I’ve had the fortune over the last week to be given a demo unit of a new breed of streaming device; an all-in-one streaming package that combines HD video capability and power with extremely portable versatility. It’s called The Paladin, based out of my local city of Seattle, WA.
While I assume our location is one reason Paladin sought us out for testing, they also know that we have good experience with multiple methods of video streaming. As a company launching a new solution into a still-new market, they wanted to know how it stacks up against other methods out there. Since I’m going through this process of discovery for them, I’d like to share my findings with you on the internet as well.
First, about the Paladin itself: It’s housed in roughly a 12″x8″x3″ case, with the custom-design computer using most of the case. It contains a Blackmagic Design Quad card, Wifi and ethernet connections, HDMI, multiple source and audio inputs, as well as USB. The Quad card provides up to four SDI inputs/outputs at once. All this is tied together using a Windows 7 platform running Wirecast.
It doesn’t provide an out-of-the-box monitor, keyboard or mouse, but these days you’ve probably got a small graveyard of abandoned and discarded components you could use for that anyway.
“So, when would I use this beefed-up computer for streaming?”
I’m glad you asked, arbitrary voice questioning my blog.
The wireless feature with Wirecast is the first awesome aspect. You can take any IP ready camera or run a camera through a Teradek Cube Encoder, and via wireless the Paladin can add these as sources. Just let that sink in. You could, in theory, get a bunch of people with iPhones connected to the venue Wifi, using their phones as IP cameras for a live stream. The live music industry alone would make this a smash success. Want better quality? Grab and camera capable of HDMI or SDI and a Teradek Cube encoder, and you can shoot that signal straight to the Paladin w/ Wirecast via Wifi.
The second main feature: Paladin has developed their own iPad app to run the switching software. I’ve successfully been able to put this to the test, but the main issue people have had with the Strata App for Blackmagic Design software controlling is it’s not a mission-critical solution. I have to agree, despite the fact that I enjoy using it and it’s performed well for me, it’s not something I’d choose over my broadcast panel hard-lined into my ATEM. When it comes to production you’re being paid for, it’s not terribly ideal to rely on an iPad and a wireless connection, but it’s great as a first or additional option, or even for a producer/director to have just in case.
“So, if I have to use an external monitor and/or keyboard, is it still that portable?”
Definitely. In fact, we dropped a few bucks on this XBOX – Halo portable case with monitor / HDMI in, and the Paladin fits perfectly in there, making it extremely ready-to-go.
“How does it compare to flypack and ATEM style solutions?”
While I understand why you would ask this question, I honestly believe they’re two different markets. If you are considering an ATEM switcher in a travel case, you’re likely looking for 6-10 sources, external audio control, a heavy-duty computer or Teradek for encoding, etc. (That, or you’re hoping to get there soon) If you’re looking at an option like the Paladin, it’s my opinion that you’re planning to mostly be a one-person director/engineer, you’re happy with </= 4 sources and you want a streamlined process that eliminates more of the “moving parts” of component-style flypacks. While I could probably direct and engineer a shoot with <8 cameras and manage audio, that’s a pretty tall order for anyone if any amount of troubleshooting needs to happen, and I certainly wouldn’t feel I was playing it 100% safe.
“Why not just kit-out my current computer for this?”
Now, this is probably the toughest question to answer, and I’d have to say: it depends. Honestly, I believe if you have a small computer body with the motherboard, processing and ram power offered in the Paladin, you could very feasibly build a comparable system. But even with all that,, you still need the Quad card, Intensity card, Wirecast license, and you still don’t get the Paladin software that way. So, in my head, doing the math of my ability ripping apart computers (almost non-existent), building them, gathering all the components, and bundling it into a nice and optimized package like this becomes a real attractive option.
Besides, all of the above implies you even have a computer body that’s not a laptop. So many creative professionals I know rely on their laptop, and either have it for live production or their home desktop edit machine, so it’s rare that people these days have a tower they could just Frankenstein into something like this.
The idea of all of this is to introduce you to a new solution from a local company I feel are going to be contributing and innovating in this industry for some time, and I definitely enjoyed my time testing out the Paladin.
In a weird way, I even like the Black and Pink color scheme they’ve got going on.