Review: Telestream Wirecast 12
Moving forward, the most significant new feature in version 11 is support for stinger transitions, essentially clips with an alpha channel that function as transitions. To create the transition, you import the video file into a new window accessed by clicking Switch > Manage Stinger Transitions (Figure 4). Wirecast can import QuickTime clips with an alpha channel stored in the Apple Animation, ProRes, and CineForm codecs.
Figure 4. Managing the Stinger transitions
Within the stinger control window, you can set transition duration by changing the video speed on the top right. Here, I dialed in 200% speed to convert a 4-second transition to a 2-second transition. You can also choose the middle point between the two clips by dragging the playhead to the desired location and clicking the A/B button on the right of the timeline.
In the Wirecast interface, you choose the stinger transition via the transition drop-down list (the tiny bottom on the left of Figure 5) and the transition will appear each time you change shots in the video window. In Figure 5, you see the stinger configured in Figure 4 implemented as I switch from the introduction video to the talking head.
Figure 5. The stinger transition between the tutorial introduction and the main speaker
No question; stingers look and work great, but what do you do if you can’t create your own animations? That’s where the key new feature in version 12 comes in, a stock media library.
Stock Media Library
The library contains over 500,000 unique media assets including transitions, motion backgrounds, videos, and audio tracks for direct import into Wirecast. The library is free and accessible to anyone with an active support subscription for Wirecast.
Library integration is excellent. When you’re creating a shot, you click the Add Layer button, then Media Files > Stock Media Library. This opens the window shown in Figure 6, which you can search by text and media type. Briefly, stock images include lower-thirds, backgrounds, action icons and other images, videos include background images, After Effects compositions and a range of other clips, while audio includes sound effects and actual tracks. In Figure 6, I searched for “woman thinking,” which returned dozens of videos and still images, including real-world images and clip art, and six audio clips of a woman saying “hmm,” or “oh.” Click any piece of content to preview it on the right, and then Download, which downloads the content to your Documents folder and adds it to the shot. From there you configure the content as normal.
Figure 6. Searching for audio, video, and still image backgrounds for my introduction
The beauty of any stock media library will always be in the eyes (and ears) of the beholder. From my perspective, I found a ton of highly usable audio and still image backgrounds for the short introduction that I created, and the integration and usability were fabulous. Most users seeking a bit of polish in their productions will find the media library a great resource, not only for Wirecast productions but (don’t tell Telestream) for other productions as well.
Also new in version 12 are enhancements to Rendezvous, Wirecast’s peer-to-peer conferencing feature that we detailed in the tutorial entitled Streaming Video Conferences with Telestream Wirecast Rendezvous. One issue with peer-to-peer conferencing is always controlling the video and audio seen and heard by the remote participants, which previous versions of Wirecast offered little control over. New in version 12 are the controls shown in Figure 7, which include the ability to choose which audio and video feeds are sent to the remote participants, and even the ability to create a custom audio mix to send to them.
Figure 7. Controlling the audio send to Rendezvous participants
The final feature that I explored in version 12 is the ability to add QR codes to your video stream, which is much simpler than supplying a URL for your viewers to manually enter. Operation is simple, you just add the overlay to a shot, copy and paste the URL into the content box (Figure 8), and you’re done. I tested the QR code with my iPhone X and it took me right to the target URL.
Figure 8. Adding a QR code to the video is simple with this new overlay feature
I tested on a Windows HP Zbook Studio B3 notebook powered by a 2.81 GHz E3-1505M Intel Xeon CPU with 32 GB of RAM running Windows 10 Pro. I tested with video input from a webcam with a general dose of PowerPoint screen capture to simulate a live learning session. I periodically checked CPU usage while streaming and it ranged from about 20–60%, which is reasonable for the events I was processing. If you’re concerned about CPU usage, note that Telestream now offers a 30-day free trial without any kind of video or audio watermark, though if you try to implement a Wirecast Pro feature like Instant Replay, the video watermark will reappear.
All told, if you missed the last few Wirecast upgrades, you’ve missed a lot, as Wirecast has gained significant functionality while retaining its high degree of usability.
[This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Review: Telestream Wirecast 12."]
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