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Telestream Wirecast Pro 4.0

Apr 6, 2011 1:11 PM, by Jan Ozer

Software-based solutions for your live streaming needs.


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Figure 4.
Setting the in
and out points
for a video I ’m
adding to the
production.

Figure 4. Setting the in and out points for a video I ’m adding to the production.

Once you create your shots, add titles via the simple interface shown in Figure 4, with lots of templates, and font options. You can add backgrounds to display should your video or content not fill the screen, and bugs or watermarks to display over your video.

Figure 6. Configuring encoder
and broadcast settings.

Figure 6. Configuring encoder and broadcast settings.

You configure your outputs in the Broadcast Settings dialog, shown in Figure 6. Each of the lines in the top left window is a separate output. The program can produce multiple streams for Flash and Windows-based adaptive streaming. If you’re streaming live, input the server coordinates in the Address and Stream boxes shown below.

When producing for Flash distribution, Wirecast supports both VP6 and H.264. You can choose any codec for QuickTime broadcasts, though most producers will use either MPEG-4 or H.264, and Windows Media producers can choose any WMV video and audio codec.

I produced the church broadcast on a 3.06 GHz Core2Duo-based MacBook Pro, broadcasting a 480x360 file at a combined audio/video data rate of 432kbps, with these conservative parameters dictated by the wireless connection to the church’s router, which measured under 800kbps upload speed according to www.speedtest.net. As you saw in Figure 1, broadcasting at these parameters consumed around 54% of the Mac’s CPU, so I probably couldn’t have gone much larger anyway.

Figure 7. Setting
capture size to Native to
maximize quality.

Figure 7. Setting capture size to Native to maximize quality.

In general, Wirecast’s output quality is quite good, though there’s at least one potential speed bump along the way. When you install a new camera, Wirecast assigns the device a capture size, as shown in Figure 7. In many of my tests, the initial assigned size was Low, which reduced input quality and visibly degraded output quality. I’m guessing that Telestream does this to reduce the CPU requirements of the capture/encode, but if you don’t have enough horsepower to capture Native video, you probably shouldn’t broadcast with Wirecast. Either way, get in the habit of checking your source settings for every camera that you use with Wirecast.

Wirecast’s performance will definitely scale well with faster computers. For example, I tested Wirecast on a Hewlett Packard 8740w mobile workstation with a 2.0 GHz four-core i7 processor (8-cores with hyper-threading enabled), which was able to produce three streams (640x480 at 732kbps, 480x360 at 432kbps and 320x240 at 232kbps) at an efficient 25% total CPU utilization. Working with a Decklink card attached to the Express Card slot of the 8740w, I was able to capture 1080i video and produce four streams at under 75% CPU utilization, which is impressive. Overall, Wirecast combines excellent overall functionality with very good output quality and efficiency. If you’re considering a software-based live encoding solution, it should definitely be on your short list.

Product Summary

  • Company: Telestream
    www.telestream.net
  • Product: Wirecast Pro
  • Pros: Cross-platform, extensive production capabilites (multicamera switching, ability to stream multiple formats)
  • Cons: Configuring new cameras can be confusing
  • Applications: Any live event that needs realtime streaming or capture to disk
  • Price: $995

Specifications

Windows Requirements

  • 2.3GH z processor, 1GB RAM
  • QuickTime 7.5, DirectX 9.0c
  • 200MB HD space to install, more to record to disk
  • 32MB PCI -Express graphics card with 3D acceleration (GeForce or Radeon recommended)
  • Sufficient upload speed

Mac OS Requirements

  • OS X 10.5 or later
  • Intel processor or Power PC G5
  • QuickTime 7, QTSS/DSS 4.1.3 for automatic “announce” unicasting
  • 200MB HD space to install, more to record to disk
  • Quartz Extreme-capable graphics card



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