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Streaming Media
Magazine

June 2019
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Streamline Your Portable Streaming System, Part 1: Streaming Software, Capture Cards, and Signal Converters

In this article I'm going to highlight some of the latest gear you can use to put together a portable streaming solution. With this equipment you can quickly and easily transport your kit from one shoot to another and use it to deliver solid, high-quality streams for small and medium-sized events.

As the founder and owner of Mobeon, a company that specializes in streaming production, I’m always looking for ways to streamline my kit and simplify my workflow to give my client the best stream possible regardless of the venue. At Mobeon we handle a vast range of events events varying from small- to large-scale, and our clients run the gamut from Fortune 100 companies to startups to and non-profit organizations. Drawing on that experience, in this series I'll explore some of the latest gear for doing mobile and portable streaming production, both HD and scaling up to 4K. You can achieve a lot with minimal resources and still travel lightly when you have jobs across the U.S.

I’ll begin this first installment by describing two software-based streaming solutions that enable you to deliver professional-quality streams from your PC or Mac.

Software-based Streaming

We all know that streaming is a growth industry. The tools have become much more accessible and more portable as the popularity and feasibility of live streaming has grown. There's a lot more streaming-capable hardware and software out there, and more opportunity than ever for those of us who know how to use it.

Telestream Wirecast Pro

At numerous events I’ve captured and streamed with Mobeon, I’ve worked extensively with Telestream’s Wirecast Pro (Figure 1, below), a Mac- and Windows-compatible streaming application now in version 6. It comes in two versions. The Studio version is more of a starter piece of software, which is why we prefer the Pro version.

Figure 1. Telestream Wirecast Pro 6

Telestream has introduced some new things in this latest iteration of Wirecast Pro. Now it has a Replay button, which is fantastic because previously this option was limited to higher-end systems such as NewTek’s 3Play. The replay ability allows you to capture and replay some clips from sporting events, allowing you to create some highlights and so forth, which is groundbreaking in a software-only application that runs on your Mac or PC.

Wirecast 6 Pro also features Twitter social media integration. All you have to do is provide your Twitter account and log in, and you can actually select certain tweets that you want presented in your stream. This implementation gives you moderation capabilities so that you can select and choose what you want to appear in the stream itself. Plus, it has other capabilities and functions such as drag-and-drop for playlists, and it’s quite versatile in enabling you go into and configure your ouput for various content delivery networks.

At Mobeon, we’ve use almost all the different hardware and software solutions available, but Wirecast had been a saving grace in a lot of events because of the flexibility it provides for working in changing environments. When your client makes last-minute changes and requests, you're going to have to be able to accommodate them sometimes, and working in a versatile application like Wirecast makes that easier to do.

Wirecast allows us to stream to most streaming platforms, and serves other purposes as well. It serves as a titling program through its recent integration with NewBlue Titler Pro (Figure 2, below), a plug-in that allows you to add titles on the fly. This is a big step forward from earlier versions in which the titling capabilities were much more limited. Now you can add and alter lower-thirds graphics in mid-stream, so to speak. For many events where titling is of key importance, this is a critical feature.

Figure 2. NewBlue Titler Pro

The MacBook Pro Retina System with Wirecast Pro

Figure 3 (below) shows a setup with Wirecast Pro based on a MacBook Pro Retina system. This includes three Canon XA25 cameras (see Part 2 of this series for more detail on the XA25) mixed in with the Blackmagic Ultra Studio recorders. This allows you to have a three-camera input switching system with the MacBook Pro Retina.

Figure 3. The MacBook Retina streaming system running Telestream Wirecast Pro. Click the image to see it at full size.

To make this system work, you need to get a USB-to-Ethernet adapter since the MacBook Pro Retinas don’t have an Ethernet connection, and the number one rule of streaming is that you must always have a hardline connection to the Internet, and you should never rely on anything wireless or WiFi.

This is a great portable unit. You can almost fit in your backpack, and that's ultimately what we’d like to create: The ability to put both your camera and switching systems in a bag and jump on a plane and be off to the races to stream for your event. We've actually used these in certain critical situations where we didn't have the time or the the manpower to do a larger-scale production. We were able to put this system together, transport it to the event, and deploy it with much success.

Figure 4 (below) shows the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station, a compact unit that allows you to expand the inputs of a Mac laptop. That's something that I do recommend getting because of the fact that it adds additional USB ports. It doesn't add any extra Thunderbolt ports because, again, due to the restrictions of Thunderbolt, unfortunately, it doesn't allow it. It does add another HDMI output to the Mac laptop, and it's something I would highly recommend in getting and adding to your kit as well.

Figure 4. The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station. Click the image to see it at full size.

vMix HD and 4K

Another excellent option for software-based live production and streaming is vMix, which is available in an HD version for $320 and a 4K version for $630 (Figure 5, below).

Figure 5. vMix HD

vMix is very capable. Its 4K support has become increasingly importance as bandwidth grows, 4K-capable cameras move into the mainstream, and Netflix and others bring 4K streaming to consumers. We have some clients that are now requesting 4K, and vMix 4K helps us to deliver it when we need it.

Related Articles
In this article I'm going to highlight some of the latest gear you can use to put together a portable streaming solution. With this equipment you can quickly and easily transport your kit from one shoot to another and use it to deliver solid, high-quality streams for small and medium-sized events.
In this article I'm going to highlight some of the latest gear you can use to put together a portable streaming solution. With this equipment you can quickly and easily transport your kit from one shoot to another and use it to deliver solid, high-quality streams for small and medium-sized events.