There's no shortage of devices that can film sharp, high-def video, whether it's your smartphone, a webcam or a pro-grade broadcast rig. But the real challenge is putting all those devices together into something that looks as good as the multicam broadcasts you see on TV. The new Sling Studio promises to allow almost anyone to make professional-quality live video for thousands less than a traditional setup.
The heart of the whole setup is the $999 Sling Studio. Due out in May, the Studio is a small white box not much bigger than a football that features built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi that wirelessly aggregates and archives up to 10 difference 1080p video sources. Video is sent to the Sling Studio over the air from any iOS or Android device using Sling's free Capture App, or via a traditional camera with one of Sling's $349 CameraLink wireless transmitters. And the best part is, this whole kit can go anywhere you want, as the Studio sports a bottom-mounted rechargeable battery good for up to 3 hours.
Once you have all your video sources connected to the Studio, you can fire Sling's free Capture software on an iPad to access an app-based broadcast suite that offers much of the same controls you'd see at a full TV studio with multiple monitors and super expensive TriCasters. This gives you ability to monitor four simultaneous video feeds, with another six on standby for a total of 10 connected video at any time.
From the Console app, you can drag and drop any feed on the preview screen, add cuts and transitions or even combine multiple feeds into one, and broadcast that video out live to the world. If you're in a hurry, you can even drag feeds directly into the live broadcast, a handy feature for speedy camera switching.
But don't take my word for it. Instead, check out a video from the SXSW Innovation awards. Aside from the fancy graphics, it was produced entirely using the Sling Studio and a handful of wirelessly connected cameras.
Currently, broadcasts can be hosted on Facebook Live and YouTube, while Sling works on integrating other video platforms. And the whole time you're broadcasting, the Sling Studio is also saving all your video to the built-in SD card reader or on an external hard-drive via the USB-C port in back. Then, you can send all your footage over Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro using a handy plug-in, and the Studio will make sure you get every feed and a full cut of the live broadcast footage, too.
In the back of the Sling studio, there's additional ports for HDMI in, HDMI out, USB-C audio in and power.
As powerful and relatively inexpensive as the Sling Studio is, it's not without a few compromises. Video tops out at 1080p, meaning there's no capability for 4K video, and the Studio's wireless range is limited to 300 feet. But the most noteworthy drawback is that the Console app, which is used to control and monitor all the various video sources, is currently only available on iOS devices. That pretty much forces you to use an iPad, which is a shame because most video producers are probably already carrying around a laptop that they might want to use instead.
While the Sling Studio may seem like a strange pivot for a company best known for letting you watch TV and movies over the internet, the Studio is really just another application of its top-notch video streaming expertise.
Other products like the Elgato Stream deck offer similar capture and production effects, but since that device is meant for game streamers on platforms like Twitch or Beam, it's not really in the same league as the Sling Studio.
So if you want to produce videos like the big boys, give the Sling Studio a serious look, because this system is simpler and significantly less expensive than the traditional broadcast setup. The Sling Studio will available at retail and online from B&H Photo.