Lync: Producing Webcasts WIth Lync 2013

We have been on a journey to produce webcasts using Microsoft Lync 2013 as the communications mechanism.  We recently upgraded our equipment to include:

The trick and what I spent my yesterday doing was trying to figure out how to get the SDI outputs from the Tricaster into my Lync computer.  I had been using HDMI capture cards.  Since my new system uses SDI, I had to switch capture cards or use the HDMI capture cards with SDI to HDMI converters.  I spent the bulk of yesterday testing out various combination of capture cards and HDMI-to-SDI converters:

All of the above cards work as capture cards.  The trick is trying to find a capture card that Lync would recognize and treat as a webcam.  I tested the above cards and was only able to get the Osprey card to be recognized as a webcam by Lync and be able to view the captured video inside a Lync meeting.  Some of the above cards were recognized by Lync as a video source, but I couldn’t get the capture video to display inside of a Lync meeting.  This was after hours of testing and switching out cards, loading drivers, and calls to the manufacturers technical support. 

The next problem was although I could see the captured video from the Ospey card inside a Lync meeting, the video quality in Lync was bad.  The video appeared to be missing every other scan line.  After many more hours of testing, we discovered the issue.  We had configured the Tricaster to send out 1080i at 29.99.  It appears that the Osprey card couldn’t handshake the interlacing with Lync.  The captured video from Osprey card was fine when I viewed the video capture in another viewer.  However when I viewed it in Lync, there was an interlacing issue. 

The solution that we found was to configure the Tricaster to output in progressive mode (1080p or 720p).  Now, the video quality is ok inside of a Lync meeting [Note:  I want to continue to tweak the configuration to see if we can improve the video quality.]

So, our flow is to take the camera (Blackmagic Studio Cinema) SDI to BlackMagic Smart Video Hub SDI to Tricaster SDI to Ospey SDI Capture Card to Microsoft Lync.

The next issue that I encountered was balancing the audio, but I’ll leave that post for later.  I’ll also plan to discuss each of the components in the system.

DISCLAIMER:  Please note that this configuration is not a Microsoft supported configuration.  It is a configuration that I have been trying to get to work for my own needs.  I am writing this blog so that potentially others who many have similar needs may save themselves the many hours that I spent trying out capture cards and testing to get them to work with Lync 2013.  Also, future versions of Lync may have different behavior.

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