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Old March 7th, 2013, 04:45 PM   #1
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Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Hi,

We're going to be traveling and doing 2 camera interview shoots in the future, and we need some kind of portable rig to be able to achieve this. Our media manager did some looking around and sent me this link: Livestream Store — Livestream Studio? HD500

Any thoughts on that unit and how it fares, or suggestions on something else we should look into?

Thanks!
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Old March 8th, 2013, 10:58 PM   #2
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

That's actually a nice unit. It's geared towards live streaming which you didn't mention. But it is also a switcher. I do a bit of streaming work and always traveling. I love the way they elude to it being portable, just put it in the bag as carry on. Nice if you weren't already carrying a camera and other gear.
I think it's a good product though. I'm not sure but you may be tied to Livestream for streaming purposes.and they are a bit expensive.
AL
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Old March 9th, 2013, 10:38 AM   #3
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Horwitz View Post
Hi,

We're going to be traveling and doing 2 camera interview shoots in the future, and we need some kind of portable rig to be able to achieve this. Our media manager did some looking around and sent me this link: Livestream Store — Livestream Studio? HD500

Any thoughts on that unit and how it fares, or suggestions on something else we should look into?

Thanks!
That's cool! If you look carefully, it's basically a desktop computer with a lcd slapped on the side. I wonder if one could gather the components and software then build it from scratch?
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Old March 9th, 2013, 05:28 PM   #4
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Warren,
That's a huge over simplification. First that type of case is expensive. It needs to be built carefully because of heat and limited internal space. Components have to be considered carefully as well. It has at least a five HD input, Osprey or similar card that's not cheap. Then there's switching software, not cheap again. That software has to be interfaced with the hardware. And then everything has to run reliably for live events. I have built one of these not the same chassis but lunch box style. It's a huge undertaking to get it right. And by right I mean able to feel certain that it won't fail in the middle of a high ticket streaming job.
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Old March 11th, 2013, 07:12 PM   #5
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Al, thanks for the reply. It's my understanding that you can use 3rd party streaming providers with Livestream's software. Not sure if they've changed that since last year. Here's a cool product demo of it:

Since we want this to be portable, I don't think I'd want to build it from scratch. What cases are available in a similar form factor? A tough case with a handle, and a display on the side with a cover seems like a good choice for portability.

From what I've seen, this unit (the software at least) looks unique because it displays the feeds at the full frame rate. We're using Kulabyte's software now which doesn't, and it isn't a switcher. Also, it appears Wirecast, which is what I was previously considering, doesn't either: "No full field rate Multiview is included - a “Camera Preview” function however exists in a separate window but drops frames/fields"

Is there anything else that will compete with this that offers multiple feeds displayed at the full frame rate, and can record and stream?

I'm also wondering how many cameras can be recorded at one time. I asked our media manager to ask Livestream that question when he talks to them.

I think in the next few days we'll download their software, and run it on one of the in house computers to see how it performs.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 12:25 AM   #6
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Broadax makes cases and integrates, too.

Multiview? Don't know what you're trying to accomplish, exactly, but Wirecast does offer full resolution preview and program, as well as a newer program out to secondary display function, if you have the monitor real estate. There's a watermarked demo, you can see what it does for your application. Lesser-known is the fact that Wirecast is somewhat scriptable, and there are third-party addons. See the Telestream forums for more info on this.

Vidblaster is another software that is more switcher-ey.

If you truly need multiview distributed to multiple locations you might look at something designed as a switcher, rather than as a source selector for a webcast encoder.

For that I've demoed and speced the Broadcast Pix Mica, a fine little switcher with a true multiview display. But it's hardware as well as software.

But why not just shoot two cam interviews in iso, as is traditional? Do you have a quick turn, or need to go live?
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Old March 12th, 2013, 12:49 PM   #7
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Hi Seth, thanks for the reply.

Broadax makes some interesting computers. I think that quote from the HD500 FAQ was saying that Wirecast doesn't have a full frame rate preview, and that's something we would want. Is that wrong?

Do you have a preference for Wirecast or Vidblaster, and why? Or do you prefer certain features of each one?

The Mica is cool, but it's expensive, and we'd still have to get something to stream and record.

Currently we need to find something to replace an encoder from Kit Digital. For this broadcasting purpose, we just use 1 camera on a subject and fade back and forth between a still image at the beginning and end of the broadcasts. We have a lot of audio equipment to take care of the audio end of things.

