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Tutorial: Live Switching, Streaming, and Recording with the Epiphan Pearl

Jan Ozer demonstrates how even the most non-technical user can pull off a live-switched stream with the Epiphan Pearl streaming appliance.

Epiphan Pearl is an easy-to-use and affordable streaming appliance that can input, mix, capture, and stream up to four HD sources. In the latest release, Epiphan added the simple ability to switch video sources live, making Pearl ideal for non-technical users who still need to produce sophisticated events.

Figure 1 (below) shows the Pearl, which is about the size of a college textbook. The touchscreen on the front allows you to control the unit, and provides a confidence monitor. You can listen to the program you’re streaming via the headphone jack you see to the right of the touchscreen.

Figure 1. Front of the Pearl. Click the image to see it at full size.


I/O is on the back, as shown in Figure 2 (below). The Pearl offers two HD-SDI and HDMI inputs for video, and two VGA connectors for computer input, and you can capture from any four during a production.

Figure 2. I/O on the back of the Pearl. Click the image to see it at full size.

The Pearl also features 1/4” left and right audio inputs, USB inputs for drives and other accessories, and two displayport outputs that aren’t live yet, but will enable big screen preview after a future firmware release.

In the middle of the rear panel in Figure 2 you can see the Ethernet port for connectivity.

Configuring the Epiphan Pearl

You configure Pearl via its web interface (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. The Pearl web interface. Click the image to see it at full size.

There are two key concepts to understand: channels and layouts.

A channel includes single or multiple sources with specific input configurations and targets for streaming and recording. You could set up a channel for monthly all-hands meetings from the home office, and another for weekly sales meetings from the field.

Once Pearl is configured, non-technical users can run the event from the touchscreen (Figure 4, below), controlling recording and selecting which layout is viewed in the live stream.

Figure 4. Running a live event from the Pearl touchscreen. Click the image to see it at full size.

Within each channel you can have multiple layouts, which can consist of any single input or mix of inputs plus other elements. The Pearl presentation shown in Figure 3 has five layouts.

First is camera 1. Next is camera 2. Third is the PowerPoint input, which shows the VGA coming in from a computer. Fourth is webinar view, which mixes the camera and VGA input, with a blue background (Figure 5, below). Fifth is the pre-show slide, which I display before switching over to my live inputs.

Figure 5. In this Pearl presentation, option 4 is Webinar View, which mixes the selected live camera feed with the slide deck coming in from the VGA input. Click the image to see it at full size.

You use the simple resizing and cropping controls shown in Figure 6 (below) to create picture-in-picture layouts like the webinar view shown in Figure 5.

Figure 6. Resizing and cropping controls allow you to customize the composite view shown in Figure 5. Click the image to see it at full size.

I’ve configured all layouts to use the same audio source, which is the lavaliere input on camera A (see Audio Sources on the left in Figure 6).

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