Hi Dale here,
I'm presently on the Windows Media support team at Microsoft and I'm quite fortunate to be able to work in a field where the technology that I support, is so closely related to my long time hobbies of working with multimedia, audio, video and music creation.
Lately I have been able to concentrate on the Microsoft Expression Studio 2 suite, but mostly the Expression Encoder 2 application where I'm working with the live encoding feature. You see, I’ve always wanted to find a software application that was powerful enough , the right price and it would let me capture live sources. I also wanted to be able to either stream my content to the internet and while the live show was captured I can archive the show to be streamed at a later time. But I guess the key to my search was that I wanted to be able to get input from multiple media sources, at the same time view each media input on screen and switch between the views in an easy real time manner, much like having your own television switching station.
Well it looks like the Expression Encoder is just that application, and in this blog session I document my efforts to demonstrate such a procedure.
Well, the goal of this blog is to demonstrate the capability of Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 , to perform live encoding and streaming from multiple live input sources, and to demonstrate its ease of use to switch between live input sources in a timely manner and all that at a low cost
The equipment used to perform this task are listed below. Basically a base computer capable of handling the Microsoft Vista Ultimate operating system and Microsoft Expression Studio 2 with SP1 installed. You may want to use a microphone mixer, but its not required as you can either use the source from the input camera source or simply plug a microphone directly into the computer. I used 3 composite capable cameras in this demonstration, any camera will do as long as you have the capability to provide an input that Expression Encoder will recognize. Basic lights with some make-shift backdrops were also used.
Microsoft Vista Ultimate compatible Desktop PC
A reasonable sound mixer, really doesn't have to be elaborate
3 ea Video Capture cards for Desktop PC
Appropriate lighting best with 3 point scheme
Back drops and appropriate microphones
3 ea Composite capable camera output
Although the only software listed here are the operating system and the major multimedia application, there were some prerecorded preparations performed on some of the live sources prior to the live broadcast. So, you may need to use some editing software prior to the live shoot to make preprogrammed files available, for instance you may want to create an introduction animation to use as a file source. But regardless of the preparations, once the broadcast begins� its all on Microsoft Expression Encoder to do its thing.
Microsoft Expression Studio 2 with SP1
Microsoft Vista Ultimate
STUDIO SITE SETUP
I setup the cameras in the following fashion Camera A with the talent positioned over the green backdrop and Camera B positioned over the blue backdrop and Camera C what appears to be a black backdrop. The talent would physically move between each set to perform the on camera script. Lights were positioned to be appropriate for each camera position so that minimum adjustment was required. The cameras were also adjusted prior to the live shoot.
There were only 2 people required to perform all task in this project, a producer/director (myself) and the on screen talent (Mandi Ohlinger)
This position required that I setup the Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 in a fashion that I could quickly get to all media elements, note in Fig1 for instance in the live encoding section of the application I configured 3 live camera views Camera A, B and C ** and associated them with the physical cameras locations to make it easy to match the script and also to visually know when a particular camera was selected. In Fig2 I configured my preprogrammed file sources which consist of some captured sample commercials along with other video for the weather portion of the broadcast. In Fig 3 note that in the file sources you can view the remaining time to play the file source clip this is great to know when the clip is about to end so that you can prep the talent to prepare for her on camera appearance.
Note: Click on the images below for larger view
Fortunately, only one person was required for this position since Mandi played the part of all on screen talent. Her position required that she make quick changes to her wardrobe, hair or other props to be displayed in each camera position She had to perform according to script presented and in the time frame allotted . Thanks Mandi
ACTION ! CAMERAS! ROLL EM!
Okay but first a word of caution, this is a “LIVE” recording of our sample broadcast , and as with any live broadcast anything can happen so if you see the on screen talent laugh uncontrollably for some unknown reason or if you notice the quick change wasn't perfect. Well, I guess we can chalk it up to "unexpected things do happen during live broadcasting, and we wanted to show you the complete results with a view of the overall concept.
Note: Remember this was taken from one continuous live event, where the Microsoft Expression Encoder was used to switch between media sources to provide the stream, try to imagine what is happening in the background to bring such a stream to life.
I must say that I was impressed with the Microsoft Expression Encoder, and hopefully you were able to get an idea of how you can use the Microsoft Expression Encoder to capture multiple live sources which you can broadcast as a live event or even archive the event and if you wanted to at a later time perform any critical edits for sound video or graphics or add transitions etc to you video.
The actual cost to generate some great video captures is quite low with the use of the Microsoft Expression Encoder. You can definitely create encodes with with much better quality video and audio, test your system, movie making ability with multiple input sources , give it a try, for free:
Microsoft Expression Studio 2 Trial
Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 Trial
** If you want to change the names below the media elements in the live section of the Expression Encoder, export the live settings, modify the names, then import the live settings, notice you will then see the changes take affect, I will blog on this soon.