Boxcast’s New Boxcaster Pro Makes LIVE Streaming Super Simple

Where has this company been all my life?!?!  

I’m only partly serious.  I’ve known, peripherally about Boxcast for a little while, but never given them much thought.  Honestly, for streaming, I thought it was TOO simple to be of any real use.  Well…  I was WRONG!

I love live streaming! I’ve been live streaming for 7 or so years.  I’ve done small streams with a few dozen people, to large streams with 100k viewers.  I’ve streamed from my desk in my studio, from Google’s headquarters to a global audience and for days on end at the Consumer Electronics Show – the one thing they’ve all had in common is lots of equipment and lots of configuration to get going.  

The streaming software and devices I’ve been using – like my Tricaster – have the ability to stream to a single or multiple platforms, but there’s hoops to jump through.  There’s also the bandwidth going UP to the internet that is a consideration.  To stream a high quality 1080p stream, you need to have 3-5 megabits of “UP” speed, which means you really need 5-10 megabits of speed to provide some cushion.   Many of the streams people do today are 720p (smaller size) and lower bitrate, like 1 megabit or so.  

As you can see, there’s lots of stuff to be concerned with.  And that’s ok, but in a church environment, where you have few staff members and lots of volunteers, the easier and more “turn key” you can make your production, the better and smoother it will be. 

Boxcast to the rescue!

Boxcaster Pro HDMI and Network Ports for Live StreamingAs I said, I’ve known about Boxcast for a while, but never really thought much either way about them or their Boxcaster product – until NAB 2017 when I met the founder, Gordon Daily and he showed me the new (mind blowing) Boxcaster Pro.  

In a nutshell, this single device has the inputs and outputs (throughputs) you need take a video signal and stream it to a streaming platform.   That’s basic enough. 

That means you can run a camera in and stream.  Or you can run the “program out” from your switcher or laptop for a more polished production and stream it through the Boxcaster.  That’s all great and wonderful.  I like that….but it gets better. 

Boxcaster Pro does H.265 HEVC Streaming!

Boxcaster Pro's live streaming device with detailed program monitor built in.Ok, I know for some of you, your eyes glaze over when all the hyper tech stuff starts flowing…  I’ll try to be brief – but this is HUGE!

Our phones and the videos we export and upload to Youtube and our podcasting hosts all use a compression scheme called H.264.  You can think of it like Jpeg for video – it’s not but it’s a similar idea.  

When you take a picture with your DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can set it to shoot “raw” or jpeg photos.  If you’ve played with raw, you understand that it’s a FULL resolution image with everything that the sensor captures – no compression at all – and it’s like 35mb in size.  Whereas when you shoot a photo as a Jpeg, it compresses the image information for a visibly indistinguishable picture, but at a smaller file size – like 5mb or so.   

Ok, focus your eyes back here…  🙂 

The difference in the file size and the relative visual quality similarity of the image makes using Jpeg more desirable over a RAW picture format.  Now, this analogy isn’t apples to apples but the idea is the same.  

H.264 encoding gives a compressed video that when given a high bitrate while encoding, produces a great looking video image at a relatively small file size.  

H.265 is an even better, much more advanced compression scheme that can give as good and clean an image but can be encoded at a much lower bitrate.   I know…  MATH…  Sorry.  But what makes this amazing is that basically you and I can stream our services with the same bitrate settings, but get a MUCH higher quality and cleaner video image….  OR can get the same quality we’re getting now, but using only a fraction of the “UP” bandwidth.   

So…   More, better with less required.   That’s huge. 

Oh.. and did I mention….  It can stream 4k.   Yeah.  It can.  Most of us aren’t there yet but it looks like this is future-proof. 

Boxcast’s Platform

This H.265, super duper jazz happens when you are using the Boxcaster Pro AND streaming to their BoxCast Platform.  

They are able to do some digital juju between the Boxcaster and the platform and give a VERY efficient, high quality upstream which they then transcode in their cloud servers and make available to all your viewers as they have need.  AND, once on their platform, they can re-stream or syndicate your single stream to your other platforms, like Youtube, Facebook LIVE etc etc.

So at first glance, this looks to be a killer piece of hardware. I’m going to be getting one and putting it through its paces.  I’ll have a full review soon.  IF they are able to deliver on what they’re promising with this box, the quality of live streaming for churches may have just made a giant leap forward!

I’m curious tho,  have you used a Boxcaster device?  Are you using it in your church services?  How’s it going?  Leave a comment below. I’d love to get your input! 

Note: Thanks to Ben McNeill from Nexi.TV for shooting and helping with production while at NAB.

 

 

 

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