a s t e r levels to make sure a person who speaks more quietly is as loud as someone who speaks louder.
But handling things like a loud burst of laughter
requires a compressor/limiter.
The reason I recommend this is because so
much streaming media is consumed on mobile
devices, and not on television sets in the living
rooms. You really need to make sure that the
audio is as crisp and present as possible.
USB ≠ USB
As with any live production—particularly one
with this many moving parts—you need to test
everything. This goes without saying, but it’s especially vital in this new and nuanced world of
iOS video production. I’ve tested USB audio into
my iPad versus analog audio. Same mic, mixer,
everything. USB was the clear winner. So, I went
searching for a compact USB mixer that would
fit well with my new mobile setup.
I purchased a USB audio mixer that the vendor said would be able to connect directly to a
computer, and it would be powered by the computer, and provide stereo audio to the computer. But when I plugged it into my iPad’s USB
adapter, I got nuthin’.
It turns out there are protocols that need to be
included on these devices. These are the handshakes that not only tell the other device what
is connected, but what it is capable of doing.
When I plug a USB microphone into my computer, it tells me it’s a Samson USB mic because
of the handshake.
In this case, what was going to be an awesome little five-input USB mixer turned out to
need its own USB power and had to be connected to the iPad via analog audio, which is not as
clean as USB audio. I contacted the manufacturer, who confirmed that it was iOS-incompatible,
even though that limitation was not mentioned
on the company’s web pages or in the product
literature. In the end, I still like the mixer because there’s nothing else as capable that’s this
small, but this experience goes to show how important it is to test whether a device will work
with your particular setup.
Become Your Own IT Crew
Now it’s time to take off your production hat
and put on your IT hat—even if you didn’t know
you had one. Streaming requires networking,
and networking requires that you understand
how to move bits back and forth. There can even
be cases where you are leveraging a network for
a local production that you might not even be
Many of the solutions discussed here are able
to leverage new technology that puts cameras
on a local area network. We can credit New Tek
for its NDI solutions for the majority of this, but
Teradek also has its own solutions for wireless
remote cameras. Panasonic has created an entire line of pan-tilt-zoom cameras that are NDI-capable and controllable from the TriCaster or
any NDI client. Other streaming solutions, such
as Wirecast and vMix, support NDI as well.
You can also use NDI wireless with various
adapters from New Tek and others that put any
camera on your local Wi-Fi network. Teradek
has similar solutions with dedicated hardware.
Having a camera that is not tethered by a cable
back to your control room is a very handy tool
indeed. But getting your signal in the air is just
the start of a long and complex process.
When you go on location, you can turn on
your phone and see dozens upon dozens of Wi-Fi signals all crammed into a limited amount
of bandwidth. If you’re leveraging wireless
connectivity for any of your solutions, you really need to do a site survey before your actual streaming event to assess what the clearest
channels might be and what changes you can
make to your Wi-Fi set up to ensure maximum
I use an Android app called WiFi Analyzer
(see Figure 7 on page 27) to let me see how
many access points (APs) are already on what
channels, and where I can program my APs for
the least competition. I have not found a similar
iOS app to recommend.
Teradek offers products, like the Link, for
more robust Wi-Fi, and there are people leveraging business-class directional antenna
systems to help them ensure their temporary
coverage of outdoor events and stadiums. Do
not ever count on using the Wi-Fi at the location to handle your video signals. You will be
fighting with all the other traffic. You may even
get flagged or automatically throttled.
For simpler productions, numerous users in
several forums are lauding the new Google Wi-Fi “pucks” and their automatic mesh networking capability to handle multiple cameras without issue. Zero setup and management issues
enable you to focus on the production and not
have to wear that IT hat for very long.