Since March 2020, many of us have been working mostly from home. Although the transition from a real world to a virtual world was relatively easy thanks to programs like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Zoho Meeting or Google Meet, the truth is that bringing the office to the home has proven to have some additional difficulties.

While an office environment is specifically designed for work tasks, our homes tend to be very different. This means that, for example, a pet decides to bark at a shadow in the middle of an important meeting, or that the neighbors decide to remodel the kitchen precisely the week during which they have video conferences or important presentations. 

In the same way, many times the cameras we use are the ones that came with the computer that we never used before the pandemic and that consequently may not deliver the best image quality. With this in mind, Nvidia launched its Nvidia Broadcast app, which seeks to alleviate some of these realities that bringing work home has brought. 

Let's explain Nvidia Broadcast

Surely many of our readers know Nvidia. The Californian brand is widely recognized for its computer hardware, especially for its high-performance graphics chips, which are generally used by equipment designed to Gaming. In addition to hardware, the company also has a fairly robust and complete software ecosystem. 

Here we find, for example, Raytracing, one of the latest technologies for graphics in video games and professional environments that is currently on consoles and computers. In the same way, the company has also invested heavily in the field of Artificial Intelligence, which has had its fruits in technologies such as DLSS –Deep Learning Super Sampling–. 

What happens, then, if we apply this technology to improve the quality of our microphone and camera? The result of this question is precisely Nvidia Broadcast, which uses some of the company's solutions to improve everyday elements such as audio and image quality in video calls. In the words of Alexandre Ziebert –Nvidia Marketing Technician for Latin America– Nvidia Broadcast is "Able to turn your home into a TV studio with a universal plug-in that improves the quality of microphones and webcams with RTX-accelerated AI effects." Nvidia Broadcast is a free application, although it can only be installed on Nvidia RTX series systems.

Essentially, Broadcast has 3 options: microphone, speakers, and camera. Each of these options has different functions, and can be used simultaneously or each one separately.  

Let's talk about audio

The audio section is the first we find, and it also offers one of the most sought after functions. Many of these functions were inherited from what was previously called RTX Voice, and His goal is to remove ambient sounds as much as possible while preserving the voice. This function is simply activated with a button, and can be calibrated to function from a relatively simple room to a fairly noisy one.

This software can remove, for example, pet barking or meowing, hammer tapping, drilling noises, and even background music. The louder the sound, the more aggressive the software must be, and that is why at very high levels the software tends to distort the voice, although it still complies with eliminating background noises.

Additionally, Nvidia Broadcast also has a function to reduce the echo of the room we are in. This is especially useful for large spaces, such as living rooms and conference rooms. In our tests, using a laptop with an RTX 2060 chip, Broadcast was able to strongly eliminate or suppress various noises, including barking, televisions, and even the distant sound of a blender. The speaker function, for redundancy, is used to eliminate the sound of speakers or sound systems, whether they are typical of computers or other devices. .  

As we already said, these functions can be used together or each one separately. That is, if I need to suppress noise and also reduce echo, I can use both at the same time. If I only need to reduce the echo, only this function is used. In this sense, the application is very versatile.      

The camera is not far behind

Broadcast features extend to the camera as well, and here too they tend to impress quite a bit. The first package of functions is designed for camera backgrounds, especially in a world where we often neglect or forget what can appear on video. 

With Broadcast the backgrounds can be blurred, replaced or completely removed. A blurred background means that the entire scene around the person becomes blurry, delivering an effect that in the camera world is known as bokeh And that by the way feels quite natural. This function is similar to that of professional cameras and gives an acceptable result. 

As a complement, the application can also replace the background with an image of our choice, very similar to what Microsoft Teams does but with the versatility of being able to choose any image we want. Lastly, the background can be completely removed, leaving a black color that can then be easily processed by other applications. 

From top to bottom, the normal camera, the function to blur the background and replace the background. Image: Impacto TIC/ Nvidia

An interesting application is called autofocus, which is especially useful when the camera is at a very wide angle and shows things that we may not want to be seen. This feature focuses the camera on a person's face and moves automatically with that person's movement. If I move to the right, the camera follows my face to the right, and so on in all directions. 

Finally, the application has a function to move what is known as the 'noise' of the video. When it is getting dark, for example, cameras lose light and your images lose details and video quality. This is visible in the form of noise, which leaves a pixelated and blurry image. Using DLSS algorithms, the application removes noise and restores details to the image, leaving a much cleaner video that looks good even in low-light environments.  

The ugliness of the matter

Although the Nvidia Broadcast application has advanced features that work well, the truth is that it cannot be installed on all systems. Broadcast makes use of some functions based on Nvidia hardware, and more specifically on Nvidia RTX chips. In other words, you need an Nvidia graphics card or chip. RTX series 2000 o series 3000

With this restriction, Nvidia leaves out users with AMD Radeon cards, as well as all people with integrated graphics with Intel and AMD CPUs and even previous generation Nvidia users (such as the GTX). Although surely the application could be open to more systems, Nvidia has designed it to make use of your hardware and not to take up an exaggerated amount of resources.   

And although it is not surprising that Nvidia, a brand that has grown with the world of video games, also focuses its applications on an audience gamer That already has your graphics cards, Broadcast has the potential to be tremendously useful for users with more modest computers.  

Alternatives

For those with Nvidia RTX 2000 or 3000 series chips, Broadcast is quite a useful application that makes effective use of hardware. For other people, however, one of the most powerful options on the market, and that many streamers professionals use is OBS.

OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, and it is a completely free and open source software application for Windows, Mac and Linux. Although OBS is feature rich and more powerful than Nvidia Broadcast, this also means that it is somewhat more complex to use and requires some basic knowledge.

OBS is capable of filtering sounds and creating effects in the camera, it can even duplicate the signal of a camera so that the same image appears in 2 simultaneous video conferences. Aula de Software Libre has a basic tutorial precisely on OBS, and it may be of great help to those who want to improve their audio or sound quality.

It's hard to deny that Nvidia Broadcast is a very useful tool for people who can use it. However, its weakness is precisely the fact that it is not compatible with a considerable part of the computers on the market. For those who can install it, Broadcast is an application not to be missed and worth downloading. For those who can't, OBS continues to be the best recommendation. 


Lead Image: Nvidia