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View Full Version : Would like to capture latest working Skype/Tricaster Configurations...



jmmultex
03-06-2012, 03:51 PM
I know this topic appears in a variety of places throughout these forums, but with various updates to TriCaster/Skype/Windows/Mac fronts, its hard to know what configurations are still current, which are HD vs SD, Mac vs PC, iVGA vs Capture card, etc.

It might be useful (and I would certainly appreciate it) if others could post what kinds of setup they currently use for Skype. It might be useful to capture this all in one place as reference with details, so people know that what is here is current and working in someones studio.

Points that might be valuable to capture are:

Computer System Used [MacPro, Dell Core2 Duo, etc]
OS (eg Windows 7, OS X Lion, etc)
Version of Skype (it seems things break version to version)
Capture Hardware (if any) [Intensity Pro, DeckLink DVI<->SDI Adapter, etc]
Capture Driver version (if Any)
Wiring Diagrams
Cameras used on Remote side
If it's configured for HD or SD
Audio Routing setup
TriCaster Model Used
Anything else that seems important...


I am starting a new show and am rebuilding the Skype setup in my studio. I plan on using an Intensity Pro card in a Mac running Lion and the most current version of Skype. Since the Intensity Pro is analog, I will be doing Component HD in to Skype from a TriCaster 850 (Aux Out) and will bring the Component HD out from Skype back in to Camera 1. I am running the audio through a Mackie 16-4VLZ mixer (with mix-) and bringing it in to the Tricaster via 2 audio inputs - 1 for each side of the conversation.

When I have this up and running, I'll post details with version numbers, patch diagrams, etc, and give my impression on how well it works - assuming it does... :-)

If everyone feels this is simply redundant, I'll ask to have this thread deleted so as not to confuse things or clutter up the board.

Best
John

jmmultex
03-08-2012, 11:03 AM
I haven't had any luck getting the Skype system integrated into my studio.
I had initially looked to build it using a Mac Pro I had available. Unfortunately, the slots in the system aren't compatible with the Intensity Pro card. I trust Mac's, so that was a disappointment.

I then took the Dell Precision Workstation that I use as an external encoding system and tried installing it in there - looking to make it into a dual use system. The install itself went fine, but I still haven't gotten it to play nicely with Skype. By this point, I decided to go "tools down" on this and give myself a chance to do a little more research.

I will continue working on this - I need it for a new show - but wanted to provide an update so you guys didn't think I just abandoned the effort...

P.S. -

The best thing about the TriCaster is that it just works, as described, reliably and consistently. This experience only reinforces why Newtek tells us not to install anything 'foreign' - software or hardware - into the box:

If you give a PC the chance to screw up, it will take it every time. :D

-john

joseburgos
03-10-2012, 05:53 AM
Hello John,
Does the Blackmagic Decklink card show up as a video source in Skype? Even if Intensity Pro, it shows up as Decklink as a FYI.
I am not in the office but I know from loging in remotely that I am using Skype version 5.1.0.112 and I have the Decklink card as a video option. I only see black because I have nothing connected to my Intensity Pro card. Windows 7 64bit is my OS in case you need that.
Next week I'll make time to feed video and test this but last time I used it, maybe a month ago, it worked fine. Also I'm not sure but I think I had to start feeding it SD signals and also make sure I configured the Blackmagic Design control panel settings to be SD for it to work. I think this was necessary when I changed my Skype version.
This is all from memory so take it with a grain of salt.
Hope I can be of better service next week when I'm in front of the unit.

PS I remember reading the Skype forum that you need to edit the XML Skype config file to except HD video as only pre-approved HD web cams automatically are recognized. Again this is going from memory and this is from a year ago as I've been using Intensity Pro cards for Skype for at least two years if not more.

Take care,

joseburgos
03-10-2012, 06:10 AM
I also remember way back using SplitCam;
http://www.splitcamera.com/
Its a free program that routes video capture cards to its own driver but I remember using it for FMLE though.

I have been looking into Vidigo Toolbox;
http://www.vidigo.tv/products/vidigo-toolbox/
Its price is around $640 and although a little on the high price side. I have not demo'd it yet but the demo videos look like it would do the job.

Take care,

Lee-AVP
03-10-2012, 08:24 AM
We use Splitcam. I'm not sure what it is in Skype that makes it picky about video sources, but Splitcam makes any source Windows recognizes available to Skype. We only have Skype integrated in SD, though. I don't yet have an hd capture box for our Skype laptop, but I expect to be getting an Ultrastudio SDI and giving that a go soon.

