The maker instinct is contagious, so as soon as I saw Matt Richardson and Becky Stern explain how they produce MAKE Live using software called Wirecast, I knew this is something I wanted to try, too.
Wirecast is published by Telestream, the same folks who make Screenflow, my favorite screencasting program. Wirecast is not cheap, though: Wirecast Studio sells for $495 and Wirecast Pro sells for $995. Wirecast turns your computer into a mini television station with camera switching and everything. In the larger scheme of things, the pricing of this software is not that expensive — although I don’t happen to have $500 just sitting around unused.
But wait! My online colleague Steve Garfield recently tweeted that Wirecast is available for free for YouTube Partners. I’ve got more than 1,000 subscribers, so I can start dabbling with Wirecast. But I’d really like Steve Garfield to be exploring Wirecast because he’s a video pro with a deep instinct for sharing. Steve, founder of the no-dues Boston Media Makers, is close to the 1,000 YouTube subscribers level. This MAKE blog post will likely send him over the top. (You know what to do, right?)
I checked in with Christine Porter at Telestream to find out if the Wirecast for YouTube that’s available for free for YouTube Partners is the same Wirecast software Telestream sells. It turns out it is not, though the differences are subtle. For example, in the YouTube version, streaming is limited to the YouTube platform, and the Virtual Camera Out feature, which let’s you use Wirecast’s output as a feed into another application, is limited to Google Hangouts. Wirecast for YouTube Play, the free version for YouTube Partners, does look interesting – and the other versions of Wirecast for YouTube are sold at a substantial discount if you are a YouTube Partner.
Christine Porter pointed me to this web site which explains the differences between the three versions of Wirecast for YouTube.
Now it’s up to the maker community to start exploring creative uses of this software. I’m particularly pumped that Wirecast works well with Google Hangouts. Imagine how fun it would be to run your own local quiz show – with scoreboard – where the host and contestants were all in a Google Hangout – and the show is automatically archived to YouTube.
To be sure, I’m a bit peeved that YouTube chose an arbitrary number of subscribers (1,000) for someone to become a YouTube Partner. A smarter way of doing things would be to also allow for “alternate certification” via nominations of YouTube channels where the producer of that channel demonstrates a clear and steady ethic of sharing their tech knowledge. It would be to YouTube and Telestream’s benefit that Steve Garfield start exploring Wirecast. He could end up being Wirecast’s strongest champion. His credentials as a video on the web pro are very strong, having written one of the definitive books on the subject: Get Seen.
Beyond Steve Garfield, makers who are also media makers need better ways of supporting one another. Are you a maker with a YouTube channel? I’ve set up a moderated YahooGroups email list for maker media makers to be sharing ideas and supporting one another. Let’s take media making where it’s never been before — and then teach the rest of the world how to do it.
[Phil Shapiro is a maker and media maker in the Washingon DC-area. He loves open source, digital storytelling and fixing up donated computers to deliver to people who need them. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @philshapiro.]