Live Video Source for Adobe Connect

Our customers make use of Adobe Connect for many different use cases including training, sales, support, incident response, customer outreach, etc… One of the use cases that has been a problem in the past were meetings where a higher video production value was required. For instance imagine a meeting where a CEO and his team address  partners or customers in a large scale event. In this scenario a webcam would not be appropriate, typically in these situations you will find that the production team has high end equipment and expects to be able to use it for this event.

Refresher on Video Sources

If you are not familiar with the difference ways to get live video into Adobe Connect, here is a short refresher. Adobe Connect supports nearly any webcam and for that matter nearly any video source as long as the drivers are well written and can be seen by Adobe Connect. That includes typical webcams and capture devices such as the Epiphan AVio. Capture devices have been the only way to bring video in from an external source (e.g. video conference device or high end camera) until very recently. In other words if you had a high end camera with an hdmi port or a video conference device with an hdmi port you could use a video capture device such as the Epiphan AVio to bring that video into an Adobe Connect meeting and display that video in the video pod. Of course the video capture device has to have the appropriate drivers.

The Problem

With that said, what if your external encoder/switcher/etc… could push out an RTMP stream but was not close to a PC with a video capture device. For some time I have been advocating for the ability for Adobe Connect to accept an RTMP stream from an external encoder such as a Newtek Tricaster. It would allow for more flexibility in the setup for streaming video through Connect and allow for higher production value use cases. Good news, I recently tested a new version of ManyCam and this version does accept an external RTMP stream. This means that a use case that requires an external encoder/switcher (Newtek Tricaster) that can publish an RTMP stream can now work with Adobe Connect.

The Solution

If you are not familiar with ManyCam , it is a live software switcher that works as a video source in a Connect Meeting, Seminar Room or Virtual Classroom. With ManyCam I can ingest multiple video and or content  sources, switch between them, with transitions, and now one of those sources can be an RTMP stream. ManyCam can accept many different input sources including webcams, media such as images and video, IP cameras, etc… but for the purpose of this discussion I will only cover the new ability to use an RTMP stream as a video source.

There are many ways to publish an RTMP stream that you may want to bring into a Connect meeting including Newtek Tricaster, SlingStudio, Wirecast, Epiphan Pearl, Matrox Monarch, etc…. In the past there was no way to bring these into a Connect Meeting, Seminar Room or Virtual Classroom. A simple diagram may help explain the relationship between the video source, ManyCam and Adobe Connect.

High Level Diagram

I would assume that the people that have read this far have a need to bring an RTMP stream into Adobe Connect. I would also assume they already have a hardware or software video product that can publish an RTMP stream. If that is the case the setup is quite simple. First install ManyCam on the PC where the Adobe Connect client app is installed. In order to add an RTMP stream in ManyCam and have that stream display in an Adobe Connect Meeting, Seminar Room or Virtual Classroom.

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I hope you found this article useful.

High End Cameras and Adobe Connect

For some time I have been looking at ways to expand the use of high end video cameras with Adobe Connect. There are many reasons to consider higher end cameras not the least of which are optics, sensor size and quality, features, etc… If you need convincing the following should help.

Megapixel vs Sensor Size

Camera sensor size: Why does it matter and exactly how big are they?

I was recently given an opportunity to test the Matrox MX02 Mini and jumped at the chance.

box_800

 

What better way to test it than with my Canon 5D Mark III.  I have really enjoyed using this camera for both stills as well as video.

matrox with blur_HDR3_400

The Matrox MX02 mini gave me the opportunity to see how the Canon camera and Adobe Connect would  work together.  The initial setup was fairly easy. I requested the model that came with a ExpressCard/34 adapter so that I could use my laptop.  On a slightly humorous note my laptop only has a full size ExpressCard slot so a little adjustment was required.

cardboard_adaptor_400

It turns out that cardboard like duct tape has many uses. This was obviously not a short coming of the MX02 Mini but none the less easily overcome.  I decided to use the HDMI input for the test.  The Canon 5D Mark III requires a mini HDMI connector.  I thought I had every adapter made but it turns out a mini HDMI was not one of them, a quick trip to Fry’s fixed that problem.

Matrox AppsThere is software to install for this setup to work.  The installation was easy and included a number of applications. With that said in the end the only software I used was the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator utility.  As you might expect this utility allows the MX02 Mini to appear to the PC as if it were a webcam, making it easy to use with Adobe Connect.   There are five popup boxes in the USB Webcam Emulator: Video Input Format, Video Input Source, Audio Input Source, Video Frame Size and Video Frame Rate. The first three, as expected, have to do with the video device you have connected to the MX02 Mini and the last two have to do with the video output from the MX02 Mini.

Matrox Prefs

I set the output on the Canon camera to 1920 @30 fps (frames per second) IPB. In the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator I set the Video Input Format to 1080@29.97 fps. Since I used HDMI I set the Video Input Source to HDMI and the Audio Input Source to HDMI Channel 1-2. I did not test the RCA left and right for audio input source.

Adobe Connect supports six input resolutions, three for a 4:3 aspect ratio and three for 16:9 aspect ratio. The 4:3 resolutions are: 160×120, 320×240 and 640×480. The 16:9 resolutions are: 214×120, 427×240 and 854×480. Choose the Video Frame Size (video output resolution) that is closest to one of the supported Connect resolutions. For instance the MX02 Mini does not have 427×240 but it does have 424×240. The same is true for 854×480 but it does support 852×480. If you need to change the input or output parameters you may have to restart the Connect meeting/seminar room in order for the settings to take effect. Luckily this is a simple matter with Adobe Connect, simply refresh the browser tab that was used to launch the meeting/seminar room.

Make sure that you have the correct settings in Adobe Connect to match your settings in the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator. As stated previously Adobe Connect supports the following video input resolutions:

4:3 aspect ratio: 160×120, 320×240, 640×480
16:9 aspect ratio: 214×120, 427×240, 854×480

Notice that in the Connect video preference settings of your meeting room there is a slider with four steps (settings).

Video_Quality_Slider

Each of the slider steps corresponds to a particular resolution, frame rate and compression amount.  At this point we are only concerned about resolution.  The following shows the resolution for both the 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio for each setting on the slider from right to left (highest being on the far right of the slider).

 Quality  Resolution (4:3 )  Resolution (16:9 )
 High  640×480  854×480
 Standard  320×240  427×240
 Medium  320×240  427×240
 Low  160×120  214×120

As an example, if your output (Video Frame Size) on the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator was set to 852×480 you would want to use the following settings for the video preferences in the Adobe Connect meeting/seminar room.

ConnectVideoPreferences_664

 

I found the Matrox MX02 Mini, Canon 5D Mark III and Adobe Connect to be a great combination.

Camera Test

On several occasions I have had discussions with individuals regarding camera quality. There are two elements regarding quality, subjective and objective quality.  Obviously each individual can look at the image produced and make up there own mind. In some cases it is helpful to have some objective data to help elucidate the individuals assumptions. To that end I posted a simple test.

Simply choose a typical resolution and click the test button. The video that you see show up in the application is not to scale, it is 1/3 scale. The key element is the frame per second metric and the capture size. Not all cameras will support all of these resolutions so you may notice that the capture size is not the same as the resolution that you selected. You should use a browser other than Chrome. In other words Firefox, IE, etc… The reason I say this is that Google decided to write their own Flash player that does not act the same as the Adobe Flash player. As an example if you run this test in Chrome and select a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will not see the resolution change but if you run this using the Adobe Flash player and choose a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will see the resolution that is supported. This is a pretty cool ability because you can see what resolutions are supported by your webcam.

 

Capture