GeekNews
03-10-2012, 10:56 AM
I built a dual skype system a couple of years ago that works great.

http://leoville.com/the-skypesaurus-story

At some point I am going to update it, but for now it works fine. If someone gets a mac mini configuration working would love to see the build out list.

jmmultex
03-11-2012, 04:22 PM
Thanks Guys,

I will try and get my own config running and documented, and I will also try to formally document configurations everyone posts here.

I am going to start my own efforts over again from a clean OS install, and I'll see how far I get.

I appreciate the details you've shared here.

-John

cuspclub
03-11-2012, 06:08 PM
Thanks for your efforts John. I think this will be a very useful thread.

jmmultex
03-12-2012, 01:53 PM
Jose - thanks for your suggestions. I look forward to any additional information you may have, and welcome any advice you can offer.

My plan right now: I ordered a Decklink SDI card, and will try and get that to work - first as SDI with embedded audio (not holding my breath on that) and, failing that, as SDI with analog audio. If I end up with too many sync problems with a split analog/digital pathway, I'll go back to the Intensity Pro and try setting up an 'all analog' path again.

How I want to use this: I have been in the NYC startup scene for over 20 years, and I'm looking at developing a new show targeting aspiring and early stage tech entrepreneurs. One aspect of the show is conducting interviews with both VC's and successful entrepreneurs that I know. Another is to have live 'video call-in' shows with more of a Q&A or Problem/Advice flavor. All of this is being built around a TriCaster 850 and will be done using virtual sets and Skype connectivity. Since the community I am targeting is so tech savvy, having the ability to be HD in every aspect of the production is both desired and certainly achievable -the most current MacBook pros have HD Webcams built in and nobody I deal with is starved for bandwidth.

I just need to get this system figured out and operating.

The Decklink card should arrive tomorrow, so I've got my fingers crossed I can get it setup and working. I'll let everyone know where I get to...

I appreciate everyone's support here.
-john

PS - This is the first TriCaster based production I am doing solo. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I figure the best way to do that is just to jump in and go for it.

I'll try to share as much of this experience as people have an interest in.

PIZAZZ
03-12-2012, 03:27 PM
John,

I would focus on getting the Skype out of the receiver box at the highest quality into the 850. SDI would allow you to do this (if it works) been a while since I tested desktop out of the SDI on the Decklink. You also can simply take the DVI/HDMI out of the receiving Skype computer and hit a HDMI to SDI convertor for the TriCaster.

On the remote Skype PCs, I have set them up with Small Form Factor PCs with Decklink SDI input cards. Sony EX1 cameras to the SFF PC via SDI looked great. Hack Skype to always stay in HD and you are golden.

Then the key we found was on the receiver PC, do NOT FULL Screen it. Try to let Skype display the native pixels. Use the cropping and scaling capabilities of the Virtual inputs on TriCaster to resize it to a full screen if need be.

Another note: Feed the program or Aux video out of TriCaster back into a video input card on the Receiver Skype PCs so the person Skyping in can see what is on the air. (more or less)

You should of course be creating a mix/minus audio feed for those remote Skype in people too. If you figure out how to pull the Skype Receivers into TriCaster via SDI then doing a mix minus is going to be trickier than just doing it all analog with a Mackie mixer.

Oh yeah, work in a 720p project to minimize any scaling. 1080i is not really relevant if your main destination is streaming video.

That is what I have for now. I need to do some testing with Decklinks for another similar project. I will let you if I run into anything weird over the next few days.

PIZAZZ
03-12-2012, 03:35 PM
[QUOTE=jmmultex;1228156]-the most current MacBook pros have HD Webcams built in and nobody I deal with is starved for bandwidth.

QUOTE]


I just read this last post again. So are you planning on the remote Skyping in guests to just use MacBooks? Guess it depends on your budget. If you don't have the budget to build out dedicated SkypeIN kits, then up the quality of the video camera for sure. The Logitech C910 really rocks for a low cost USB in camera.


oh oh, one other thing, at the very least check out the following link and buy these http://www.bodelin.com/se2e/ for your remote people. This allows them to talk to the person they are connecting to instead of you always having to talk to the top of someone's head.

http://www.bodelin.com/se2e/front1.jpg

jmmultex
03-12-2012, 03:51 PM
Jeff,

Thanks for the detailed advice here. I will dig in to the Skype config files to see what needs to be done to force them into HD mode. I would love to keep everything SDI - would simplify the cabling and maximize the quality (rare for the easiest way to be the best).

Regarding going with 720p - I am looking to do the call-in shows live (much better engagement when you have people listening to what others are saying and getting the chance to interact more as a community instead of one-to-one). That said, I would like to maintain the highest quality possible for the recording. I was planning on doing the Skype calls at 720p, and the overall show as 1080i - mixing the 720p as a feed into the virtual sets.

I've put together some sketches on what I'll be trying, and have folded in your advice now. I'll adjust them to the reality of what eventually works, pretty them up, and upload them...

Thanks!
-john

jmmultex
03-12-2012, 03:56 PM
...at the very least check out the following link and buy these http://www.bodelin.com/se2e/ for your remote people

I have two of them - I absolutely love them for just that reason - eye contact!

Thanks...

-john

PIZAZZ
03-12-2012, 03:57 PM
I was planning on doing the Skype calls at 720p, and the overall show as 1080i - mixing the 720p as a feed into the virtual sets.
-john


Is this going to be distributed via Cable or Broadcast TV?

Is this program primarily streaming either live or VOD?


IF it is the latter then stick with everything in 720p. I was told by someone in engineering at NewTek that if you are streaming in 720p then your session would be best to work in 720p also. There would be zero advantage operating your session in 1080i. Considering who told me this, I took this to heart.

jmmultex
03-12-2012, 05:43 PM
Distribution for this will be all web based - streamed live, streamed via a YouTube channel, and downloaded (via iTunes and other sources).

I will definitely take your advice to heart. 720p would probably hold the detail I want this show to have, and might be a good compromise between the needs of streaming delivery and that of downloads. I will do some experiments to see how the 720p looks, especially with delivery on the new iPad (with the 2048x1540 resolution), and will definitely go with it if it appears acceptable.

I know that images compressed with adaptive web codecs depend on both spatial and temporal resolution to produce a good image. It could be that the lower spatial capture of 720p could make for a better temporal resolution as it streams, and give me a better overall image.

Ultimately, quality isn't in the numbers - its in the image.

Thanks for this advice...

-john

PIZAZZ
03-13-2012, 08:28 AM
Distribution for this will be all web based - streamed live, streamed via a YouTube channel, and downloaded (via iTunes and other sources).... I will do some experiments to see how the 720p looks, especially with delivery on the new iPad (with the 2048x1540 resolution),

If it is web based then go 720p all the way. Trust me it will make your life easier only having to deal with one consistent resolution. Especially since HD on the web commonly tops out at 720p.

On the new iPad res comment, personally I would not be that concerned with that. 720p should still look great and the bottom line is to encode and stream to the many not the select few. Handheld/Tablet devices are still only part of the overall streaming final destination. Stick with a format that as many devices as possible can view it effortlessly. It will be a long time before we need to worry about filling up pixel for pixel the iPad3.

jmmultex
03-13-2012, 05:06 PM
I wanted to post a quick update:

- Received the DeckLink SDI and installed it.
- Edited the Skype CONFIG.XML file to include <CaptureWidth>1280</CaptureWidth> and <CaptureHeight>720</CaptureHeight> to the <Video> section.
- Took Aux SDI from TriCaster (set to 720p SDI) as input on the DL SDI
- Took SDI Out on the DeckLink SDI and sent that back to Camera 8 on the TriCaster (Camera set for 720p SDI)
- Configured Skype video to 720p60 (They don't show a 720p30 as an option)

This configuration did not work at all. No video across a Skype call in either direction. I reset the AUX SDI out to 480i, and matched it in the Skype Video Configuration - That showed a video from the TriCaster (Though it would flicker occasionally) and sent it across Skype. The return video from the receiver showed up on the Skype system but didn't mirror across the DeckLink SDI to the TriCaster.

Clearly, I have a lot of work to do here:

- Need to figure out the configuration for 720P video into Skype.
- Need to figure out if it's possible to route the incoming Skype video to the the TriCaster via the Decklink SDI, or if I need to do a mirrored display and feed the video out of a DVI to SDI adapter
- Need to wire up and test all of the audio.

