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How to Use Skype to Broadcast a VGA, DVI, or HDMI signal

This tutorial will explain how to use the popular video conferencing software Skype(tm) in order to stream or broadcast a VGA, DVI, or HDMI video source signal to a remote viewer.

Epiphan frame grabber video stream into skype

Advantages of using Skype include ease of use and accessibility (multi-platform, including mobile devices). Furthermore, Skype is free and supports 2-way audio and video communication. Thus, you can see and hear feedback from the viewer.

At the same time, Skype has a disadvantage - sharing screens is no longer free, and has performance trade offs when the same computer is screen scrapping and encoding audio-video for Skype. With this architecture, the quality of video may suffer and is completely out of the user's control. This means that, depending on multiple factors including computer loading, network congestion and Skype video compression, the broadcasted video may contain artifacts and the resulting frame rate may vary.

Connecting Epiphan Frame Grabbers to Stream Video over Skype

Epiphan customers can inject and stream video during a Skype call uses Epiphan frame grabbers and the Skype video encoding capabilities to stream a video source from one Skype user to the other Skype user as shown in the diagram above.

All Epiphan video capture frame grabber devices, such as VGA2USB, DVI2USB 3.0, DVI2PCIe, and VGA2Ethernet are used to inject external video sources into Skype audio video conferences.

1. Make sure your Epiphan device is connected and powered on. Open Skype. Select Tools > Options.

Broadcast VGA, DVI, HDMI over skype

2. Select the "Video Settings" tab. Then, from the drop-down "Select Webcam" list, select your Epiphan device (in this case, it is DVI2USB 3.0).

Skype configure frame grabber as video source for broadcast

3. That's it! You can now make video calls to your Skype contacts and broadcast the video captured by the Epiphan frame grabber.


Injecting Ultrasound Video into Skype Video quality trade off issues and samples

The diagram below shows how an Ultrasound machine's VGA output can be injected and streamed into a Skype video conference call

Epiphan frame grabber video stream ultrasound into skype

The following are screenshots taken from the Skype broadcasted video of the ultrasound images:

Skype window
In this screenshot, video from a GE Logiq Book is being webcasted in real-time to a remote participant.


Skype window
In the screenshot above, typical artifacts that occur as a result of Skype video compression can be seen. Unfortunately, since Skype has no options for video quality controls, there is no way to get rid of them.


How to Create an HD Video Stream for use with Skype for my application?

While Skype can be used with any Epiphan frame grabber, one should not rely on Skype for mission-critical applications where HD video streaming during a Skype call is required. Being able to configure parameters such as frame rates, video quality and latency can vary greatly the quality of the end user experience. Epiphan's Stand alone streaming devices devices such as VGADVI Broadcaster and other Epiphan Streaming devices give full control over video quality and provide a more reliable HD Video streams vs. video streams transmitted over Skype.

Why does VGADVI Broadcaster provide higher quality video streaming during a Skype video conference??

Skype, being oriented towards video calls and webcams, is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The video compression settings in Skype are set automatically depending on the state and quality of the connection and the performance of the computer running Skype. However, the connection quality in Skype is unpredictable and therefore there is no guarantee that video quality will be consistent, let alone HD quality.

Epiphan VGADVI Broadcaster streaming HD video window with Skype

With Epiphan's VGADVI Broadcaster, settings that are out of control to Skype users, like bit rate, frame rate, key frame interval, and choice of codec can be adjusted by the user. Users can also stream directly to end-points, or through a content distribution network so that others can also view the video conference materials and video streaming in HD quality. These settings can be used to ensure reliable and desired video quality depending on the network used.