Last spring, I was introduced to the SlingStudio. I had ads for it pop up on my Facebook feed.
I saw ads for it on websites I read. I snickered every time I saw it. I thought it was subpar. I thought it was another one of those things that is too good to be true. I thought it was not something I would never need nor would it be something that would meet my needs. My mind was changed when I met with the SlingStudio crew at NAB in April. The idea that the SlingStudio was not going to replace what I already knew but instead would become an addition to what I have.
I showed off the SlingStudio after using it for a couple of weeks then wrote this article. The SlingStudio is no joke. It’s not a hack to get decent video or even a starter kit for those what want to get started streaming. It’s my go-to for volleyball and will be my go to for basketball season. There are so many tools in the SlingStudio that it has taken me 6 months to really appreciate what it does.
A major part of my program is providing coaching footage for the school teams. For football, we use Two cameras and record each play onto the SD card in the camera. This has worked well for me for years but there have been times where the student didn’t hit record or for some other reason the footage isn’t captured. SlingStudio has helped me make sure we always get every play. When you set up your session in the SlingStudio, you can set it to record an ISO of each input. Now, I have a backup recording of every input at whatever specs I set (1080/30, 720/60, etc.). Not only do I have the ISO recordings but I also have the program feed and the multi-view feed… all on 1 SD card.
I didn’t realize the true potential of the SlingStudio until I shot a volleyball match with it. It happened because I had more students show up to work than I planned. I planned to use the SlingStudio to just shoot with our GoPro and use a very basic set up. When I had 2 extra students show up, I had to punt. I set up the SlingStudio with two SlingStudio Camera Links, the GoPro, and I used the HDMI output of the SlingStudio to serve as the program feed for our main feed to the NFHS Network Producer software. I had two students working as camera operators, one working as the graphics operator, and I worked as the technical director switching using the Sling Console. The broadcast was GREAT. Not only could I easily switch cameras but I could throw an instant replay in no time! I was blown away…. At the end of the broadcast I took the SD card out and checked the footage. It was great! I was able to review the quad view so I could see who worked with the flow of the match vs. who was just trying to get shots. (One thing I did learn that some may see as a negative but I don’t see as a big deal. There is a small delay in the Sling Console app… It’s only in the app. When you change shots in the console, it’s instant through the output)
As we head to basketball season, I am again very excited to really tap into the power of the SlingStudio again. We usually do one camera angle for the coaches for basketball simply because of the easy of use. It’s easier to run one camera straight into a computer but with with SlingStudio, you can run the single easy feed and a wireless camera in no time. In the past, I have had basketball coaches ask for a floor level angle to be able to see the “running lanes” the players are taking. I’ll easily be able to make that happen now. If I’m not looking to get the running lanes, a camera on the floor getting those “pro” angles is a great addition to any show.
I haven’t mentioned one of the best parts of the SlingStudio. It’s not only a switcher, a wireless camera receiver, a graphics server, and a multi recorder… it also streams your broadcasts wirelessly. Seriously, If you want to go 100% wireless, the SlingStudio can make that happen. The only cables needed are to connect the camera links to the camera - everything else is wireless. (If you want to use a wired device, you can. The Optional USB dongle allows you to connect a Cat5 cable) Sling recently partnered with the NFHS Network to be the Official Video Production Technology partner. Using the RTMP protocols you can stream to the NFHS Network or YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo using the built in/native encoding.
Since my article in July, I have had several people write to say “It doesn’t” or “it won’t” or “It’s not as good as (insert).” The comparisons are always to products that cost 2 to 3 times what Sling does, especially when it comes to wireless video. One person in particular tried to explain to me that the Sling’s wireless capabilities would not match those of a product that cost over $4,000, I asked them if the $4,000 solution would also stream, record, and switch… SlingStudio can be beat in probably every facet of what it does by one product or another but nothing will beat the SlingStudio in what it provides across the board. I started using the SlingStudio as an accessory but not it is made its way into my “every broadcast” bag for volleyball and basketball.