How To Connect An iPad into TriCaster using AirPlay
October 02, 2015 by Kane Peterson
**Kane Peterson, NewTek Workflow Engineer **
Tablets are becoming the computing device of choice for many people. They often want to share information and displays from these devices and the desire to get this display into video productions is rising daily. The operating systems on tablet computers have much tighter security than desktop and laptop computers, and applications are restricted from being able to send the entire screen to another system. We have to use the screen-sharing support built into the device itself; for an iPad, this is AirPlay.
One means to get an AirPlay signal to a TriCaster is an AppleTV. The device requires an adapter to take its HDMI output and convert it to SDI or Analog signal. This uses up a TriCaster video input, which some people might not have available.
However, there is also a solution using TriCaster’s IP workflow. We can use a Windows 64-bit computer acting as a ‘bridge’ to send AirPlay content into a TriCaster’s NET input. The software needed to make this work this is less expensive than purchasing an AppleTV and a video converter. Trial versions of the software products needed are available so you test it out before purchasing it.
We’ll use the AirPlay Mirroring protocol for this example, but the same setup will also work for the AirPlay Streaming protocol (for more about AirPlay’s two protocols see the section later in this article, “About AirPlay Technology”). Here’s what we need to do that:
- These TriCaster systems: 300, 450, 850, 40, 455, 855, 410, 460, 860, 8000
- An iPad/iPhone running iOS version 5 or later
- Another computer that will be the AirPlay ‘bridge’ system running on Windows 64-bit
- App Dynamic’s AirServer for Windows 64-bit (Vista, 7, 8.x). Windows 8.1 recommended
- E2ESoft’s ‘VSC’ Virtual Sound Card software (this software is a possible requirement)
- NewTek’s iVGA Pro software AirServer is an application that allows you to receive AirPlay content on your computer screen. While this application is available for both OSX and Windows systems, we recommend using the Windows version because of the enhanced iVGA Pro capabilities available for this platform. If audio support or full frame rate video from the iPad are not a requirement, then an OSX computer can be used as the bridge system. AirServer is a paid application; a 7-day trial version can be downloaded to test the workflow before purchasing. AirServer is available from this link. http://www.airserver.com/
Virtual Sound Card (VSC) is used to get audio out of AirServer and into iVGA Pro. Your computer sound card might support this ability without VSC, so test it first without this software. If you cannot get audio to work, you can download the trial software at the link below. If you are already using Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) on your system it is possible to use it in place of VSC. The trial version of VSC will say ‘trial’ on the audio channel every few seconds. http://www.e2esoft.cn/vsc/
iVGA Pro is a free tool available from NewTek. It allows you to display anything on your computer desktop into a NET input on the TriCaster system. iVGA Pro is required if you need audio to be transferred from the iPad to the TriCaster. If you already have iVGA Pro, make sure you check the version you are using, latency reductions were introduced starting in v126.96.36.199. You can download the latest version of iVGA Pro under the ‘Codecs and Utilities’ category from this link. /support/documentation.html
The diagram shows the data flow from one application to the next, to get the image from your iPad or iPhone screen to the TriCaster. This tutorial will take you step by step through what you need to configure to make this happen.
Install AirServer on your Windows PC using the default settings. Once AirServer is installed, start up the application and open its settings. This can be done by right-clicking the AirServer icon found by the clock on your computer.
In the window that opens, under the General tab you will see the computer name listed. This is the name on your iPad that you will choose as the receiver for AirPlay Mirroring.
There are other settings you can adjust as well to get the best quality and performance depending on your computer and network settings. The default settings should be good in most cases. One setting you might need to adjust is the audio settings. First try using the System Default setting for audio; if that doesn’t work (there is no audio getting to TriCaster) then you will need to use the VSC software to add a virtual sound card into your system that provides audio loopback functionality.
Now that AirServer is configured let’s try connecting the iPad to it. The instructions below are for an iPad running iOS 7; if your iPad is running an earlier OS it will still work, however the steps to start up AirPlay Mirroring might be a bit different.