So I do have something working in SD, but not the HD I am looking for. I'm sure there must be some way to get the configuration I want working. I'll do more research and post here when I've made a little more progress.

Thanks again to everyone that has shared their thoughts and suggestions on this.

-john

PIZAZZ
03-13-2012, 05:33 PM
I wanted to post a quick update:

- Received the DeckLink SDI and installed it.
- Edited the Skype CONFIG.XML file to include <CaptureWidth>1280</CaptureWidth> and <CaptureHeight>720</CaptureHeight> to the <Video> section.
- Took Aux SDI from TriCaster (set to 720p SDI) as input on the DL SDI
- Took SDI Out on the DeckLink SDI and sent that back to Camera 8 on the TriCaster (Camera set for 720p SDI)
- Configured Skype video to 720p60 (They don't show a 720p30 as an option)

This configuration did not work at all. No video across a Skype call in either direction. I reset the AUX SDI out to 480i, and matched it in the Skype Video Configuration - That showed a video from the TriCaster (Though it would flicker occasionally) and sent it across Skype. The return video from the receiver showed up on the Skype system but didn't mirror across the DeckLink SDI to the TriCaster.

Clearly, I have a lot of work to do here:

- Need to figure out the configuration for 720P video into Skype.
- Need to figure out if it's possible to route the incoming Skype video to the the TriCaster via the Decklink SDI, or if I need to do a mirrored display and feed the video out of a DVI to SDI adapter
- Need to wire up and test all of the audio.

So I do have something working in SD, but not the HD I am looking for. I'm sure there must be some way to get the configuration I want working. I'll do more research and post here when I've made a little more progress.

Thanks again to everyone that has shared their thoughts and suggestions on this.

-john

Sounds like you are making headway John. BlackMagic cards are finicky to get working. Yes you would want 720p60 I believe set in the Decklink driver. I would suggest forgetting about Skype at first and make the Decklink work with the TriCaster in and out. Then bring Skype into the mix.

joseburgos
03-13-2012, 07:00 PM
Yeah and also getting the Skype out to go back to TriCaster you may need to understand the regular Decklink card only can do one HD and not two. I think only the Extreme or Quadlink cards can do two or more HD signals. I believe if you can figure this out, use the Skype output to be 720P and use the SD 480i to be the Skype web camera device.
Truth be told you are going down a path many of us have never considered which is using the same Decklink card for the in and out. Most of us either use a scan converter or a GPU with video out or iVGA. Oh Decklink DVI Extender also works well but it does not do 1080P only i (don't know how well it does 720P but Jef may).

I wish I had more time to help but I'm swamped with work.

The Skype XML needs more data from Skype themselves to figure it out IMHO.
Did you try SplitCam? I know it works as far as getting the Decklink video to Skype.

Take care,

Lee-AVP
03-13-2012, 08:17 PM
According to BMD, the extender does 720p and 1080p24. So, no to 1080p30 or 60, but you should be able to get 1080 resolution if your video card can do 24p. Which is probably a limiting factor on many desktop cards.

Brian Mirrlees
03-13-2012, 09:45 PM
Take a look at the Matrox Convert DVI and the Convert DVI Plus products.

The Convert DVI Plus has a R O I (Region of Interest) feature for easy re-scaling of embedded media windows of a screen display.

Both are SDI / HD-SDI capable, with HD formats supporting 720p, and 1080i.
As well, both models can be gen-locked to an external reference.


http://www.matrox.com/video/en/products/pc/convert_dvi_family/

jmmultex
03-14-2012, 03:28 AM
Thanks Brian,

The Matrox looks like a great option for feeding Skype back in to the TriCaster.

Unfortunately, this is a 'speculative' production, and I am on a shoestring budget until I can produce some viewer metrics and demographics that could attract a sponsor. (Though I know it isn't expensive, the DeckLink SDI was a reasonable piece of the startup production budget)

That said, I'll see if I can borrow one for evaluation and document how well it could integrate into a TriCaster/Skype solution.

I appreciate the suggestion.

-john

PIZAZZ
03-14-2012, 07:59 AM
Yeah and also getting the Skype out to go back to TriCaster you may need to understand the regular Decklink card only can do one HD and not two. ,

DOH! That's right.

jmmultex
03-14-2012, 08:51 AM
The card has one SDI Input and one SDI output. I'm not sure if they can be used simultaneously or only one at a time.

