Guides & Tutorials

Flow Tricast: our desktop app for presenting (and recording)

Purpose

In this era of remote collaboration, we are all ‘broadcasters’, and we here at Flow desire to present ourselves and Flow in the most professional way possible. So, we built this tool with a simple interface based on open-source software. We liked it so much we want to share it with everyone. 

The purpose of this document is to provide instructions for installing and using Flow Tricast. 

Overview

Tricast is an application that must be installed on the user's computer (Windows or Mac).

Tricast is an installable video mixer that takes your camera feed and mixes with your screen video (which can be Flow or any other application) and generates a new video output.  The “Flow Tricast Camera” shows up as a new camera selection in your collaboration application.  The Flow Tricast Camera is compatible with all the collaboration applications we have tried.

A classic use entails superimposing a small camera insert on a browser window that is used to present one or more Flow data story presentations.Screen_Shot_2021-10-20_at_10.07.37_AM.png

Screenshot 1 - Using Tricast to discuss a Flow using the Flow Editor

When to use Flow Tricast: Image Quality Considerations

Not all collaboration programs are configured to show video at a high resolution, and presenting in high resolution is usually very desirable. Without high resolution video, you may want to use either the “Live Meeting” feature within Flow, or just traditional screen sharing. The disadvantage of screen sharing is that the frame rate will be relatively low, and some of the beautiful Flow animations may only be partially displayed.

We have found that Zoom, with a professional license, provides full-bandwidth video with a good frame rate. The HD option will need to be enabled by your administrator if it isn’t set up by default.

Other online meeting software may often show low-bandwidth video, and if the bandwidth is very low, screen sharing may be preferable.

Be sure to experiment with colleagues before an important meeting, and make sure you have optimized your video feed to be as high resolution as practical (1920x1080 pixels).

Installation

Assuming that the user has permissions to install software on the computer, the Tricast installation process is straightforward.  If the user does not have installation privileges, the user will need to arrange for an appropriate IT person to perform the installation.

Below is the link to the web page where you can obtain Tricast installation software for Windows and Mac:

   https://flowimmersive.com/tricast

    • Please shut down processes, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom that might interfere with the installation process.
    • Double-click the Windows button on the Flow Tricast download page.
    • Double-click the button showing the .exe file.
    • Read the informatory message, and then click the "Download Anyway" button.
    • After the download completes, you can close the Flow Tricast download window.
    • Using Windows File Explorer, navigate to the .exe file that has just been downloaded.
    • Double-click the Flow Tricast .exe file that has just been downloaded.
    • Click "Yes" on the Flow Tricast Setup popup.
    • On the popup containing the Select Destination Location, either click Next or edit the location and then click Next.
    • On the Select Additional Tasks popup, click Next (meaning that the Tricast icon will be created on your desktop).
    • Click the Install button
    • On the Preparing to Install popup, click Next (with the "Automatically close the applications" radio button selected).

    If a message appears that indicates that you need to close some additional applications, use the Task Manager to determine which applications are running.  If Microsoft Teams is running, please highlight the Teams process and click End Task within the Windows Task Manager.

    • When the "Completing the Flow Tricast Setup Wizard" popup appears, click Finish.

    At this point Tricast has been launched, and you will see the Flow Tricast configuration screen.

                   Picture2.jpg

                                            Screenshot 2win - Tricast configuration screen

    • Click the Camera Settings button, and in the Device dropdown select the physical camera that you will use to display yourself during the Tricast session.

                     Picture3.jpg

               Screenshot 3win - View of what your designated physical camera is viewing

    • Click OK.

    At this point, please restart your various applications, including accessing Flow in your browser (Chrome recommended).

    • Click the "Select Flow Window" button, and in the Window dropdown, select the window that contains your browser Flow screen.

                    Picture4.jpg

                    Screenshot 4win - Browser window showing the user's list of Flows

    • Click OK.

    At this point, by clicking the various Scenes buttons you are able to set your Flow Tricast Virtual Camera to show either the "Camera" view, the "Flow/Window with Camera" view, or the "Flow/Window" view.  The "Flow/Window with Camera" view is the view you will use when presenting a Flow using Tricast.

    At this point, your Flow Tricast application has been confirmed to be operating properly, and the Flow Tricast may be accessed via an icon is on your desktop.  The Tricast application is also available in your Start Menu.

    • Please shut down processes, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom that might interfere with the installation process.
    • Double-click the Mac button on the Flow Tricast download page.
    • Double-click the button showing the .dmg file.
    • Click the "Download" button.
    • Read the informatory message, and then click the "Download Anyway" button
    • After the download completes, you can close the browser window.
    • Click on the .dmg file to open. If you can’t find it at the bottom of your screen, use Finder to navigate to the .dmg file in your Downloads folder.
    • Drag Flow Tricast to the Applications folder.
                   Picture5.png               

             Screenshot 2mac - Image of window with Tricast and Applications folder

    • Double click the Applications folder.
    • Double click Flow Tricast.
    • Because we downloaded the file from the browser, and not the App Store, you’ll get a message saying the developer of the app cannot be verified. Click cancel.
    • Right click on Flow Tricast.
    • Click Open.
    • After reading the informatory message, click Open again.
                                               Picture6.png

                   Screenshot 3mac - Pop up asking for confirmation before opening the app

    At this point Tricast has been launched, and you will see the Flow Tricast configuration screen.

