Inside The Studio 027: Software vs Hardware

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On this episode I talk about Powerpress 5, software vs hardware switchers and more.

Stephen Heywood Interview
On last weeks show I talked with Stephen Heywood from the TTB Network at thetechbuzz.net. During this interview we talked about some topics that I would like to talk about in more detail in todays show.

As you may know Stephen live in the US so I used Skype to interview on the show. I use Xsplit as my main video switcher but how do I bring in Skype guest calls into my show. I use a program called Ustream Producer and one really cool feature of it is that you can capture other computers and stream them over the local area network. What I do is run Skype on a mac mini computer and send an output from the mixer into the mac mini. I then send the output from the Mac Mini into the mixer for the Skype guests video. I then capture the Skype window and stream it over the network into Ustream Producer and then into Xsplit.

However during the show we ran into some echo issues. There was an echo of my voice when I spoke. After the show Stephen and I talked about the problem and we found that it was a strange problem with Skype.

Powerpress 5
I love powerpress! It is a very powerful wordpress plugin that adds advanced features for your WordPress RSS feeds to enhance them specifically for podcasting. Version 5 is out now and there are some great new features. Here are some of my favourite:

  • Simplified or advanced mode options
  • Podcasting custom post type and taxonomies
  • Added mediaelement.js html 5 video and audio player support
  • All of the RSS feed and iTunes feed images are now in the artwork tab
  • New iTunes episode image option to allow you to add a different image to each podcast episode
  • Video and audio player width can now be set as percentage for responsive websites

Zoom H6 Feedback
On episode 24 I talked about the Zoom H6. Johnny Rosenberg left a comment on the post page saying that he has bought the Zoom H6. He said that he really likes the H6 and Zoom products and the way that they upgrade by downloading the updated system file onto the device and then rebooting the device in a specific way to auto update.

He said that he tried to use the USB audio interface option with Ubuntu 12.0.4 and Audacity and it didn’t work unfortunately although it does work perfectly in storage mode.

Thanks Johnny for the feedback!

Software vs Hardware Video Switchers
It’s the age old debate. Software or Hardware switchers?

A software switcher is a piece of software that you can run on a normal computer that allows you to mix audio and video sources and inputs. Examples of software video switchers are Xsplit, Open Broadcaster Software and Wirecast.

A hardware switcher is a computer dedicated to video production with custom input capture cards and dedicated software optimised for that particular system. Examples of hardware switchers are Tricasters and the Blackmagic ATEM switchers.

So in what situations would you use software switchers and what situations would you use hardware switchers? I’m going to go through the pros and cons of both now:

Software Switchers
Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Flexible
  • Customisable
  • Works with cheap webcams as well as pro capture card sources
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Crashes may occur because the software is not optimised for your particular computer
  • Limited to your computers limits of capture cards
  • No physical hardware control surface
  • Need a powerful computer to run the software

Hardware Switchers
Pros:

  • All-in-one
  • Capture cards built-in for pro cameras
  • Reliable
  • The software and hardware is designed to work together
  • Hardware control surface

Cons:

  • Does not work with low end webcams
  • Not as flexible as software switchers
  • Not as customisable as software switchers
  • Very expensive
  • In many cases more complicated to use than software switchers
  • Designed for pro’s

X-Keys Programmable Keyboards
If you are looking for a dedicated video switcher control surface then you might want to look at x-keys solutions. They are basically keyboards with blank keys. You can take the heads off the keys and place your own labels on the keys. There are many different form factors from small keypads to large square keyboards. The x-keys keyboard plugs in through USB and you can program each key on the x-keys keyboard to a certain keyboard shortcut or hotkey. If you are interested you can go to www.piengineering.com/xkeys.php

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