To look at a more typical scenario for this card - if it's either SDI in or SDI out at any given time, that would mean that if I were using the Decklink SDI with an editor like Premiere, I could either feed my reference monitor or do a video capture, but not both at the same time. It's completely possible that that is the case, though that does seem a bit limiting.

Hmmm... More research to be done.

I need to start finding answers faster then I'm finding questions 8~

-john

BTW - thanks for the suggestion to leave the skype part out for now and just focus on the Decklink setup initially. That's an excellent approach.

jmmultex
03-16-2012, 01:26 PM
Latest update -

Not much in the way of success to report yet.

I have tried two PC system configurations and one Mac configuration, but haven't been able to get a working setup at anything more than SD resolution.

I tried the following PC systems, both running the most current version of Windows 7 Ultimate, set up as completely fresh installs:

System 1: Dell Precision T5400 (Dual Xenon with 8GB) Tried both the DeckLink SDI and Intensity Pro (individually) without any luck. Tried moving the card between the two available PCIe slots in the system (both at 16x and a 4x), but with no change.

System 2: Dell Precision 630 (Older Quad Core System with 4GB) Tried both the DeckLink SDI and Intensity Pro (individually). There is only one PCIe slot in this system (1x)

I couldn't get either system working with Blackmagic's own media capture software, so I know I am dealing with a fundament configuration issue - not an issue with Skype, SplitCam, ManyCam, etc. I fed the system with the output direct from a camera (Sony EX-1) with both analog and SDI video to minimize external complexity.

I also took a flyer and tried a configuration on a Mac Mini (Dual core 2.6GHz - 4GB). This setup paired the Mac Mini with a FW800 attached AJA IO HD connected to the camera via SDI, capturing 720p60. This seemed to work, but ended up somehow downscaling the image when using it with Skype to something worse than SD. I made the required changes to the Skype CONFIG.XML file to tell it I wanted 1280x720 resolution. (in addition to it requiring over $3500 worth of gear to pull off)

I am clearly a bit bummed out by this, but will continue trying to solve the configuration issues on the PC side. I apologize that this is taking more time than anticipated - especially given that I still need to continue trying to make a living in parallel with working on this - but will see where I can get to this weekend.

Thanks for the patience - the goal hasn't changed, just the timetable.

-john

jmmultex
03-18-2012, 05:44 PM
I was finally able to get something working in HD.

The attached image is the video being sent from the TriCaster at 720p59.94 (it isn't 720p60 and won't work at that rate).

The system is a MacPro using the AJA IOHD connected via firewire. I ended up going back to the latest 2.x version of Skype for the Mac. This is the last version that lets you modify the CONFIG.XML file to specify the size and frame rate of the video. (At least it was the latest version that seemed to pay attention to the changes that were made)

I'll document this fully once I have it fully running. I'll then try to get something working with the Blackmagic cards (they are a complete pain in the butt to work with - I'm guessing the 'magic' in their name refers to the apparent lack of repeatable science in getting them to work)

I have some folks that are serious developers that I may bring in to this. From my research, I'm convinced there is a market for a turn-key Skype box that could work in a broadcast setting. Between the Skype and Blackmagic or AJA API's, I could see building a fully considered solution around this in a single purpose box, covering the range of web content people are trying to integrate into video productions.

I'm sensing there is a business here...:D

-john

Vance Willis
03-18-2012, 08:13 PM
John,

This is a project that Mark Johnson (www.studiotech.tv) and I have been working on for going on a year. It is super frustrating and we have tried a ton of things to get it working. We each have multiple Win7 pro machines with BM SDI input cards (I have 5 myself, i3-i7 2600k's). We have Macs of all varieties (airs, MBPros, Minis, & Mac Pros) and we are testing anything that comes our way. We have Skype versions from 4.2 on windows machines to 5.8 beta. 2.8 to 5 on the mac side. Mac XML hacks, etc. We have had bug reports into Skype dev team for 8 months about the issue regarding BM SDI decklink cards with little or no assistance from them so far.

One working solution is using "X-Split Broadcaster" as an intermediate to get HD widescreen video back into Skype on the windows side. It sees the BM SDI and Skype likes it as an input. It is very finicky and they force update versions weekly, but it does work. It also has a "de-interlace" option that helps if you are using 1080i session. It does add delay back into the return video but it is manageable. I will say that it adds frames (or memory bleed) the longer you leave it open (I have for over a week at a time testing).

