How to Produce Remote Interviews With Telestream Rendezvous in Wirecast 14.1
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the concept of remote production to the forefront for many producers. Although systems like Zoom and GoToWebinar provide an extensive range of functionality and ease of use, they lack customizability and the easy ability to syndicate to social media. In addition, the audio and video quality produced by these conferencing systems are often underwhelming, particularly for long-tail content that will hopefully outlive our memories of when in-person gatherings were illegal, inadvisable, or both.
Through its Rendezvous feature, Telestream’s Wirecast was one of the first video mixers to enable completely customizable multiple-party conferencing, as I documented in a review back in 2017. Since then, however, Telestream has upgraded the feature’s functionality in several subtle but critical ways, which I’ll discuss in this article.
I created this project while acting as a producer for my two editors, Steve Nathans-Kelly and Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen. I set up the project in my office in Virginia, with Steve and Eric in their offices in New York and Wisconsin, respectively. This is a workflow we plan to use for several upcoming interviews for broadcast on YouTube Live and/or Facebook Live.
Making the Rendezvous
Before jumping in, let’s review the high-level workflow for generating and providing a Rendezvous-based presentation. First, you’ll be inserting multiple video windows into a composite shot. This means you’ll have to create a “shot” in Wirecast that combines the videos and other elements, such as titles. You do this in the Shot Layers window shown on the left in Figure 1 (below).
Figure 1. Creating the combination shot to display the videos
If you have only one or two speakers, as I did, you can probably use a title template supplied by Wirecast, which is the little white box in the middle of the Shot Layers window. This includes the white background/frame and titles, as shown on the right. If you have three or more speakers, you’ll have to create your own background, which can be as simple as a black background and as complex as what you see on ESPN or the news channel of your choice.
You’ll use the controls shown in Figure 2 (below) to size and position your videos correctly. It’s a bit painstaking, so you can (and should) create the shot and position the videos before you start your Rendezvous call. You can use any video source, such as a webcam, to perfect the positioning and then substitute the Rendezvous guest once he or she logs in.
Figure 2. Use these controls to resize and position the video window to fit the template.
Once you’re ready, you initiate the Rendezvous call and send your invitations following the procedures outlined in my previous
review (go2sm.com/rendezvous). From there, it’s normal Wirecast operation: Configure your streaming endpoints and recorded files, take the shot live, and commence the production.
Note that the person driving the Wirecast controls can also participate in the conference. Rather than calling in through Rendezvous, you set up your shot as a webcam or via a camera and capture device.
Here’s what Telestream has changed since my last review.
Expanded Output Flexibility to the Guests
First, Telestream expanded the audio/video outputs you can send to your guests, as shown in Figure 3 (below). Now, it can be the live output from the current production or any separate video or audio output. You can also send the live output—as well as a microphone from the producer—so you’re able to talk to the guests before and during the show. The guests can hear the producer, but that audio isn’t sent to the audience or included in the recorded feed.
Figure 3. Telestream expanded the options for the audio/video you can send to your guests.
I used this technique to communicate with Steve and Eric before the show, sending them both a webcam of my video so we could chat about setup. Then, I switched their video to the live output so they could see each other, keeping the microphone audio channel open in case I needed to communicate with them during the show. Using the controls shown in Figure 4 (below), you can even adjust the volume of the different feeds going to the guests, perhaps reducing the volume of producer instructions so they can still clearly hear comments from other guests.
Figure 4. In the latest version of Wirecast, I can send the program feed out to the guests and add a microphone for comments the audience won’t hear.
Dedicated Chat Function
To further facilitate behind-the-scenes communication, Telestream also added the dedicated chat function shown on the right in Figure 5 (below). You can enable or disable chat on a per-session basis, and you can also choose to share or not share text comments made before the guest arrived—so you can make snarky remarks about late-arriving guests, and they won’t see them. All chats have the name of the guest above the color-coded comments.
Figure 5. All guests can chat with each other and the producer via the new dedicated chat function.
The final noteworthy new feature since my last look is the ability to store each incoming guest’s feed as an ISO (isolated) recording that you can use for subsequent productions, such as fullscreen excerpts of his or her comments (Figure 6, below). Without this capability, the only way to present such an excerpt would be by using the combination video, which is suboptimal. As with other ISO files, you can save the incoming audio, video, or both in ProRes or x264 format, both with uncompressed audio.
Figure 6. Saving guest inputs as separate ISO files
Figure 7 (below) shows a frame from the actual captured video. Note that the entire frame was 720p, since that’s the recommended resolution
for Facebook Live. The video quality was very good, and the audio quality was even better.
Figure 7. Rendezvous simply delivers better audio and video quality than Zoom, GoToMeeting, and similar technologies.
I’ve listened to my share of Zoom conferences and have edited dozens of recorded webinars. While the video quality is generally acceptable for
reuse, the audio quality is generally closer to awful than acceptable. Telestream’s Rendezvous gives you a much better alternative, and the features Telestream has added since my last look have made the product more capable and have simplified the production workflow.
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