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Multi-machine Capture System - TreetWiki

Multi-machine Capture System

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(Capture machine)
(formatting)
 
=== Capture machine ===
=== Capture machine ===
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* Intel Apple Mac Pro, 2008 or later running Mac OS X 10.6.x
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* Intel Apple Mac Pro, 2008 or later running a recent Mac OS X
* One [http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/ Black Magic Designs (henceforth BMD) ''Intensity Pro'' PCIe video capture card] per video source machine. Install its driver software. If you're installing this ''and'' Final Cut Pro, do the latter first. ($)  
* One [http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/ Black Magic Designs (henceforth BMD) ''Intensity Pro'' PCIe video capture card] per video source machine. Install its driver software. If you're installing this ''and'' Final Cut Pro, do the latter first. ($)  
* [http://www.telestream.net/wire-cast/overview.htm Telestream Wirecast 4.x] Webcasting and capture software. The Pro version is not required. If you have Wirecast 3, BMD cards are not supported, but you can use this method for bringing in video eg from HDMI/Firewire capture devices. ($$)
* [http://www.telestream.net/wire-cast/overview.htm Telestream Wirecast 4.x] Webcasting and capture software. The Pro version is not required. If you have Wirecast 3, BMD cards are not supported, but you can use this method for bringing in video eg from HDMI/Firewire capture devices. ($$)
* [http://cycling74.com/products/soundflower/ SoundFlower and SoundFlowerBed audio routing software from Cycling24] (free)
* [http://cycling74.com/products/soundflower/ SoundFlower and SoundFlowerBed audio routing software from Cycling24] (free)
* [http://www.skype.com/ Skype] for dialogue capture (free)
* [http://www.skype.com/ Skype] for dialogue capture (free)
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* [http://rogueamoeba.com/freebies/ Line In] will be useful if you want to hear yourself
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* [http://rogueamoeba.com/freebies/ Line In] will be useful if you want to hear yourself (free)
* [http://www.manycam.com/ Manycam] This app lets you run a camera in more than one application at once. It is used here solely to occupy Skype's video input so it doesn't try grabbing your BMD card. It may not even be necessary (free)
* [http://www.manycam.com/ Manycam] This app lets you run a camera in more than one application at once. It is used here solely to occupy Skype's video input so it doesn't try grabbing your BMD card. It may not even be necessary (free)
* We're assuming you are capturing to edit in Final Cut Pro. If you have FCP installed, you'll have the necessary ProRes 422 codec. ($$$)
* We're assuming you are capturing to edit in Final Cut Pro. If you have FCP installed, you'll have the necessary ProRes 422 codec. ($$$)
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* You may require a suitably fast hard drive to capture the video. The machine has a 3Gb/s SATA transfer capability. Most drives will give you about 100Mb/s sequential transfer rate. This should be fine for one camera (which will require something like 55Mb/s) but for two it will be difficult. Recommended HD: [http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=20 WD Velociraptor]. These are 6 Gb/s SATA drives but on a 3Gb/s controller they will manage a sustainable 140Mb/s. ($)
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* You may require a suitably fast hard drive to capture the video. The machine has a 3Gb/s SATA transfer capability. Most drives will give you about 100Mb/s sequential transfer rate. This should be fine for one camera (which will require something like 55Mb/s) but for two it may be difficult. Recommended HD: [http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=20 WD Velociraptor]. These are 6 Gb/s SATA drives but on a 3Gb/s controller they will manage a sustainable 140Mb/s. ($)
=== Video Source machine(s) ===
=== Video Source machine(s) ===
== System Overview ==
== System Overview ==
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The source machine is configured to output a 1280x720 viewport locked in the centre of a 1920x1080 screen, thus providing a "viewfinder" allowing the operator to see the area around the scene being captured. (You can dispense with this if you wish, in which case you simply need to set up a 1280x720 screen and clone it. In which case all the special NVIDIA control panel requirements and the need for XP all suddenly go away. However... I really can't believe how useful that extra room in the viewfinder is!). The tricky bit is setting up the viewport. Well, actually, ''all'' the setup is tricky. It starts with setting up a dual-boot machine and goes on from there.
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The source machine is configured to output a 1280x720 viewport locked in the centre of a 1920x1080 screen, thus providing a "viewfinder" allowing the operator to see the area around the scene being captured. (You can dispense with this if you wish, in which case you simply need to set up a 1280x720 screen and clone it. In which case all the special NVIDIA control panel requirements and the need for XP all suddenly go away. However... I really can't believe how useful that extra room in the viewfinder is!). The tricky bit is setting up the viewport.  
