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Amiga Events : Interview with Bill Borsari
Posted by Sbaitso on 2019/10/12 19:19:28 (1764 reads) News by the same author
Amiga Events

Today I'm joined by Bill Borsari. Bill is probably best known as the longtime broadcast of AmiWest, but his involvement in AmiWest runs much deeper than just broadcasting.

Bill, thank you very much for taking the time to provide some information about the AmiWest broadcast and AmiWest in general.

1. - Can you give us a bit of background on your broadcasting history using AmigaOS? What originally drew you to begin broadcasting Amiga conventions?

Back in 1995 I attended my first Amiga show at a Howard Johnson's hotel in Montreal, Canada. I was completely hooked. Later, while at a show in Ohio (I think) in 1996 and some folks were trying to get on an IRC channel with a video projector. I had been seeking a way to give back and to contribute and when I saw them struggling to get it working so I figured this is something I can do. That's how it started, as a desire to have an IRC feed from the show to provide with live updates.

2. - When did you first become involved with AmiWest? Did you begin broadcasting as soon as you became involved with the show?

I think I attended my first AmiWest in 1998. At that time I was able to dedicate time to travel to Amiga Shows and broadcast them. At the first AmiWest I ran an IRC session and we had a webcam. It's archived on Aminet here: http://aminet.net/search?query=amiwest. That was fun to see the start of an Amiga show. Great buzz at the show with lots of vendors and exhibitors.

3. - Approximately how many hours do you spend preparing for the broadcast of the show each year? What other roles do you play in the planning of AmiWest as well as during the show itself and how much time do you spend on those tasks? How much is the broadcast considered when making show related decisions?

Since I've been broadcasting Amiga shows for over 20 years I have it down to a science at the show. Typically, I'll spend the 20 to 60 hours between the shows thinking about what to add, how to improve, and prepare. Over the years I've done more or less prep work, like when we introduced video streaming and the work to solve the audio problems. Last year I had fun building a camera that could be "driven" via IRC. I'm often away from the broadcast environment so I thought it would be nice if the viewers could move a camera around. In terms of my other roles with AmiWest, I work closely with the show organizers to help imagine new features and events. I need to give credit to Brian Deenen and the SACC group for working to pull off the event. It's amazing they have been able to keep it going for 20+ years. Funny you ask about considerations for the broadcast, at this point it's just part of the show.

4. - What configuration and setup do you currently use to be able to broadcast to YouTube from an Amiga in 2019? For the technical crowd, can you please give a detailed list of the equipment you plan to use in 2019? How much variance in equipment is there from year to year, on average?

Since this is an Amiga show I go out of my way to use Amiga related technologies. Unfortunately, we are missing some key elements, so I do rely on a number of parts to bring the whole thing together. I started with IRC then moved to "webcam", then audio streaming, then video streaming. The key driver for the technology progression really is the available bandwidth at the hotel. For AmiWest 2019 we will have a video stream via YouTube. How it all works is this:

Start with 4 video sources, 3 camera's and the projector display routed in to an Amiga Video Toaster 4000 as NTSC.
The output from VT 4K is connected to a BlackMagic Intensity PCI video capture card in a Windows PC.
This year I'm thinking about using the Open Broadcaster Software "OBS" to stream the video to YouTube (or other steaming services)
For audio we have a much more complex setup involving wireless and wired mics in to a mixing board so we can control what is piped locally for the show audience and what we send over the stream.
Wrap the whole thing in a ton of wire.

Here is a photo from AmiWest 2018 with the broadcast rig:

5. - Does the release of walkero's All In One streams (aiostreams) open up new broadcasting possibilities for future AmiWest broadcasts or are there technical limitations currently preventing you from broadcasting to services other than YouTube? Would it be possible to broadcast to two different services simultaneously? If so, do you currently have the equipment to be able to attempt this? If not, would you be willing to attempt it if another attendee was able to bring the additional equipment?

I was very happy to see aiostreams show up on OS4Depot. Nice to see the Amiga can play twitch and others. In the past I've used several different methods to broadcast and have run separate audio streams as a companion to the video stream. Since the viewers have dropped off on the audio only streams, I focus on the video streams. The other nice thing about YouTube is the stream is preserved for the future. I'm open to suggestions as to what service to use but for now I'm sticking with YouTube. With the latest FFPlay (in the FFmpeg package: http://os4depot.net/share/video/convert/ffmpeg.lha) and YT.rexx (http://os4depot.net/share/video/misc/yt.lha) it is easy to stream live youTube on OS4 with those tools. Not sure if there is a classic compatible solution for any internet video streaming service.

