Live video calls have been so standard that you use them as an alternative to telephone calls. If, one day, your company assigned you a task to build a live video call feature for your company’s app, how would you proceed? This article will teach you how to choose the most powerful live video call SDK to build your app.
Why Shall We Use Live Video Call SDK
Cracking WebRTC or FFmpeg requires a lot of time and human resources, and the learning curve of multi-media theory and technology is steep. It won’t be a good idea to hire a new team with the right expertise to develop the technology in-house because of the high cost of human resources. Even if you are determined to invest the time and money, the quality of an RTC technology based on open-sourced projects cannot be guaranteed.
The most feasible choice for you would be to choose a good live video call SDK from technology vendors and build the live video call feature by calling video call APIs while focusing on your business. There are four significant advantages of using live video SDK to make the live video call feature:
No investment in human resource
You must set up a 6-member team to develop live video technology. And it is a long-term matter to maintain and grow the team. The investment in the team would be stunning.
No investment in backend infrastructure
To accelerate data transmission and guarantee live video call quality, construct a data transmission network to transmit multi-media data. The data network will consist of many data centers and dedicated leased lines.
No investment in system maintenance
System maintenance is an ongoing task, and it will involve continuous investment in a maintenance team. System accidents like breakdowns are inevitable headaches.
It is paramount to be quick in market competition. When you observe a trend or develop an idea, it is essential to implement and verify it promptly. Your fortune will be gone if it is delayed for a long time.
There are many great choices of live video call SDK on the market. The best include ZEGOCLOUD, Twilio, and Vonage, who provide easy-to-use and powerful live video call SDK to help you build live video call features within a few hours.
What Are The Use Cases of Live Video Call SDK
There are many use cases of live video SDK. The way that you are going to use it will fall into one of the categories.
Online Social and Entertainment
Live video dating and live video streaming both fall into this category. In the live video dating scenario, a live video call allows the two people to see each other through interactive video and build stronger relationships leading to offline meetings. In a live video streaming scenario, a live video call allows the host to interact with audience members or guests. Live video streaming helps hosts build a more sticky and interactive atmosphere and drive revenue growth.
Small classes and medium classes require interaction between teachers and students. The teacher asks questions, and students compete to “stand up” and answer the question through a live video call. Students raise their hands for questions, and the teacher allows a student to “stand up” and ask questions. The whole class will be able to see the teacher and the speaking student in conversation on video.
A video conference is a typical scenario where all participants expect to see and hear anybody in the forum. Therefore, it is essentially a multi-party live video call. What makes video conferencing different is that it allows participants to turn on or off their video camera and mute or unmute their microphones; the hosts can control participants’ voices and video status.
Video Customer Services
Traditional customer services are based on telephone calls. One specific pain point is that it is inconvenient for the customer to submit documentation to the customer service staff. Another typical pain point would be that the customer service staff cannot authenticate identity by looking at the customer’s face. Live video calls can help online customer services become more effective and efficient. For example, It has become popular that stock brokers adopt video customer services to help new customers to sign contracts and open new trading accounts.
Usually, the telehealth scenario requires a one-on-one live video call. The doctor and patient can speak plainly in the live video call for diagnosis. It is different because the patient might need to submit historical reports to the doctor. If it is a diagnosis conference among doctors, it will require sharing medical statements of super high definition. And doctors may want to look at the extra sound scanning video remotely through the live video call. ZEGOCLOUD has successful customer cases like this in the telehealth field.
Live Online Events
Typically, events are hosted offline for advertisement and branding purposes. However, hosting live events online through live streaming has become popular during the prolonged pandemic. Well-design events invite audience members or VIP guests to go on stage to speak. In live online events, interactive live-streaming technology allows hosts to invite audience members or other VIP guests to join an interactive video call. All the audience members can see the video conversation.
The Typical Features of Live Video Call SDK
Understanding what typical features a live video call SDK shall offer is pretty straightforward. It must support one-on-one and multi-party live video calls, and voice calls are supported simultaneously by default.
