jtv casting setup

Mirror's Edge, E.A. Dice (12/09/2008)

This jump took me forever to do, as I've only been able to do it once off the time trials mode. I know it may not be clear from the video, but I timed the jumps off the air units with slight tic jump from the top of the wall corner. It's the same method used on balance beam skipping, by jumping as soon as you land a hop.
Hey! This entry will discuss the exact setup and settings that I use to cast on Justin(TV). In case you've never heard of Justin, it's a live video sharing service that's available in 9 countries and in 7 different languages. It connects people from all different walks of life, anywhere from the struggling artist to video game developers like yours truly. Did I mention that it's free? Start broadcasting and being part of a large community now by signing up at justin.tv . If you're wondering what the requirements to do live broadcasting are, I'll discuss a moderately simple set up that I use.

My Computer

Often called 'the beast,' it's a rightly deserved name, weighing at 27 lbs. with all of its components. 'The beast,' however is a great gaming P.C. as well as a good broadcasting P.C. Any computer with a dual core that's clocked at atleast 2.0Ghz and contains 3Gb of R.a.M. would do well.

  • A.M.D. Phenom 9550 (2.6GHz running at 3.6Ghz)
  • 8Gb DDR 3 R.a.M.
  • 3 Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX (in SLi mode)
  • Avermedia M.C.E. A180 (Whitebox) && Hauppauge HVR 950T HDTv Usb Tuner

My T.V.

My television is a Samsung HL-S5087W 50" 1080p DLP HDTV. This T.V. is great for broadcasting because it has a 'Monitor Out' connection in the back that allows you to connect it to an outside source like an amplifier or in our case, a capture card. In other words, it has the Yellow, White, and Red connections that you can connect to the Avermedia.

Subsequently, the problem now is that you cannot convert a High Definition signal to a Standard Definition signal on the fly, forcing you to play in Standard Definition; the only format your capture device would take. In other words, playing in H.D. would render your 'Monitor Out' as an irregular signal since it uses basic composite outputs (RCA Yellow, Red, White).

Most broadcasters tell you that sacrifices have to be made in order to cast, but I think we've grown accustomed to being High Definition nuts and we may just have to get a device that converts H.D. signals. In case you're fine with Standard Definition, you could use the monitor out on your Television and then change the settings to play in regular S.D.

Phase-Shifting Device

No, this has nothing to do with Star Wars. A phase shifting device is like a V.C.R., or if that's before your time -- it's like a TiVO or digital recorder. The one that I use is the Hava Platinum HD. It takes output from your HDTv and then converts your signal into Standard Definition. In essence what you're trying to do is play in HD, but cast in SD. This device allows you to do that by doing the conversion for you. Note that since it's a phase shift device, you're going to see video on your broadcast at a delayed rate, which is normal.

The Set-up

So you have your T.V., and you have your own version of a 'beast' with the capture device, now it's time to set up the cables. Looking at all the wires may have you thinking it's a daunting task, but just take a deep breath and take note of where things would go. Chances are that if you were able to plug in your gaming console, then you'll have no problem plugging in your casting setup. Since the Hava is an optional device to use, and Justin(TV) is optimized for SD broadcasting, I'm going to leave the HD gaming / SD casting setup for another entry.

  1. Hook up your game system to your T.V. (or I'll assume you already have it set up).
  2. Use an Analog Female (for audio) to RCA 3.5Mm Male dongle and connect the Red & White to the corresponding audio output of your T.V. Then connect the 3.5Mm to the line-in of your P.C. (usually light blue or if you don't have blue, then pink)
  3. Use a Yellow Composite Video cable or an S-Video cable and connect that to the corresponding video output of your T.V. Connect the other end to your Avermedia capture card.

That's pretty much it in regards to the setup! Easy wasn't it? As far as the locations of your devices, it would be best if everything was in close proximity to one another. The HDTV that I have is hooked to my P.C. (since I use it as a media center, they stay close together). And my laptop is wireless and is always at my side for easy access to my adoring viewers.

Casting Programs

There are various programs to use that work wonderfully with live casting. There are free programs and ones that have a trial period displaying a logo until you purchase them. I'll discuss the programs that I use, which is more or less streamlined for the kind of setup that I have. My CPU usage never falls above 20%, but the quality is sometimes dependent on the time of day or network usage.

Flash Media Encoder

This is a great program that you can tweak settings to your hearts content for an optimal broadcast. It's free and available at Adobe.com, and you only need to sign an account with them to gain access. As of this date and time of this writing, the current version is 2.5. These are my exact settings.

  • capture device: WebCamMax Capture
  • frame rate: 24.00
  • size: 320 x 240
  • audio device: Stereo Mix (sound integrated) | 44100Khz | Stereo 128Kb/s
  • format: VP6 | Lower Quality - Best Framerate | 256Kb/s

note: the human eye can discern images at 24 f.p.s. at an average. That value changes depending on several factors, such as stress level or heightened alert levels, but for full-motion video and just overall live casting, 24 f.p.s. is optimal.

Stereo Mix may not be enabled for your particular computer. It depends on the Operating System. What it is, is a software solution to those who don't want to get a physical sound mixer. It performs just like a mixer that mixes the analog recorder devices that you have on your computer (Mic, Line-in, PC Speakers) and sends them out through the Stereo Mix channel. I've supplied a google search engine for you so that you may discover how to enable Stereo Mix for your particular computer.

Custom Search

WebCamMax Capture

WebCamMax is a fun little program that has unique features. It's primarily for those who use live webcams and conference chatrooms, but it's an awesome program that allows you to change the frame rate and resolution of your cast as well as add flashy effects such as the timer you often see when I do speed runs. My setup matches F.M.E.

Under Tools > Options > Source you choose the resolution 320x240, and at 24fps. Under the Sources tab, I have Vladimir Hmelyoff's Multi-Cam.

V.H. Multi-Cam

A great program to streamline various sources, such as a Webcam, video or any other capture device. A simple right-click allows you to access never before seen options for your capture device, such as framerate and compression method.

Click 'Add Source' > 'Avermedia A180' and then left-click and drag the window to stretch it out on the available space. If you haven't messed with the resolution, it should be set at 320 x 240. Right-click the screen and choose options. You can now set up your capture device and its appropriate values such as brightness, contrast, and sharpness.

You may want to change the 'Capture Format' and match it with F.M.E. (24fps | 320 x 240). As for 'Color Space Compression,' you may choose RGB 24 if you're uploading at a speed greater than 256Kb/s. I use 'UYUY' since it closely matches the way we see as human beings in regards to chroma values. That format also uses less resources.

Optional Hardware

You may want to get a laptop to chat with viewers or monitor the quality of your broadcast. Most of the current browsers use a lot of resources that you will need for casting. If your computer is not up to date, you may want to use IRC; a stripped down yet functional alternative. It's a text based interface so that you can chat with your viewers.

And that's it! That's all that I do for my late night casting shenanigans. So just find a comfortable seat, pull up your laptop on a coffee table (in my case) and have fun interacting and playing live content for the unexpected audience.