Live Streaming: NDI vs. Video Capture Card (VCC)

We’ve been talking about how you can live stream with EasyWorship and a streaming software like OBS and vMix and connecting via NDI or Video Capture Card. But which option is the best option for you and your streaming workflow?

The answer will depend on a few things, so here are a few of the pros for each technology.

NDI

Pros:

Variable resolutions

NDI can be quickly scaled back and forth between different resolutions depending on what you have available. This can help to accommodate use on many different devices and systems. With NDI, you’re not limited to a specific combination of resolution, frame rate, and aspect ratio whereas other technology may be limited to the most common combinations. 

Wireless capabilities

NDI can be sent across a Wi-Fi network easily. This is huge if you need to use NDI on several devices in your network. You can even send NDI to a different operating system over your Wi-Fi network. E.g. Sending NDI from EasyWorship on a Windows PC to your streaming software on a Mac. 

Cons

Inconsistent quality

If you are using HD resolutions for your NDI stream, you will likely see some dropped frames due to network limitations. This will be especially true if other devices are using the network at the same time. This may also be the case if you do not have enough network bandwidth for the quality you specify. Expected bandwidth load for a 1080i 50 fps stream is 100 Mbps. This means that you are already pushing the limits of your network if you have a maximum network bandwidth of 100 Mbps. 

Video Capture Cards (VCC)

Pros:

Consistent quality

A video capture card (VCC) does not rely on your network or any external variables for speed and quality. This means that the VCC will be able to provide a more consistent quality in the long-term. One friend of mine described his VCC quality as “the best solution for buttery smooth [streaming]”. Essentially, less potential interference with the signal enables the VCC to deliver consistent, high-quality streams to the computer. 

Distributed workloads

You can do more with your network since your VCC does not consume your network bandwidth to capture and transmit the data from the camera to the computer. This can allow you to use the EasyWorship Remote App while you’re streaming without potential bandwidth issues from an overloaded network. 

Cons

Hardware limitations

To get true quality from a VCC, you need to make sure that you have the fastest hardware available to you. You should always use quality cabling for your setup both from the camera and to your computer. If you’re using a USB video capture card, make sure that you plug the device into a USB 3.0 or 3.1 port to avoid any potential issues. Most VCCs use HDMI to bring the camera feed in but the best HDMI cables use the HDMI 2.0 (or better) standard and are “Premium Certified”. You will also want to try and use a VCC that has been tested and recommended by our team for best results with the EasyWorship software.  

Summary:

So, to answer which option is better for streaming, you will have to break down the benefits and detriments to each type against your current setup. If you want to be on the cutting edge and do not mind spending a bit more for greater versatility, NDI is probably the best route. However, if you are working with a smaller budget or want to keep things as simple as possible, a Video Capture Card won’t steer you wrong. 

Fred Callicoat Written by: