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Choosing a Cloud Production Tool

If you're looking to get started with cloud production, here's a concise buyers' guide to available solutions and the benefits of each offered by LiveSports LLC's Jef Kethley in his presentation at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

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Learn more about cloud production at Streaming Media West 2021.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Jef Kethley: One of the most important tools that we use in the cloud, without a doubt, is the Sienna ND Processing Engine. Right behind that is the Sienna NDI Router. And then the Viz VectarPlus is probably one of our more popular ones to use for video switching. vMix is kind of like our Swiss army knife. It's like, "Well, we could just use vMix to do that." And there's a lot of people who are very successful are using vMix in the cloud now. The Zooms and the Microsoft Teams and Skype are tools that we use to bring content into the cloud along with the LiveU servers. And so we're using a LiveU server that is a virtual server, not one of the LU2000 or LU4000s sitting in an office. We were one of the first to work with LiveU to get that happening in our cloud infrastructure. So we see the video output of that LiveU server by NDI in our cloud.

Let's go into a little bit deeper into some of those tools. The Sienna NI Processing Engine, as you can see here, has over 120 modules in it now, but it allows us to do things like adjust the audio. If we wanted to be able to remap audio, if we needed to be able to embed or de-embed, if we needed to have the ability to flip a certain format to a different format, if we came in via SRT or send out by transport stream, or if we needed to come in SRT and send out via RTP, we could definitely do every bit of that with the Processing Engine.

It's got quite a wide variety of capabilities, and now it is available both in the cloud and also on-premise. It runs under Ubuntu, so it's very stable. We rarely ever have any problems with the actual hardware system itself--if anything, it's usually an issue with the structure of the cloud.

So this is the Sienna ND Processing Engine. This is just kind of an overview. It's very simple to follow because you just draw your signal paths. It's very easy to visualize. This is one we're using to just switch things. As you can see, it has its own built-in small video mixer. It has six inputs, and those can be programmed. We have it programmed into our X-keys or our StreamDeck, and we could cut cameras just like we're sitting in front of a normal switcher, but that's all being processed in the cloud.

The other part of this ND Processing Engine is Unite. And this is where it's a very complicated drawing, but if you really dive into it on the left side, there you'll see sources. Those are sources coming in from people that are using a Chrome browser, or Safari in the iOS world. And those sources are coming in through the browser, into the Unite system that is in Sienna. And then we're taking those NDI feeds and creating not only a multiview for people to be able to see themselves and interact with other people, but also a Mix Minus on every single person. So it allows us to be able to inject audio back to them by using the embedders, as you see on the right side, that will allow us to actually whisper in their ear.

If we wanted to, we could talk back to them via our intercom system, for which we use VCOM, or we could use Unity to talk back to them. And then we also have that built into the system itself through Sienna too. They get a web link that comes back to them that they could see the program video and whoever they happen to be talking to. That is all fed off of NDI. So, any source we wanted to push to those people--for the remote presenters, we could push a countdown, notes, whatever you wanted to do.

The other big part of this is our NDI router. The NDI router is a scalable router in the cloud that allows us to take any NDI source and any NDI destination and very easily visually connect those two together. It's a very simple push-button type of setup.

Just like any other routing you've ever seen in a broadcast facility, it's configurable. So we can have different setups for different applications. This is our contribution panel. It allows us to have all the destinations and where we want it to go, and those sources that we want to be able to bring to it. And then if you were to really simplify it down, say, for a person that's just in charge of quality control, or maybe an executive that just wants to be able to see the sources that are happening in the cloud, you could get it down to something as granular as this. And they could just very quickly click the buttons, and those also could be sent off to a hardware device like the Stream Decks, or even some of the older Blackmagic push-button controllers.

So the NDI Router really helps create larger workflows and make them simpler. We end up using the Viz Vectar Plus probably 90% of the time whenever we need to do switching. It's from the guys at NewTek who developed the TriCaster. It is the code base from the TriCaster. It's effectively the TriCaster 2 Elite in the cloud. It allows us to spin up multiple units and it'll also allow you to grow. So if you need to start off with just one unit, you can, or if you need 2, 3, 4, 5, or however many switches you need, it's all in the cloud and you can easily grow your needs.

vMix is the same kind of thing too--it allows you to get the ability add to multiple inputs. And there are a ton of people out there using it. I couldn't say the exact number of users vMix added in the last year, but it was probably a 200% improvement. They had a banner year and there are so many people out there that are fluent in the vMix world. It is a very flexible system. It's not quite what I would consider a video switcher interface, but it does allow you to do a lot of the video switching and content switching and allows you to do that either in the cloud or in that computer base.

There's another solution that I didn't make a slide for called LiveStream Studio that will also run in the cloud, and we've successfully done that too.

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