Early Live Streaming: Solar Eclipse of 1999

A History of mimoLive: The Early Years

In a sense, mimoLive was born on August 11th, 1999. That was the day when we produced our first large scale live video stream on the Internet: The total solar eclipse of 1999.

I had become friends with Markus, the CTO of the largest website in Germany at the time, Focus Online, when we both worked for Apple touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland to train Apple Service Partners. Markus actually took a holiday from his duties as CTO of Focus to go on those tours, which had a brutal schedule, and after we finished our duties, Markus worked some more hours fixing his servers. He is that kind of guy. But I digress.

My former physics teacher at the Max Born Gymnasium (the German version of high school), was an astronomy buff. For him, the solar eclipse was the perfect occasion to get the students excited about his favourite topic, so he decided to put on a huge solar eclipse party.

At the same time, Apple was looking for use cases for the brand new QuickTime Streaming Server. I thought: Why not combine all of this and live stream the solar eclipse from the observatory – the largest school observatory in Germany - of the Max Born Gymnasium?

It was easy to convince the MBG, Focus Online and Apple and so, on August 11th, 1999, the observatory was stuffed with PowerMac super computers and a top notch Sony video camera attached to the telescope, ready to stream the event to the world. In the end, the telescope proved to be too powerful to be useful, so we just taped the Sony camera to the side of the telescope and pointed it at the sun directly, but the telescope’s tracking proved indispensable for keeping the sun in the center of the camera view.

Shortly after the live stream started, Markus’ mobile phone started beeping like crazy: One server after the other texted panic from overload due to too many watchers. Markus looked at me with a huge smile on his face and said: “That’s a job well done!” It was the largest online live event in Germany at that time.

None of us could have imagined that the enthusiasm for live video streaming born on that day would eventually lead to the creation of mimoLive – The Multi-In, Multi-Out Live Video Engine.

Apple’s QuickTime technology was way ahead of its time back then: We also produced 360° photos – called QuickTime VRs – of the event as shown in the cover picture of this article. View the 360° version over on Facebook.

Marvelous mimoLive Plays Well at Varsity Hockey Tournament

After taking over the video program at Brookings High, digital specialist Brad Nupen was left with a low quality stream setup and was unhappy with the overall look of his broadcasts and began considering his options. Queue BoinxTV!

Brad says, “I really enjoyed the immediate results of the broadcast-ready templates for my students and the relative simplicity in setting up.”

When the news broke that BoinxTV was to undergo some cosmetic and technical changes, Brad was eager to see what was in store. As BoinxTV evolved and took on the new moniker, mimoLive, Brad instantly saw the impact of the updated software.

“The quality of the image, the ability to add graphics and the ease and stability of the streaming really demonstrated that mimoLive is going to be a contender in the live streaming arena,” says Brad.

Once better acquainted with the program, Brad decided it was time to see what mimoLive could really do at the Brookings High state boy’s varsity hockey tournament.

Brad explains, “I was a bit nervous because there were people from across the state that would be tuning in and watching it at a later date, and I wanted to have the best quality possible. I was not disappointed with mimoLive! The broadcast went on without any problems. I was able to follow the live action using the monitor on mimoLive as my secondary camera monitor.”

Since the students are the big users of mimoLive in Brad’s classroom, he is eager to integrate more student-produced works such as commercials, short movies and more into the live streaming broadcasts. With mimoLive, Brad can see clearly just how to make that happen.

To see how Brad and his students flawlessly captured the boy’s varsity hockey tournament, click here.

Attend TCEA presentation “Student News Broadcast on a Budget” and win a mimoLive License

At his presentation "Student News Broadcast on a Budget" for TCEA 2016 (Feb. 1-5, 2016, Austin, TX), Jacob Luevano. Innovative Teaching Strategist at the Manor Independent School District, will share his experiences with five elementary schools in his school district in Texas brightening up their mornings with student-run news shows to deliver announcements to the student body.

Attend Jacob's presentation Thursday February 4, 2016 at 10:00am in the Connected Lounge for the chance to win a mimoLive 3 Year Education license.

mimoLive Licensing Model

Dear Customers,

We've recently announced that mimoLive (previously BoinxTV) will be available with a time-based licensing model. We didn't come to this decision lightly.

I understand that this may be upsetting to some of you and I'm sincerely sorry about that. Personally, I wish the business model that we used back in the days would still work, but times have changed and we need to adapt.

I certainly understand the wish to benefit indefinitely from the initial purchase and being able to decide on one’s own merit when to pay for an update. But consider this: A software that is tailored entirely to a single customer’s pace and needs would cost millions instead of a couple of hundreds.

By changing our model we can afford to continue to offer our customers a great software product that they can afford.

BoinxTV 1.0 was released in 2009 and every update we shipped since then was free. That's six years of free updates. In these six years we overhauled the user interface again and again, rewrote the entire rendering engine, added numerous substantial new features and improved much more under the hood.

If you have used BoinxTV before and maybe have purchased it in 2009 for the full price, you paid less than $7 per month for it. If we could continue to provide updates free of charge, we would, but we simply cannot sustain development this way.

Our goal is to drive mimoLive forward aggressively and for it to become a mission critical tool. The list of features we want to add is endless and requires considerable resources. We've boosted our engineering team with Beni, Douglas and Thomas, our new audio, video and OS X/iOS wizards, respectively.

We want to get the latest and greatest stuff out to you, our customers, as soon as it is ready, rather than waiting until the next major release is due. We also want to be around for years to come and create a great software that you like as much as we do.

This will only work if we have a steady revenue stream. I assure you we'll do our best to demonstrate to you that your investment is worth it.

We also want to enable people to run their own TV studio that have not been able to do so before. That's why we created the "Private" license. A 3-year private license for mimoLive costs less than BoinxTV used to cost. Considering that under the old model, we would have to create a paid upgrade every 18 to 24 months, this in effect makes mimoLive more affordable. And you get new functionality and constant improvements the second they are ready instead of having to wait for a major upgrade.

There are many more arguments for this new licensing model and I acknowledge that there are also some against it. I'm sad that our decision means that some of our customer will not follow us. But I'm confident that it also means that we'll be able to better serve the customers who do.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments for this post.