To assist in matching the frames delay, we use Behringer Sharks to delay the audio to match the video being returned to the call in guest. I am not aware that even TWiT does this but we have found that it is needed to get lip sync correct. We have it nailed to EXACT timing.

Along with a number of other enthusiasts, we have tried a number of "skype" competitors. We now have google hangouts solved and we can send 850 program out and have it (HD) on the Hangout. We tested this on Friday. It offers it's own set of challenges as well! Months ago, I even had Vidyo come to my studio and go over the entire senario that new media broadcasters are facing. No luck. The short story to what we have found is that we are a very small segment of cutting edge pioneers and the economics don't work yet for the big companies to solve this issue, yet. Your thoughts on it being a business venture is certainly valid, albeit an up hill battle. We have fingers crossed that our time at NAB in a few weeks will unveil some new products in this arena. We have seen a few hints and rumors but nothing concrete yet.

So far, Skype is still the best option. We are now in the final testing stages of some thunderbolt input devices and mac minis. Things are looking pretty good so far but we don't want to jinx it until we know 100%. Later this week and into next week we should know more details.

We talk about challenges like this on Fridays on StudioTech Live. We are learning something every week! You'll notice that we address Skype issues about every other week.

Our hopes are to have Computer --->SDI---->VideoHub--->Tricaster 850---->SDI---->(HD Video)--->Skype Return to caller. It has been a journey of TONS of money in product testing and hundreds of hours!

We welcome others to our frustrations and hope that it will be solved soon!

Have a great week!

Vance Willis

[email protected]

Matt Drabick
03-19-2012, 07:07 AM
Vance, hope to see you at my NewTek TriCaster Technology Day this Wednesday . . . Colin Sandy will be giving both a Streaming and TriCaster Production class . . . call me for the details.

Matt Drabick,
DigiTek Systems

PIZAZZ
03-19-2012, 08:15 AM
I was finally able to get something working in HD.

The attached image is the video being sent from the TriCaster at 720p59.94 (it isn't 720p60 and won't work at that rate).

The system is a MacPro using the AJA IOHD connected via firewire. I ended up going back to the latest 2.x version of Skype for the Mac. This is the last version that lets you modify the CONFIG.XML file to specify the size and frame rate of the video. (At least it was the latest version that seemed to pay attention to the changes that were made)

I'll document this fully once I have it fully running. I'll then try to get something working with the Blackmagic cards (they are a complete pain in the butt to work with - I'm guessing the 'magic' in their name refers to the apparent lack of repeatable science in getting them to work)

I have some folks that are serious developers that I may bring in to this. From my research, I'm convinced there is a market for a turn-key Skype box that could work in a broadcast setting. Between the Skype and Blackmagic or AJA API's, I could see building a fully considered solution around this in a single purpose box, covering the range of web content people are trying to integrate into video productions.

I'm sensing there is a business here...:D

-john

Good to see you are making headway John. I hope I will have a little free time to work on the same project in the studio these week.

I agree it would be good to have an out of the box solution. Unfortunately the number of users needing this functionality is very limited. I looked at doing a turnkey solution in the past (only in SD at the time). I just couldn't see enough demand to make it worthwhile.

Personally I am about to start testing the BlackMagicDesign thunderbolt capture cards into a Mac Mini. Yep my old friends you read that right... I am about to buy a Mac. Of course I am going to bootcamp it immediately. :) From the surface it looks like the Mac Mini is the most compact and powerful SFF computer on the market. We did some Skype setups with them in the past (albeit SD at the time) and they worked well.

PIZAZZ
03-19-2012, 08:17 AM
John,

This is a project that Mark Johnson (www.studiotech.tv) and I have been working on for going on a year. It is super frustrating and we have tried a ton of things to get it working. We each have multiple Win7 pro machines with BM SDI input cards (I have 5 myself, i3-i7 2600k's). We have Macs of all varieties (airs, MBPros, Minis, & Mac Pros) and we are testing anything that comes our way. We have Skype versions from 4.2 on windows machines to 5.8 beta. 2.8 to 5 on the mac side. Mac XML hacks, etc. We have had bug reports into Skype dev team for 8 months about the issue regarding BM SDI decklink cards with little or no assistance from them so far.

