In the production of over 530 VUC sessions we’ve undertaken some odd and occasionally rather complicated arrangements. Quite possibly the most complex is when we interconnect the WebRTC-based Jitsi Video Bridge with YouTube Live and the ZipDX conference bridge. I set about described aspects of this process a year ago, but stopped short of describing how the entire arrangement worked. Well, worked most of the time. This article will bring you current with my various attempts to make this process robust and repeatable.
This article, based upon a SlideShare document with a few additions, is a bit on the thin side. The author starts with the ultra-simple idea that a user with a laptop can select an internal or external webcam as the video source. This is a great point, and well worth noting since an internal webcam tends to be quite lame. A good quality, external webcam can provide much better quality video. My current favorite is the Logitech C920.
He then makes a great leap to using an external video switcher to allow live switching between multiple video sources. While both are valid options, what he describes represents a rather dramatic leap from $0 to thousands-of-dollars.
There is in fact a middle option, which is the approach that we’ve be using for the VoIP Users Conference. You can use a software-based production tool to handle a variety of video sources right within your computer. There are a few different programs that fit this role. Some are inexpensive, or even free. More professional tools of this sort may cost a few hundred dollars.
Last week’s VUC515 with Tsahi Levent-Levi was a great call and a fine example of why the VUC continues to garner audience. Kudos to Randy, Tsahi, Tim, Emil at the cast of several who brought it about.
The production of the call was a bit unusual. Further, it’s post-call existence is continuing that trend line. In the moments just before the call YouTube decided to ignore the video stream that I was sending from Wirecast. When this has happened in the past stopping & restarting the stream once or twice has resolved the matter.
On this occasion, nothing that I tried could make YouTube acknowledge the stream, so we resorted to abandoning the YouTube Live event, making a local recording instead. That local recording was later uploaded to YouTube.
While many people make use of webcams, the simple fact is that most application software that makes use of a webcam doesn’t give the end-user much control of its settings. Most video chat or conferencing software offer only a few basic settings. Thus it is that most people don’t even consider that there are some things that can be adjusted to improve the results you get from your webcam.
While they address things relating to their software specifically, the advice is broadly applicable to many situations. They have a short video that shows very graphically how disabling the automatic settings of a Logitech webcam can dramatically increase the frame rate it achieves.
I would not have expected this! Like most people, I was happy with the results of the default settings, so I didn’t dive beneath the covers to see what was possible. It seems that XSplit has some nice built-in tools for measuring camera performance.
This change in settings is something that I will definitely try during the coming VUC call with Iotum.
There are times when it would be handy to capture the video output of an Android device. This is typically what I need when writing something about an app that does something dynamic. For example, AudioTool by J.J. Bunn. As a tool for simple audio test & measurement capturing its output in real-time is the ideal way to communicate the measurement being taken. A static screen shot is fast & easy to accomplish, but video can be much more illuminating.
Quite recently I swapped out the Intensity Pro for an AVerMedia Game Broadcaster HD. This card has the ability to capture a 1080p60 stream. In so doing it drops every second frame to actually save a 1080p30 stream to disk.
The prior two installments in this series dealt with interconnecting an audio conference bridge and a Google+ Hangout-On-Air. The Hangout-On-Air allows a limited number of interactive participants with no connectivity to the PSTN. The audio conference allows audio-only participants, including both access via the PSTN and direct SIP connections. The combination allows more people to participate, which is ideal. The fact that it supports HDVoice is also great.
Nice as that solution is, it hasn’t addressed another facet of how we’ve been doing VUC calls. I’ve been struggling with an arrangement for adding production audio to the call along with my own participation. By “production audio” I mean things like a pre-recorded opening or closing, or anything else that might enhance the presentation.