I wouldn’t have thought one of the most exciting things about a new GPU would be a cool webcam app – but here we are.
When Nvidia announced its new 30-series graphics cards, people were rightly excited to get their hands on the new cards and test out their in-game performance. The new GPUs appear to be well worthwhile, at least based on my review of the GeForce RTX 3080, which generally speaking offered a strong uplift of as much as 50% to the frame rates of games when challenged with a full 4K, max settings presentation.
Raw GPU horsepower is great, but Nvidia isn’t stopping there. Arguably, an Nvidia-brand graphics card purchase is made all the more attractive by the company’s various additional features and offerings beyond brute force and power. There’s the company’s dedicated ray tracing cores, which goes hand in hand with the astonishing and transformative DLSS feature to allow higher resolutions without a sacrifice of frames per second. And then there’s software – like the new Nvidia Broadcast suite, which, honestly – it’s nuts.
Nvidia Broadcast was introduced during the same live stream that revealed the 30-series graphics cards, and there’s no demo I can do that will do a better job than the official one put out by Nvidia. I do feel the need to write this article to report in on my experience with Nvidia Broadcast – mainly because I’ve been totally blown away by it.
Basically, the Nvidia Broadcast app continues on from where the impressive RTX Voice started. RTX Voice was all about de-noising your environment for live streams or playing with friends. You could also apply the same AI-powered noise reduction to incoming audio, so if a friend you were playing with had a noisy dog or was playing with the background noise of a partner watching TV, their voice would be isolated.
It worked stunningly well, using artificial intelligence ran on the Nvidia RTX Tensor Cores to do the heavy lifting. RTX Voice became a go-to app for me, practically always-on. It’s powerful stuff, and means that when a heat wave strikes I can sit gaming with a fan pointed right at me and the resulting wind noise doesn’t get broadcast to my friends at all.
The new broadcast app rolls in the noise reduction functionality but brings in another AI-powered enhancement – camera settings. Like the noise reduction setup, this uses AI to do things such as automatically frame and focus the camera on your face no matter how much you move around, blur the background so people can’t see all your junk or, most impressive, key out the background entirely without need for a green screen.
The keying out of the background obviously isn’t as clean as manually doing so with a green screen, but it’s mightily impressive nevertheless. It’s also free: rather than having to spend money and effort setting up a green screen and configuring it in your broadcast or recording program, this is just here, ready to roll within a couple of clicks. In my office, my webcam points past me directly at a set of shelves full of various paraphernalia – books, bottles of whiskey, Lego, some figurines – and it’s all keyed out with surprising accuracy by Nvidia Broadcast. The blur is even more perfect still, and I imagine I’ll use that for all my video calls going forward.
I can’t emphasize it enough: these features just work, and they work so well that it baffles. Using them with such ease and without the need for reams of professional software feels as much like the future as blasting a game at 4K and 120fps – and that’s saying something. This will obviously be useful for streamers, but it’ll also be killer for those of us who are using services like Google Hangouts, Discord or Zoom to see friends over beers during lockdown.
All of these features are still in beta, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming absolute staples of my gaming setup. It’s astonishing how well Nvidia Broadcast works, and it’s another compelling reason to consider a Nvidia graphics card – on top of the sheer power the new 30-series cards provide.