The video capture machine is set up to capture video from the source machine(s) using the Blackmagic card(s). Wirecast is used both as a "gearbox" to change the framerate to the desired output and to aggregate the required audio feeds. It is then used to record to disc at the target Treet workflow framerate and format. The tricky bit is the audio, by the way. Everything else is pretty easy.
The video capture machine is set up to capture video from the source machine(s) using the Blackmagic card(s). Wirecast is used both as a "gearbox" to change the framerate to the desired output and to aggregate the required audio feeds. It is then used to record to disc at the target Treet workflow framerate and format. The tricky bit is the audio, by the way. Everything else is pretty easy.
* You need to run XP so that you can access the old NVIDIA Control Panel, which allows much greater control over your display setup. If you know how to do what is required here under Windows 7, we need to know immediately!
* You need to run XP so that you can access the old NVIDIA Control Panel, which allows much greater control over your display setup. If you know how to do what is required here under Windows 7, we need to know immediately!
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* To run the Old Control Panel, you need the latest driver for your card that still allows access to the Old Control Panel. 196.21 works for me with my GTX 280. Your mileage ''will'' differ.
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* To run the Old Control Panel, you need the latest driver for your card that still allows access to it. 196.21 works for me with my GTX 280. Your mileage ''will'' differ.
* To access the Old Control Panel you will likely also need to hack the registry
* To access the Old Control Panel you will likely also need to hack the registry
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* Your main display is 1920x1080 and this is set up as the screen with the Windows paraphernalia on it.
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* Your main display is in the region of 1920x1080 and this is set up as the screen with the Windows paraphernalia on it.
* Both displays must be running at the framerate (refresh rate) as your BMD capture rate. In most cases this will be 720p60 or possibly 720p50.  
* Both displays must be running at the framerate (refresh rate) as your BMD capture rate. In most cases this will be 720p60 or possibly 720p50.  
* If both displays are not at the same rate, cloning probably won't work.
* If both displays are not at the same rate, cloning probably won't work.
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* Cloning is about setting up both displays so that they show the same content. But in this case you need one to be bigger than the other, and this is the tricky bit. Most of the time you'll end up with the main screen setting itself to 1280x720 but ultimately you'll get it to stay put. The trick is to tell the system that the display on the secondary screen is actually 1920 x 1080 and that your 1280x720 output is a window - a "viewport" - on to it.  
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* Cloning is about setting up both displays so that they show the same content. But in this case you need one to be bigger than the other, and this is the tricky bit. Most of the time you'll end up with the main screen setting itself to 1280x720 but ultimately you'll get it to stay put. The trick is to tell the system that the display on the secondary screen is actually 1920 x 1080 and that your 1280x720 output is a window - a "viewport" - on to the centre of it.  
Here's a run-down of the settings you will probably end up with:
Here's a run-down of the settings you will probably end up with:
An advantage of the simpler systems described above is that they are potentially more reliable as they are not doing as much (Wirecast does a lot more than we are using in this setup).
An advantage of the simpler systems described above is that they are potentially more reliable as they are not doing as much (Wirecast does a lot more than we are using in this setup).
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If you take a file recorded by Wirecast and run it up in the file analyser in FCP, you will find an interesting thing: FCP will note that there appear to have been dropped frames. Looking at the error list it will show a (large) number of frames with different lengths. Telestream, who market Wirecast, say that what Wirecast does is to vary the frame duration to ensure smooth motion, and that this is actually fine, and that in a given period you will get around the correct number of frames - they just won't all be same same duration. The less charitable way of putting it is that what's actually happening is that WC is dropping frames and they're not admitting it – but this way of handling dropped frames (by making the duration of the adjacent frame equal its duration plus that of the dropped frame) is actually the correct way to do it.  
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=== An Important Additional Stage ===
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If you take a file recorded by Wirecast and run it up in the file analyser in Final Cut Pro (Tools -> Analyse), you will discover an interesting thing: FCP will note that there appear to have been dropped frames. Looking at the error list it will show a (large) number of frames with different lengths. Telestream, who market Wirecast, say that what Wirecast does is to vary the frame duration to ensure smooth motion, that what you see in the analyser is actually fine, and that in a given period you will get around the correct number of frames - they just won't all be same same duration. The less charitable way of putting it is that what's actually happening is that WC is dropping frames and they're not admitting it – but in any event, this way of handling dropped frames (by making the duration of the adjacent frame equal its duration plus that of the dropped frame) is actually the correct way to do it.  
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Whatever the explanation, do not try using these files direct in Final Cut Pro as there will be resulting duration errors and edits will appear to mysteriously move about. Instead, fix the files first by running them through Compressor with the same settings as they came in with so it can clean them up.  