6. - Can you talk about some of the challenges you face producing the broadcast that the average viewer probably isn't aware of? What about some of the challenges the AmiWest team faces that the average attendee / viewer isn't aware of?

The two biggest challenges have been getting reliable bandwidth and clean audio. I've done crazy things in the past to get internet working and we have had bad years where the stream was disrupted. When I started this it was 56K dial up modems, now I've run a show off a cell phone connection. For the audio I've worked with the AmiWest organizers to invest in better and better gear to improve quality.

7. - Where do you see the broadcast headed in the future and what changes, if any, would you like to make? Where do you see the future of AmiWest in general headed in the future? What changes would you like to see in the future of the show?

I have two long term goals, one is an Amiga1200 powered mobile bot which can roam the show floor. I'd also like to see what it would take to present the show in 720 degree video. I'm also open to suggestions from the viewers as to how we can improve. For the future, I would love to see the show grow in attendance. Over the years the show has become a celebration of the Amiga and a gathering of friends. We could use more friends :)

8. - Can you share some special memories you have of AmiWest, broadcasts, etc.?

After 20 years there are quiet a few. The first that comes to mind is the time (1999 maybe) when Bill McEwen gave a speech about the future direction of Amiga and I had a mini-8 recording. We took that back to the room and digitized the whole thing using a DSS+8 on an Amiga1200. We encoded the audio with GSM compressor and uploaded it an FTP service some place. It was 5 or 6 AM and I was wandering around the hotel and ran in to Bill checking out at the registration desk. I walked up and ask "Hey, do you mind if I post that speech from last night?", Bill replied "Best not to as I said some privileged things", I said "Ok, no problem". So I calmly walked back toward my room and when I got around the corner, I ran back and deleted the file. There was another year when the hotel double booked the room and made us move everything on Saturday.

9. - Do you have any behind the scenes stories that you would like to share about broadcasts or AmiWest?

All I can say is it takes a LOT of work to pull off a show like AmiWest every year, year after year. The SACC group does a great job of getting the show done inside the budget. It takes a lot of work to chase down exhibitors, caterers, and speakers.

10. - Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for reaching out and asking about this part of the show. It's amazing to see what's happening with the Amiga in 2019. Part of the situation is a depressing collection of lawsuits and folks fighting over the scraps of 20 years of commercial decline. At the same time, we are seeing new projects like the Vampire, new software like Sketchblock, update to old favorites like iBrowse, and plenty of new games for classic Amiga. The Amiga is about the community now and that is unique. Hope to see some new faces at the show this year!

Thank you,
Bill "tekmage" Borsari

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Author Thread
Published: 2019/10/13 23:37  Updated: 2019/10/13 23:37
Quite a regular
Joined: 02/27/2007
From: Gravity well
Comments: 737
720 degrees? Two 360° feeds?
Published: 2019/10/14 14:10  Updated: 2019/10/14 14:10
Site Builder
Joined: 12/02/2006
From: Athens/Dublin
Comments: 1657
 Great interview
That is a great interview. If Bill was not working on streaming the AmiWest, many of us would never been able to see what is happening over there. But now, in real time, we can watch the speeches and the presentations, and feel like part of the Amiga community in US. Many time stayed up really late at night to watch most of the streaming and feel their passion about our beloved platform. Well done Bill.
Published: 2019/11/4 23:40  Updated: 2019/11/4 23:40
Just popping in
Joined: 01/05/2009
From: Sacramento, CA
Comments: 13
 Bill Borsari - an AmiWest original supporter
Thanks for doing this interview with Bill, one of AmiWest's original supporters. As the organizer for AmiWest, I can vouch for Bill's contributions to the show, which are too many to list. We here at the Sacramento Amiga Computer Club (SACC) would have a very much reduced presence if not for Bill Borsari's involvement. He originated the AmiWest broadcast at the first AmiWest show in 1998. Since then, he has been a central part of the creative team that presents the show. He spends a lot of time brainstorming ideas and procedures with me and other members of our team. None of us has kept track of the many hours (likely numbered in the hundreds of hours per year) that are spent in realizing the many details of the show. The AmiWest dates for 2020 have already been announced (see amiwest.net) and new features are in the works. Please follow our blog at amiwest.net/amiwest2019blog for the latest on AmiWest 2020. We will be posting throughout the year.
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