Choosing a Capture Card for FMLE

I received this email the other day from the Division Manager of Web Based Services for a large southern city. He said:

While doing research, I found your “Choosing a Live Streaming Encoder” presentation on YouTube. I found it very informative and took many good notes.

We will most likely end up going with a Dell server running Windows Server 2012, and I was hoping you might have some brands of cards you would recommend. Our current system has an Osprey card, but it is old and needs replacing as well. Our signal is currently SD, but we’d like to upgrade to HD. I don’t know if there is an SD/HD card that would work for us, or if we should just go with an SD card and then replace it one day with an HD card, should everything else pan out.

I was hoping during that presentation, you would talk about some of the various encoding video cards you would recommend, but you didn’t. I want to thank you for posting your video online and any additional advice you might be able to offer.

Southern people are so gracious and polite! I had to respond. Here’s what I advised him.

I would go with a BlackMagic card like the DeckLink or Intensity, depending upon which matched your connections. They’re the most popular which means software developers spend the most time ensuring compatibility. Of course, I like the Osprey card and if it’s still working, I would use it until it didn’t work any longer.

The fact of the matter is, BlackMagic is the 600 pound gorilla, which makes it the safest product to buy. Software vendors will always fix any problems quickly, and you’ll be able to get plenty of support from other users on different boards. Of course, they’re very good products as well, and very aggressively priced. 

If you go the BlackMagic route, check out my tutorial here, Tutorial: Configuring Blackmagic Intensity Pro for a Live-Switched Wirecast Webcast. If you decide to go the Osprey route, I’ve had great results with the 820e, a very flexible dual-input capture card that I use quite a lot for my productions. This tutorial will show you how to get it installed Tutorial: Configuring ViewCast Osprey 820e for a Live-Switched Wirecast Webcast. 


About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

Check Also

Streaming Media 101: Training for App & Player Development/Testing Professionals