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Whatever the explanation, ''do not try using these files direct in Final Cut Pro'' as there will be resulting duration errors and edits will appear to mysteriously move about. Instead, ''fix the files first'' by running them through Compressor with the same settings as they came in with so it can clean them up.  
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On the other hand, if you capture with the QT7 or MEdia Express methods described above there are no dropped frames (in fact you can have Media Express stop if there are any!) - but you still require a Compressor session to change the frame rate and in the meantime the amount of disc space you eat up is enormous and you need a respectably fast system to cope with it. Plus the audio side suddenly becomes a lot more complex.
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On the other hand, if you capture with the QT7 or Media Express methods described above there are no dropped frames (in fact you can have Media Express stop if there are any!) - but you still require a Compressor session to change the frame rate, and in the meantime the amount of disc space you eat up is enormous and you need a respectably fast system to cope with it. Plus the audio side suddenly becomes a lot more complex (at least, it does if you use Media Express, as the only way of getting audio into the recording is to bring it in through the card's audio input sockets).
=== BMD Card Preferences ===
=== BMD Card Preferences ===
=== Wirecast Configuration ===
=== Wirecast Configuration ===
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Open Wirecast. We'll assume WC4 here but it is fairly similar on WC3. However, WC3 does not support the Blackmagic cards, so in this case you would need some other way of getting video into the system, eg Firewire video conversion devices. The good news is that WC 3.0.4 does not have the problems that are described in the "Alternatives" section above.
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Open Wirecast. We'll assume WC4 here but it is fairly similar on WC3. However, WC3 does not support the Blackmagic cards, so in this case you would need some other way of getting video into the system, eg Firewire video conversion devices. The good news is that WC 3.0.4 (''not'' the last 3.x version) only suffers the problems that are described in the "Alternatives" section above at a relatively low level.
    
    
* With the main screen displayed, from the Layout menu select Master Audio, Main Shot List, and Layer Panel.
* With the main screen displayed, from the Layout menu select Master Audio, Main Shot List, and Layer Panel.
* Under File, set Aspect Ratio to 720p
* Under File, set Aspect Ratio to 720p
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* Under Sources, choose Show Sources Settings. In the window that appears, click on the Intensity Pro card and set its format to one of the HD 720p framerates that your Video Source machine supports. This is probably 720p50 or 720p60. There are actually only three 720p formats the card supports: the other one is 720p59.94. I was only able to use 720p60 due to limitations of my source system. Click Save. You should be seeing a little green light to the left of the card in the left of the Source settings window and you may even see video if you have anything at the right spec coming into the card. Close the window.
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* Under Sources, choose Show Sources Settings. In the window that appears, click on the Intensity Pro card and set its format to one of the HD 720p framerates that your Video Source machine is running at. This is probably 720p50 or 720p60, and it depends entirely on the settings you chose in that NVIDIA control panel on the XP machine and what works with your monitor(s). There are actually only three 720p formats the card supports: the other one is 720p59.94. I was only able to use 720p60 due to limitations of my source system's displays. Click Save. You should be seeing a little green light to the left of the card in the left of the Source settings window and you may even see video if you have anything at the right spec coming into the card. Close the window.
* Under Broadcast, select Broadcast Settings. For the Encoder Preset you will need to edit an existing preset until it looks like this:
* Under Broadcast, select Broadcast Settings. For the Encoder Preset you will need to edit an existing preset until it looks like this:
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[[File:ProResWCEncoder.jpg]]
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[[File:ProResWCEncoder2.png|350px|thumb|Wirecast Encoder Preset]]
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For Audio I chose MPEG-4 Audio and Best Quality. It won't let you save at higher than 44.1 sample rate, not 48. Odd. Save the Encoder Preset under a reasonable name, then select it as the active Encoder Preset. I called it "720p23.976". Set the Destination to "Record to Disk" and choose the file location. This includes a default filename: check "Auto increment filenames" and it will add a numeric suffix for each file recorded. Make sure that all the stuff you just set up appears in the window at the top of the panel and then click Save. In fact, all you have done here is to set up an Encoder Preset, because if you had wanted to set WC up for broadcast live streaming, this would not be the settings you would use. But just bear in mind that Wirecast is designed both to capture to disc ''and'' to stream live, so if you want live programmes to be in your future, here is where you set up how to talk to your streaming server.
