Improve One Button Studio app of Penn State University

The One Button Studio, Mac App, of Penn State University is powerful and useful to video clip creators because this app supports everything to the creators. They don’t need to know about “Recording Studio Settings”.

One Button Studio Brochure [ Image from Penn State Univ. One Button Studio ]

This Mac application has been published v1.0 at Nov. 2013 and the development team has updated one time at Nov. 2018.

Version History [ Image from Apple App store ]

The basic idea was awesome. Especially, when users insert their USB Memory stick, the system starts with the default configuration. They only need to push the button to start their recording and push again to stop their recording.

But, the system design is a little bit old fashioned. For example, the application does not support image layer functions and background images. So, users have to use a projector or a big screen TV to display their presentation files such as a powerpoint and they need to edit the green background by themself if they want to put some images on their video clips.

I understand it was developed around 10 years ago, and the University might have a small budget to spend this application.

Projecting the PPT [ Image from Penn State Univ. One Button Studio ]

One company, DVEstore.com, grabbed this idea and improved the original system. They created their own application which has layer function, background image changer, etc. But, the problem is the prices.

Price list [Image from dvestore.com]

My department did not have the amount of budget, but they wanted it.

Ha ha ha…Ooookay… I got it…

I know there are tremendous video streaming or video recording applications for YouTube, and I am the user of one of them, OBS(Open Broadcasting Software). These kinds of applications are for the personal video creators in their home with their PC, Mac, Linux, etc.

I mean there is no “STUDIO START SWITCH by USB Memory Sticks”. They don’t need that actually.

Ooookay…, then I will merge two systems as one, it would be perfect…right???

Most of all, I have to understand the One Button Studio app of Penn. State Univ. According to their site information, the application controls studio lights, BackMagic software for saving video clips on users’ USB memory stick from BlackMagic H.264. That’s all. It’s so simple. I have a lot of old Mac Minis(2011 model) and monitors. I reused them to save money.

Then, I designed like this:

Diagram
Diagram

Wawoo! it looks perfect! but the result was not good.

Basically, I need 3 layers, background, PPT, and user camera. I used the two MacMinis. One is for One Button Studio app and the other is OBS.

The OBS merges 3 layers into one streaming video clip and sends the video to the HDMI to SDI. The One Button Studio captures the last scene.

The Mac Mini has no video capture card and the camera has network streaming option, so I used NDI, Network Device Interface for the camera image. LUCKEY! I saved a lot of money.

But, there were problems. The biggest problem was the video and audio mismatching. I tried to match the lag time between the video and audio from OBS, but I failed because every video clip has a different lag time. When I restarted the system, there was another lag time. What the HACK!

There were two reasons. One was the network, and the other was the old Mac Mini’s performance. Many OBS with NDI users mention the lag time about 0.5 to 2 seconds because of the data transfer encoding. The lag time depends on the computer and the network speed. There is no solution, yet.

To solve this issue, I need something. That means I need money, but don’t have a BUDGET! Meanwhile, my boss bought a device, BlackMagic ATEM Mini for another project. I had a chance to test it, whether it could solve the lag issue or not.

Black Magic ATEM Mini Switcher

I designed it again with the Black Magic ATEM Mini Switcher.

It could reduce the lag time between the video and audio, but there was a lag time around 1.5 second and the device made the other problem. Users have to touch the device. Do you remember? The One Button Studio’s main purpose is that users do not need to do something. Work in and out for recording video clips without any support. Users shouldn’t have to change the studio settings. No one was satisfied.

As time went by, a new budget application was coming.

I requested mainly two items, one is a PC with a good graphic device and a video capture board. I picked up Dell Alienware Aurora R7 and BlackMagic DeskLink Quad HDMI Recorder.

Black Magic DeskLink Quad HDMI Recorder

The system connections are very simple.

  • All video sources, background, ppt, camera, include sounds go to the Black Magic Desk Link on the Dell PC.
  • Microphone sound goes to SDI to HDMI converter and Dell PC(Backup).
  • The OBS on the Dell PC merges all video sources and Dell PC sends the final cut to Live display and Black Magic H.264.
  • The H.264 encode sends the video clips to One Button Studio app on a Mac Mini.

Now, all systems work fine. I removed the lag time between video and audio and I got 3 layers of video images on the OBS of Dell PC. There was only one last problem, studio lights. The One Button Studio app uses Insteon power modem and Indigo app to control the Insteon modem, but the Indigo version supported by One Button Studio app was out of date and the new Indigo software did not work with One Button Studio and the price is too expensive.

The Insteon modem works with serial port signals such as old style joysticks. I have an experience creating a joystick app. So, I created a very small Mac app for lights control. It is perfect!!

Studio and system

Reference Links:

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