Technology for Worship: Hands on with Telestream Wirecast and Matrox VS-4

2e82687f-a1e5-4929-93eb-c9e5fefec474-1-300x232Over the past few years we've seen may churches begin to offer live streaming of their services and events. In this hands on review Don Doss talks about how he uses Telestream Wirecast to produce professional multi camera video productions on a tight budget. They built a custom PC and installed the Matrox VS-4 SDI capture card to be able to switch live with Wirecast while simultaneously recording all 4 video streams for post production afterwards.
Technology for Worship by Don Doss

After serving a decade at one of those ‘mega’ churches with all the fantastic bells and whistles and state-of-the-art tech video recording hardware along with the professionals to handle it, I can agree that it’s mostly true. But it doesn’t have to be! Now, as a minister at one of those smaller congregations in the heart of the Texas hill country, I have to be satisfied using clumsy cameras on tripods. However, we made a decision to hard-wire stationary cameras mounted to the walls above the audience recording to decks hidden away. Doing this, I could accomplish the same thing without the clutter, but I would still have to spend time in post-edit. If we could add a simple switcher and one more deck we could do real time edits allowing us to record ANY event in the sanctuary, including our regular worship services, to burn to DVD for our elderly and shut-ins.

Our budgeting allowed for four years of gradually buying the equipment we wanted, with a price tag of around $4,000. Once the plan was in place, the second guessing began. If we were going to spend that much money, were there other options out there we’d missed? I needed to make absolutely sure before I pulled the trigger. Going back to the drawing board, I listed exactly what we needed and started researching. The only products I found that could do everything we wanted were either the systems the ‘mega’ church were using, or a patchwork conglomeration of items from different companies…except one. Telestream’s Wirecast software on a PC could be used as a professional quality switcher to make real-time event recordings. Then with a Matrox VS4 on board, we could simultaneously record each camera feed for any needed post-editing.

Mounting robotic controlled cameras (PTZ) on the walls instead of stationary ones would raise the price tag, but even with stationary cameras, I would have much better quality using Wirecast on a PC rather than switcher with a pile of recorder decks on a shelf. Right around that same time, a member had some funds drop into their control, so we moved ahead and ordered everything including the Wirecast software. The tech guys on the Wirecast forum were incredibly helpful, and told me that in order to simultaneously process basically four video feeds (three from the cameras on the Matrox board and the one being currently edited), we would need at least an i7 computer to handle the load, along with a massive drive for the video files. They also recommended putting the software and operating system on a solid state drive (SSD) so access would be immediate. read more...

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