There are implicit demands for the qualities of real-time video and voice. Regarding the quality of the real-time video, it must allow adjustment of various levels of definition. High definition, such as 1080P and 4K, should be supported. Regarding the quality of real-time voice, acoustic processing, including acoustic noise suppression, acoustic echo cancellation, and automatic gain control, must be done nicely.
Other typical features won’t be seen, obviously. We are going to cover a few of them. For more information, please refer to the real-time voice section of the ZEGOCLOUD documentation center as a reference.
Video Stream Mixing
It allows you to mix two or even more video streams into one single stream (voice stream is included by default). Typically, stream mixing is used in a broadcasting scenario, i.e., Live video streaming to a large audience.
Stream mixing consists of a few steps. First, multiple streams are decoded and de-capsulated. Second, they are mixed and synchronized with time stamp alignment. Finally, the mixed streams are encoded and capsulated as an RTMP stream. The mixed stream will be forwarded to a CDN for high-concurrency distribution.
There are a few benefits of video stream mixing. First, it reduces the complexity of receiver-end development since there is only one stream to proceed, and the video layout is fixed already. Second, it reduces the processing workload at the receiver end and, more importantly, the bandwidth cost. Finally, it makes stream processing, like forwarding to CDN, easier. It is simpler to process one single stream than many streams individually.
Playing Stream From Media Files
Typically, Live video call SDK providers, like ZEGOCLOUD, will offer you a media player that is much more powerful than an ordinary media player. For example, the ZEGOCLOUD media player can allow you to play a media file loaded from local storage and publish it to ZEGOCLOUD’s real-time data transmission network simultaneously.
In addition, during a live video call, if you load a background music file to play by the media player, it will mix the music audio stream with the vocal audio stream captured from the microphone and then publish the mixed stream to the real-time data network.
Playing Stream From Network URL
ZEGOCLOUD’s media player can also play voice/video streams with network URLs. It works similarly to playing streams loaded from local files. If the network resource is a video, the media player can play and render it.
In addition, the media player will mix it with the live video captured from a local camera device and publish the mixed stream to the real-time data network. In that sense, you can implement a scenario where users can watch a movie together while on a live video call. Please refer to the “watch together scenario” in the “Our UIKits” section for more information if you are interested.
It has been a standard feature of video conference systems or online classrooms. It seems so ordinary, but you may not know what is behind it. Despite looking similar to the remote screen control feature, it is different. The remote screen control feature offers a screen view where the remote screen is rendered progressively. The screen-sharing feature captures the screen pictures and generates a stream to be played at the receiver. The sender screen will be used as a video source or a virtual camera. The receiver watches the live video stream on the sender’s screen.
Local Media Recording
The feature lets you record streams and save them locally as media files. You can start previewing and recording the video source as a media file without publishing the video as a stream. Of course, it will allow you to post the stream while recording during the live video call. ZEGOCLOUD offers a flexible function that allows you to start and stop recording anytime and generate a short video clip of the ongoing live video call.
The Advanced Features of Live Video Call SDK
There are many advanced features offered by live video call SDK, but we will not go through them all. I will introduce a few important ones.
It allows you to display text or image content on video frames as the watermark. To achieve that, you can pass text or image files into the live video call APIs. Video watermarks can help you demonstrate your brand and make it difficult to steal or edit the content of the video.
It allows you to generate video snapshots of ongoing video calls. It can let you determine the definition level of the snapshot pictures. If the bit rate and definition of the ongoing video call cannot satisfy your requirement, the feature will temporarily increase the bit rate and description to create the snapshot.
To support high concurrency at a low cost, CDN is an economical choice. The feature lets you publish a stream directly to a CDN or forward a stream from the real-time data network to a CDN. ZEGOCLOUD supports the functionalities above.
