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Remote Guests | Solutions Available For Production Professionals
Like many industries- television broadcasters and live event producers recently had to quickly reevaluate their approach to producing a show. The guest that typically sat at a studio table- 4ft from the host, now can’t even be in the building. In fact, the host, the producers, writers, staff- all could no longer be in the building due to COVID-19 social distancing orders.
Luckily, broadcast manufacturers responded- introducing (or, in some cases- “re-introduced”) hardware and software that would allow television shows, live streamed events, churches, and city governments to connect their broadcast master control room to a variety of guests- located at home or remote. Each manufacturer presenting a unique answer- a unique workflow to help television and live communications continue operating.
Remote Guests Production Options:
We’re going to take a look at the variety of Remote Guests solutions that are currently being offered to broadcast professionals. It’s worth noting- these solutions have been battle-tested by the Key Code Media team- so, if you need help- contact us. On that note, here we go…
#1 | Remote Guests with a Phone App
One of the biggest challenges with At-Home Talent can be the daunting technical aspects of production- that the talent themselves are not trained on. Lighting, camera setup, and connecting the audio-video feeds back to an encoder/decoder that sends the signal into the broadcast switcher environment.
LiveU’s LU-Smart product dummy-proofs the entire process, providing a simple smartphone App (Android/iOS) that uses the talent’s phone camera and feeds it back to your production team over an internet connection. LiveU is also using their patented high-quality compression, so expect to see audiovisual quality that far surpasses what’s experienced over ZOOM or other video conferencing services.
The LiveU LU-Smart service costs $245/mo, and requires that the production switcher has a LiveU LU2000 or LU4000 Encoder/Decoder server receiving the signal in the master control room.
#2 | Remote Guests with a Browser
Similar to the Smart App approach, some manufacturers are providing technical directors the ability to have talent join by simply clicking a hyperlink from a desktop, laptop, or smart device. The best example of this workflow comes from our partners at Vimeo.
Vimeo has come a long way since the acquisition of Livestream, a software-defined video production switcher, several years back. Vimeo Enterprise now comes with Livestream Studio integrated into it- giving technical directors the ability to produce an entire show without any hardware. Livestream Studio has the ability to simulcast to Facebook Live, Linkedin, and YouTube. It also is packed with other features- that may leave some Producers scratching their heads, asking why they’re spending money on hardware.
Built-in to Vimeo LiveStream Studio is the ability to bring remote guests into the production switcher by simply sending a hyperlink. LiveStream Studio auto-generates the hyperlink, and you can invite up to 5 guests at a time. The software switcher also provides customizable graphic templates, that will allow guests to all appear on screen with background graphics, similar to what is seen on network news channels like CNN.
#3 | Remote Guests with ZOOM via RTMP or NDI™ Scan Converter
If you prefer to setup a Zoom video conference into your production environment- similar to what you may have recently seen with the NFL Draft- you have a few different options.
Key Code Media previously discussed connecting ZOOM conferencing to your live stream in a separate blog and I would highly encourage you to start there. In a nutshell, ZOOM webinar can stream to social media directly- or stream to your video switcher as an input using RTMP.
If you’d like to stream a ZOOM webinar video/audio feed directly into your production switcher -you will need a stream key generator, like STREAM by Castus.TV, to provide the RTMP link between the ZOOM webinar and your production switcher. When setting up the ZOOM webinar, you’ll need to select Stream To Custom Service, in your ZOOM settings.
Alternatively, if you have a spare computer or mobile device and an NDI-capable video switcher, you can utilize the FREE NewTek NDI Scan Converter to capture the ZOOM video conference, and pull it into your video production switcher environment.
While we’re on the topic of NDI™, it’s worth noting BirdDog Cloud solution, which will allow a technical director to manage and control all NDI signals in a simple-to-use MultiViewer environment. BirdDog Cloud also uses an encrypted SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) connection, delivering high-quality video over on even the most unreliable networks
#4 | Remote Guests with Skype TX
If you’re looking to bring in multiple Skype interviews into your production environment over SDI or NDI- NewTek Talkshow provides one of the most reliable solution for professional broadcasters. The only problem is the NewTek Talkshow is currently on backorder- likely, for a few more weeks or months!
Thankfully, there are a few other options. If you want to stick with NewTek products- they now offer up to 2-channels of Skype TX built-in to their TriCaster TC-1 and TriCaster TC Mini products. You can also link multiple TriCasters over NDI™.
If you’re looking for more than 2-channels of Skype, Key Code Media is recommending Quicklinks TX. Quicklinks TX supports up to 4-channels of Skype TX, and also has 4x SDI inputs/outputs, supports for NDI™, a customizable tally for remote guests, aspect-ratio adjustments settings, and a host of other professional features that broadcasters would likely require for high-end production.
**UPDATE (7/13/2020): NewTek announced the TriCaster 2 Elite, with built-in support for up to 9 guests over Zoom, Teams, Skype, GotoMeeting, and other video conferencing platforms. Learn more about the TriCaster 2 Elite.
Have an urgent need for a remote live production solution?
The Key Code Media team is standing by to answer your remote live production equipment or solution questions. Contact us to get started: