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Streaming Media
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June 2019
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Review: Cinamaker 2.0 iOS Live-Switched Streaming and Editing Solution

Cinamaker 2.0 is really coming together into a solid iOS-based production solution. Standout features include loading and saving projects, the built-in editor, and dedicated chroma key on each channel.

Director

The main app is Cinamaker Director (Figure 2, below). On the devices you have a smaller app for Camera and Audio. The Director app does not let you use the iPad's Camera, or built-in audio, so you need at least one external device to get any sort of video or audio into Director.

 

Figure 2. Cinamaker’s main production interface

Cinamaker Director immediately differentiates itself by letting you save and load projects (Figure 3, below). You can have different projects for different shows with different videos, different graphics, logos, chroma key, etc. This is a huge feature for those who need to quickly change between setups without dumping old media and constantly having to rebuild a show from scratch. It also ensures consistency so that the graphics and everything are exactly the same every time you use them, even weeks apart.

 

Figure 3. Cinamaker projects

Moreover, it lets you name these projects and name the outputted master video (Figure 4, below), as you can see in Figure 3. When I was doing several tests in one day, I was not staring at 2018-12-28 14:37:42 and 2018-12-28 14:31:05, I named them C1080vSS and C1080vT2, which let me know which clip was Cinamaker 1080 resolution vs Switcher Studio and the other one was versus Teradek. This is so much better than date and time.

 

Figure 4. Name your outputted video here

Cinamaker needs to add a few more bits of information to this project list: duration, and total filesize. Because as I started to record more and more stuff on my smaller iPad, I was running out of space and I didn't know what to delete because I had no idea how big anything was. Here's hoping future versions add this info.

Cinamaker also enables the app to save the video to the Camera Roll. A video has to be on the camera roll in order to share it via AirDrop to other devices. The other apps can save the finished video to the camera roll; it's just a nice feature that Cinamaker does not require this extra step. It's just there if you choose that in preferences at the start.

Cinamaker also features keyboard shortcuts that you can edit (Figure 5, below). Potentially, you could assign camera and underlay shortcuts to numbers and other keystrokes on a Bluetooth numeric keypad and punch your show with your fingers on physical keys instead of tapping the screen.

 

Figure 5. Editable keyboard shortcuts

Layering is an interesting solution in Cinamaker which enables you to determine priority of clips, and videos, and logos (Figure 6, below). In other solutions, I may be talking and have my lower-third name under me, and my logo in the corner, and then I want to go to a video. In Switcher Studio, I have to quickly turn off any overlays because they would also be on top of the video being played back.

Figure 6. An overlay logo in Cinamaker

Cinamaker enables me to manually determine the layers and put the video over top of everything else. I can even leave the graphics on the screen and come right back to them when the video is done. I was disappointed, though, that the overlays all just pop on and off. I can choose to dissolve between cameras, but that doesn't apply to overlays or the transition to videos.

The built-in titling (Figure 7, below) also needs considerable work. It is very basic, with no preset backgrounds, no template for name and title, etc. It'd probably be best do all that externally with a computer that you bring in via HDMI and then you can do a chroma or luma key, since Apple doesn't support an alpha channel for transparency. I look forward to Cinamaker improving the in-app titling.

 

Figure 7. In-app titling

Adjusting the various camera parameters is fairly straightforward, and the layout of the app is well done (Figure 8, below). However, one thing I'd like to see fixed is that, any setting you adjust doesn't change while you are dragging the slider, it only changes when you let go. So you drag the ISO over... let go... oh. Too far. Now, touch it, drag it back, let go. Too far again. Repeat.

 

Figure 8. Adjusting camera parameters

It would be far better if it adjusted as you drag. Then you could let go at the right point.

When it comes to adjusting the camera settings (which you can see in Figure 8), Zoom and ISO are just as you'd expect them to be. Another setting, Exposure Duration, is a long way of saying shutter speed. Since there's no actual iris in a cellphone, you can control the camera exposure only via ISO (or gain) and shutter speed (how fast it grabs a frame). However, there's yet another slider called Exposure Bias and it also seems to adjust the exposure, but doesn't move either the ISO or shutter slider, so I actually have no idea how it does what it does.

Chroma Key

I broke Chroma Key out in this review because Cinamaker does it a rather interesting way (Figure 9, below). Whereas most Chroma Key is designed to take a camera feed and just cut away a greenscreen, Cinamaker has a Chroma Key on each camera input, and you can each fill with its own background. So, it’s sort of an “upstream” chroma key in each input before you get to the main mixing functions. This is quite impressive.

 

Figure 9. Cinamaker’s per-input chromakey

Imagine a three-camera show where your main camera is wide on the host and guest, and you can put a big living room behind them with a LCD monitor with the show's title, etc. But none of that exists, it's just a picture. Then when you cut to the closeup shot of the host--more on an angle so they’re facing the guest and the camera—you’ll have a tighter shot of the background with more of a blur, and the same for the guest. You can have a different background shot with extra blur so it emulates a shallow depth of field in a big living room set, but it's all just chromakey.

You can kind of do the same thing in Teradek with the app’s Scenes feature, but you’re limited to 5 scenes for anything. With Cinamaker, you have these pre-built camera keys and you haven't even started using picture-in-picture or group capabilities yet (Figures 10 and 11, below). This is quite impressive--especially when you couple it with the high-quality signal from a real camcorder or DSLR, as opposed to the image from a cell phone.

 

Figure 10. Grouping shots

Figure 11. Group/PiP in action

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