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SMW '19: Telestream Talks Wirecast Now and Future

Streaming Media Contributing Editor Tim Siglin interviews Lynn Elliott, Senior Product Manager at newly minted 7-time 2019 Streaming Media Readers' Choice award winner Telestream at Streaming Media West 2019.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media West 2019, here in Los Angeles at the Westin Bonaventure. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media Magazine, and also the founding executive director of the not for profit Help Me! Stream. And today I've got with me Lynn Elliott who's the senior product manager at Telestream. How long have you been with Telestream?

Lynn Elliott: Well, all told about 12 years. Most recently I just moved into the senior product management role in May, so I'm fairly new to this role. Before that I was doing marketing.

Tim: Okay, very good. And, when you say all told, did you leave for a while and come back?

Lynn: I did, I left for a year, I was lured away by a start-up. Which was also in the video industry, and then I ended up coming back.

Tim: Okay, got it, very good. And you all are up in, what did you call the valley, Video Valley?

Lynn: Video Valley Yeah, up in Grass Valley, Nevada City area. Which is well known for its video technology.

Tim: It isn't, there was some like defense video background up in that space, or satellite was that right?

Lynn: So Grass Valley Group started out in that industry and eventually evolved, I believe into one of the market leaders in broadcast video. And in the eighties they were exploding, I think there where about 1500 people that worked there.

Tim: Video switchers and all that kind of thing.

Lynn: Yes, yeah and eventually they were bought out by Tektronix and then sold, and you know so they've gone through varied history as well, and through that, through the tough times, some people left and a lot of people spawned businesses in that area, in the video industry. So Telestream is one of those.

Tim: I remember talking to David Hadley and others about the early days where they had left from some of the larger companies like that. So Tektronix is sort of back in the mix with Telestream. I have trouble, you all get acquired or acquire and do a whole bunch of things. So tell me where the current state is right now?

Lynn: So we acquired Tektronix. And I believe, we shouldn't say we acquired, we merged with a division of Tektronix. And so we're currently in the process of integrating some of our monitor and analytics products and getting all those integrations and integrating the companies also.

Tim: And obviously Tektronix is known for a lot of quality analysis and that kind of thing from a video standpoint. And you all are, well, you've had a number of iterations, but Vantage is one of those iterations, with workflows and quality control and that kind of thing as well. So is the intent to sort of bring all those things together under one a single umbrella?

Lynn: Well you know we have, we acquired Ineoquest several years ago. And they're really in the quality of service quality of experienced business where they're setting probes and you're able to monitor the quality of the stream. For those that are, you know, in charge of the distributing of streams across the back bone. And so, that's all kind of all very interesting to the customers, the traditional customers of Telestream as well. So, yeah there is a big push within the company to merge and leverage all the technologies that we've acquired and developed through the years, so that it becomes a bigger ecosystem and people can mix and match and choose what makes sense for them.

Tim: And speaking of acquisitions, one of the acquisitions that we're gonna talk about today, that's now named something completely different, was Popwire from years ago, and that became Wirecast.

Lynn: No actually Popwire was Episode. So, Episode is the encoding software we've since end-of-lifed. But we did buy a company called Vara Software, and that was Wirecast and Screenflow.

Tim: Sorry, I stand corrected on that, you're right. That was the encoding. So, you handle Wirecast and in fact you helped me on a recent thing we were doing, where we were trying to do a test run. It turned out I had people in the UK, people in the US, and we were doing this streaming solution, and it came down to, we really needed to use something like Wirecast to do it, and it worked very well, and I appreciate your help on that. Tell me, where Wirecast's sort of sweet spot is for people. And obviously you've got different versions, Wirecast Pro is the professional.

Lynn: Yeah, we have Wirecast Pro, we have Wirecast Studio and in May we introduced Wirecast One. Which is an even scaled down version of Wirecast Studio and Pro. And our sweet spot, right now we're serving a lot of different industries, and as you probably know, live streaming is growing. A lot of people are getting into it, who have never done it before. Everyone from gamers to corporate, house of worship.

Tim: Houses of worship in fact, I had donated a Tri caster to my house of worship, and they're using that, and when I started playing around with Wirecast Pro, I'm thinking, oh they really actually just need to go to this, because a lot less hardware, you know in a really intuitive interface, and that kind of thing.

Lynn: Right, yeah and that's what we hear about Wirecast a lot, is the people that aren't used to broadcast systems, Wirecast is a really intuitive interface for them, with layering, and they can composite really nice shots. A lot of industries and a lot of people are getting into live streaming now. So, where our sweet spot is really, is anyone from, who wants a higher level of production, than what a phone can do, all the way up to, really professional-level live broadcasts. And we have customers such as Fox Sports, that use Wirecast for some of their supplemental content, that they stream out to Facebook or to YouTube. Yeah, so we serve a lot of markets.

Tim: And the beauty that I saw in it, was you have independent control of recording and streaming, and so you could choose to do one or the other, or both, depending on the --

Lynn: Yeah we also integrate, we have a Cloud. Another company that Telestream acquired several years ago is Panda Stream which is a Cloud company, and we've integrated Wirecast into the Cloud, for re-streaming. So you can go to re-streamer, Wirecast re-streamer, and then with one stream, and then go out to multiple different destinations from there, to save yourself some bandwidth on location.

Tim: And is that, so they essentially have a media server in the cloud, that then does those trans codes or repackaging and that kind of thing.

Lynn: That's right.

Tim: All right, so where, if you're sitting here a year from now, where is Wirecast going? In that time you mentioned the scaled down version, is the intent to sort of focus there, or is the intent to build people up through the ecosystem to Pro version?

Lynn: We see, well I mean, some of things that I'm focused on right now, and one of the reasons I'm here today is because I'm trying to listen and hear where the markets going. I'm hearing a lot about latency, and reducing latency. I'm hearing a lot about interactivity, and engagement. I mean one of the reasons people want to live stream, is to engage. That's something that broadcast can't do.

Tim: And they want some feedback loop, or feedback mechanism as part of that.

Lynn: Yeah, exactly. So that it's not a one way conversation out, it's not just out one to many. And so, you know where Wirecast is going, we're always trying to stabilize, we're always trying to improve the experience for the users. We're building in some new business models. We've just released Wirecast 13, recently, and that has a lot of under the hood changes, that just make the app snappier, and easier to use and more resilient to crashes. So in the next year or so we're making a lot of improvements in that way and then as well as looking at what's going on in the market, and developing some really cool features for that.

Tim: Good, well Lynn thank you very much for your time.

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