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  • Ollie Seymour

Understanding the Differences Between RTSP Video Encoders and USB Capture Devices

In live sports video analysis, choosing the right equipment for capturing video is crucial. Two common methods for capturing video are with RTSP video feeds or USB capture devices.

RTSP feeds can come directly from IP Cameras and from RTSP encoders, which are devices that convert HDMI/SDI feeds from conventional cameras into RTSP feeds. USB capture devices take HDMI/SDI feeds from cameras and digitise these so the feed can be picked up on a computer.

In this post, we'll look at the unique benefits and considerations with RTSP encoders and USB capture devices.

What is a USB Capture Device?

A USB capture device is straightforward and efficient, but different video analysis software are only compatible with certain USB capture devices.

In the video linked with this post, you'll see the Avermedia Live Gamer Mini device in action, which is a great option for using with Nacsport on Windows or macOS. It connects directly to a camera via HDMI and can also be powered by the USB connection, making it ideal for environments where power access is limited. It converts raw footage into a stream that software can capture, providing a single feed with a simple setup.

However, with the majority of USB capture devices you have very little or no control over video format output and it can only handle one camera per device, which might require multiple setups for multi-angle coverage. As a USB capture device outputs at a set video format, it puts more work onto the capture module of video analysis software to convert and capture that feed into set resolution, bitrate and FPS parameters.

What is an RTSP Video Encoder?

Most modern video analysis software can capture RTSP feeds, which means that an RTSP video encoder can work across multiple analysis software options on either Windows or macOS.

An RTSP video encoder offers greater flexibility and control than a USB capture device. It manages the HDMI/SDI video feed (or multiple feeds) coming into the encoder, allowing you to customise the resolution, bitrate and frame rate of the RTSP feed/s that it outputs. This reduces the load on your video analysis software, making it more efficient for capturing multiple video angles and also sharing the RTSP feeds across multiple devices on the same network.

RTSP encoders do need a power source, but portable power solutions like battery packs can resolve this issue. You can share the RTSP feeds output from an encoder through a network switch, enhancing versatility for professional setups in stadiums or large venues where you want multiple devices to pick up and use the feeds for live capture and review processes.

As the RTSP feeds from encoders can connect to a network switch, it also means that you can add them to a network which has RTSP feeds from IP cameras too, making it possible for you to capture and review a variety of video feeds coming from IP Cameras and conventional cameras being converted through the RTSP encoder.

The versatility of RTSP encoders makes them the optimal choice for video analysis software capture.

In this video, Jon shows you these differences between USB capture devices and RTSP encoders in action, so you can see the benefits and workflows made possible with each.

Key Takeaways

USB Capture Devices:

USB-powered, single feed, ideal for limited power environments. No control over video output settings, more work for video analysis software to use, device compatibility varies across different software options.

RTSP Video Encoders: Requires power, network-friendly, supports multiple feeds and can mix with IP camera feeds. Customisable video output settings, less strain on video analysis software, compatible with all modern video analysis software.

Both options have their place in sports video analysis, depending on the specific needs and constraints of the setup. Understanding these differences can help analysts make informed decisions to enhance their live video analysis capabilities.

For more detailed insights, watch our video or take a look at our range of RTSP Encoders here.


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