However, we also want to start doing 2 camera interviews, so that's why our media manager came across the Livestream unit. It seems like we can kill 2 birds with one stone if we make the right purchase.

My thoughts right now are either to get the HD500, or something like a Broadax with Livestream Studio, Wirecast, or Vidblaster.

Also, we're planning to get two Canon XF105s. Can they record and output video at the same time?
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Old March 12th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

I have never noticed any frame drops in the preview monitor using Wirecast. I do have to say, though, that for any such software having an adequate processor is extremely important! That's a lot of data moving, especially without hardware assist.

The i7 processor was made for this, it is a must-have for real-time video processing like that done in a software switcher.

You also need a way to get video in - with a software switcher, that ingest is out at the system level. I like the Blackmagic Intensity PCIe card for HDMI, but there are others. In most cases, you'll need one card per source. Settings must be *exactly* right.

I've never used VidBlaster or Livestream Studio, so I can't comment on them. I do like Wirecast quite a bit, it does what I need it to. I don't do much more than an archive record, since my primary application is webcasting. Never experimented with the higher bitrates and resolutions available for recording to disk.

But... it's a software switcher, and you can try out a watermarked evaluation copy this afternoon and see if it does what you need.

Haven't used the XF105. If it has an HDMI or SDI output it can likely record while outputting. The important question is whether the digital output is clean - none of those little helpful icons that show up on your viewfinder!
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Old March 12th, 2013, 06:09 PM   #9
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Ok, thanks for the suggestions. We're going to try Livestream Studio, Wirecast, and Vidblaster. Between the 3 we should be able to find one that works for us.

My sense is that the HD500 may be a good purchase. For one thing Livestream can support it. I already have 4 roles here, so it's nice if they can take responsibility for troubleshooting the unit. The company can afford somewhat of a premium for an all in one unit, so at least we'd be getting something for the extra money.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #10
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

David,
Seth made some good suggestions, but having done this work for a while, if you can afford a solution like the The Livestream portable, go for it and never look back. Having every component already tested and interfaced together is a huge advantage. Having confidence in whatever solution you're using is huge. Having support that is familiar with every component in the box is invaluable. I have wirestream and several other solutions like it. While they are good, they don't hold a candle to this type of solution. The integration and compact size is also a huge plus.
Al
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Old March 15th, 2013, 01:55 AM   #11
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

I can't argue directly with Al's reasoning and experience on this. Yes, integration and support of an all-in-one solution can be a big benefit; I agree with him on that.

I've also had the experience of such all-in-one solutions going obselete. Previous investments in years gone by in a Pentium III Broadax box, and a rackmount Viewcast Niagra based on P4 are in the dustbin, and the i7 too will be eclipsed, new distributions will call for greater encode/decode complexity - it's inevitable.

I like the separate upgradability of hardware and software, but then, I'm a somewhat techie owner/operator. A multiuser environment is different, and the need for stability and dependable support can be different too.

To my thinking, a pre-engineered system really has to pay back in 18 months or less, with perhaps another 12 months of usable life. Keeping up in the rapidly moving world of streaming requires this.

Don't know how relevant this is to the original poster; perhaps in 18 months he and his team will be on to something completely different; solving today's problem quickly and affordably may be all the longer that needs to be considered.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 10:32 AM   #12
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Seth,
Those are good points and should be helpful for the OP to consider.
The similar box that I built is more lunchbox style and everything can be changed out.
Interestingly I have a friend who has a box styled just like the one Livestream is using , and he too can change out components. I had a earlier one where that wasn't possible.

I know what you mean about obsolete, I have a all in one doorstop sitting here right now. That said I have 3 i7 boxes in capture/streaming use for 3 years now and their far from done. The i7 processors have allowed a lot of mileage to technology driven machines.
My new machines will be the latest i7's that should give even more mileage.

The reason we won't be outpaced to easily is that most streaming is still done in Standard def. One of the companies that I contract with is 99% standard def and they are a multi million dollar company, one of many in this field. The couple of HD shoots I've done have been 720. In the foreseeable future there will be no widespread need to exceed 1080 on the web, which I have never done anyway. You may or may not be surprised to find that here in the U.S. most venues don't have the internet bandwidth to sustain high definition streaming to the masses.