                  Picture2.jpg

                                   Screenshot 4mac - Tricast configuration screen

    • Click the Camera Settings button, and in the Device dropdown select the physical camera that you will use to display yourself during the Tricast session.

                     Picture3.jpg

                   Screenshot 5mac - View of what your designated physical camera is viewing

    • Click OK.

    At this point, please restart your various applications, including accessing Flow in your browser (Chrome recommended).

    • Click the "Select Flow Window" button, and in the Window dropdown, select the window that contains your browser Flow screen.

                    Picture4.jpg

                   Screenshot 6mac - Browser window showing the user's list of Flows

    • Click OK.

    At this point, by clicking the various Scenes buttons you are able to set your Flow Tricast Virtual Camera to show either the "Camera" view, the "Flow/Window with Camera" view, or the "Flow/Window" view.  The "Flow/Window with Camera" view is the view you will use when presenting a Flow using Tricast.

    At this point, your Flow Tricast application has been confirmed to be operating properly, and the Flow Tricast may be accessed via the Applications folder.  The Tricast application is also available in the dock while running, and you may choose whether or not to Pin it there.

Using Tricast for a Flow Presentation

When using Tricast to present Flows, please follow the process described below:

  • Make sure your collaboration application, such as Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc., are shut down when you launch Tricast the first time after installing Tricast.  This is so that no other application is using the camera, freeing it up for selection in Tricast.  After the first time, the order in which you launch Tricast and the sharing app is not an issue.
  • Often, people use background processing and mirroring features in their collaboration application.  When using Tricast:
      • Please turn off the background processing and/or background image for your online meeting.
      • Please also turn off the mirroring of your image if your meeting software allows you to do so.
  • Launch Tricast
  • Click the "Camera settings" button, and make sure that your real physical camera is selected as your "Device". You should not need to alter any other camera settings.
  • Click OK.
  • Check whether or not you want to show the camera image in a circle cutout.
  • Check whether or not you are using a Green Screen. A green screen is a standard way to swap an area of a video feed with another image, and is used by weathermen, in the production of many sci-fi feature films, and in many other use cases. You can purchase a green screen at many sites online.  Please contact Flow Support if you have any questions about using green screens.
  • For your "Select Flow window", select the window that contains the browser session that is accessing Flow.  Usually this appears as "[chrome.exe]: Flow - Google Chrome" in the list of dropdown values.
  • Click OK.

At this point in the Tricast window you will see the camera view superimposed on the content of your Flow window.  This is the preview of your video output.

  • You will sometimes want to show yourself full frame, sometimes show yourself embedded within the Flow screen share, and sometimes just the Flow screen. You can make that choice in the "Scenes" menu on the left side of the Tricast application window.
  • If you are using dual monitors, at this point, you will probably find it convenient to move Tricast to your small monitor.
  • Start your online meeting program (Zoom, Teams, Google Meet), and log in.
  • Make sure that you have turned off any background image in your online meeting software, as the background image will interfere with the view that is presented in Tricast.
  • Launch your meeting and choose the "Tricast Virtual Camera" as your camera, usually using a pulldown beside a “Camera” or “Video” button within your meeting program.

At this point you should see your Tricast Virtual Camera scene in your Tricast window.  This is the scene that will be visible to attendees of the online meeting, and it is very important for this scene to be correct.    Sometimes, depending upon the meeting software and your browser settings, the text viewed within your online meeting window may have an issue, such as the display of text being backwards.  Resolving this type of issue will probably entail experimenting with the setting within your online meeting program and your browser.  If you encounter an issue that you cannot resolve, please contact Flow (please see Section 6 below).

From this point onward during your meeting:

  • The Tricast preview window will show what your audience is seeing.
  • Your online meeting window (e.g. Zoom) will show whatever it is set up to show.  You have access to your online meeting controls in this window.  
  • Your Flow window will be where you navigate through the Flow(s) you are presenting.  You will not see your cutout image when you are navigating this window.  If you want to confirm what the audience is seeing, you can glance over to your Tricast preview window.

Important Note: When you are in your online meeting software, because the content of your Tricast Virtual Camera already includes both your cutout image and the content of your Flow screen, you will not need to share your screen when presenting Flow.

If you want to share another window:

  • Using your online meeting window click the button to invoke screen sharing and indicate which window(s) you wish to share.  When you exit from screen sharing, you will revert to using your Tricast Virtual Camera.  Prior to your first use of Tricast for a live meeting, it is a good idea to practice sharing another window when you are running Tricast to confirm that you are comfortable with the process.

Reporting Issues and Suggestions

Please report any suggestions and issues you encounter by either sending an email to your Flow representative or by generating an issue by Submitting a Request.

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