Few days ago I found out the Ustream now has its own desktop application for broadcasting – Ustream Producer. I decided to give it a try, in particular since I am looking for a portable setup and I do not have a Mac laptop.
Ustream Producer comes in two versions: A free version that allows high quality standard definition (up to 600kbps) and a PRO version that costs $199 and can do high definition. The free version should be sufficient for my current basic need.
Needless to say, Ustream Producer is available for Mac and Wintendo, but not for Linux. I will not even bother to make any statements about this unfortunate fact – if you know me you should know how I feel about such things. Anyway, my choice got then limited to using my rather slow Dell latitude D420 laptop with Win XP.
The camera was a Logitech Quickcam 9000. The camera is rather weird under windows (works perfectly in Linux). Although it works extremely well with the Logitech software, I can not figure out how to select resolution when using it with third party applications. I can adjust pretty much all settings using the Logitech control panel, except the resolution. This mean that when I set an application to record in say 640×480, I have no idea what resolution the camera actually uses. Any tips in this respect will be highly appreciated.
The Ustream Producer allows you to choose between several predefined quality settings between 200 and 600 kbps, 320×240 and 640×480 for 4:3 and similar for 16:9. Due to the camera quirk I mentioned in the previous section, I have to stick to 4:3 when using third party applications unless the application can crop the video. Ustream Producer can not do that.
Lowest SD Quality
Live recording 320×240 @ 20fps, 200kbps. Watch on Ustream.
Basic SD Quality
Live recording 320×240 @ 20fps, 350kbps. Watch on Ustream.
Standard SD Quality
Live recording 320×240 @ 30fps, 350kbps. Watch on Ustream.
High SD Quality
Live recording 640×480 @ 30fps, 500kbps. Watch on Ustream.
Best SD Quality
Live recording 640×480 @ 30fps, 600kbps. Watch on Ustream.
High SD Quality in 16:9
Pre-recorded video 720×405 @ 30fps, 500kbps. Watch on Ustream. Starts with 15 seconds of black screen, sorry.
It appears that even on my relatively slow laptop I can do High SD Quality @ 500 kbps and almost do the Best SD Quality @ 600 kbps. The video still seems good at the highest quality but the sound is often choppy. I was using the built-in microphone in the camera and the clicks occur when the camera settings are changed. The performance might improve by using another microphone. In any case, the High SD Quality is sufficient for now and is definitely far better than the 320×240 one can get by using the web broadcaster.
As a final note, I was surprised that there was not much difference between the lowest, basic, and standard SD. I suspect the difference will be much more visible if there is motion on the video.