Dr. Stephen Craig, Chair of Duke’s Chemistry department wanted to use live green screen for a presentation to some undergraduates at Florida Gulf Coast University. We had used Wirecast to try this in the past in the MPS Video Recording Room but it had never worked that well. We suspected it was due to the camera and lighting in that room not being optimized for green screen. We tried it again with our improved lighting in the MPS Studio and it worked well enough, but we were streaming Wirecast to YouTube.
Wirecast is generally used to stream content to YouTube or our own DukeStream Wowza server or many other web broadcasting services. If you are not familiar with it, it is like a software video switcher that allows you to build shots using green screen, picture in picture, put in graphics such as lower thirds and do wipes and dissolves between real cameras or even IP cameras.
Our original test was streaming to YouTube and then speaking to the class via Skype. This did not work well because of the 20-30 second delay for YouTube streaming. After a ton of googling and working with Jack D’Ardenne, we realized that Wirecast has a virtual camera output. Sure enough, if you start the virtual camera output, then applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts and even WebEx recognize the output of Wirecast (composited or whatever) as a camera. This is huge! We’ve used programs such as Camtwist in the past to do this (free but yucky) so having a professional app like Wirecast support this opens a lot of possibilities for distance learning.
Wirecast will also record and stream simultaneously but it’s not a great tool for recording both sides of a Skype interview (although you can bring Skype into Wirecast as well).
Please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information or to try this out at our new studio “StudioONE” located in the Telcom Building.