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Livestream Ships Studio Software for $1,999
Watch out, NewTek: Livestream aims to provide TriCaster functionality for a fraction of the cost.
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Today, Livestream released the software-only version of the Studio software that debuted with the Company's $8,500 HD500 multi-camera production switcher. The Studio software, which will work with any Blackmagic Design capture hardware, debuts the 1.1 feature set that provides the same core features as the HD500, but also transmits to any RTMP-based streaming server, including the old Livestream platform, and has presets for YouTube Live, Ustream, Akamai, and Wowza. The Window-only software costs $1,999 and is available now at livestream.com/studiosoftware, as is a demo version.

In an interview, Livestream CEO and co-founder Max Haot revealed that the goal of the Studio software is to provide NewTek TriCaster-like functionality to live producers for a fraction of the cost. Tricaster and Studio are modeled after TV control room functionality, he said, which distinguishes them from other software mixers and encoders.

"Our goal with Studio was to simulate the environment of a production truck, with up to five real-time inputs and outputs with live multi-view previews, graphics, DDR, transitions and a production-quality output. We accomplished that with the Studio HD500, which was used at the red carpet walk at the Grammys to produce a 1080i broadcast stream that was sent via fiber to a studio for further production and encoding. Now, anyone with Blackmagic hardware can duplicate that functionality, choosing components that match their unique input and output requirements."

Regarding Studio's ability to support a broader range of live platforms, Haot commented, "The production switcher is the core of a production team. While we hope most producers will use the Livestream platform, we didn't want to lock them into it. So we provided presets for many common live systems, or you can import XML files from the Adobe Flash Live Media server, or just enter the server-related information and credentials manually."

Livestream Studio Hardware Options

To ensure stable operation, Studio has stringent recommended system requirements (a six-core Intel i7 third-generation processor or later) with specific requirements for motherboard chipset, graphics, RAM, and hard drive, all spelled out on the Livestream site. Also in the FAQs is a guide to building a system around Studio, which Livestream producers did, buying a system and components from NewEgg and documenting the specs and installation procedures. Producers building their own systems can download the free demo version of Studio to test on their own computers; it will run for 20 minutes with a Livestream logo overlaid on the video.

The company standardized on Blackmagic Design components, Haot said, because the hardware supplier offered a comprehensive range of affordable capture options running off the same software development kit (SDK) that had always proved "rock solid." Livestream doesn't plan on certifying additional hardware components until late 2013 or later, Haot added.

News of a Mac version is brighter. The Studio software was built by the same team that produced the cross-platform ProCaster software, and Studio is already running on Macs. Haot promised that the Mac version would "definitely be released this year," but that Windows was prioritized because producers can build a Windows-based system more affordably.

Haot expects system integrators to start building systems around the Studio software, providing another option for producers who don't want to build their own. For producers who want a system built and supported by Livestream, the company will announce two hardware systems around the NAB timeframe, one with more advanced features than the HD500 and one lower-end model. A free locked-to-Livestream version should be released sometime in 2013, Haot said, but its dramatically-reduced feature set has not yet been determined. 

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