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Upcoming Industry Conferences
Streaming Media East [2-3 June 2020]
Esport & Sports Streaming Summit [2 June 2020]
OTT Summit [2-3 June 2020]
Video Engineering & Technology Summit [2-3 June 2020]
Enterprise & Education Video Summit [3 June 2020]
Content Delivery Summit [1 June 2020]
Past Conferences
Streaming Media West [19-20 Nov 2019]
Esport & Sports Streaming Summit [19-20 Nov 2019]
OTT Leadership Summit [19-20 Nov 2019]
Video Engineering Summit [19-20 Nov 2019]
Live Streaming Summit [19 Nov 2019]

Review: Magewell Capture Plus Series

Magewell's USB Capture Plus line of HDMI, SDI, and DVI USB 3.0 capture devices proved a reliable linchpin of mobile, laptop-based conference video switching and streaming to Facebook Live.


In my testing, getting my workflow up and running with the Magewells was as simple and straightforward as can be. I connected the HDMI and SDI units to the two Sony X70 cameras with their respective cables, and the DVI unit to the VGA feed with a VGA-to-DVI adapter. The sources showed up immediately in Wirecast without any drivers or delay (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. A one-camera-plus-PPT presentation switch in Wirecast Pro at Computers in Libraries 2017

For the most part, the streams came off well, and were well-received and fairly well-attended on Facebook (Figure 3, below). The video capture quality was exemplary, and the VGA source scaled nicely to HD and looked seamless in the switched stream.

Figure 3. Archived Facebook Live streams from CiL 2017

One nice feature of Wirecast is the ability to record a high-bitrate single or program feed during streaming. Recording program feeds at maximum quality (Record to Disk – MOV) produced constant-frame-rate MOV files that were immediately editable in Premiere Pro, which allowed me to create numerous short highlight clips throughout the event to accompany posts from a blogger reporting from the show each day (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. Highlight clips added to daily blog posts from the show.

The one area in which my workflow failed was the overloading of the USB bus on my ASUS laptop. This is not a Magewell issue, just a flaw in the approach of attempting to switch among three USB sources on a laptop with only two USB busses. I really would have preferred to be able to use both wide/medium and closeup shots in my program, along with the PowerPoint feed, but my laptop simply didn’t support it. A few times I got away with it, but at other times one camera feed would simply freeze up. Again, this is an issue with my laptop and not with the Magewells, and report it not as a knock on Magewell (or ASUS) but as a cautionary tale for others with similar laptop-based streaming ambitions who might be tempted to fly too close to the sun. Two feeds on one bus is just asking for trouble. After realizing my error and downscaling my stream to two sources (one camera plus the presentation feed), performance (except for occasional, multitasking operator error) was flawless.

Of course, devices like the Magewell Capture Plus series are most effective when they play their critical role in the capture-switch-stream workflow so quietly and reliably you don’t even notice them. If not for the USB bus-overloading issue (again, my fault, not Magewell’s), and the fact that I moved my nicely portable streaming setup to a few different rooms throughout the conference, it’s quite possible I could have connected my sources to the Magewells on Tuesday, plugged them into my laptop, and forgotten about them until Thursday at the end of the conference when it was time to pack up and go home.

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