Requirements - NewTek Forums

Requirements - NewTek Forums
Many people want to use Skype to bring in a remote talent to use during production. While there are
many solutions on how this can be done, this paper will explain a method that will allow you connect a
single Skype session into a TriCaster and send a return feed of the entire production back to the Skype
user. The unique aspect of this method is that it works completely over Ethernet so no additional video
hardware is required.
The methods described below are built on top of previous white papers that I’ve written. While you
don’t need these white papers to make it work, it might be helpful to go through them first. Once you
understand what is happening in those papers, these workflows will be easier to understand. Starting
with TriCaster rev 2-2-131211 these white papers can be found on your TriCaster by going on the Home
screen to Help > Addenda. The two papers you want to read are named:
iVGA Pro and Audio Loopback
Real-time encoding using VLC
Some of the software needed is commercial, there are trial versions available so you can do all of your
testing to make sure it works before you purchase. The software will cost about $50 US.
A TriCaster XD410, XD460, XD860 or XD8000 system.
Another computer that will be the Skype system running on Windows 7 64-bit. This system
should have at least an Intel i5 processor to handle real-time media processing.
VLC Media Player v2.0.2
E2ESoft’s ‘VCam’ Virtual Camera software
E2ESoft’s ‘VSC’ Virtual Sound Card software
Skype for Windows
NewTek’s iVGA Pro
Gigabit network between the systems being used.
VLC Media Player is going to receive a video/audio stream from the TriCaster. It will then output the
video to the VCam application and the audio to VSC application to get the feed into Skype. The plug-in
that is needed by VCam is designed to work with VLC v2.0.2 and does not appear to work with later
versions of VLC. Here is a link to download VLC 2.0.2.
VCam is the software that will allow us to connect video from VLC to the Skype webcam input. Do not
purchase this software until you have tested it and determine that it works for your needs. The trial
version will have a watermark on the webcam output.
If you need to download the VLC plug-in for VCam, below is the link. This plug-in should install
automatically with the main VCam installer and this separate download should not be needed.
Virtual Sound Card (VSC) is used to get audio into and out of Skype, you can download the trial software
at the link below. If you are already using Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) on your system it is possible to use
it in place of VSC (instructions on how to use VAC are found at the end of this document). Do not
purchase this software until you have tested it and determined that it works for your needs. The trial
version of VSC will say ‘trial’ on the audio channel every few seconds.
Skype can be downloaded from the Skype website.
iVGA Pro is a free tool available from NewTek. It allows you to display anything on your computer
desktop into a NET input on the TriCaster system. iVGA Pro is required because it supports audio. If you
already have iVGA Pro, make sure you check the version you are using, latency reductions were
introduced starting in v1.0.0.32. You can download the latest version of iVGA Pro under the ‘Codecs and
Utilities’ category from this link.
Application Workflow
Here are how all of these applications are going to work together. This paper will take you step by step
on what you need to configure to make this happen, but these diagrams will help you understand the
data flow from one application to the next.
TriCaster to Skype Workflow:
Skype to TriCaster Workflow:
Install Skype and iVGA Pro. Then, install VLC; finally install VCam and Virtual Sound Card software. Use
the default install settings for all of the applications.
Software Configuration
Let first setup the Virtual Sound Card software. Open the ‘e2esoft VSC’ tool found in the Start menu.
From the window that opens, click on the ‘Option’ button and in the window that appears click on the
‘Driver’ tab. Set the Instance count to ‘2’ and press OK to close the window. After you change this
setting, close the application. Wait a few moments for the new driver to register into the operating
system and reopen e2eSoft VSC again.
Now that there are two virtual soundcard in the system, let set them up. In the main VSC interface, set
the number of transfer channels to two and then set them as shown in the image below.
Now press the >> icons on each audio channel to start them up. You can now minimize this software,
but do not close it as it needs to be running for the audio transfers to take place.
Now let’s configure VLC. Launch VLC and from the ‘Tools’ menu, choose ‘Preferences’.
In the window that appears, choose the Video category on the left side of the window, and then set the
Output to ‘e2eSoft VCam’
Now select the ‘Audio’ category on the left side of the window and set the Output module to ‘DirectX
audio output’, then set the Device to ‘Speaker #2 (e2eSoft VAudio)’.
Now let us configure VCam to work with the output of VLC. Run ‘e2eSoft VCam’ from the start menu.
In the VCam Manager application, click the ‘Options’ menu. In the Options window choose the Camera
Settings. Set the Default video size to 852x480. You can play with different options to find the best
resolution for your system, but this value is a good starting point. Also make sure the default video
frame rate matches the video standard that you are using.
Once you have configured the Camera Settings, click on okay. From the main VCam Manager window,
select the ‘Source’ option and from the drop down menu, choose ‘External Source’.