In addition, ZEGOCLOUD provides a unified live-streaming solution that combines the real-time data network and CDNs. ZEGOCLOUD’s live video call SDK allows you to forward live video streams to a ZEGOCLOUD-selected CDN. If the performance of the CDN cannot satisfy the service level, ZEGOCLOUD will use its real-time data network to support content distribution. In that way, the quality of live streaming is guaranteed, and the distribution cost is well-managed.
H.265 Encoding and Decoding
H.265 is the new generation of video encoding and decoding standards. ZEGOCLOUD’s live video call SDK has supported H.265 since September 2021 ( version 2.12.0). With H.265, the live video call SDK can reduce the cost of bandwidth significantly at the same level of quality requirement and can improve the quality of video significantly at the same level of bandwidth budgeting.
ZEGOCLOUD allows you to decide if you want to encrypt video streams. In fact, video stream data with ZEGOCLOUD is safe even without encryption since ZEGOCLOUD uses a proprietary UDP-based protocol to transmit data, and very strict authentications are conducted.
If you want to encrypt, you encrypt at the sender’s end and have to decrypt with the decryption key at the receiver’s end. While the streams are encrypted, in-stream-level processing, such as stream mixing and video beautification, cannot be done.
Customized Video Processing
There are various kinds of customized video processing, including customized video, capturing, video pre-processing, and video rendering. Customized video capturing means that the live video call SDK doesn’t capture video from the physical camera. Still, it obtains video data from a different source, which is processed for the purpose. Customized video pre-processing means you can get raw video data from the SDK, process it, and then put it back into the SDK.
Usually, it is designed for video beautification or enhancement. Customized video rendering means the live video call SDK won’t render video for you, and you want to get video data from the SDK to generate a video on your own. Usually, you want to process the video data before rendering or have a unique way to cause the video better.
How to Choose the Best Video Call SDK
After reviewing the above sections, you have already developed a comprehensive overview of the live video call SDK. You should already be savvy about choosing the live video call SDK itself. However, to make a good decision, you must think outside the box and look at a few other dimensions.
Quality and Performance
Live video call technology is a tough one, and it is difficult to test, either. The good thing is that ZEGOCLOUD has provided comprehensive demo APPs for you to compile and test right away, and those demo APPs are not open-source. You must design complete test cases to try the demo APPs, compare various vendors’ metrics, and evaluate them. For example, you might need to simulate weak network conditions to different stress levels and see how the demo APPs perform. At the end of the day, the solution’s quality and performance count the most.
Successful Customer Cases
If you are an entrepreneur who owns a startup, it is tough for you to test the demo APPs thoroughly. Testing itself posts some cost, and it requires technological expertise. You can indeed leverage the vendor’s successful customer cases in that case. Big customers are vital in technology, experienced in business requirements, and very strict with vendor evaluation. If they choose a vendor, you follow their steps and take less risk. For example, ZEGOCLOUD has been on the market for over 7 years. It has served over 4000 customers globally, including big brands like Uplive, Liveme, Yalla, Mico, and TAL.
Easy to Integrate
Ensuring the live video call SDK is easy to integrate is essential. The market is changing rapidly at the startup stage, and competition is hot. It is paramount for you to verify your idea, get funding, or convince big customers. You cannot bear that burden of wasting weeks integrating. ZEGOCLOUD has offered a better way to accelerate integration. It provides a UIKit edition for its live video call SDK, allowing you to build live power video calls into your app more efficiently and quicker. More importantly, it will enable you to customize the GUI of your app freely, saving a lot of time in developing the GUI yourself.
This aspect is quite hidden. However, it is essential. To make integration quick and easy, you need comprehensive documentation, nicely designed demo APPs and their source code, and a professional technical support team. ZEGOCLOUD is savvy about the client’s requirements, makes excellent arrangements, and offers the support above to you.
It is a complicated process to choose a good live video call SDK. ZEGOCLOUD offers abundant research documentation and a great demo APP to trial. Even better, ZEGOCLOUD offers 10000 minutes of usage for free each month. If you want to know more about live video call SDK and wish to speak with an expert, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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