Hi folks. I produce and direct for a live high school football broadcast. It's an internship through the local university and a local business. So I work for the university to train the students and all, but I don't buy the equipment. I still have to act as technical director, though. So here's my problem.
We're using a first generation Tricaster. It only streams Windows Media format. Apparently every model since the original will also stream Flash, but this was the only affordable option last year when we were starting the whole program up. So needless to say, Windows Media is quite finicky. It pretty much only works well on PC's. You might eventually get it working half decent on a Mac, and you can forget about iPhone, Android, and other mobile platforms. The company we use to stream the webcast is called Meridix (http://www.meridix.com) and they now have their system ready for Flash/ h.264, that plays on any of the above mentioned platforms.
So I hope to make a solution where I can still use the Tricaster to switch cameras, control graphics, commercials, etc. And offload the streaming to another computer. I'd like to take the composite video and audio output FROM the Tricaster, plug them into the input on some kind of external capture device which is connected to a laptop, and then I can run FMLE from the laptop using the capture device as the source.
So, I need to know if there is an external capture device that can work with a laptop, rather than being a PCI-E board for a full sized computer. As much equipment as we have, it would be nice to just use a laptop and not another desktop.
I saw the Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt) mentioned in another thread as working with a Mac mini. For cost reasons, I don't know how expensive of a laptop I can talk my business partner into buying. The 13" MacBook Pro is $1200 and has Thunderbolt, so that might be possible. Does anyone know of a good Windows laptop with Thunderbolt that is better priced (and probably with better specs)?
Otherwise, are there any external cards that will work that use a different technology, like USB 3.0? That would be much easier to find in an affordable PC laptop.
If the expensive laptop turns out to be the barrier, I might try to build in an HTPC form factor and keep it under $500 (excluding the card). If I go this way, what capture card would you recommend-- keeping in the same range as the Intensity Shuttle ($200 - $300)?
I know that computer specs also have to be pretty good. Since we can only do SD, resolution would only be 640 x 480 or 720 x 480 (or something close, I think I may be running in an SD 16:9 resolution). And probably the top we'll look to stream at is around 500 kbps. We had to run off of a 3G Verizon card last year, so we were broadcasting really low bitrate-- like around 100 kbps sometimes. Now we have 4G in the area and hopefully some of the stadiums will have hardline or wifi for us this year. So I think between 300 - 500 kbps is a good speed to shoot for. So any recommendations on what processor I need would be helpful. Intel i5/ i7 preferrably. And would a regular graphics card help in any way in this scenario? I'm thinking it won't, but I still wanted to ask.
Ok, now I see that they also make an Intensity Shuttle for USB 3.0. I think this should work with a well spec'd Windows laptop with USB 3.0, right? So now I just need to know what I need to shoot for on laptop specs if that all checks out.
Edit: Looking at the reviews, it looks like the USB 3.0 model is pretty much a bust and that the Thunderbolt model is also iffy on getting it to work. Any way, any help toward a working solution will be very much appreciated.