What is SlingStudio?
In a nutshell, SlingStudio is a complete professional multi-camera solution in a backpack. All of the tools provided for our review fit neatly into one regular size backpack. Of course, if you are using full-size cameras and tripods that might make for a pretty big backpack.
Why should we look at the improved SlingStudio? This version of the SlingStudio provides more stability and has an improved user interface, along with a better graphics package. The increase in post-production features alone got my attention. For the sake of our review, we are sticking with a Samsung Note 8, a Samsung S10 smartphone and Canon C100.
What's in the box?
- SlingSudio Hub
- Battery Pack
- HDMI Cable
- USB C Cable
- USB Full-Size Connectors
- Quick Start-Up Directions
The SlingStudio Hub is where it all happens. The improved slimmer Hub allows the crew to connect smartphones wirelessly. If desired, you can use the Cameralink boxes for traditional broadcast cameras as well. On the Hub, there are ports for an SD card, one wired camera, two USB ports, an external hard drive port, AC, and HDMI port.
What also makes the SlingStudio Hub, even more, user-friendly is a cleverly designed battery that attaches to the bottom of the Hub. Imagine being on a remote production such as summer jazz outdoor concert venue where power outlets are at a premium. Power issues in smaller venues happen more often than you think.
For this test drive, we ran on the battery for more than two hours without any issues. Also included are various cables you can use to connect a camera directly to the Hub. The unit we tested also came with a small connector dongle (pigtail) to connect the Hub to an external hard drive.
Setting Up the SlingStudio
After downloading the Sling Studio controls on an iPad, we went about our business and connected the Hub, the cameras the connect boxes and the external HD. In less than 15 minutes, we could have been recording and streaming a live multi-camera show.
How does it work?
The Sling Studio app on the iPad and the HUB connect to each other and the cameras. The controller/switcher interface on the iPad is the real workhorse. The director can take multiple cameras or video sources, and still have an easy to use the control panel on the iPad with preview and program. I like the fact that you have audio controls that you can manually control, or if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, there is a nice audio follow video function that takes the pressure away of keeping up with the audio.
Having extra signal monitoring ability was a welcome feature set on the SlingStudio. Having that heads up display when my connectivity on the Samsung Note 8 away let me know it was time to stop where I was and move back to a closer camera position. Additionally, I could see the audio levels and keep them under check as well. There are many other features included, such as setting streaming rates that will work the best for each production and, several recording and editing options. Here are some of the outstanding operating features of the SlingStudio.
Live Switching Features
- Switcher: Switch between 10 different video sources using the Console app running on iPad or Mac
- Live stream without a storage device when not recording
- Ability to reorder video sources
- Video transitions: Cut, dissolve, wipe
- Instant replay segments of up to 10 minutes
- Video compositions: Picture in Picture (PiP) with multiple positions and multiple split views
- Audio mixer: Full audio mixer functionality with monitoring mode support, supports always-on audio (ON) or audio follows video (AFV) for all video input sources
- Overlays: Lower-thirds (title and scoreboard), text overlays
- Custom graphics: Insert, resize, and change the transparency of your own JPG and PNG graphics—including logos, lower-thirds, profile pics, ads, or background images—and overlay them on your live program feed
- Chroma key: Use chroma-key (green screen) in your productions, including using live video sources as backgrounds
- Motion graphics: Import your own motion graphic overlays using chroma keying to use as animated lower thirds, logos, etc.
- Auto-switching: Switch between video sources automatically using custom time intervals or voice-activated switching
Knowing Your Way Around
There is always going to be the need for larger well equipped larger mobile units to carry the day. Some shoots just require more. That is the reality of remote production.
Even though it's easy to pick up quickly, there is still a learning curve to the SlingStudio. Yes, we did get a rudimentary set up going, but to get the full benefits you need to set the unit up and making sure you understand how to operate the whole system. It takes some time to figure out how to record and what rate is the best. You also need to make sure each camera has enough signal. If you're going to try and do a whole show live, understanding and practicing inserting graphics, such as lower thirds, would be a good idea. The good news is that you can do that in a pretty small studio space.
Why should I buy the SlingStudio?
I started thinking long and hard about this one question. Why would I buy SlingStudio? Then I laughed to myself when I couldn't come up with just one answer. Here are a few points to ponder on your way to the store.
- If I received a last-minute or low budget request for a production that doesn't have a "realistic” budget, but you still want to help out.
I couldn't find an experienced crew. Using cell phones limits what you should expect, everyone brings their own camera and basically, the production is point and shoot.
SlingStudio can be a great production teaching tool. It's fun to teach remote production as a whole but it does take a long time in a traditional setup. With SlingStudio I could cover at least teach three remote production setups in a day. For example, If you want to compare and contrast different camera placements like baseball vs basketball it can be done in a few minutes.
If you get into your live SlingStudio production and it's not working out, then you just quickly pick up and move your cameras to where you can get a better shot! It's so much easier than trying to make something work out when it's obviously not working don't you think? Now go have fun and start making great live productions happen!