Drag up from the bottom of the screen and the iOS Control Center will appear. Near the center of the panel you will see the AirPlay icon. Press on it and a pop-up will display all of the AirPlay receiving devices on your network.
Now tap on the name of the computer that was displayed in the AirServer application. Once you select it, a Mirroring option button will appear below the computer name. Slide this option button to the right to activate mirroring. On the computer, AirServer will automatically display the screen of your iPad. Whatever you look at on your iPad will appear on your computer screen. If you turn your iPad from portrait to landscape, it will automatically change to that aspect in the AirServer window.
Now, to get the display from your computer to TriCaster, launch iVGA Pro. The video source should be your full computer screen and the audio source should the correct sound card input. Once iVGA Pro is running you can select it from a NET input on the TriCaster. Finally put AirServer into full screen mode so it displays with the highest resolution possible. You can make AirServer go in and out of full screen mode by pressing the Alt & Enter keys together.
If audio is not being heard in the TriCaster after trying all Audio Source selections in iVGA Pro, read the ‘Virtual Sound Card’ instructions which can be found later in this article.
If the performance from your iPad into the TriCaster appears to lag, make sure the computer running AirServer is connected to a wired Gigabit network (along with the TriCaster).
iPad has a 4x3 aspect display, when displayed in a HD frame you will have black bars on the sides even when the iPad is turned into landscape mode. If you want the iPad to display full screen you can use an M/E or Virtual Input to resize the source, but this will either cut off part of the iPad display or distort the image.
Another solution could be to use a double-box effect showing the iPad in one display and the presenter in the other. One of the built-in virtual sets, Helix-Side by Side, has a double-box that almost perfectly fits an iPad display when in portrait mode. Virtual Set Editor could also be used to create double-box effects with the correct aspect for an iPad in landscape mode. Some additional ideas are shown below for methods to get a pleasing iPad display in a 16x9 aspect ratio.
Some applications can output a 16x9 display through AirPlay Mirroring. Microsoft’s PowerPoint for iPad is one application that supports this. To take advantage of this, you need to build the PowerPoint slides with a 16x9 aspect on your desktop computer. When you play the PowerPoint from the iPad app, it will tell AirServer to display a 16x9 aspect ratio. Make sure that AirServer is running on a Windows computer that also has a 16x9 display and you will get an image that fits a full HD frame into TriCaster.
If you are going to crop the input to display the iPad over a background, here are the crop values to remove the black bars on the side of the iPad display in the NET input. The values are different if the computer display is either 16x9 or 4x3 since it will change the amount of black that gets displayed on the sides of the NET input.
|**iPad Orientation**||**16x9 Left/Right Edge Values**||**4x3 Left/Right Edge Values**|
AirServer runs as a service waiting for incoming connections on your network; some firewalls might block the ports used by AirServer. If you are having problems with AirServer not working correctly you might need to configure the firewall software on your computer so the following ports are not blocking incoming connections.
|AirPlay Audio||6010 to 6012||UDP|
Virtual Sound Card Software Configuration
Use these instructions if your PC sound card isn’t passing audio from AirServer to iVGA Pro. Audio support requires a sound card with ‘Audio Loopback’ capability and not all sound cards support this feature. Virtual Sound Card will add a software-emulated sound card into your PC that will allow audio to travel from AirServer to iVGA Pro.
Install VCS, use the default settings. Open the ‘e2esoft VSC’ tool found in the Start menu.
In the main VSC interface, set the transfer channels as shown below.
Now press the » icon on the audio channel to start it up. You can now minimize this software, but do not close it as it needs to be running for the audio transfer to take place.
Open the AirServer settings and go to the Audio tab, choose ‘Speaker (e2eSoft VAudio)’ in the interface and in iVGA Pro choose ‘Line in (e2eSoft VAudio)’ as the audio source. Once this set, you will get audio from your iPad also playing into a TriCaster NET input.
