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Review: Telestream Wirecast Gear

Successfully using all of the desktop mixing features in Telestream Wirecast features requires a powerful, finely tuned computer. Telestream recently released its own series of bundled systems, Wirecast Gear. In this review, we put a test system through its paces.


Whether you buy or build a similar system yourself, you’ll likely find system performance more than adequate for most productions. To test the system, we duplicated the testing performed for our recent article on benchmarking PCs, capture cards and software mixers. The source was a disk-based video on a Mac Pro, played in Blackmagic Design Media Express and output via HD-SDI using a Blackmagic DeckLink HD Extreme 3. I routed this signal through an Osprey SDARD-4 Distribution Amplifier to convert it to four HD-SDI outputs, which I input into Wirecast Gear. In Wirecast, I created a composite video with all four inputs with title overlays, shown on the right in Figure 3 (below), and used this video for all capture and output testing.

Figure 3. Here’s the four input video used for all streaming and capture tests

Then I started testing. Here are the individual steps taken with CPU utilization shown in Figure 4 (below the bullet list).

  • YouTube Live: stream to YouTube Live at 720p 30fps @ 1750 Kbps using the Intel Quick Sync H.264 codec.
  • Ustream: stream to Ustream at 720p 30fps @ 3250 Kbps using the Intel Quick Sync H.264 codec.
  • Record at 1080p 30fps @ 6 Mbps using the Intel Quick Sync H.264 codec.
  • Record at 1080p 30fps @ 6 Mbps using the x264 H.264 codec.
  • Record ISO (isolated) inputs from each of the four incoming HD-SDI feeds using the Good setting, which recorded in QuickTime MJPEG format at 1080p @ 122 Mbps. The first time I added ISOs into the mix, I added two, the second time all four, each time adding a new ISO recording in roughly 15-second increments.

Figure 4. CPU utilization at various test parameters

As you can see, the only time CPU utilization crossed the 60% threshold was when streaming to both YouTube Live and Ustream while recording all four ISOs, and even then, Wirecast didn’t drop any frames. Note that when I tried to record ISOs at Best quality, which stored at an exceptionally high data rate of 324 Mbps, Wirecast dropped so many frames that the streams would have been unusable.

I also tested streaming at 1080p with various combinations of recording and ISO recording with the results shown in Figure 5 (below). Here, broadcasting two 1080p streams barely taxed the system, and I was able to record three ISOs without breaking a sweat. Four ISOs (on top of all other activities) finally pushed utilization into the 80%+ range which bodes poorly for overall stability.

Figure 5. A battery of tests while streaming at 1080p

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