Review Index:

DIY Control Surface for Wirecast and XSplit

Subject: General Tech


Over the past few weeks, I have been developing a device that enables external control of Wirecast and XSplit. Here's a video of the device in action:

But now, let's get into the a little bit of background information:

While the TriCaster from NewTek has made great strides in decreasing the cost of video switching hardware, and can be credited with some of the rapid expansion of live streaming on the Internet, it still requires an initial investment of about $20,000 on the entry-level. Even though this is down from around 5x or 10x the cost just a few years ago for professional-grade hardware, a significant startup cost is still presented.

This brings us to my day job. For the past 4 years I have worked here at PC Perspective. My job began as an intern helping to develop video content, but quickly expanded from there. Several years ago, we decided to make the jump to live content, and started investing in the required infrastructure. Since we obviously didn't need to worry about the availability of PC Hardware, we decided to go with the software video switching route, as opposed to dedicated hardware like the TriCaster. At the time, we started experimenting with Wirecast and bought a few Blackmagic Intensity Pro HDMI capture cards for our Canon Vixia HV30 cameras. Overall, building an 6 core computer (Core i7-980x in those days) with 3 capture cards resulted in an investment of about $2500.

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Advantages to the software route not only consisted of a much cheaper initial investment, we had an operation running for about a 1/10th of the cost of a TriCaster, but ultimately our setup was more expandable. If we had gone with a TriCaster we would have a fixed number of inputs, but in this configuration we could add more inputs on the fly as long as we had available I/O on our computer.

Click here to continue reading about this project!

September 19, 2013 | 05:57 PM - Posted by rodgersk24

Very nice, that looks really cool!

Just out of curiosity, how did you get involved in this, or gain the knowledge to be able to figure this out? Did you study this in school, or is it more of a hobby thing you picked up? I've always wanted to work with Arduinos and circuits, but don't know where to start.

Can't wait to see future updates!

September 19, 2013 | 06:54 PM - Posted by Ken Addison

I learned some basic stuff about electronics in school, but just about everything in this build is self-taught. The nice thing about Arduino as a development platform is that there are tons of guides and help available, and easy to find through google. The Arduino forums themselves are pretty awesome as well.

September 19, 2013 | 06:46 PM - Posted by Andrew (not verified)

I have been attemting to setup a live broadcast system that inputs to the broacast system over an analog signal that i had hoped to put through an s-video output on a geforce 6200, but i have had no luck getting it to cooperate with the geforce gtx 660 in the system (for adobe premier) and put the digital signal to the monitors through the 660 along with the analog through the 6200 for the broadcast system, i am using wirecast, any suggestions?

September 19, 2013 | 06:49 PM - Posted by Branthog

I just wanted to say that after many months of PC Perspective not showing up in my news feed (on multiple readers), this showed up in my feed today. WELCOME BACK YOU DELIGHTFUL BASTARDS! My RSS reader is looking forward to relaying more of your goodness to my eyeballs!

September 19, 2013 | 08:40 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Good to be home! : D

September 19, 2013 | 07:13 PM - Posted by Kusanagi (not verified)

Man, this looks really awesome. I could use this myself.

September 20, 2013 | 09:55 AM - Posted by JustWondering (not verified)

Why not instead create an app for touch surface like surface pro or ipad or android?

This is what's being done in the music industry to replace audio mixers and then you can make money selling the app...

September 22, 2013 | 12:19 PM - Posted by DaVolfman (not verified)

Personally I would have mixed output with input to multiplex things. Basically you use an output to address a row and then read out a column on inputs. It only gains you about 3 pins on the buttons but that's still 3 pins freed up. The LED's being diodes are open to charlieplexing using 4 outputs to drive 12 LEDs. That gets you all your IO done with up to 3 pins to spare, though it does sacrifice a bit of brightness on the LEDs.

September 22, 2013 | 12:22 PM - Posted by HeavyG (not verified)

Very impressive, Ken! For a work in progress, it sure is making some good progress.

October 16, 2013 | 11:48 AM - Posted by gratv (not verified)

Hello, we are a small tv station from Athens Greece. Can we bay this control for wirecast? Thank you.

January 28, 2014 | 01:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Love what your doing with this. I have worked in TV Production for a long time using Tricaster boards but they are big and as you mentioned really expensive. This looks like a great alternative.

Recently I was considering getting a HDMi video Switcher to work in line with my current setup (between the camera HDMI output and the intensity HDMI input) just to give us more camera angles, but i dont know if this would work.

Our Setup : Wirecast, 2 Intensity shuttles, iMac, and 1 Sony hdr-cx380, much smaller inexpensive setup. Do you know if this would work?

Also are you selling your switcher?

January 31, 2014 | 02:40 PM - Posted by Eric Wroldsen (not verified)

Your Concept looks really cool. It would be great to see an updated video on this project. are you going to be selling this any time soon? I could really use one!

November 10, 2014 | 01:49 PM - Posted by ButtonPuncher (not verified)

Here's an alternative idea for you... It would be a little more cumbersome but it may be more versatile in the end. Does and of the software allow you to switch more then two channels of audio at a time? Or do you use a separate audio board for mics and whatnot and use it's output? Here's my idea...

Use DTMF. There's 16 DTMF tones and you can get the generator chips and decoders chips for cheap. If the switching software can do more than 2 channels, feed the DTMF tone into channel 3 or 4 on the capture cards. Then the main output would have the DTMF tone of whatever camera is live. Also, if the software outputs a "preview" channel, you could use that DTMF tone to show the talent/floor crew that they are about to go hot. Use bi-color LEDs to have green if you are in preview and red when you are on air.

If you mix the audio with a separate dedicated audio board, that opens up your options even more. The you can use channel 1 or 2 on your capture cards. You could make a little battery powered DTMF generator, and put a 1/8" male cable on it to plug in to any camera that you have laying around.

Just my $0.02.