Feature Review: DeckLink Plug-in
We recently made the official announcement for the availability of the DeckLink plug-in for SongShow Plus. I'm very happy to finally have this plug-in available. I say "finally" because its a project that has been proceeding at a backburner pace for sometime. We were contacted back in 2006 by Trinity Fellowship Church regarding the possible integration of the DeckLink with SongShow Plus. Later the church assisted us with the process of developing the plug-in, work that started in 2007. Real-life testing began last fall as I have previously described.
This plug-in represents a bit of a departure for SongShow Plus in that the video output is no longer emanating from an nVidia or ATI video card, but instead is coming from an SD/HD video card as an SDI signal. SongShow Plus still uses the nVidia or ATI video card to render graphics, but after doing so, pulls the information from the video card to the DeckLink card which then overlays that graphics information onto the live video. Unlike the live video support that has existed in SongShow Plus since version 5.5, the DeckLink live video solution does not bring the live video stream into the computer. The video simply passes through the DeckLink card, which then overlays the graphics information being sent to it from SongShow Plus. Actually, that's just one way to use it. The other, more sophisticated way, is to use the high-end DeckLink card to output but both a fill and external key signal which is then used by the video switcher to perform the overlay.
Much of what you need to know about his plug-in is described at this link: www.SongShowPlus.com/DeckLink. In short, this solution provides lag-free text over video with a clarity that is superior to chroma and luma key overlay techniques. It provides capabilities for much less cost that previously required by using other hardware solutions.
There are a few other things that are good to know. When using the DeckLink plug-in, not all SongShow Plus features are available. In SD mode, you can do some cool things like animated lower-thirds. In a recent edition of SongShow Plus, the slide show builders have been modified to make it easer to build lower-third slides. Also most transitions and animations are supported. One notable feature that is not compatible with the use of the DeckLink plug-in is PowerPoint. Since PowerPoint slide shows are presented using PowerPoint itself, and since PowerPoint knows nothing about the DeckLink plug-in, showing a PowerPoint presentation while using the DeckLink plug-in will simply cause PowerPoint to show up on the primary monitor of the computer, but it will not be presented through the DeckLink card. Also, things like Flash playback, which uses the Flash player, and the Windowed mode of showing videos is not compatible with the DeckLink plug-in. There may be a few other things that aren't coming to mind just now.
When used in HD mode, unfortunately, there are a few more restrictions. In SD mode, SongShow Plus can render frames at 60 frames a second to the DeckLink video card. This is not the case when used in HD mode. So for those of you are using HD video projection, its a difficult dilemma. Rending text, along with cool things like burred shadows looks fantastic in HD. You'll not be disappointed! But if you're counting on using SongShow Plus to also render transitions, animations, or motion background for lower-thirds, you'll find that the frame rate is not sufficient. You can, of course, use SD mode then upscale the signal to HD, but at the sacrifice of visual quality.
It is also important when considering this option that, in addition to the SongShow Plus plug-in and the DeckLink video card, additional video converters may also be necessary. If you plan on using the Internal Key option, which uses your computer to overlay the text over video, you will likely need a new converter to go between your computer and your projector. This is because the DeckLink video cards typically only support SDI for input and output. For example, if you are presently running a VGA signal directly to your projector, with the DeckLink card you'll need a converter that will convert the SDI output to a VGA signal. Likewise, if your cameras or video switcher does not support SDI, then converters will be necessary for these as well.
It's difficult to describe, other than in very general terms, what you would need to implement the use of the DeckLink card for use with SongShow Plus. Because of this, before purchasing the plug-in or any hardware, we recommend that you have a conversation directly us here at R-Technics so that we can review your current or planned system. This way we can give you specific information about what hardware hardware will be necessary for your implementation. R-Technics is also working with GoFishMedia to have available any additional hardware components that are likely to be needed for deploying a SongShow Plus / DeckLink solution using prodcuts known to be compatible and reliable.
For those of you who have wanted a better text-over-video solution for sometime now, this is something you'll want to take a serious look at.