Curious to know what AWS EC2 Server is all about and what it can do for you? Let’s say your current computer configuration is unsatisfactory or perhaps you need a second unit for remote production using vMix. The EC2 (Elastic CloudCompute) is a viable answer.
In a nutshell, an AWS EC2 server is a computer that you build virtually through Amazon Web Services. You can make it as powerful as you need or run the very basic version for super light tasks. More on this here.
Sometimes it’s best to roll up your sleeves and jump right in. That’s exactly what I did in 20two1 for the North Texas Irish Fsummer, as described in the June 2021 Streaming Media case study by Anthony Burokas. I was hired as a remote producer and was also tasked with creating multiple instances of cloud computers running vMix.
I had never done this before and still managed to pull it off. Here is how.
Step 1: Sign up and sign in to AWS
First things first, you’ll need an Amazon Web Services account. Once you have registered, log in as the root user (unrestricted access). This will take you to the EC2 Dashboard. This is where you will build the first instance of your EC2 server.
Before setting up your first instance, you’ll need to adjust a couple of settings. This will help speed up the process.
1. In the left column of the EC2 panel, click Network and Security.
2. Then go to Security Groups, as shown in Figure 1 (bottom). At the top right of the page, click the orange Create Security Group button.
Figure 1. The Security Groups section of the EC2 panel
3. In order to get your instance up and running and avoid network issues, open this security group for all access. me strongly We recommend that you change this once you are up and running.
4. After clicking Create Security Group, apply the following settings:
- Name: whatever you want
- Description: All access
- Inbound rules: all traffic 0.0.0.0/0
- Outbound rules: all traffic 0.0.0.0/0
5. Staying in that same area (Network and Security), scroll down to Key Pairs. This is where you will first (and later) log in to your instance unless you change your password and user information.
6. Choose Key Pairs from the drop-down menu on the Network & Security tab, and then click the big orange button in the top right that says Create Key Pair. For key pair configuration, apply the following:
- Name: whatever you want
- Key Pair Type: RSA (Windows)
- Privet Key file format: PEM (Open SSH) or PPK (Putty) (I use PEM files).
7. You will then be prompted to download the file you just created. Keep it in a safe place and remember where you put it.
Step 3: Create your instance
Now it’s time to build your instance.
1. Go to the top of the left column and click EC2 Dashboard. This takes you to the same page you landed on when you first logged into EC2.
2. Right in the middle of the page is a big orange button that says “Launch Instance” (Figure 2, bottom). Click it.
Figure 2. Launching your instance
That will take you to the Start an Instance page. There are a few options here.
3. The first is “Name your instance”. This can be anything you want! Make it good.
4. Next is Choose your AMI (Amazon Machine Image). What is an AMI? Basically, it’s an image already built by a trusted thirdparty Inside the picture you’ll find the server, drivers, and just about everything else you need to get your cloud computer up and running. For this instance, we are going to look for the NVIDIA RTX WORKSTATION. Previously this was listed as NVIDIA GRID. The version of Windows that is called NVIDIA RTX Virtual Workstation – WinServer 2019.
If you look at the details of this Image in Figure 3 (bottom), it will show you how much it will cost you to run it. This varies by location. Typically around $0.71/hr with the lightest graphics package that is available for this AMI (g4dn.xlarge).
Figure 3. Workstation Usage Pricing
Please note that you are charged by AWS only if the instance is run. You can still have it in a stopped state and you will only be charged for the amount of storage you have allocated to it. Always remember to stop your instance at the end of a session!
Next is Instance Type. The AMI vendor recommends g4dn.xlarge (4vCPU/j16Gib) to boot (vCPU=virtual CPU).
That said, this is not based on the use of vMix. I was burnt out on this great moment during the North Texas Irish Festival! We had a lot of pre-recorded videos combined with 4-8 simultaneous vMix calls. My instance crashed and I went to my backup plan which was my home computer. That kind of vMix load would be more suitable with a 4xlarge version: 16vCU and 64GiB of memory. It is possible to change during a show, but it takes time and is not guaranteed.
not that iInitially, you may not be able to start an instant type larger than g4dn.xlarge until you notify support that you want to increase the service limit.
See AWS Support for further instructions.
More settings you’ll need to address here (Figure 4, bottom):
Figure 4. More instance configurations to address before launch
- khey couple: Easy, we’ve already set it up! Simply choose the key pair that you have already set up.
- northNetwork settings: Same scenario as above! Choose “Select Existing Security Group” and then choose the settings you previously configured.
- Configure storage: Your instance will come with 30GB of General Purpose (GP2) storage. This is enough to get you started, but you’ll probably need more if you’re recording to the hard drive. That can be done at a later time.
- Advanced settings: We will not venture into these at this time!
It’s almost here, it’s time to hit the Start button!
Step 4 – Prepare an EC2 Instance for vMix
Now a few more steps will take you to the instance so you can prepare your EC2 instance for use with vMix.
- Go back to your EC2 Dashboard and click Instances.
- Your instance should now be running. Otherwise, right-click Instance, and then click Launch Instance.
- Right-click once it’s running and choose Connect.
- Choose RDP Client (Remote Desktop Protocol, Figure 5, bottom).
- Download the RDP desktop file.
- If you’re working on a Mac, add the instance and then double-click it. Then copy the public DNS and paste it into the computer name when prompted from RDP. If you’re on Windows, just download the RDP file and double click on it.
- Then click “Get password”. (Note: Sometimes you have to wait 5-10 minutes after setting up a new instance before you are allowed to crack the password.)
- Browse to the key pair file that you saved earlier.
- Copy and paste the key pair and click Decrypt.
- Copy the password to RDP.
- Click CONNECT.
Figure 5. Choosing an RDP client
A popup opens with your new instance running. There are a few more things we need to do before downloading and installing vMix.
Step 5: Install the .NET Framework 3.5
To continue from here, you will need to install the .NET Framework 3.5.Here is how:
- Search for “Server Manager” in Windows search.
- Open Server Manager.
- On the dashboard, under Configure this server, click Add Roles and Features.
- In the left column, scroll down to Features.
- Click the first feature in the list, .NET Framework 3.5.
- Click Next.
- Click Install and let it run in the background until it is finished.
Step 6: Enable audio
Now we need to enable audio.
- Right click on the speaker icon at the bottom right of the screen.
- Click Sounds.
- A pop-up window opens. Just let it go and close the sound box.
You should now have audio available
Step 7: Set up a second user
The next thing you’ll need to do is set up a second user with a name and password that you’ll remember. That way you don’t have to go through the key pairing process every time.
- Do a Windows search for the user.
- Add user.
- Follow the prompts.
Here is a list of downloads that I keep up to date in a file folder on the desktop of my computer hosting the remote session or Dropbox for a fresh install. One of the first things I do when I create a new instance is transfer the entire folder to the instance’s desktop.
And there you have it! Lots of steps, but they move much faster after you get through it the first time.
Enjoy your new cloud-based computer and up to 100 Gbps of network throughput!
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