Since its release, the NewTek TalkShow, aka Skype TalkShow has been a fantastic tool for many live stream productions incorporating remote guests calling in. Not only have we used the TalkShow for live events it has found its way onto traditional broadcast television, concert intros, press junkets, ADR sessions, and much more.
NewTek TalkShow: Pro Skype stream integration
You’re producing a live event, you’ve got a rockin’ venue, the guest list is improving from B plus to A minus, and you’re live streaming it to the world. Then it hits you – the addition of a celebrity would tip the scales of perception from “Nice Event” to “Epic Event.” Not happening, you remind yourself. None of the local celebrities you wanted are available, and there’s no budget to travel someone, put them up in a hotel, deliver them to the venue in a limo, feed and water them.
Enter the NewTek VS-100 and the VS-4000 TalkShow – the newest force in the “shrinking the world” club. The TalkShow is a studio-grade video calling production system built exclusively for delivering Skype calls in live, broadcast-ready HD. Much like satellite feeds, the Skype TalkShow can be used for two way communication with talent, opening the door for producers to bring guests and celebrities into their production in full HD quality from anywhere in the world.
Dave Rosen, CEO of Absolute Live Productions is an enthusiastic advocate of using the Skype TalkShow at live events to bring in guests and celebrities. “The great thing about using the TalkShow to bring talent in to live events,” says Rosen, “is the guest can comment on what’s happening at the event, whether it’s a band, or a speaker, they are receiving the feed from the event with minimal latency, so they’re able to participate as though they are really there.”
Rosen says he isn’t surprised at the popularity of the TalkShow as a rental for Absolute Live Productions. “It delivers broadcast ready HD, so it’s a professional way to use Skype which opens the doors to a lot of possibilities that, a few years ago, could only be achieved through satellite feeds.“
Rosen’s Absolute Live Productions, recently produced show using four VS-100 TalkShows. Dan Houze – the Broadcast IT Engineer for Absolute Live Productions on the show, was thrilled by the performance of the four TalkShow units being used in tandem. “It was a show with people playing against each other and they were up on a screen behind the host” said Houze. “There were four TalkShows bringing in four contestants simultaneously. The contestants were changing constantly throughout the day, so we were always calling someone new, quickly adjusting their image, coaching them offline, then bringing them into the game.”
The fast pace of the game coupled with the constant addition of new variables for each new contestant could have spelled disaster for the production, but instead Houze says the TalkShow’s built in features such as the proc amp and true IFB Talk Back handled the changes seamlessly. “Everyone has a different form of Skype. They have iPhone, iPad, webcams, onboard webcams, and they’re all different resolutions. The TalkShow auto scaled everything to 1080 for us, which was a life saver. We also used the auto white balance and color, and the gain limiters and compression to smooth everything out and make it more uniform. And with the Talk Back, we could talk to them offline and let them know ‘we’re bringing you on in five seconds so be excited!’”
The TalkShow’stools include “Auto Color” on/off, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and white balance with adjustable RGB levels. The audio tools include a stereo meter with gain adjustments, a seven-band equalizer, a compressor/limiter with controls for threshold, ratio, attack, release and makeup gain.
Houze also praised the TalkShow’s contact queue interface that allowed for easy, one click calling of the next contestant. “It’s like a phone book. We had the names of the players listed in order and we’d just click and call. It was perfect for what we were doing.”
The TalkShow, featuring Skype TX software, also has a multi-tiered, built in Fail Safe system that adds a layer of protection for producers. The TalkShow will automatically failover to audio transmission and switch the image to a caller snapshot when it senses the call bandwidth falling below an operator preset value. “The failover never kicked in during our show,” says Houze, “but we had it if we needed it, and that made everyone breathe easier.”
In the guts of the NewTek Skype TalkShow is a 4th Gen i7 Quad-Core, an Intel HD4600 GPU graphics card and 120GB of SSD internal storage. It has HD-SDI video input and output with embedded audio, 4 HD-SDI inputs and outputs on the VS-4000, 2 balanced XLR inputs and outputs, and supports full bandwidth recording of call audio and video with the option of return audio on separate channels.
“It’s great,” remarked Absolute’s Rosen, “to have the option to connect a camera to the TalkShow, or do what some of our clients are doing and route the TalkShow through a TriCaster because it allows you a professional HD recording of the event.”
Rosen sees continued popularity for both the Skype TalkShow as a rental item for Absolute “When I look at it, it’s pretty obvious a bunch of people who know a lot about broadcasting put the TalkShow together. It’s doing a great job creating access to talent no matter where they are in the world, and incorporating social media into broadcasting, and I think that’s the future.”
Dave Rosen – Absolute Live Productions
phone: 310 560-2373