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Live Streaming Solutions for eSports

This article was originally written by Josh Folland in April 2012 on www.egeek.ca.

One of my passions is eSports. As an eSports fanatic, my journey has taken me to the world of commentary . One of the skills that is incredibly useful to have in the world of eSports commentary is a working knowledge of how to run a live stream. This was even more important in 2010 when I began, because the tools were primitive and the ability to use them was a rare commodity.

Originally, the way to do things was to use a combination the free-to-use Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) to broadcast the stream, the tools inside VH Multi Camera Studio to efficiently and effectively capture what was on your screen, and finally irfanview to add screen overlays such as sponsor logos. These tools are free to use and at the time, they were good enough. Being able to run a live stream of whatever gaming content you wanted from your own home without the need of a $30,000+ telecaster setup was a very new idea; however it was one that entirely redefined the way the 18-34 male demographic consumes gaming-related media.

This interested several companies. The creators of VH Multi Camera Studio, Split Media Labs set out to take their product one step further and create an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution for live streaming calledXsplit. Xsplit was free during its initial beta stages but has moved on to a subscription model now that they have released version 1.0. XSplit’s main competition is Wirecast by Telestream, which comes with a much heftier price tag.

Each one has some pros and cons outside of the price tag. Wirecast’s interface is absolutely brilliant: built on layers, you can manipulate each scene with maximum detail on-the-fly as needed. The key point as far as gaming content is concerned is the ability to manipulate the scene off-stream and then apply it once you have prepared everything completely, using either the tools and media that comes pre-canned within the software, or by adding in your own. Wirecast’s audio controls are also excellent, allowing you to do a vast amount of mixing via software without the need of an expensive (although most certainly useful) hardware mixer, giving you the ability to change the volumes of each individual element within the stream.

Xsplit’s interface is much more primitive to say the least. Xsplit is capable of capturing your default audio output device (as defined by the OS) as well as a microphone. Xsplit also has a maximum of 12 scenes to transition between, each one needing to be set up as much as possible before the production begins as any changes you make will be displayed to the audience as you make them.

The deciding factor here is the encoder that each of these programs is built around. Both programs are capable of H.264 up to 1080p (or even higher) at 60fps in virtually any format you could ever need; however, XSplit’s encoder provides a cleaner looking stream at the end of the day and clarity of the content itself is a higher priority than some bells and whistles. Simply put, XSplit is “good enough” – with proper preparation and knowledge of your event and stream beforehand, you can create a very professional broadcast for anyone to consume easily.

About Josh Folland

Josh Folland is a technologist and marketing professional with a strong interest in video games and video game culture. His talents as a systems administrator are complimented by audio and video skills. He can strafe jump with the best of them and when he clicks on you, you're done for.

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