Using NDI® in Skype
August 16, 2018 by Kane Peterson and Chuck Baker
Microsoft Skype has released a new version (8.25 on Windows and Mac) that integrates NewTek’s NDI®, the royalty free bidirectional technology for IP transport of video, audio, metadata and communications using standard networks. The user can now engage NDI to use video from a networked camera or device as the video source to send with the Skype audio. High-quality professional video cameras can replace lower resolution and low framerate webcams, allowing for a much better presentation for the caller, especially for applications such as guest expert on a broadcast news program.
Kane Peterson, NewTek workflow engineer, shows the steps to activate NDI in Skype, and to use an NDI video source to send pre-recorded video via Skype, which represents a useful new capability for a call-in guest expert. In the material below, we cover the steps to use NDI cameras or devices as input.
First, check your version. Click on the avatar icon upper left in the UI. This opens an information panel, with a scroll bar on the right. Scroll to the bottom and click the About option. The About panel will open, and just below the Skype icon the version number will be available. This needs to be anything from 126.96.36.199 and up.
Depending on your exact version of Skype, instead of “About” you may see “Help and Feedback” listed. If so, click that option, and you’ll get a panel which has the version information, just as “About” did.
If you have a lower version number than 8.25.x.x, you will need to download the latest version from the Skype Home page. (Like to be on the leading edge? Download advanced versions via the Skype Insider Program.) The version available in App stores will not have the advanced features that the version directly from Skype will include.
First, A Source…
In the video tutorial Kane uses pre-recorded video played from a NewTek TalkShow to send through Skype. Let’s see how to set up a mobile phone to use as the camera for a Skype call. We will be using Skype on a Windows system for this tutorial.
Things we need:
- NewTek NDI Camera application for your iOS or Android phone. ($19.99 US)
- NewTek NDI Tools Pack for Windows (Free Download)
Once you have the camera application installed on your mobile phone, and the NDI Tools pack installed on a Windows system on the same wireless network, we are ready to begin.
Run the NDI Camera application on your phone, and press the On/Off button to turn on the camera and begin sending video as NDI.
On the Windows system, locate “NewTek NDI Tools/Virtual Camera” and select it. When the application runs, it will show an icon in the system tray. If you hover the mouse over the icon, you will see that it identifies as “NewTek NDI Virtual Input.” Right-click on the icon to bring up the menu. You should see “LOCALHOST” on the menu. Highlight “LOCALHOST” to see what NDI streams are available. In our graphic, a Motorola Droid Turbo is showing as “XT1585.” When we select it, that stream is available to any other application which uses the NewTek NDI Virtual Input.
There are two ways to get to Settings in Skype. Click the avatar icon and open the Information panel, and scroll down - the various application settings are on the menu in the version of Skype that Kane is using in the video. In other versions, “Settings” is on that panel, and you can click it to open the Settings panel. You can also click the “More” ellipsis on the right, and select “Settings” from the “More” menu.
Once you are in the “Settings” menu, select the “Calling” option, and on the menu select “Advanced.” On the “Advanced Calling” menu, turn on “Allow NDI Usage” with the toggle.
Next, move to the “Audio & Video” options. In the “Video” section there is a window for the camera view and a selector on the right for the camera source. Click and select “NewTek NDI Video.” Now you should see the input from your mobile phone camera.
Depending on when you downloaded Skype, you may have any of a number of versions that have become available since the first version with NDI support was released. We have seen versions that did not have the “Advanced” tab available in the “Calling” settings, but did show a choice in the “Audio and Video” settings for NDI, and NDI worked when selected.
Skype also allows selecting alternative audio inputs in the Microphone option in the Audio and Video settings screen. “Line (NewTek NDI Audio)” will show as an option there as well. This means that the user can attach and use better quality equipment for both video and audio. A laptop user is thus not limited to the built-in media capture facilities. This can also help improve your presentation quality for call-in appearances for broadcast, cable or live-streaming programming.
Another tip: a mobile phone or tablet camera running NewTek or another vendor’s NDI Camera application may be a better choice for your video source than the built-in laptop camera. The camera may be a higher quality and frame-rate, and may also be better just from the point of view of freedom to position it more conveniently than a laptop built-in camera, especially if you need to view the screen of the laptop to access information as you speak.
News and talk shows are increasingly using remote call-ins to bring guests and commentators from anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. The new NDI capability in Skype enables the remote caller to provide higher quality video and audio to the production. With NewTek production systems that integrate Skype TX, such as TriCaster® TC1, NewTek VMC1 and NewTek TalkShow®, on the receiving end in the studio, maximum quality and reliability for such calls is assured for professional broadcast and streaming production. Kane concludes his presentation in the video with a discussion of the capabilities provided in TalkShow for enhanced production and multiple call management for receiving Skype call-ins for your productions.
We hope this video has been helpful for you. If you have suggestions for other topics you would like covered in a Facebook Live or 2-Minute Tutorial, please send us a message. We will see you next time.