midnightFreddie, Tech Producer: Production Setup

Dec 18, 2011 • midnightFreddie

So please allow myself (IT Know-It-All) to introduce myself (midnightFreddie) as our new blogger!

Why, thank you, me!

We are currently using Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 to produce and record the live video. This allows us to switch between multiple webcams, screencasting and prerecorded media, however you can't add or remove media or alter the screencast settings while broadcasting, and all the webcams are active at the same time.

We were excited about using multiple cameras, but since Expression Encoder keeps them all on at the same time we found out that multiple webcams will use up your USB 2 bandwidth in a hurry. We currently manage to run 3 webcams and a USB microphone, but hope to be able to add more with some equipment changes. Also, with all the webcams active, all the "live" lights are on, so Jen and Sean can't tell which camera is currently broadcasting.

Between Expression Encoder and the LifeCam driver we are unable to split-screen, picture-in-picutre or even overlay text or graphics while broadcasting live. Silly face-tracking, distortion effects and color filters are plentiful, but we can't put text or a logo on the video? Really? I tried using WebCamMax's virtual webcam as an input to Expression Encoder to add capabilities, but I can't get WebCamMax's output resolution to change from 800x600, and we're broadcasting widescreen. WebCamMax also does not seem to switch smoothly between input cameras, and it takes up a lot of CPU cycles. It has been very difficult to get what I want with consumer webcams and software.

A big goal is to be able to have live video-chat guests on the show. We're thinking Skype but haven't worked out how to get the Skype video on our video. We might try something hackish like screen capturing the Skype video window, but we really want to have the show hosts and the guest on the screen simultaneously.

For sound we have a Yeti USB microphone, and any music and sound effects are played from speakers and picked up by the microphone. This is very convenient, but the sound is not top-notch. I would like more quality and control over sound, but it is adequate for now, and we have other features to work towards first.

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