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The Streaming Road Warrior: How to Overcome the Challenges of Portable Live Production

This article will provide a brief overview of some of the technological advancements that have been made in portable live production, and then offer some tips and tricks that you might find useful if you're doing live productions out in the field.

[This sponsored article is based on a session presented by vMix in the Discovery Track at Streaming Media East 2015.]

The enabling technologies of portable live production become more powerful all the time. Earlier this year, NVIDIA announced a mobile processor that's capable of one trillion calculations per second. That processor will be available in cellphones that will ship in the next six months.

To put that into perspective, back in 1995, state-of-the-art super computer had just achieved that the same level of performance, and cost more than $20 million. The processing power of an entire mainframe has migrated to consumer mobile phones in just two decades.

Enter the All-in-One Portable Live Production System

If the processing capabilities of a super computer can now fit in your pocket, what does that mean for live production? It means we can now replace an entire production truck with a single system. To put it another way, we've moved portable production from a truck to a TSA-approved carry-on. Figure 1 (below) shows the vMix GO. This is an integrated, eight-input live production system housed in a single, portable unit.


Figure 1. The vMix GO portable live production system. Click the image to see it at full size.

Today you can deliver professional live productions that once required a production truck and a team of ten or more, with a single unit and a single operator, plus your camera operators. Today’s technology has dramatically reduced what is needed to do a live production.

To facilitate this change in the demands of live production, we’ve seen a lot more all-in-one solutions in live production market. Traditionally, even with all this technological progress, to do streaming and live production, you still needed a couple of devices working in tandem. You might have needed a switcher, an audio mixer, and encoder to get your feed to the internet.

That's all changed, just in the last few years. Today you can purchase a single system that combines a switcher, video player, recorder, streaming encoder, title generator, and audio mixer--all in a compact form factor that carry around with you.

One such system is the vMix Thunder (Figure 2, below), a laptop-based solution that allows any laptop with Thunderbolt to be turned into a complete four-camera live production system. As mentioned earlier, there’s also the vMix Go--a dedicated, standalone system--but in general, the industry is moving towards an integrated system that can combine all of these hardware solutions that you may have previously purchased and operated separately to do a live production.

Figure 2. The vMix Thunder turns your Thunderbolt-equipped laptop into a four-camera portable live production system. Click the image to see it at full size.

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