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July 3, 2021 Journal, Video 0

THE PRODUCTION DIARY – NDI 5

https://ndi.tv/

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).  

Early Adopters

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/.  )

Sharks early adopters of NDI for livestream social video production
Sharks early adopters of NDI for livestream social video production

Digital Leadership

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. 

Rugby League legend Eric Grothe Jr  streams in over Zoom and the NDI into Maxys Big Dog Virtual Studio.
Special guest Eric Grothe Jr via Zoom then NDI into Maxys virtual studio for the Naked Punt Footy Show (Maxys Livestream sandbox project) then live-streamed out to the website and Facebook

NDI Limitations

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 .

Scott Maxworthy

Remote Collaboration

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.

In Summary

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

The unofficial NDI Users Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/138211526810898

We have already seen a flood of user satirical meme’s and posts (always a good indication of engaged fans) 


June 17, 2021 Marketing 0

THE PRODUCTION DIARY – 17th June 2021

TNP Changelog 3.14 (The Naked Punt Footy Show)

  • New Panasonic 4K camera into the Unreal Engine virtual set providing 1080p quality on the 1/2 body zoom shots. Results – Huge quality improvement but more testing to do on colour correction & camera calibration.
  • Worked out I can send a 4K HDMI signal from the camera directly into my Blackmagic card and it works in Unreal Engine 4.26
  • New lower third overlay plugin for OBS – much easier & faster.
  • Added XOTOPad hotkey control. A few little bugs when going live to look at.
  • Added NOVA parallel dynamic equaliser & ADHD Leveller VST plugins to Cantabile audio processor software. Audio very clean.
  • Facebook low latency streaming option. Didn’t see much difference from a production end except a reduction in video quality due to reduced latency (only 720p). Will speak with some viewers to see if the experience was more engaging or not due to reduced latency.
  • UPDATE – Typically there is about a 30-sec delay or latency but after tests today we determined this fast option reduced to around 10 secs – much better for audience interaction but the quality dropped a little.


April 15, 2021 Marketing 0

THE PRODUCTION DIARY – metahumans

It’s Thursday and I’ve set aside today to do some experimentation with Epic Games Unreal Engines new metahuman creation tool – a new tool that will empower anyone with some basic Unreal Engine skills to create a bespoke photorealistic digital human, fully rigged and complete with hair and clothing, in a matter of minutes.

As an avid photographer and videographer, the Unreal Engine enables me to create realistic 3D virtual environments and, combined with their cinematic tools, to control virtual camera and lighting as if in my physical studio – e.g. from camera choice and lens to aperture and shutter speed. I can set the bokeh shape, vignettes, colour temperature and a heap of post-production capabilities (that I’ve yet to explore fully).

Following are a few shots I took today with my virtual metamodel “Hadley” in the virtual pub I created this year for my weekly Naked Punt Footy Show (my virtual production sandbox project).

Metahuman Hadley Rocking on Stage

Note: The lighting is from virtual stage lighting setup to replicate the physical lights I have in my physical studio. On my todo list is adding DMX lighting control into the virtual set to control the physical studio lights on the model/ presenter.

Unreal metahuman Hadley - the skin and hair is simply amazing
metahuman Hadley – the skin tones and hair is simply amazing

Simply bloody WOW – the skin tones are so good and notice the catchlight in her eyes. The hair is simply amazing. Note: I’m going to experiment with video creation and add things like wind and water later.

Nothing is real but that’s not the point

Nothing in this shot is real. If you look closely you can see the weave in the jumper Hadley is wearing. The fashion opportunities are very interesting to explore.

Note: I’m thinking this may be the next area I explore and add to my research list.

The final shot is putting my portrait photography hat back on – beautiful black and white with a very wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field.

In summary, simply amazing. From a commercial perspective – will this disrupt the modelling, photographic and film production industry – YES! From product development and marketing perspectives? Yes – I think so.

Interesting times.