The External Video Source screen will appear. Press the ‘Start’ button to active VCam. You can now
minimize VCam, but do not close the application or it will shut down the video processing function we
need it to do.
Now that we have VCam running, we need to configure Skype’s webcam and audio devices. Open Skype
and from the ‘Tools’ menu, select ‘Options’. From the ‘Audio Settings’ menu on the left, set the
Microphone to ‘Line in #2 (e2eSoft VAudio)’ and set the Speakers to ‘Speaker (e2eSoft VAudio)’.
Now select the ‘Video settings’ from the options list and for your webcam choose ‘e2eSoft VCam’.
Transfer media from TriCaster to Skype
Now that we have the applications
configured, lets perform the actions
need to get a video and audio feed
from TriCaster to Skype.
Open your TriCaster session and click
the gear found on the program output
window. In the Output Settings
window, activate the checkbox called
‘Network’. Under the video dropdown
you can choose what channel you
want to return to the Skype user. If
you want them to see the program
output, leave it set on ‘Follow 1’.
However some people might find it
easier to talk if they always see the
head shot of the show host continuously on Skype, so another option is to set it to a camera input.
From the audio dropdown list, select Aux 1, 2 as the audio channel.
We also need to configure the audio output
for the Skype user. Most people have a
difficult time speaking if they hear their own
voice delayed. To avoid this problem we
want to create a mix-minus setup in the
TriCaster audio mixer. This will allow the
Skype user to hear all audio except their own
voice. In our example we are going use NET2
for the Skype input, click on the gear on
NET2 in the audio mixer. In the Audio
Configuration panel, under Routing, uncheck
the ‘A, B - Aux 1’ checkbox. All other
channels that you want sent to the Skype
user need to have Aux 1 checked, which is
the default for all audio channels in a
TriCaster session.
TriCaster is now sending out a signal, go to
your Skype system and open up VLC. From
the VLC interface, choose Open Network
In the window that opens, type in the URL of
your TriCaster system exactly as shown from
the Network URL in the TriCaster Output Configuration Window.
Click the checkbox called ‘Show more options’. The
window will expand showing you additional controls.
Find the one called Caching and change its value to
zero. This will make VLC play the video with as little
latency as possible. Some system might need some
cache, so if you are having drop outs in the network
video feed, then increase this value, but keep it as
small as possible. The larger this value, the more
latency will be introduced on Skype return feed.
Now press the Play button and VLC will start
receiving the stream and the VCam plug-in will send
it to the VCam application. Do not worry if the video
shown in the VLC application has distorted colors, it
will still be correctly displayed in the VCam app.
At this point, the rest of the
applications should be doing their
work. If you look at the VCam app,
you will see video showing up in its
display. If it isn’t showing, try
pressing the ‘Stop’ button and then
restart the External Source in the
VCam Manager application. If you
open up the Webcam preferences in
Skype, you will see the video show
up as well.
You can minimize VLC and VCam and
they will continue to send video from
TriCaster to Skype.
Transfer media from Skype into TriCaster
Now we need to open up iVGA Pro and set it to pull in the correct
information from Skype and sent it to TriCaster.
Select the Destination on your TriCaster that you want to Skype to
show up in. In out example we will be using NET2.
Set the Audio Source to ‘Line In (e2eSoft VAudio)’ at the bottom of
the window.
Then press the Send button and you will see your computer desktop
appear in the NET2 input on TriCaster.
Now start your Skype session, once you have your talent visible in
Skype, display your Skype video call full screen for the highest
resolution possible. Your talent should be able to see and hear
everything happening on your TriCaster program output (except for hearing themselves).
If you look on TriCaster’s NET2 input you will see the Skype video and audio coming in. Since the audio
for NET2 is only routed to Program out, everyone else will hear the audio from the Skype user.
Skype does display a PIP overlay of the source webcam on its screen. If you click on this overlay it will
shrink to its smallest size, but it isn’t possible to remove the PIP overlay. You can place it in the other
corners of the screen, so position it where it will be least visible. Also you can put the NET2 input into a
M/E and use the positional controls to crop or resize the NET2 input to remove the PIP portion of the
image if needed.
Congratulations! You now have TriCaster and Skype working with each other.
Other Workflow Solutions
This workflow isn’t just limited to compatibility with Skype, but it will work with any application that is
expecting a webcam as an input. For example, Google Hangouts is a video chat platform that people are
interested in connecting to TriCaster and these same tools will allow operation with it. Another
possibility is to feed the webcam input of conferencing solutions like WebEx or GoToMeeting.