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For Audio I chose MPEG-4 Audio and Best Quality. It won't let you save at higher than 44.1 sample rate, not 48. Odd. Save the Encoder Preset under a reasonable name, then select it as the active Encoder Preset. I called it "720p23.976". Set the Destination to "Record to Disk" and choose the file location. This includes a default filename: check "Auto increment filenames" and it will add a numeric suffix for each file recorded. Make sure that all the stuff you just set up appears in the window at the top of the panel and then click Save. In fact, all you have done here is to set up an Encoder Preset, because if you had wanted to set WC up for broadcast live streaming, these would not be the settings you would use. But just bear in mind that Wirecast is designed both to capture to disc ''and'' to stream live, so if you want live programmes to be in your future, here is where you set up how to talk to your streaming server.
To set the Record parameters, click the little hard drive labelled "Record" in the top left of the WC main window and do most of the same thing again, except for the fact that you simply have to select the Encoder Preset that you created earlier. When you click this in future, it will start capturing to disc.  
To set the Record parameters, click the little hard drive labelled "Record" in the top left of the WC main window and do most of the same thing again, except for the fact that you simply have to select the Encoder Preset that you created earlier. When you click this in future, it will start capturing to disc.  
=== Soundflowerbed ===
=== Soundflowerbed ===
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Now go to Soundflowerbed, the little flower icon in the top right of your menu bar. In the top (Soundflower (2ch)) section, choose the output to which your headphones are connected. This is how you hear the other end of the Skype call. This setup assumes you don't hear yourself, which is usual on a Skype call. If you ''do'' want to hear yourself, for example to monitor how you sound on-air, you need a little free application from Rogue Amoeba, the makers of Nicecast and Audio Hijack, which simply allows you to route an input device to an output. Run it up and in the window, select your microphone as the "Input from:" and your headphone source as "Output to:". Then click "Pass Thru" and you should hear yourself.  
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Now go to Soundflowerbed, the little flower icon in the top right of your menu bar. In the top (Soundflower (2ch)) section, choose the output to which your headphones are connected. This is how you hear the other end of the Skype call.  
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This setup assumes you don't hear yourself, which is usual on a Skype call. If you ''do'' want to hear yourself, for example to monitor how you sound on-air, you need a little free application from Rogue Amoeba, the makers of Nicecast and Audio Hijack, called LineIn, which simply allows you to route an input device to an output. Run it up and in the window, select your microphone as the "Input from:" and your headphone source as "Output to:". Then click "Pass Thru" and you should hear yourself.  
What you do ''not'' want to do is to monitor the audio via Wirecast. This is because the processing in Wirecast introduces a slight delay (latency) and you will find it impossible to talk. Turn this off by clicking the headphone icon at the bottom of the bargraph audio meters on the far right of the WC4 main window. The meters should read, however, when you speak into the mic and when you use, for example, Skype Call Testing Service to check the Skype config.
What you do ''not'' want to do is to monitor the audio via Wirecast. This is because the processing in Wirecast introduces a slight delay (latency) and you will find it impossible to talk. Turn this off by clicking the headphone icon at the bottom of the bargraph audio meters on the far right of the WC4 main window. The meters should read, however, when you speak into the mic and when you use, for example, Skype Call Testing Service to check the Skype config.
Bear in mind that if you are participating in the scene being filmed, you will need to get a microphone feed into SL Voice so that the camera sees your lips moving when you speak. You can do this simply or complicatedly: either split the mic feed somehow or, much easier, simply plug some other mic into your PC and set it up as the SL Voice mic. As long as it picks up your voice and nothing else, it'll do the trick - you are not recording it.
Bear in mind that if you are participating in the scene being filmed, you will need to get a microphone feed into SL Voice so that the camera sees your lips moving when you speak. You can do this simply or complicatedly: either split the mic feed somehow or, much easier, simply plug some other mic into your PC and set it up as the SL Voice mic. As long as it picks up your voice and nothing else, it'll do the trick - you are not recording it.
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=== Updating This System ===
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The main issue with this setup is that it requires the Windows machine running the Viewer to be running Windows XP and a very old version of the NVIDIA Control Panel. At some point, the old NVIDIA driver you need for this purpose will become incompatible with the latest Viewer, and no doubt the latest Viewer will be required to be able to see the latest sights in SL - such as Server Side Baking and Materials (actually we are fine so far - July 2013 - but it surely won't be forever). You will need to use a Black Magic (BMD) Intensity card or similar, and Wirecast 4.x or later.
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The problem is that you cannot do a Viewport arrangement (ie a smaller screen that displays the central part of a larger screen) on an NVIDIA card with Windows 7 or later. You can do a cloned display, but in this case the screens must have identical specs (resolution and refresh). Here is the bare bones of a way around the problem - I'll flesh it out later, all being well. In essence, you clone a 1080p display and capture it on the Macintosh with Wirecast, and use Wirecast to crop and zoom the 720p centre of the display and capture it.
