When we left off, I’d completed the vMix GO product and built a sales channel for vMix. It didn’t take long for the next opportunity. Wirecast was originally developed in 2004. There wasn’t much video streaming then, though RealMedia and Quicktime offered ways to get video onto the Internet. The key issue was broadband adoption, growing rapidly following the dotcom boom/bust. Sometime later, the developers of Wirecast took a buyout and joined Telestream.

To be fair, Wirecast handled streaming very well and did a lot with a unique interface. To be realistic, it was a nightmare to use in anything other then as a backend single input in/out to web engine. Live switching, titling, etc resulted in a lot of unstable workflows. v5 was better and v6 even more. But with v7, the product really took a turn for the better and finally became a robust interface for live production. Everything important was on a single screen, stability was vastly improved and new features were rivaling systems like the Newtek TriCaster.

Wirecast Logo
Telestream Logo

I knew the product manager, Tom Prehn and ran into him at Streaming Media West in 2015. We had a nice lunch (Tom is a laid back Californian) and I pitched the idea of a Telestream turnkey workstation. One thing led to another, soon I was pitching the division head and lead software dev on the Wirecast Gear live streaming computer. My goal was a contract relationship, but ultimately I got talked into a position with the company. I knew little about Telestream, their broadcast products never really intersected with my area of expertise. I quickly learned they eveloped and sold high end server configurations and product development had a typical lead time/process. The initial read was that I was overly optimistic on delivery.

Fortunately, I was given the ability to work outside of that lane and challenged the group with an extremely short delivery schedule of less than 6 months from design to shipping. I’ve always loved the Jobs quote “real artists ship” and knew we could achieve the goal. The first proposal was for a small form factor portable. The chassis is beautiful but got quickly shot down based on the realities of live production and there being large holes for liquids, bugs and other detritus to find its way into a production rig.

NFC S4 Mini Chassis
Early Wirecast Gear Live Streaming Computer Prototype

This led me to propose a different idea, a 2 for 1 configuration that could be a small rackmount for OBV and other mobile work as well as a stylish desktop. The key was rackmount depth. I contacted a good chassis OEM and began the NRE work to create the perfect box. We initially wanted a 1U configuration but the product needed special CPU cooling that a typical 1U server cooler could not accomodate. A key goal of the project was to take advantage of recent Intel on-chip GPU capabilities and special software extensions inside Wirecast. Without the need of a large and hot graphics card, we had a lot of maneuverability on chassis design.

See our lineup of Wirecast Gear Live Streaming Computers

In the next post, I will cover the system configuration for the Telestream Project X box and finish up with how we brought it to market.