It doesn’t have to be a two directional transfer of media either, if you need the ability to stream to more
than one CDN, you can use the ‘TriCaster to Skype’ workflow to route content into Adobe Flash Media
Live Encoder for a secondary streaming output. Some CDN’s also have their own streaming app for their
service and this would allow you to feed into these applications as well.
These tools can also be used to play media files from VLC through iVGA Pro into a TriCaster NET input.
By configuring iVGA Pro’s Video Source to ‘e2eSoft VCam’ and the Audio Source to the matching VLC
audio output device you will have iVGA Pro setup to receive any file or stream that you play in VLC,
which in turn will be sent to a TriCaster NET input. This would give you the ability to use VLC as a
manually controlled media player routed directly into your TriCaster.
Setting for Best Quality and Lowest Latency
Skype’s video isn’t designed for interlace video signals, when possible use either 1080p or 720p session
video format for the best image quality. If a 1080i session format is required and the #2 video output
channel isn’t being used, you can configure this channel to send out a 720 progressive format and set
your Network output to ‘Follow 2’. There is also a De-Interlace option at the bottom of the Network
output drop down list, use this option if a interlace session format must be used and the #2 output isn’t
available. The higher frame rates of the 720p format might help slightly for reducing latency in the
overall workflow.
The amount of latency on the network output can vary each time you connect to it. You can get an idea
of the latency by looking at the TriCaster program output and see how long before it is visible in VLC
player. If it seems higher than usual, reconnect the Network Stream in VLC Player to see if it sets up
with lower latency. Reconnecting the VLC Network Stream will cause a short disruption in the Skype
return video feed, but it will not disconnect the Skype call. It’s best to check this before your production,
in case you want to perform this reconnection. The latency can vary slightly over time, but its best to try
to start with the lowest latency stream from the beginning.
Bandwidth is another factor you need to take into account. If you are streaming along with performing
a Skype video call, you need to have adequate network bandwidth. Skype doesn’t have controls to limit
its bandwidth usage and can go up to 1.5Mbit/s in both directions (see Skype bandwidth usage). Usually
downstream isn’t an issue, but upstream bandwidth can be congested with all of this network traffic. If
enough upstream bandwidth isn’t available, it can cause stuttering video or even dropping of the
network stream. If you need to relieve some upstream bandwidth, you can try adjusting the VCam
Manager’s Camera Settings (shown on page 5). The default resolution we setup in this document is
852x480, but you can choose a lower resolution which should lower the amount of bandwidth used by
Skype. In a worst case scenario, you might need to perform an audio only call out to your Skype client
and have them send video/audio back to the TriCaster.
The CPU performance for the Skype system can also be a factor. The VCam plug-in is CPU intensive to
perform the real-time media processing, having a CPU with multiple cores is desired so that all of the
applications will have enough performance to operate. If you are using iVGA Pro at the same time, this
can stress the GPU on the system, having a good performance graphics card can be important as well.
Make sure you perform testing using the entire workflow at the settings you will typically be using to
make sure the system can keep up. Testing has been performed on a laptop with an Intel i5 2.5GHz Dual
Core CPU and it was fast enough to keep up with the entire workflow. If the system can’t keep up you
can look at lowering some of the settings. Adjusting the virtual Camera Settings in VCam or sending a SD
resolution Network output from the TriCaster (using the down convert on output #2) are two
adjustments that can help. If you are using other applications in place of Skype, perform testing with
that application. For example, GoToMeeting uses more CPU power for its webcam video encoding than
what Skype uses, so a more powerful system will be required.
Virtual Audio Cable
If you have already purchased Virtual Audio Cable from my previous white paper about getting audio
loopback working with iVGA Pro, you can use it in place of VSC so you don’t have to purchase a different
audio loopback solution.
All you need to do is create a second audio cable, which can be done in the ‘Virtual Audio Cable Control
Panel’ application. You do need to have administrator privileges to be able to make these changes.
From the Start menu, find the Virtual Audio Cable program group, but instead of left clicking on VAC
Control Panel, right click on it instead and from the menu that appears, choose the option ‘Run as
Administrator’. You will need to confirm that you are an administrator and then the VAC Control Panel
will open. In the Control Panel window, set the number of cables to ‘2’ and then press the ‘Set’ button.
You will now have a Line 1 and a Line 2 audio cable available for use.
Set Line 1 to work with iVGA Pro Audio Source and the Skype Speaker output. Use Line 2 for the
Microphone input of Skype and VLC’s DirectX audio output.
If your soundcard supports native audio loopback, you will still need to purchase VSC for the
TriCaster/Skype workflow to operate. We need to have two sound channels running through the system
to get separate audio from VLC to Skype and then Skype to iVGA Pro. Your native sound card audio
loopback can work in place of the Skype to iVGA Pro connection, but you will still need VSC to handle the
VLC to Skype audio connection.
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