DIY Control Surface for Wirecast and XSplit
Fast forward just a few years to today, and the world of streaming has changed even more. New names (and some old ones) have entered the video capture space, including Avermedia, Elgato, and the stalwart Hauppauge. I have done my best to get my hands on this hardware to evaluate, and have been impressed with what these companies have been accomplishing along the way. We actually use an Avermedia Live Gamer HD in production for certain scenarios where we have found it has better driver support.
Thanks to our Indiegogo campaign earlier this year, we have been able to really expand our studio. Currently our setup involves a 4 input SDI capture card, the Blackmagic DeckLink Quad, an Avermedia Live Gamer HD, and a DataPath Vision DVI-DL. With all of these capture cards in one computer, we get access to 6 inputs. We also have a few Thunderbolt Blackmagic Intensity's which we can add to the machine to give us a few more inputs if needed. In addition to upgrading the captute hardware, we moved our cameras to Canon HF G20's and added a few more to the mix.
The software game has changed significantly as well. When we started streaming, just about the only solution for software switching on a computer was Wirecast. We definitely had some growing pains with Wirecast, and were eager to switch to any alternative we could find. This is when we started testing XSplit, over a year ago. While XSplit is built for more of a gaming focus than studio videos like we do, it turned out to be a great alternative and is what we currently use in production. However, I do constantly test new software revisions, and Wirecast has gotten a lot better over the years. Other pieces of software I have tried include OBS, and I am currently messing around with FFsplit. These new software competitors help keep the market fresh, and are making access to streaming even more ubiquitous.
While this software is extremely powerful and important for lowering the barrier to entry, there are certain things from the broadcast-oriented world that I feel are lacking in the development of this sort of software and hardware. The main thing that I've desperately wanted to see is some sort of tally interface for software-based switching setups.
For those of you who may not know what a Tally system does, it is a simple but extremely vital part to any major broadcast. Tally systems consist of lights on top of each camera in a studio, which receive a signal from the video switcher, and light up when that camera is the active shot. While this may seem like an unneeded thing, sitting in front of 3 or 4 cameras becomes very confusing very quickly. Being able to quickly glance and see which camera you should be facing and talking to is an invaluable resource.
However, these pieces of software don't support Tally, and I have never been able to find a piece of hardware that is built around what I wanted. So naturally, I decided to build my own.