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Digital Rapids TouchStream

Feb 15, 2011 10:52 AM, by Jan Ozer

A live event encoding appliance with simple operation.


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Figure 3. TouchStream ships with canned project presets, which you can select from the Project Setting menu. Alternatively, you can customize a preset or build one using the TouchStream Config program.

Figure 3. TouchStream ships with canned project presets, which you can select from the Project Setting menu. Alternatively, you can customize a preset or build one using the TouchStream Config program.

Things get a bit more complicated if the user is configuring their own webcasts in the field. That is, you have to configure three options to start streaming: project, input, and output(s).

Digital Rapids ships the TouchStream with dozens of project presets, including single and adaptive streaming, which vary by stream count, resolution, and data rate. If you can use one of the canned presets, life is simple; you simply choose it as shown in Figure 3 and move to the next step. If you can’t, you have to exit the TouchStream software, run the TouchStream Config program, and either customize an existing preset or build one from scratch—an activity best performed with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and no event promoter hovering nearby wondering when you’ll be ready to start. I briefly describe the TouchStream Config program below.

Figure 4. Choosing the input settings.

Figure 4. Choosing the input settings.

After choosing the preset, you select your audio and video input, as shown in Figure 4. One bummer about the analog unit that I tested is the lack of component analog support or DV support. You’ll need the SD-SDI model for that. I shot the ballets with two HDV cameras, and quickly remembered that my front, close-up camera, the Canon XH A1, doesn’t have S-Video output. So I switched over to my back camera—the venerable Sony HDR-FX1—which did have S-Video output for my tests.

This is definitely presentation 101 kind of information, but the end-user should never let a streaming appliance leave the building without fully connecting the audio/video feeds from the camera you’ll be using to the appliance and producing a live test stream. It took me 45 minutes to find an S-Video connector, and I ended up very glad that the high school couldn’t provide Internet connectivity because the pressure to make it all work in realtime would have been a bit too much.

After choosing your input settings, you choose your output settings, including the server URL, stream name, login/password if necessary, and the like. This part is actually pretty simple. In my case, PowerStream sent a text configuration file with server ID, URL, login name, and the like that mapped perfectly with the TouchStream’s output settings. If the end-user is working with an internal server, the output settings should probably be preconfigured before leaving for the event to make sure the login information is correct.

Figure 5. Output settings.

Figure 5. Output settings.

I copied the PowerStream configuration file to the TouchStream’s hard drive, and copied and pasted the data in. Failing this, you can revert to the touchscreen-based keyboard, which would absolutely stink if you were writing War and Peace, but it functions well in its limited role and beats lugging a keyboard around.

After setting and checking your project, input, and output settings, you click Trigger (see Figure 4) to choose how to start and stop the encoding, which can be manual, scheduled, or via GPI—a custom general purpose hardware interface between two devices. I used manual in all my tests. Then you click Arm, which brings up the start button shown in Figure 1. Click that, and you should be streaming.



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