About AirPlay Technology
The AirPlay protocol is divided into two methods of content sharing, ‘AirPlay’ and ‘AirPlay Mirroring’. While both share the name ‘AirPlay’ in their name, they perform two different functions and are not the same protocol. To help distinguish between the two protocols, we’ll refer to the first type of AirPlay protocol as ‘AirPlay Streaming’. AirPlay will be used when just speaking of the suite of protocols.
Now let’s look at these two protocols in more detail:
AirPlay Streaming is a technology that allows an iPad to stream video and pictures to a remote device. While playback control is still available from the iPad display, often the media content itself is not visible on the iPad during streaming. AirPlay Streaming requires app support and the default iOS apps ‘Video’ and ‘Photos’ both support AirPlay Streaming. There are other 3rd party applications that have AirPlay Streaming support - Google’s YouTube app is one example. The application used in this tutorial can also be used to bring content to TriCaster using Airplay Streaming, in much the same way as we described here for Airplay Mirroring.
AirPlay Mirroring is a screen-casting technology that allows anything shown on your iPad screen to also be shown on the receiving device simultaneously. This protocol doesn’t require support by the app on the iPad. It is possible for an app to block AirPlay Mirroring, but few applications do this. Details on how this protocol works are not shared by Apple and this is not supported by TriCaster. For this tutorial we showed how to take advantage of this technology, but the same means can also be used to bring content to the TriCaster using Airplay Streaming.
Technologies similar to AirPlay
What about solutions for other tablets and mobile devices? AirPlay is a proprietary protocol from Apple and is not used by other manufacturers, so the above instructions will not help for Android or other non-Apple devices. Some of these devices support technologies that are similar to AirPlay and might be adaptable into a TriCaster.
DLNA: This protocol is designed to show video and photos on a remote monitor, making it similar to AirPlay Streaming. Windows Media Player which is built into Windows 7 & 8 can function as a DLNA Digital Media Renderer. This makes it possible to have a DNLA enabled device play into a PC which can then use iVGA Pro to send that media into a TriCaster NET input. Some Android and Windows Phone devices have DLNA support, however test the device in advance; DLNA isn’t 100% compatible between all devices. You do have to configure Windows Media Player accept DLNA content, more information can be found here.
Miracast: This is a new protocol that you might be hearing more about in the future that allows screen-casting similar to AirPlay Mirroring. There are some hardware Miracast receivers with a HDMI output that could be used with a HDMI to SDI converter. Miracast relies on a feature called WiFi Direct which allows two WiFi devices to communicate without needing an access point in between them. Miracast support is available on some devices running the following OS versions or higher: Android 4.2, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and BlackBerry 10.2.1.
AirServer v3.0 running on a Window 8.1 host computer can operate as a Miracast receiver. At the time of this writing, it has not been tested to see if there are unforeseen issues or what kind of performance can be achieved. AirServer on Windows 8.1 has support for both AirPlay and Miracast, making this an even better solution for getting mobile device displays in your production workflow.
ChromeCast: This is a technology introduced by Google with their ChromeCast HDMI TV interface. ChromeCast supports video, photo and screen-casting, however its screen-casting abilities are limited to content that is visible inside a Chrome web browser. We are starting to see attempts to create receiving applications on PC and Mac systems, for now, using a HDMI converter with a ChromeCast dongle would be your best option to get this signal into a TriCaster. Some Android and iOS applications have integrated ChromeCast support.
Microsoft’s Lumia Beamer: This is an image-only screen-casting technology that is available on certain Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices. This allows you to send your phone display over the internet to be displayed in a web browser. This makes it possible to use a computer running iVGA to send the media into a TriCaster NET input. Lumia Beamer is not designed for high frame rate usage and updates at a few frames per second. This might limit your usage in some cases, but it is adequate for displaying photos or a simple PowerPoint presentation.
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