Hello again and welcome back to the Digistor Blog!
In this article, we are going to consider the growing market of Live Streaming and how it is becoming more accessible to create original content at a prosumer level.
At Digistor, our engineers are fortunate enough to get their hands dirty on a wide variety of devices at various levels. Ranging from Enterprise AWS Streaming servers for TV stations, all the way down to single camera setups in someone's spare room. Our focus here is on the smaller scale systems.
Following on from the significant effects of Covid on the production industry, the amount of new original content has decreased, while the demand for it is constantly increasing. This has opened up an opportunity for smaller players to publish their own original content and garner an audience of engaged viewers.
Recently, we have been looking at entry level to small scale options that are a step above simply using your phone camera to stream live to Facebook. We want to introduce a bit more tech and function, such as portable stream encoder devices with overlays and multiple destinations, plus ability to introduce more than one camera source to the mix.
Why are we doing this? – We want to show everyone how simple it can be to add extra value to a production with these products and without breaking the bank.
Considering a basic level, we have been looking at the Kiloview range of encoders and streaming devices – these units fit in the palm of your hand and have some basic image manipulation functions. It's as simple as turn it on, get online, plug in your camera and you are streaming.
The Kiloview E2 will take a HDMI input and convert to NDI|HX stream, with the added benefit of being able to stream to multiple destinations simultaneously, including locally attached network storage – it literally took me 15 minutes to setup a YouTube channel, plug the address and stream key into the E2, turn on the camera and see my feed online.
First, we choose the appropriate service – in this case, RTMP push to YouTube
Grab the Stream URL and Stream Key from your YouTube channel
And place that into the E2 RTMP stream settings
I see the Kiloview E2 as a good fit for a single camera setup, with the ability to add overlays (sponsor logos, lower thirds, etc), and it's very portable. It can be tethered to a phone to provide setup access via the web UI, but still requires a wired ethernet connection to get out to the world. For Example:
In conjunction with the Newtek NDI tools, the NDI|HX feed can also be used as a camera source in various conferencing applications, such as Zoom.
Below is a quick rundown of the E1 (SDI) and E2 (HDMI) capabilities – the only difference between them is the input type (From the Kiloview documentation)
Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro
Going up a notch, we really like the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro. These units can take up to 4 HDMI sources and stream directly from the device to YouTube, Facebook or Twitch.
The free ATEM Software Control application is nicely integrated and works over both ethernet and USB. It is designed in such a way that multiple operators on different machines can control various functions simultaneously. For example, one operator may perform video switching while another operator can manage the audio levels, etc.
The two microphone inputs are 3.5mm TRS, with selectable Line/Mic level, a large attenuation range and minimal processing delay.
Once again, we had this unit up and streaming with minimal time and effort. The destination options in this iteration of the software are Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
The ATEM Mini Pro can also act as a USB Webcam source for various conferencing applications.
Our Technical Sales Consultant and Project Delivery Manager, Jordan Tiburcio, regularly uses his ATEM Mini and Wirecast Pro to capture and stream games for his local community basketball league to Facebook (complete with live commentators, live stats, live scoreboard, high end graphics, multicamera switching, and ad breaks). Check out Jordan's Joflow Basketball League Facebook page to see what he can do with this hardware!
Stepping up, we look at the Wirecast Pro Software, which can be hosted on Mac or PC, and has ability to take in various sources including NDI (Kiloview Encoders) and Rendevous over the network. As more devices are connected (either directly to the host machine or over the network), Wirecast will automatically update the list of available sources.
Having a system that can decode NDI sources over a network, we are no longer limited to a physical Video IO card on the host machine – just a single ethernet cable can provide access to many live sources.
Wirecast Pro is configured to send to a multitude of online destinations, enabling a much wider audience reach.
Wirecast Pro has built in PTZ control interface, enabling Pan, Tilt and Zoom control of network compatible cameras, including the BirdDog P200 and the Ikan Ottica.
There is a free (watermarked output) version of Wirecast if you would prefer to get familiar with the interface before committing.
In reality, there are many different switch and streaming applications, including vMix (which can be hosted in the cloud), and OBS (free and open source) – these are also worth consideration, and have many similar features to Wirecast.
We performed our testing of the above products using a variety of cameras, including:
- Canon Legria HFR806 (entry level HDMI camera)
- Ikan Ottica (NDI, SDI, HDMI, PTZ)
- BirdDog P200 (NDI, SDI, HDMI, PTZ)
- BirdDog A300 (NDI, PTZ, wicked Night Vision, Weather Proof)
Overall, we were quite impressed by what can be achieved with these products and have observed a noticeable increase in demand for streaming solutions by broadcasters and sole operators alike.
We have a range of demo units from Kiloview – reach out to your Digistor Sales Representative if you want to get more hands on with any of these.
Digistor has compiled some Streaming Starter Kits using combinations of the hardware and software reviewed above – if you are interested in getting your content out there but not sure how to, please give us a call – we'd love to help!