One working solution is using "X-Split Broadcaster" as an intermediate to get HD widescreen video back into Skype on the windows side. It sees the BM SDI and Skype likes it as an input. It is very finicky and they force update versions weekly, but it does work. It also has a "de-interlace" option that helps if you are using 1080i session. It does add delay back into the return video but it is manageable. I will say that it adds frames (or memory bleed) the longer you leave it open (I have for over a week at a time testing).

To assist in matching the frames delay, we use Behringer Sharks to delay the audio to match the video being returned to the call in guest. I am not aware that even TWiT does this but we have found that it is needed to get lip sync correct. We have it nailed to EXACT timing.

Along with a number of other enthusiasts, we have tried a number of "skype" competitors. We now have google hangouts solved and we can send 850 program out and have it (HD) on the Hangout. We tested this on Friday. It offers it's own set of challenges as well! Months ago, I even had Vidyo come to my studio and go over the entire senario that new media broadcasters are facing. No luck. The short story to what we have found is that we are a very small segment of cutting edge pioneers and the economics don't work yet for the big companies to solve this issue, yet. Your thoughts on it being a business venture is certainly valid, albeit an up hill battle. We have fingers crossed that our time at NAB in a few weeks will unveil some new products in this arena. We have seen a few hints and rumors but nothing concrete yet.

So far, Skype is still the best option. We are now in the final testing stages of some thunderbolt input devices and mac minis. Things are looking pretty good so far but we don't want to jinx it until we know 100%. Later this week and into next week we should know more details.

We talk about challenges like this on Fridays on StudioTech Live. We are learning something every week! You'll notice that we address Skype issues about every other week.

Our hopes are to have Computer --->SDI---->VideoHub--->Tricaster 850---->SDI---->(HD Video)--->Skype Return to caller. It has been a journey of TONS of money in product testing and hundreds of hours!

We welcome others to our frustrations and hope that it will be solved soon!

Have a great week!

Vance Willis

[email protected]


Thanks Vance for adding in your input. It is nice to see others going through the same pain... Let's keep trying to compare notes here so we can possibly keep others from making the same mistakes on their builds.

joseburgos
03-19-2012, 09:09 AM
Oh and for down and dirty road shows, I now walk with a simple USB capture device for use with a Windows laptop (does not work with OSX). I can send back SD video via AUX out to it which most of the time is more than enough.
What I like is its portable (like a large thumb drive) and so far has worked on all computers including Mac's in Boot Camp Windows mode (again, no OSX).

Take care,

PIZAZZ
03-19-2012, 09:43 AM
Oh and for down and dirty road shows, I now walk with a simple USB capture device for use with a Windows laptop (does not work with OSX). I can send back SD video via AUX out to it which most of the time is more than enough.
What I like is its portable (like a large thumb drive) and so far has worked on all computers including Mac's in Boot Camp Windows mode (again, no OSX).

Take care,

Agreed. Same thing I keep in my backpack.

I like to push the envelope probably more than most but really does the remote Skype person really need HD folded back to them for confidence monitoring?? A fully digital workflow is an awesome thing but sometimes you can go too far for very little return. Keep in mind that if you are sending back an HD signal via Skype then that also means you have to have the bandwidth available to support that. That bandwidth times how ever many remote sites you want to bring in.

Just more food for thought.

joseburgos
03-19-2012, 10:02 AM
Things I do
- When using Skype, make all the Skype calls from the "TriCaster Skype" computer.
- Enable Do Not Disturb so no one can interrupt the call
- Take the plunge and purchase Premium service to allow extra features like group video
- If you do group video, don't use iOS device or OSX systems as it pretty much only wants to use Skype 5.0 or higher software.
- Enable full screen and then click on the PIP window to remove it from the desktop screen
- Use a mixer with audio delay AUX feature or add external delay using a Raine or other device
- As much as possible, make sure the audience knows it's a Skype call because they will instantly understand pauses, frame drops, lowered frame rate, etc due to it being a Skype call
- If the quality of the Skype caller is low due to their web camera, use a virtual input or LiveSet to place it into a framed smaller box than full screen
- Try very hard to force the caller to use a lav mic and if they can't for whatever reason, see if they have a headset (web cam mic with speakers sound horrible)

TTFNTV
03-19-2012, 02:06 PM
Vance Willis and I have now got a (prototype) working Skype solution on Mac Minis using thunderbolt input for the widescreen return video and using the HDMI output to SDI converters for the TriCaster inputs. Control is via Apple Remote Desktop so no displays or keyboards are required on the systems.

