I hit refresh again – nahhh – bummer! NDI 5 and Unreal Engine Virtual Production removes the boundaries and push the frontiers of live content production. Any device, any location, NDI is the first video-over-IP protocol that is fully optimized for our modern, mobile world. Then, combined with the power of Unreal Engine for virtual production,we’ll see a whole new world of creative possibilities.
NDI 5 – The Game Changer
As of right now (Saturday 3rd July at 11:09 AEST), there’s a tribe of about 20,000 technology-loving AV people across the world constantly hitting the refresh button on the NewTek NDI page to see if the latest (delayed) NDI version 5 has finally released and available for download – me included!
An earlier announcement said the end of June – the website now says soon.
What is NDI?
If you didn’t know, NDI stands for Network Device Interface – a FREE, high-performance video over Internet standard that allows anyone to use real-time, ultra low latency video on existing IP video networks.
In simpler terms, the convergence of video tech with personal computer tech.
Simplified, what NDI delivers, is the ability to connect and send/ receive enabled NDI cameras and computer screen signals over your computer network without needing expensive computer video hardware and connectors. You can also use your iPhone or Android phone as an NDI camera into your Zoom, live streaming or production setup (BUT at present only across your local network).
I first started using NDI back in 2016, about when it was first released, and I was working at the Cronulla Sharks – (we were an early adopter of livestream social video and featured on the Newtek blog https://www.newtek.com/blog/cronulla-sharks/. )
Since then, there have been several version updates which I now use extensively throughout my new virtual production studio.
For example, remote show guests come into our Zoom meeting and we feed that via NDI into our Unreal Engine designed virtual production studio.
That combined video signal (below) is then live-streamed to our website, app, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin or Twitter.
Note: The application of this is for any online show, event or meeting where an optimum viewer experience is desired.
However, the most significant limitation for increased NDI use at present is that device connections are limited to only our private local area network;
That is, we can’t get individual live video signals remotely over the open Internet, and they need to come in via Zoom or another video chat platform.
In addition, having the chat systems in the video signal flow increases what’s called ‘latency” which creates uncomfortable talking over the top or awkward extended silence moments.
Another limitation is how many NDI signals we can run across our local area network before it all begins to slow down. Anything more than a few signals over our 1Gb router and the network can start to slug (and don’t mention wow bad WiFi networks can be)
As livestream producers, we want high quality, real-time/ near-zero latency, ISO recordings .
In today’s world of COVID and increased remote collaboration, video producers want to bring in remote guests, speakers or feed via a high-quality, individual signal (Isolated “ISO” recording) without switching on another controller such as Zoom. As livestream producers, we want high quality, real-time/ near-zero latency, ISO recordings .
There are higher-end solutions available at the broadcast end of the production spectrum, but these are outside the budget and technical restraints of more indie level production.
There are also new emerging technologies such as SRT, but these are quite technical to set up and introduce more complexity into production.
The expectation is NDI version 5 will meet these needs.
NDI Version 5
The latest release of NDI expected any day now promises –
NDI Bridge – New to the NDI Tools free download with NDI 5 is NDI Bridge. Forming a secure bridge between any NDI network regardless of location, NDI Bridge redefines the concept of ‘remote workflows,’ opening up a wealth of new opportunities for live video production.
NDI Remote – Also new to NDI Tools, NDI Remote allows anyone using just a URL to contribute live audio and video using an Internet-connected device, like a camera phone or a web browser, to another point anywhere in the world. Thus, NDI Remote allows anyone, anywhere, to contribute to a show – big or small.
I’m excited to see how we will be able to apply the tech. In particular remote guests and reporters and whether the new audio feature latency is good enough for remote music collaboration.
We will see
I hit refresh again – nahhh – bummer! I’ll check back again later.
For more information join the NDI5 waitlist or the unofficial NDI User Facebook Group
We have a major upgrade coming soon (in the offseason) & I wonder how long it will be before we outgrow this little shack? For now, it will do.
Behind the scenes, there are so many elements that go into producing a live show – sound, lights, technology, talent, & content. AND then there’s all the pre & post (but that’s for another day).
The idea behind the Big Dog Studio is to be able to sit someone in the chair quickly & we produce everything else to deliver a live & far more engaging viewer experience than your standard Zoom meeting or webinar.
AND without needing a big production crew (& therefore reducing costs).
Back in the studio, this week’s focus has been on reducing computer system & network overloads, chroma key improvements & colour correction.
Added new dedicated machine for Zoom feeds via NDI into video mixer. A massive difference as the machine is not overloading & freezing.
Added virtual Studio Clock to teleprompt display – to keep everything on track.
Converted old laptop to the dedicated live streaming unit.
This unit has a reasonably good GPU so has increased quality of stream from 1.5 to 6.0 Mbs. Note: Still running 720p for now. (Fingers crossed this delivers a much better image – you can all the testing in the world but you don’t know until you go live).
Switched back to Facebook for livestream channel. Hopefully, system upgrade reduces streaming problems. The Youtube chat engine was a fail with our viewers.
Added video vectorscope to assist with colour balance corrections across different studio cameras. A whole lot of new learning around LUTs & colour spaces.
Improvements to on-stage cabling (it was like crawling through a spider web )
Audio – Studio audio quality now is pretty bloody good but still some Zoom guest tests to do.
Other items in progress
*Virtual production via Unreal Engine (massive learning curve)
*Scene automation system (using Voicemeeter Macro Buttons)