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Do It Yourself Streaming Series: Hardware vs. Software

Jacob Braunstein

Do It Yourself Streaming Series: Hardware vs. Software, Where To Invest Your Resources & Why We Love Software At LiveControl

This is the age old question, which can be widely debated… should I invest in individual hardware components that I can beautifully rack mount OR should I use mostly software to accomplish my streaming setup. Let’s start off by identifying a hardware based setup: 

Assuming you already have your PTZ cameras setup and installed, let’s list all of the components you need to bring in an SDI, multi-cam feed:

  • SDI Cable ($199): the video signal going from the camera into your switcher.
  • SDI Based Video Switcher ($999-$1999): ingesting both SDI video feeds and allowing you to switch between sources, along with mixing in a graphics input.
  • Audio Interface Device ($49-$299): capturing the audio from your soundboard and mixing it into your switcher.
  • Audio Sync Offset Device ($249): if you want to fine tune and get the sync perfect between your cameras and audio.
  • PTZ Joy Stick Controller ($399 - $4999): the more expensive, the better control, movement, & setting adjustment you can do. Brands include: Sony, Panasonic, Kawajui, PTZ Optics, Marshall.
  • Encoder ($299-$1999): To record and stream your event, you’ll need an encoding device to send the stream to your favorite destinations (if you’re looking to send your stream to more than one destination like Facebook and YouTube, check out this other blog post about simulcasting).
  • Graphics Computer with ProPresenter ($699-1499): if you utilize lower thirds or on screen lyrics, you’ll want a nearby computer with a presentation software, such as: ProPresenter, ProClaim, EasyWorship, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Rack Case ($399-$1299), adapters ($99), fans ($299), power supply ($99-$299): All these components are going to be necessary to configure your rack equipment in an organized and professional fashion. When looking for rack mountable components, these will tend to lean towards the professional spectrum and might limit your options for more affordable components.

Those are all the necessary components (besides the audio sync offset device) to produce a multi-cam PTZ production with hardware based components. Of course this is just the beginning… soon you’ll want to add:

  • Tally light support
  • Battery Backup
  • Genlock Adapters
  • Converters for when you switch cameras from SDI to HDMI
  • External Hard Drive for your encoder, so you can record a local backup
  • Gigabit Network Switch (PoE?)

Then 1 year comes and goes and you have decided you want to upgrade your production equipment to 4K or maybe even 8K. Now what? You’ll need to replace the switcher, SDI cable, encoder, and now you’ll need more disk space, so you upgrade your external hard drive and so on and on and on. 

In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of hardware-based production equipment. It’s costly, bulky, and does not age well. Each component is designed to do one specific task and do it well. The problem is that your task as a savvy live streamer will constantly change. That’s why I always recommend using equipment that can be updated and are mainly software based. Instead of investing in a $2,000 video switcher, invest in a $2,000 streaming computer.

Your streaming computer will take the place of the switcher, encoder, PTZ Controller, audio interface device (potentially), audio sync offset, rack case, and more… plus it’s completely upgradable now. Need some more speed? Put more RAM into it! Want to stream in 4K? Change the settings on your production software.

At LiveControl, everything we do is completely IP and software based, allowing us to constantly push updates, new firmware, and change our configuration remotely to the latest and greatest set up. We also believe that simple is better, with one streaming device, you can more easily troubleshoot problems and correct them in real time. 

Ditch your aging production hardware and go towards IP… To learn more about a completely IP based workflow, checkout our other blog post called: IP vs. HDMI vs. SDI vs. NDI vs. PoE vs. The World as part of our Do It Yourself Streaming Series.

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