This is not as straightforward as it sounds :D and requires an XML hack, a USB camera and the appropriate magic dance and chanting while doing the configuration. :)

The one thing we have not resolved yet is how to turn off the small return video window. This can be done on our Skype PC based systems (as Vance described using xSplit) but not on the Mac. So for now you either live with it or cover it with a bug/graphic.

We continue to investigate and have more systems in build so we can give it a good test.

joseburgos
03-21-2012, 07:16 AM
First, there is a new version of Skype for OSX (its beta).
2nd, to turn off the small return window, go to full screen and then on the bottom right there is a little person silhouette, click on it to remove the return video small window. You can also drag the small return window by click and dragging it as a FYI.

PS The new Skype does not recognize my USB video capture device still but I am looking around for one that always works even if only SD. This is for Skype OSX as it works great on Windows.

Take care

TTFNTV
03-21-2012, 04:53 PM
Thanks Jose, wil give this version a try!

mlambr01
04-10-2012, 05:12 PM
Anybody try this yet? http://www.vidigo.tv/markets/broadcast/wdr-skype-toolbox/

I'm more interested in knowing what you guys did to send the Skype caller a mix minus so he/she doesn't hear themselves. If you feed them back the SDI program out on the Tricaster with embedded audio...is it possible to do the mix minus on the Tricaster itself?

Lee-AVP
04-10-2012, 05:20 PM
We usually do our mixing outboard any time we get up to that level of sophistication. A little digital console goes a long way on complex video jobs.

That plus well planned use of the Aux audio bus on the tricaster gives us all the flexibility we need.

GeekNews
04-12-2012, 09:38 AM
My new 2 channel Skype Tricaster Solution

Video Out
2x Mac Mini - HDMI Out
2x Atlona 1x4 HDMI Video Distribution Amp (2 Outputs)
2x Black Magic Design HDMI/SDI converter Video to Tricaster
2x HP ZR2240w Monitor

Video In
Tricaster Video Feed
1x Kramer 1x4 High Resolution Video Distribution Amp
2x Canopus ADVC 300 - Firewire Out to Mac Mini

The video is absolutely beautiful.

Todd..

PIZAZZ
05-09-2012, 05:24 PM
My new 2 channel Skype Tricaster Solution

Video Out
2x Mac Mini - HDMI Out
2x Atlona 1x4 HDMI Video Distribution Amp (2 Outputs)
2x Black Magic Design HDMI/SDI converter Video to Tricaster
2x HP ZR2240w Monitor

Video In
Tricaster Video Feed
1x Kramer 1x4 High Resolution Video Distribution Amp
2x Canopus ADVC 300 - Firewire Out to Mac Mini

The video is absolutely beautiful.

Todd..


Addressing this for a client.
Todd are you using HD or SD via component video back into the Mac via the Canopus ADVC 300?

GeekNews
05-10-2012, 01:20 AM
Sending SD back via firewire.. Figured it would save some processor overhead and bandwidth.

gigtime
07-05-2012, 11:04 PM
Oh and for down and dirty road shows, I now walk with a simple USB capture device for use with a Windows laptop (does not work with OSX). I can send back SD video via AUX out to it which most of the time is more than enough.
What I like is its portable (like a large thumb drive) and so far has worked on all computers including Mac's in Boot Camp Windows mode (again, no OSX).

Take care,

Several posters have mentioned using a simple USB capture device but I haven't seen a particular brand/model mentioned. There are several out there in the $35 - $85 range but can someone recommend one in particular that plays nice with Skype? As 'picky' as Skype is with this kind of thing, I'd like to get it right the first time, if possible.

My Dell XPS laptop has HDMI out which I'll run through one of my BM HDMI/SDI converters into a camera input on the Tricaster for now and I may grab a couple of Behringer Sharks for audio delay since they're fairly cheap.

I was going to build a small form factor PC Skypasaurus with the Black Magic DeckLink SDI PCI Express Capture card as I like keeping the signal path simple with SDI to SDI but it seems foolish to spend $280 on and internal card if Skype plays nicer with the far cheaper USB device.

joseburgos
07-06-2012, 01:39 PM
I have a Sabrent USB Video Capture Creator with Audio Video DVD Maker. All you need is the driver installed and as far as Skype is concerned, its a web cam.