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Note that this is a fairly standard setting to achieve on any multi-screen Windows graphics card so the following will work for cards other than NVIDIA, too.
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'''Screen Settings'''. First of all, set up a cloned display profile so that your main 1920x1080 screen is cloned on to your BMD card. If your screen is larger than this you can set its resolution to 1080p - if it's smaller this will not work. The idea is that your BMD card captures ''the entire 1080p screen'' that will be displaying the Viewer, and that you can also see this on your main screen.
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You may want to use a utility such as UltraMon to enable you to save different settings profiles so that you keep your one for normal use as well as this special one for in-world videography.
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It's important to set a frame rate that is common to the BMD card and to your displays, and this will probably be 1080p30, ie 1920x1080 display, 30Hz refresh on the Windows side and 1080p30 in Wirecast. Set this up on the Windows machine and turn to the Mac.
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'''Wirecast Settings''' In Wirecast, choose Sources > Show Source Settings and click on the Intensity Pro card under CaptureCards. This will show you what the BMD card is currently set to and a pop-up menu lets you change it. If you are set up as discussed in the main body of this article, you will be set to "HD 720p60". Change this to "HD 1080p30" and Save. Close the Source Settings window. You should see the entire Windows screen in the Wirecast window at this point.
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In the main Wirecast window, double click on the video capture layer under Master Layers and double-click on the little screen next to it screen that will probably be labelled "Intensity Pro_1". This opens the Shot Editing window for the Intensity Pro card's output. Select the Intensity Pro mini-panel under the main one and then click on the cropping symbol third from the left under the right of the big screen. This will reveal four cropping sliders, Left, Right, Top and Bottom. Set Left and Right to 320 and Top and Bottom to 180. You are cropping a 1920x1080 screen to 1280x720, and this gives you a central window. If the active area you want to capture is not central, you may need to tweak this, but always keep the sum of Left and Right to 640 and the sum of Top and Bottom to 360 to ensure that you are cropped exactly down to 1280 x 720. You should see in the preview window that you are now cropped to 1280x720 but that the image occupies only the centre of the window, with a transparent background (pale grey grid) around it.
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Now click the angled screen button immediately to the left of the crop symbol. This is the Visual Effects tab. All you should need to do here is to click on "Scale To Fit" and at this point you should see the image on the screen zoom in to fill the window. Close the edit window. Choose Save As in Wirecast to save the configuration. You may find when you load it next time that  you need to do the Scale To Fit again.
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And that's it - for the video at least.
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'''Audio Configuration''' The audio, however, is another matter. With the latest version of the Macintosh OS, SoundFlower and SoundFlowerBed are broken, and as a result the configuration described above is no longer possible. In my case I have moved to mixing the audio entirely external to the computer, with a small analogue mixer and a 2-in, 2-out USB audio interface. The configuration is as follows:
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MICROPHONE: Amplify this to line level, eg with a mic preamp (I use a "Voice Channel" with preamp, EQ and comp/limiter). Split the output into two. Take one path to the Line In socket of the Macintosh and the other to a mono channel of the mixer. In Skype, set the Mac Line In as the Microphone source for calls. This arrangement provides the mixer (which is the audio source for Wirecast) with a feed from your microphone while also feeding the mic signal to Skype so your confederates can hear you.
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SKYPE: In Skype, set the output as your audio interface. (I use an M-Audio Fast Track Pro but any 2-in, 2-out unit should do.) Take the analogue output of the interface to another input channel on the mixer. This feeds the other people on the call to Wirecast and also lets you hear them.
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IN-WORLD SOUND: Bring stereo audio from the computer running the Viewer into a stereo channel on the mixer.
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MONITORING: You monitor the audio being fed to Wirecast via the headphone monitor output on the mixer. This enables you to hear all the audio sources mentioned above.
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AUDIO TO WIRECAST: Take the stereo mixer output to the input of the audio interface and choose this as your audio source when setting up the audio aspect of the shot (see above).
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'''Livecast Settings''' Note that you can use this setup in a similar way with Livecast Procaster, should you ever need to: Set the Windows machine up as described and in Procaster edit the settings as follows: Input Source to 1080p30, then in Preferences > Video set output resolution to 1280 x 720 and then click Cropping and once again set left and right to 320 and top and bottom to 180. Note that in my case the preview screen in the Cropping setup lied about how the image was being cropped, but the numbers get it right.

Current revision as of 17:34, 24 July 2013

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