A studio in my backpack

01st October 2018
A  studio in my backpack

SlingStudio is the world's first affordable, live streaming, wireless, portable,  multi-camera, broadcasting system --  &   it was 'made in India'.
From Anand Parthasarathy, in Bangalore
October 1 2018: The incredible camera power available in a smart phone today  -- professional grade still images and ultra high definition 4K  movies including slow motion -- has disrupted the  business of broadcast video as nothing else in the last 50 years. And the option of live streaming via YouTube, Facebook or WhatsApp, has  made each one of us, into potential newscasters, able to compete with the best and brightest --  if we are in the right place at the right time.
There was one small element  that separated amateur broadcasters from  hardcore professionals: a studio where  the output from multiple cameras, some indoors, others  anywhere in the world, are captured, edited  and broadcast, complete with  subtitles, banners, crawling text and graphics.
Now,   in a  feat of significant innovation, engineers at the Indian end of US-based   Internet TV solutions provider, Sling  Media, have shrunk  a TV production platform to fit into a backpack.   
The core of the system is  the SlingStudio,  a 1.5 kg table-top,  battery-operated unit that  can wirelessly connect up to 7  recording sources: full function video cameras, handy-cams or even smart phones.  It connects these devices with an app called Studio Console runs on an Apple device, typically an iPad.  The app  allows you to  edit and mix the video streams,  add in-line audio and  running text,  display  the output as quad windows or picture-in-picture -- and   broadcast live to  your own channel or to YouTube or any messaging app  which adheres to what is known as RTMP or Real Time Messaging Protocol.
You can also store the live video and edit it later,  using  tools like Adobe Premiere Pro  or Apple Final Cut Pro...... all this in 4K-quality TV.
Camera Phones OK!
The most useful feature is that any compatible smartphone ( all Apple phones and select Android phones) can serve as cameras that wirelessly connect to the Sling Studio console. If you have older handy-cams or movie cameras that don't come with wireless, you can either wire them using a mini HDMI port or  insert a   very useful CameraLink  device, the size of a small remote,  provided by Sling, to create a wireless connection.
In the US and Canada where SlingStudio is currently marketed, it has  seen big usage  with  shaadi-ka-video providers,   for corporate in-house TV channels and for  lay users like students to  broadcast sports events from multiple angles.  While the  Sling Studio main unit sells for  under $ 1000, a full starter pack with a battery, Camera Link unit and extra USB expanders all in a backpack costs $ 1745.  
Sheer word-of-mouth excitement among  TV professionals has led to the availability of the system in India at sites like Amazon at prices upward of Rs 2 lakhs. But a word of caution: There is currently no support in this country. You need iOS devices  -- iPad and iPhone -- to be sure it works, though some made for US Android phones may meet the  required standard.
But you can't keep a great  idea down.  At the Bangalore Centre of Sling Media,  I got to try my hand at using Sling Studio in a broadcasting scenario and experiencing  its intuitive ease of deployment. A floor full of engineers are supporting the US  market -- and   as Country Head Vineet Govil explained to me,  multiple teams are already innovating to widen the scope and reach of the world's  handiest, coolest TV studio in a bag.
For a few days we carry a video on SlingStudio
in our tech video spot on our
home page.