USB Capture family of plug-and-play, external capture devices helps support-oriented streaming provider improve their clients’ production quality with outstanding ease of use
February 7, 2018 — Nanjing, China: Stretch Internet is a full-service streaming platform provider that takes pride in the “freakishly good support” they deliver to their customers. Needing flexible, easy-to-use interface devices to reliably connect their clients’ video sources to their streaming systems, Stretch found the USB Capture family from Magewell to deliver these benefits and more at cost-effective pricing.
Founded in 2003 to provide affordable streaming services to athletics departments at smaller colleges and universities, Stretch has grown to become the largest streaming provider in North American collegiate athletics while extending its customer base to entertainment venues, churches, healthcare, municipalities and more. More than 600 organizations trust Stretch to stream over 65,000 live events each year.
While the centerpiece of Stretch’s offering is their own live streaming platform, their involvement with their customers’ productions goes far deeper, customizing end-to-end production workflows for each client’s specific requirements. “We treat every customer individually and separately, as they each have their own needs, budgets, goals, and levels of technical expertise,” said J.D. Fox, Operations and Production Manager at Stretch Internet. “We design the workflow starting with where to put the cameras within the venue, and make all the equipment recommendations right down to the cables.”
While some of Stretch’s clients use dedicated encoding hardware, the majority of their projects use a camera-to-computer workflow with software-based streaming production tools such as Telestream Wirecast. A key component of those workflows is a capture device to bring HDMI or SDI-based video and audio signals into the computer.
The IEEE-1394 (“FireWire”) standard had previously enabled camera connectivity with many computers, but Stretch started searching for alternatives when 1394-compatible products became less common. Ease of use and reliability were obvious requirements, and with their clients using a mix of Mac and Windows computers alongside a wide variety of cameras, flexible compatibility was also important. “We were looking for what was going to work next, and what was going to work universally,” recalled Fox. “Magewell had the right product at the right time.”Stretch uses products from multiple vendors depending on their clients’ exact needs, but for a significant percentage of use cases, Magewell’s external, plug-and-play USB Capture devices top the list. In addition to Wirecast, Stretch’s customers use the Magewell devices alongside software including BlueFrame Technology’s Production Truck, Open Broadcast Software (OBS), vMix and Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.
“For a lot of our use cases, the USB Capture series is not only the most cost-effective product available, but it’s also the best product in the space irrespective of price,” Fox praised. “They work flexibly in any scenario, and can capture video formats and frame rates from some popular cameras that other products can’t handle. And for many uses, it’s the only product on the market that’s truly cross-platform compatible.”
Although Stretch only began specifying Magewell USB Capture Plus devices four years ago, nearly a quarter of Stretch’s college sports clients now use them. More than half of those Magewell-equipped clients use multiple USB Capture units – some with as many as seven – for streaming several camera angles and multiple sports.
The devices’ ease of use has benefitted both Stretch and their clients. “The USB Capture devices have really streamlined our ability to get users up and running quickly,” said Fox. “It’s very easy to train somebody. Just plug HDMI or SDI into one end of the device, plug USB into the other end and into the computer, and you’re good to go.”
Magewell’s seamless integration with third-party software has also proven beneficial. “Unlike other products we’ve tried, with the Magewell devices we can change input parameters directly in the streaming and encoding software without stopping the stream first, and without needing a separate utility,” said Fox.
Most importantly, the Magewell devices are helping Stretch Internet meet and exceed the expectations of their customers. “Our goal is to elevate our clients’ production quality and make their jobs easier, all while working within their budgets,” Fox concluded. “Magewell’s products enable us to do that.”