Video capture cards with more than one input

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
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Video capture cards with more than one input

Postby sammythesm » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:40 pm

I'm working on expanding our webcasting to a multi-camera solution.

Since the Webcasting software is capable of switching between multiple feeds, I thought this would be simple as getting a video capture card that supported more than one input, installing it, plugging in the cameras, and adding the feeds individually to the webcasting software.

So far, I have not gotten this to work.

I've tried two video capture cards that I can confirm DO NOT work for this. The first is the Hauppauge Impact VCB 0188 with 4 video inputs. I ordered this from Amazon for $50 w/o realizing that it would not fit the computer I had - which was a thin profile/half height PCI. So I returned it for the half-height Hauppaguge Impact VCB 0166. After installing on my Win7 PC, I figured out that there were no drivers for Win7. I called Hauppauge and a very ornery support person informed me that this was like a 7 year old product that was no longer supported. Perfect. Ugh.

Out of curiosity (remember, that's what killed the cat) I wiped the PC and installed WinXP on this computer. I got the device installed properly - but the Webcasting program only recognized ONE input on the card. And - even better - it was a different input every time I started the program. I then installed the bundled software to see if multiple streams worked on it - and it didn't even function properly - so I couldn't even tell. The takeaway here: stay away from these Hauppauge cards! If the price looks to good to be true - it is.

This led me to the question - has anyone gotten multiple camera streams to work in the webcast software? It sounds like most of the solutions I've read others post about use external video switchers and just have one stream going into the computer. Anyone had success mixing the video in the webcast program itself? If so, what capture devices are you using and how are you getting the multiple inputs?

Seems like the thing to try next would be an Osprey card - since they are the most highly endorsed by this forum. The question is do I go for 3x Osprey 230's or 1 of the Osprey 440's? Though the Osprey 100 looks the most promising with its 3 inputs, the info on the website clearly says it offers "one channel with 4 switchable inputs" so I assume that's a deal breaker - will not actively recieve the 3 video streams at the same time. I'm also trying to stay away from USB solutions since they've proved problematic to other users. I want to make sure before I shell out a lot of money on a card that it's really going to work with the webcast program - and that the inputs can be added and can be switched between w/o major issues.

Anyone favor any of these approaches? Do any of these cards present themselves to the OS/Webcasting software as individual, discrete video feeds? Or should I move in a different direction? Right now that 1980's Videonics MX-1 is looking better and better.

Thanks in advance for your expertise.

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Postby michaelfish » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:30 am

It would be great if we could find a solution to the multiple camera input for the webcast software. A Telestream Desktop Forum Moderator for Webcast suggested a PCIe Sintrones VDB-310 capture device. (Check out Need to stream multi cams on laptop thread for 1/10/2012 5:57 PM). Since this device has been used for multi-camera video streaming, it may be worth looking into.

Has anyone been using the multiple video input feature on the Webcast Communicator software?

How was your experience (picture quality, audio sync, etc.)?

What was your configuration setup (cameras, capture devices, etc.)?

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Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:50 pm
Location: Texas, United States

Postby sammythesm » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:00 am

Thanks for replying michaelfish

Let me update you all on my progress here.

The computer I had to use was a Dell Optiplex 740. AMD x64 Dual Core (2.6ghz) with 4GB RAM.

I thought this was going to be enough computer to try to capture multiple inputs.

As I pointed out in my previous post, I had tried several low-cost card that looked like they had multiple inputs, but which really only could handle capturing 1 video stream at a time. The best possibility still looked like the Osprey 460e.

As I researched it more, it turns out that ViewCast has a corporate office right near my work - so I emailed them and asked if I could come in to try out a few of their cards with my solution. They said no. I asked for a demo unit. They said no. I explained that I was looking to qualify this solution for a larger community and I'd be willing to write a case study - they still said no. Kinda jerky. (I work for a tech company and we give away scads of demo equipment every year!)

Anyway - my fundamental concern was always - a) will the computer I have be enough computer to capture more than 1 channel of video, and b) will the software be robust enough to handle more than 1 channel of video? I had a good email conversation with the guy from ViewCast (Osprey) and he emailed me a PDF of the computer specs they recommend for the Osprey 460e. I've attached them here. Essentially, they recommend the highest of high end computers with a specific architecture to the I/O busses (something about Northbridge and Southbridge...). Granted, this was for capturing up to twelve live streams from the card (you actually can buy a version where you can independently capture the same stream more than once), but it still made me nervous to spend $800 on a card that I may not be able to return (every place that carried it had non-existent to terrible return policies).

Osprey System Selection V1 2.pdf
(472.1 KiB) Downloaded 404 times

I figured I could still test the software, at least, with some cheap USB capture devices I could get at Fry's. I bought 3 of them for $30 each, and as soon as I got the 2nd stream going, the computer or software started to choke, skipping frames and dropping seconds worth of video. I added the "screen capture" source as well, and crashed the software. I think it was that the USB bus was overloaded at first, and then the screen capture just sent it over its limit.

I noticed another behavior of the software during my test, though, that was a bit of a deal breaker for multi-source input. Even with only two video sources, it took 1-3 seconds to swap from one feed to another. That would not be good for live video production when you want things to be real snappy and crisp.

Had I had the opportunity to try the 460e, I think I would have gotten more streams into the computer than 2 (the PCIe card does a lot of work the computer was trying to do with my USB trial), but I wasn't really willing to chance crashing the software or dealing with the wait to switch between sources.

So I've decided to go with the single-source capture and use an external video mixer. I saw some bad reviews/data on the Videonics MX-1 recommended in other threads - so I did more research and found the Datavideo SE-500 mixer. It is more expensive, but I was able to get a great deal on Craigslist for one. It has the 'right' effects (not 250 I'll never use) and has great monitoring capability (you can view all 4 inputs on one screen in real time).

I'm still finishing putting my system together, so I'll update you when I get it working. However, my current strategy is to try the Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro card. It has both SD and HD/HDMI input (for future-proofing :)), is cheaper than the Osprey, and I can buy it from plenty of places I can return it to if it doesn't work.

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