could make duplicate scripts and have seperate feeds in rotation. This will probably be my next experiment.
Of course, you don’t have to stop with Twitter – you could add the latest weather, top news headlines, blog posts or whatever else you want with a bit of modification.
Once you get this going it isn’t as complicated as it might look. I’m sure there is a more efficient way to do this…and would love to know if there is. You can actually enter the URL of an online image into WebcamMax but, it doesn’t seem to update and I’m guessing it has something to do with the browser cache?
If anyone needs help or can offer a better way to do this, please leave a comment below. Post your stream if you like…I’ll be curious to see if this works for others….