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Almost Live with Streaming Media: vMix 4K and vMix Social

vMix developer Martin Sinclair discusses the latest developments with the live production software application, including vMix 4K and vMix Social, and offers users some device about choosing the proper hardware to ensure smooth and efficient operation.

Shawn: I’m Shawn Lam from Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2014. I’m here with Martin Sinclair from vMix. And as you might remember, vMix is one of the companies that we awarded a Best of NAB award to last year at NAB. Can you tell our viewers a bit about what vMix is?

Martin: vMix is live production software for your PC. It allows you to bring in multiple cameras, graphics, lower thirds, videos, virtual sets, produce them together live, then record them and stream them to the web live.

Shawn: So this is a video mixer with built-in webcast encoding capabilities and other types of functionality.

Martin: There’s recording. There’s live streaming. You can send an output to, say, a recording deck. So, there’s really a lot of flexibility there in the sort of inputs you can put together and the way you can then output the final video live production.

Shawn: So, this is a really big market. There are a lot of manufacturers that have been out there for a while who have these products. Price point-wise, yours has such an attractive price point on it. What is it?

Martin: If you’re starting out, there is a free version, which is just in standard definition. It’s just a basic way to bring in a couple of webcams and get started in live production or live podcasts. And then, as you move up, there’s vMix HD for $320 U.S. And then all the way to our flagship new product, released this year, you have vMix 4K for $630.

Shawn: So, now you are essentially software that powers a computer that you make with hardware. It’s fully customizable, right?

Martin: We provide the software. And then we have various resellers and distributors who can build systems. Or you can just build them yourself.

Shawn: What are some of the popular hardware I/Os, some cards that are used in the builds?

Martin: As far as getting your camera inputs is concerned, there’s a lot of support there. We support the major manufacturers such as Matrox, Blackmagic, and a couple of newer companies out there now. So, we try to make vMix work with as many different hardware options as possible. So, if already have a card lying around, chances are it’ll work with vMix.

Shawn: The power your software can harness is really limited by the computer that it’s built on. So what advice do you have for people coming to this software in terms of building a system or looking for a developer-built system?

Martin: The key thing is that vMix does all of its graphics processing, animation, switching, HD, and 4K processing on the graphics card. So, we’re really taking advantage of the power that’s available there with the latest graphics cards with video games and post-production Premiere encoding. We take advantage of all of those sorts of graphics features on the graphics card and put them into vMix. So, my key recommendation, other than getting your cameras in, is just to get a reasonable, decent graphics card from NVidia or AMD. But don’t need a great processor or a lot of memory. It’s really just the graphics card and the capture card, the two main components necessary for a really great HD live production.

Shawn: Live video switching and webcasting today is so much more than just outputting the stream and recording an archive. There’s the social media interaction component. What have you done in that arena?

Martin: We’ve had a lot of customer feedback about wanting to show Twitter tweets live, and Facebook comments live, so that when they’re doing a live show there’s that sort of that social interaction. This year we’ve released vMix Social. vMix Social allows you to integrate Twitter, Facebook, or IRC content live. And what you can do with vMix Social is you can send the tweets direct on air. You can set it to a lower third. Or you can moderate it. So, we built a web-based app, that you can load on your iPad, iPhone, or other tablet interface and select from the tweets, and then send them to air live. So, with that functionality, we’ve allowed users to have a second producer that can just choose through all the tweets without getting in the way of the switcher operator.

We’ve also, as vMix 4K has been released this year and 4K support, we actually set up a demo here at our booth this year of 4K and social media combined together. We have 4K camera footage from the Blackmagic 4K, which was released a few months ago now to the market. We plug that in to vMix, and we’ve put a title with live Twitter, and we chose the hashtag vMix 4K, so anyone right now who is tweeting hashtag vMix 4K will appear on this live feed within 10-20 seconds.

Shawn: So, in addition to the webcasting and the live switching with outputs there, what about recording the master? How is that done? And are the ISO recording capabilities?

Martin: You have the program recording in multiple different formats, such as AVI, MPEG2, and MP4. We also have an ISO recording functionality, which we call multi-corder. And this allows you to record raw video of all your cameras to disk. So, for example, if you’re doing a live production, but you want the raw video to create a new video clip after the production, you can do that using the multi-corder and the program recording output. And they can both be done simultaneously. So, you can do four raw camera recordings. And you can also have the main master recording as well.

Shawn: Who is using vMix?

Martin: Because of vMix’s price point, vMix can be used in a whole array of different applications from the small podcasters all the way to the really highly complex, multi-camera productions. So, this year, we’ve been privileged to be asked to use vMix in a Teradek live show. So, the Teradek live show happening at NAB is powered by vMix. And they’re running eight cameras, multi-outputs, clean feed, program feed, a whole different bunch of inputs, put into there in vMix. So, I guess, we’re really privileged to have that opportunity to showcase vMix on what I would say is a high-end live streaming production.

Shawn: Excellent. Well, congratulations on the successes you’ve had in the past year since we first met you here at NAB. Good luck in the future. And thank you very much for your live production software. It’s awesome. It’s excellent. Thank you.

 

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