2019 CES award-winning YoloBox looks like a tablet monitor when you unpack it, but it so much more than that. If you’re planning on streaming an event like a wedding live on location, it’s the only device you need to connect to your cameras and sound equipment, so you can share it with an online audience on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, all at once.
How Does It Work?
You can plug in up to 3 cameras, with two HDMI ports and a USB port. The USB can be used if you have a Camlink or another HDMI to USB 3.0 Adapter.
You also have an audio input and output, so you can check levels to be sure your sound is crisp and set correctly, and connect a mic. You can also use the audio coming in from one of the cameras if you want.
There is an SD card slot, where you can use video and effects that you’ve added before the shoot, to make your stream more entertaining and visually more pleasing and professional. So, you can add in lower thirds, or titles whenever you want. I can imagine someone giving a speech with their name appearing as they do it.
It can be useful before the stream starts. If you’ve got a photo with a banner telling the viewers that the event is about to start, it can add so much more value. You could add some contact details so people can reach you for this service. The CF card also makes it possible to record the live event. This means you’d be able to upload it so people can watch it if they’ve missed it, or edit a shorter version to share with the client’s chosen group of people.
There is an Ethernet cable input, which you can use to go online, but what makes this remarkable is that it comes with a sim card slot, so if you don’t have access to an Ethernet link to the internet or a Wi-Fi network, you can use a mobile contract subscription and be totally mobile.
In addition, you have an HDMI out if you want to plug in a monitor or another YoloBox.
This all might seem to have too many cables, especially if you’re planning on shooting while moving around the room. I have not tested it yet, but here below is a video of a crew using the Hollyland 300 Pro transmitter and receiver. This proves that you and your team can move around, capture from various angles and someone, either one of the videographers, or a dedicated "switcher", can decide to switch between the cameras for the stream.
The User Experience
Putting your trust in something that doesn’t use your laptop or usual setup can seem risqué, but I can tell you that I was streaming live on the first attempt, and everything worked well. I forgot to set the sound up correctly, but could fix it during the stream.
I set everything up to test using my Wi-Fi connection. I connected my GoPro 7 Black and Canon 5D Mark III with no problem. At first, plugging in the GoPro only showed me images and videos already on the device, and I was not able to get to the camera. The touch screen of the GoPro was black, but I could control some of the features, except getting the video from the GoPro to YoloBox. At last, plugging it out, setting up the GoPro to shoot video, and then plugging it in did the trick and I was ready to start recording.
I did a picture in picture, where I had a camera on my face and another on my hands where I was showing a new Moment Cinebloom 20% lens on my 5D Mark III, and was able to talk into the GoPro while showing the effect it has when attaching it to my 24-70mm lens using the picture in picture mode. I streamed to Facebook and YouTube which worked perfectly.
Who Is It For?
So it can be a solution for vloggers who want to switch between cameras to make the editing process easier and faster too. I think the best approach for someone starting the process of shooting and editing vlogs, would be to do some live, and then to use the same methodology to record video for a more edited approach. If you can switch between cameras and make it flow, you’d have less editing to do in the end too.
It’s also for videographers covering events. If you shoot weddings, corporate events, or anything where people get together, this is a great addition to your kit, and potential income. It’s an ideal service to up-sell.
What I Would Like to See
I would like to be able to upload some lower thirds animations that I’ve designed or sourced online and store it on the device, without having it on the CF card. I would also like to see some support for mobile phones, so if I want to use my iPhone, there should be an app for that which lets me plug it in and add it as a camera. What would be great, is if I can let some guests shoot some footage and having the option of adding it to the stream too. This is rather advanced, but this makes it very interactive and gives the person in control more options to work with.
What I Liked
The ease of use was impressive. It was quite intuitive, although some of the menu items didn’t work. I suppose it will be fixed in a firmware update though.
Even when streaming from your computer using OBS, it's only with plugins and modifications to the software that you are able to stream to more than one social network at a time, so this really is a level above the other options.
I liked the feeling of going live too. It was a first for me, and I think I'd do it again in the future. It energized me, and I didn't think about how I was going to edit it all together, I was rather enjoying talking about new gear, like the Yolobox, and how impressive it was and what its capabilities were. So it ended up feeling more natural. I wish I knew this before spending time shooting and then editing it all together in the end.
What I Didn’t Like
They only include 2 HDMI cables, but many cameras still use mini-HDMI inputs. I had to get extra cables for my GoPro and Canon 5D Mark III because they only have mini and micro HDMI inputs. The newer generation of cameras mostly now have regular HDMI inputs, so this is not a big deal for most people.
I wasn't able to see any of the comments people made, or how many people were watching on the Yolobox, and had to keep my phone nearby to continue discussions with the people tuning in. I suppose there won't be a way to incorporate this into the device, and I now know to do it next time.
In the past, you could get the BlackMagic Atem Switcher, but you would’ve had to add a computer to your gear list to do it. Doing so will reduce your mobility when shooting, and you’ll have to have someone manning the computer and switcher.
If you’re shooting weddings or events that people cannot join physically, this is a way for you to let your clients know you can shoot the wedding, but also let friends and family be part of the celebration, even when they’re not physically there. And, once the pandemic is over, this can still be offered as a service.