This is the type of video that companies are making millions off of. This is a solution that I developed myself, but the result is the same as the work I do with bigger companies with much more expensive solutions. And it's all standard definition. As you know the reason is it's content driven. When it's streamed live it will have a chat window, polling etc. These are shot in convention centers, conferences, hotels, doctors offices, studios, restaurants etc.

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Old March 15th, 2013, 10:41 AM   #13
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

The one thing that bothers me about the Livestream box if I understand it correctly is that you have to add a additional encoding device to stream to some place other then LiveStream?

Is that what you understand him to say at 12:37 in the video? If that were the case it would be a deal breaker for me. The point of spending $8500 is for small, and self contained.

Al
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Old March 15th, 2013, 11:44 AM   #14
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Al, a very interesting discussion. Thanks for including the clip; that's a nice layout, very clean, good design and communication, and I imagine your customers find it very easy to understand and value!

My work goes in some different directions, but none of it is business-to-consumer. Lots of enterprise internal communications/training, governmental internal training, plus some B2B. I'd say it runs about 60% HD or multi/adaptive bitrate that includes HD. Almost nothing bigger than 720p. No distribution on Vimeo or Youtube. Different markets, different distributions, different needs.

But, I do agree about the longevity of the i7 for you and me. Not so sure about the O.P. For us, we can move yesterday's live streaming box into encoding for on-demand. I'd guess that the O.P. doesn't have a need for a second tier of encoding hardware.

The O.P. also hasn't said anything about HD, I think. As you said, business-to-consumer must include SD and in many cases lower than SD bitrates for mobile; also, there persist several wide digital divides in the U.S. that should have us thinking very carefully about who we're trying to reach and how to do it.

We are getting requests/demands for mobile, both for live and on-demand, by the same clients who value HD resolutions. We have new incentives to make multi or adaptive bitrate work, and are seeing more and more of it.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 12:27 PM   #15
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Re: Portable Switcher for 2 Camera Shoot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Gardner View Post
The one thing that bothers me about the Livestream box if I understand it correctly is that you have to add a additional encoding device to stream to some place other then LiveStream?

Is that what you understand him to say at 12:37 in the video? If that were the case it would be a deal breaker for me. The point of spending $8500 is for small, and self contained.

Al
It looks like Livestream opened up their system since the initial roll out and now the HD500 can send a stream to other providers such as Ustream, Akamai, YouTube, Dacast etc. Livestream Store — Livestream Studio? HD500
According to the Livestream specs, the IO card in the HD500 is just an off the shelf Blackmagic Decklink Quad Livestream Store — Livestream Studio? HD500
Looks like a great unit, but as Al says, at $8500, there are other options. It is cool though.

What we're seeing a ton of interest in the Blackmagic ATEM line. I myself use the ATEM 1ME with the Broadcast Panel with a Teradek Cube to send the stream out.

Other options to look at, just to perform a bit of due diligence would be the Newtek Tricaster, and some dedicated mixer switchers such as the :

Panasonic AW-HS50N ($4,000 with HD-SDI and HDMI)
Panasonic AW-HS50N HD Video Switcher - Professional Video Systems

Sony MCS8M $5-6k with HD-SDI and HDMI)
https://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-sw...product-MCS8M/

Roland V-40HD ($4500 HDMI only)
Roland Systems Group U.S. - Product: V-40HD

Matrox also has similar card to the Blackmagic with the new VS4. Some integrators are building dedicated PC's with the same case as the Livestream HD500 at a fraction of the cost. It's worth noting that Livestream is now selling their software so you can build your own box (if so inclined), the software is a whopping $1995! There is a free download to try it out Livestream Store — Livestream Studio? Software

Some things to look out for which may or may not be important in your buying decision:

-Multiview
-Number of Source Inputs
-Touchscreen
-HD-SDI in and out
-DVI (computer input)
-AUX Buses to send feeds
-Audio muxed in the SDI out
-ISO records of each channel
-Slo mo (Instant replay)
-Upstream keyer, Downstream keyer, Chroma keyer
-Hardware control panel with "real" buttons vs computer keyboard
-iPad/iPhone control see the $89 ATEM Strata app ATEM Productioin Switcher and iOS Switcher App preview | jesse's gear

Even at the most basic level, just to switch two HD-SDI cameras we use a Matrox MC100 HD-SDI to HDMI converter - it's glitch free and you just push one button to switch between two HD-SDI sources. Dual SDI to HDMI Mini Converter for 3G/3D/HD/SD | Matrox MC-100

Hope all this helps...
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