Tutorial: Streaming Video Conferences with Telestream Wirecast Rendezvous
Creating the Shot
If you’re experienced with Wirecast, you can take it from here; if you’re a newbie, here’s a brief exercise to point you in the right direction.
As you can see in Figure 8 (below), Wirecast uses multiple layers, and only one item on a layer can be active at any time. Layers above other layers act as overlays, so you might put a video background on the lowest layer, then multiple video inputs on a higher layer, then titles on a layer over the video inputs. This schema works quite well when you’re switching from source to source, but it’s cumbersome when you want to display multiple videos simultaneously for either picture-in-picture effects or conferencing. For these types of videos, Wirecast created the concept of a shot.
Figure 8. Wirecast’s layer-based approach, and adding a shot
Basically, a shot lets you combine multiple inputs into a single piece of content that you can add into the program and otherwise control as one. For my example, I’ll use the right and left inputs, and forget about the back input. I’ll use a side-by-side video template supplied by Telestream to frame the two videos. There are no templates for three videos or more, so if you have more than a single guest, you’ll have to create your own background. For my interview with the two V-Nova executives, I used a simple video background that I found on the web.
Here’s the procedure for creating your shot. To be clear, you don’t have to use this technique to deploy Rendezvous sessions in Wirecast, but you’ll probably find this approach the simplest.
1. Create the shot. You can create a shot on any layer by pressing the plus sign and clicking Add New Shot (see Figure 8). You’ll see the shot appear on the selected layer like any other input source. Double-click the shot to open it in the composition area on the upper left, which you see in Figure 9 (below).
Figure 9. Adding a title to the shot
3. Add the background or title. In Figure 9, I’m adding a Title. For a two-person conference, you should consider doing the same. For more than two guests, create a solid color or input an image file using the Media File input. When you click Titles, a file selection screen opens from which you can select a template. I used the Peel Two Box that you see in Figure 10 (below), which also shows the composition area and the preview window you’ll use to build your shot.
Figure 10. Here’s the two-window template and the composition and preview areas.
Note that in the Shot Layers window on the upper left of Figure 10, you add content by clicking the Plus (+) sign. Position in the stack matters, so we’ll have to input our two video windows, and use the arrow keys to push them down to the bottom. Then we’ll adjust positioning of the two video windows, and update the text in the titles. Note that the title in Figure 10 has three layers: two text layers, and one image layer. You’ll adjust the text layers to update the title text below.
4. Add the host’s video. Click the Plus (+) button, choose Capture Devices, and select your webcam or other video source (HP HD Camera in Figure 11, below). Note that you’ll also have to load the audio source, which in this case is the Internal Microphone shown. If you don’t hear audio from the host when deploying this shot, it’s because you forgot this step.
Figure 11. Loading the webcam into the shot
5. Push the video down to the bottom. When you first load content into the shot, Wirecast places it on top. Use the arrow keys to push the host video down to the bottom (Figure 12, below).
Figure 12. Pushing the HD camera beneath the template
In this case, the reason I’m pushing the two videos down beneath the title template is because I want the videos to appear within the frames provided in the template. If you created your own background without similar windows, you’d want the background on the bottom and the videos above the background.
6. Adjust size and positioning (Figure 13, below). Once you insert the webcam into the shot, you can size and position it directly by dragging the edges or clicking the middle of the frame and moving it to the desired location. In this case, we don’t have to crop the video because the left side is out of the frame, and the right will be covered by the Rendezvous shot. I’ll show you how to access the cropping controls in a moment.
Figure 13. Positioning the host’s webcam
7. Load the Rendezvous guest (Figure 14, below). Click the Plus (+) sign, choose Rendezvous Session, and choose the guest. In Figure 14, it’s the guest named Left Side.
Figure 14. Loading the guest camera, Left Side
8. Position the layer. Use the arrow keys to push the Rendezvous input below the title but above the webcam video (Figure 15, below).
Figure 15. Positioning the Left Side down beneath the title template
9. Position and crop the video as necessary (Figure 16, below). You can position and size the Rendezvous session directly, or access more precise controls by clicking the levers icon on the upper left of the shot composition window to access the Shot Layer Properties controls.
Figure 16. Using the Shot Layer properties to finalize size and positioning for the Rendezvous guest on the right
In addition to sizing and positioning controls, there are also cropping and drop shadow controls which will come in handy if you don’t use a template. For example, for my V-Nova interview, all the videos came in as 16:9 videos, which I cropped to a 4:3 look to create more room for the videos in the shot. There are also controls for adjusting the brightness, contrast, and color of any video in the shot.
10. Update the text in the titles (Figure 17, below). Click the title in the Preview window to edit, and then the Text Properties window in the shot composition window (the icon on the farthest right). Then change the text in the text box as needed. Here I changed the word title in the preset to Right Side.
Figure 17. Updating the title
11. Finalize the shot (Figure 18, below). Once you have the basics down, it’s time to fine-tune. This means that all participants look about the same size in their windows, and that eyes are around the same level in all videos, about one-third of the way down from the top. The upward angles of these videos are awful; if this was an actual production, I would have both at eye level, and you should advise any guests to do the same (see the video at the top of the page).
Figure 18. Finalizing the shot
Note all the components of the shot in the Shot Layer’s window on the left. All guests should include both audio and video icons, and you should see both an audio and video icon for the host.
You can close the shot composition window by clicking the two arrows circled in Figure 18, then make the shot live by pressing the arrow key on the bottom right.
Through its Rendezvous feature, Telestream's Wirecast was one of the first video mixers to enable completely customizable multiple-party conferencing in 2017. Telestream has upgraded the feature's functionality in several subtle but critical ways, which I'll discuss in this article.
Available at the end of this month, Wirecast 7 reduces CPU demands for live event encoding and distribution, and includes a redesigned user interface.
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