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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.

Audio

Cinamaker offers a tab for the audio coming in from each of the cameras. This means you can have a wireless receiver on each camera and use that to mix the levels of your inputs. When you look at the audio levels of the camera audio and the dedicated audio input device in Cinamaker, you can see audio levels for each device and adjust them appropriately (Figure 12, below). I did not see a master audio level, though.

 

Figure 12. Audio mixing in Cinamaker

You can also dedicate an iOS device for audio ingest. But that device can't be the iPad that you are doing the mixing on, which is very different from the way the other two apps work. Both Teradek and Switcher Studio let you bring audio right into the iPad doing the video mix, either via USB audio or via the iPad's headphone/microphone input. This is a little weird, but since it does not use up one of your four video inputs, it's not that big a deal aside from requiring you to use another external device for audio if you choose to do it that way.

That dedicated audio device shows you the audio levels and waveforms and it records the audio as well. When I used it, I found the that audio coming into this dedicated device was consistently too low. I had to crank it up all the way to start to get a decent level in the main mix, and there was little chance of me getting too loud with this setup. 

Maybe a future update to Cinamaker can enable the audio to be considerably hotter so a “good” level is in the middle.

You can adjust the audio level for your video playback clips, except there’s no audio meter on the audio clip, and the video clip’s audio level is not present in the audio mixer. So, it’s a bit of trial and error to get the audio level right for each clip since you have to test it and just use your ears to assess whether it's too loud, or too quiet. 

It would be nice to have this added to the audio mixer tab, or to see an audio level when adjusting the volume slider on the video clip.

Post: The Other Side

Teradek Live:Air is primarily a production app for streaming and recording. Switcher Studio has a “Director Mode” in which the cameras can record FullHD or even 4K while you switch and stream 720p. Then, after the show, you can have Switcher Studio automatically collect the camera files to the iPad and it will re-assemble the show you just switched--putting in the graphics, titles, videos, and everything based on the Edit Decision List you created when you switched the show live.

Director Mode is quite powerful in that it does this completely automated. You can walk away, and in a few hours, Switcher Studio will have a completed a 1080p30 or even 4K program for you to offload. The downside is that it is a slow process. I can Airdrop a file between devices in just a few minutes, but in Director Mode, I’ve had file transfer take hours.

Switcher Studio also enables you to hand off editing to third-party edit apps, like Kinemaster on the iPad and to Final Cut Pro. This passes on camera files and your Director Mode master, but not all the other assets. So, it's not a complete edit solution.

Cinamaker actually integrates the edit app into Cinamaker (Figure 13, below). It also has integration with Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro on the Mac, but it’s the integrated editor that makes this feature stand out. The real special sauce is that the Cinamaker app takes in and records all the cameras, so when you switch to edit more, you can change camera angles, extend a shot past where you previously cut away, etc. It’s all already on the iPad meaning there's no “ingest” step as there is with Switcher Studio. That saves a ton of time.

 

Figure 13. Cinamaker Edit Mode

Moreover, Cinamaker records up to FullHD 1080p30 at upwards of 12 Mbps (on the best setting, Wired Ethernet Preferred), so your video quality is very good. The fact that it takes this in from each camera, and records it all to the internal storage, means that you'll need an iPad with copious amounts of storage. Because 5x 12 Mbps (4 cameras + main program out) = 60 Mbps = 450 MB/min = 27 GB/hr.

Remember, that Apple prohibits iOS from recording video to external or removable media. Android allows this and it enables a user to record video to a USB-stick and then swap it out with fresh media as needed. With Apple, you have to take additional time to offload your media to another device and you can't be using your iPad to produce video at the same time. So be very aware of how you manage your storage space.

But having all your media on the iPad, again, makes a transfer of your master and all your ISO camera files a breeze because it's all already on the iPad. So, when you open the files in your edit app on the computer, you already have the synchronized cameras, media, audio and the EDL from your live-switched event. While not as critical for streamed events, this is a real stand-out feature to make your recorded shows as good as they can possibly be.

Conclusion

Cinamaker 2.0 is really coming together to a solid iOS-based production solution. The standout features of loading and saving projects, the built-in editor, and dedicated chroma key on each channel really set Cinamaker apart from the other solutions in this category.

If you ever wanted to use Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) heads, or if you already have some Panasonic PTZ heads, then you can check out Panasonic's new LiveConTRoL app which is Cinamaker's technology that can control Panasonic AW-HE40, AW-UE70 and AW-HE130 PTZ cameras as well as iPhones. It still requires a premium Cinamaker license for full capability, but there's no other iOS solution that will control professional cameras like this.

There are a few rough spots: built-in titles, audio mixing, overlays only cut on and off, etc, that I mentioned. Whether you will be using an external titler, external audio mixer, or Cinamaker's unique features are worth it is up to you.

Either way, Cinamaker’s entrance into the field, and Panasonic's Adoption of Cinamaker's technologies, demonstrates the robustness of the iOS platform for quality video production.

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