Product Review: Page (1) of 4 - 09/04/02 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Channel Storm Live Channel Pro 1.4.1

Software-based streaming server and broadcast studio environment By Dave Nagel
The first time I ever heard of Channel Storm's Live Channel Pro, I had been sitting around sifting through the average day's load of press releases. In between the usual dribble about such and such company being "very excited" about striking some deal with such and such another company, I chanced upon a press release about a new Web streaming product that sold itself as a complete broadcast studio in software only. And I thought, Oh yeah? We'll see about that.

The company was Channel Storm, and the product was Live Channel Pro. Seeing that it was a Mac-only product, I contacted the company and requested a review unit. I was anticipating having quite a good time reviewing this particular piece of software. Complete broadcast studio indeed!

And then the denouement.

After loading up the software, it took me about a minute to realize that this was everything it purported to be; that if there could be such a thing as a software-only version of a broadcast studio for the Web, this was it; and that if there could be a multitude of ways to implement such a piece of software, the Live Channel Pro way was the right way.

Allow me to explain.

What it does
Live Channel Pro transcends any one particular category of software--and hence its ambiguous denotation as a "broadcast studio environment for the Web." It's a streaming front end; it's a production environment; and it's a streaming server. All of this in real time with real-time transitions, anti-aliasing, encoding, switching, streaming, interactive presentations, monitoring and disk-based recording. And all of this in its latest incarnation for Mac OS X 10.2 in an application no larger than 3.2 MB.

Included in LiveChannel Pro are several features you won't find in other streaming products. Aside from the obviously unique production environment, it offers the following features:

  • It supports multiple cameras, including analog and digital, with support for FireWire and USB, as well as analog capture cards. It provides live previews of two cameras at a time and can switch on the fly between live feeds.
  • It also supports recorded clips, such as QuickTime footage, so that you can switch between a live feed and whatever footage you might have stored on your system. WIth these media clips, you can set the in and out points and also set the clips to loop.
  • It has real-time text titling, including scrolling. Or, if you prefer, you can overlay graphics (with alpha channel support). It supports all common image formats, including Photoshop native files with transparency and layer effects.
  • It also supports multiple audio feeds, including analog and digital microphone input, as well as audio clips. Clip support includes common audio formats, as well as direct playback of audio tracks from CDs. It also lets you mix and fade live and recorded audio on the fly.
  • It has real-time switching and several real-time transitions for live and recorded video. All of them are anti-aliased in real time as well.
  • It also has a built-in server so that all you have to do is connect your Mac to the Internet via your ISP, and then start broadcasting. It includes an announce feature for notifying viewers of the location of the stream. If the built-in server streaming from your single Mac isn't good enough for you, it also supports multicasting and unicasting.
  • It also includes the ability to synchronize a presentation with rich media on the Web.
  • It allows you to record the whole thing to your local disk as you broadcast so that you can offer the presentation for video on demand. This includes any synchronized rich media.

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