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Get Started with NewTek Spark Plus for Gaming

August 15, 2019 by Richard Evans, video; Chuck Baker, text

NewTek Spark Plus offers the ability to connect any HDMI device and encode the video and audio to a NewTek NDI® stream on a standard network. HD video at 1080p 60fps and UHD video at 2160p 30fps are supported. In this video, we are particularly concerned with adapting gaming devices to become an IP video source. NewTek video producer Richard Evans connects a Nintendo Switch in this tutorial, plus shows the features and operation of the Spark Plus.

The most common application for this is to allow a gamer to send the video to a computer system set up to stream his gameplay to a social video network such as Twitch, or to a personal website. Another common purpose is simply to archive game play - for example, NewTek has free and commercial NDI utilities available that let you record NDI streams to a networked PC. You can share, study or simply enjoy reliving your past gameplay this way.

NewTek Spark<sup>™</sup> Plus back view

Modern gaming consoles use HDMI as the standard video connector. To use them with Spark Plus simply connect the console HDMI output to the Spark Plus HDMI input. Spark Plus has a loop-through for HDMI, so connect another HDMI cable from the Spark Plus Loop connector to your television or display device, and you are ready to play and to simultaneously use the output over the network to a streaming or recording system. NDI actually uses minimal network bandwidth when a stream is not being used by any NDI receiver on the network, so you can leave this setup in place full time.

Many gaming enthusiasts have classic gaming consoles from the past, and legacy computer systems they use to play classic games that they enjoy. These can also be adapted easily for streaming or recording with the NewTek Spark Plus.

Video Cabling Types for Classic Gaming Consoles

Older consoles had a variety of video connection types:

  • Composite: a three-wire connection, usually with yellow/red/white RCA connectors, with yellow being the video line and red and white the left and right audio channels
  • S-Video: also referred to as Y/C, uses a round 4-pin connector and cable
  • Component: 3-wire cable with RCA connectors for Red, Green and Blue channels for the video; a stereo audio cable is most often used for audio; some manufacturers supply a 5-wire cable with RCA connectors, 3 for Red/Green/Blue video channels and two for left and right stereo audio.

Older PC type computers used a 15-pin DIN connector for VGA analog signals in several resolution variations (SVGA, XGA, WXGA and up). Later PCs use DVI connectors, still in use today on most such computers for connecting to digital displays.

Inexpensive converters are available to transcode each of these signal types into HDMI, so just determine what type of video connections that your console or legacy computer has, and then look for the appropriate converter. Many converters also include video processing to smoothly scale up the resolution of the video signal, for a much better look on today’s high-resolution displays.

Video Converters for Classic Gaming Consoles and Computers

As you can see, both modern and classic gaming consoles and classic computer systems can be adapted for streaming or recording with NewTek Spark Plus.

Modern computer systems often include an HDMI output that can duplicate the main display, so your latest gaming laptop or PC can also use the Spark Plus to make your computer gaming available as NDI on the network. There are also free utilities from NewTek (NDI Scan Converter in the NDI Tools Pack) and others that can run on the gaming system, capture the display in real time and send it to the network as NDI; however, for those gamers that prefer to reserve the gaming system’s full resources for game play, Spark Plus fits the bill.

We hope this video is helpful for you. If you have suggestions for other topics you would like covered in a Facebook Live or Tip Jar Tutorial, please send us a message. We will see you next time.

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NewTek Spark<sup>™</sup> Plus Kit

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