Multi-Camera Live Streaming - Everything You Need to Know
If you want your live stream to look more professional, then it may be time to add multiple camera shots. Up until recently, this was a common practice mostly for news stations and sporting events. But we are now seeing a larger number of people in various industries warming up to the multi-camera live streaming setup.
There are seemingly endless scenarios that can be improved by a multi-cam configuration. From live online tutorials and music lessons to any type of live outdoor event. Spending a little extra cash on better hardware can easily amp up the production quality of your live media.
What are the benefits of multi-camera streaming?
So, as you may have gathered from the title, a multi-camera streaming setup allows you to have, well... multiple cameras! As obvious as this might sound, the benefits are not always apparent to those that have gotten comfortable with their single-camera setup.
Having multiple cameras does not just allow for improved production quality, but also saves you time. You don’t have to spend hours editing your VODs, inserting scenes and making transitions because you can switch feeds in real-time.
Football games are a classic use case of multi-camera streaming with multiple angles for goals, penalty kicks and other significant events. A less common example, however, can be repairs and model-making channels on YouTube. Usually, you can expect to see the host speaking about the upcoming repair and then see them from a first-person perspective fixing or repairing the product.
This can take multiple takes and adjustments to the configuration of the equipment. But, with multi-camera streaming, you can instantly switch from speaking to the camera to showing what you are working on – no editing required!
Going multi-cam also opens the possibility to live stream this type of content which would not be possible otherwise.
Of course, the more common scenarios would be for bigger productions such as:
- News productions.
- Music events and concerts.
- Church or community events.
- Live entertainment.
- Video production companies.
What hardware and software are required?
There is a wide range of live streaming equipment options available to you when it comes to multi-camera streaming. You can pick and choose which hardware to opt for depending on your skill level, general experience with streaming, and budget.
A good example to illustrate the need for different hardware depending on your content type is to think about the differences between podcasts and sports.
Many cameras are very fragile and better suited for stable and still environments. This is due to the way the camera is made. In many cases the lens is made to be used in static stationary environments to get the best image quality.
As great as certain cameras are at recording interviews, many do not fare too well when recording fast-moving objects. As you can imagine, this can cause problems when it comes to filming and broadcasting sports events or POV video. This is why many people opt for something like a GoPro which is better suited for more dynamic situations and environments.
|Production Level||Typical Usage||Resolution||Key Features||Price Range|
|Microsoft LifeCam HD 3000||Beginner||Facebook Live YouTube Live, Twitch streaming, Live video||720p||Plug and play, fixed-focus camera||£30|
|Razer Kiyo||Beginner||Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch streaming, Live video||720p 60 FPS or 1080p 30 FPS||Built-in lighting, good low-lighting mode||£100|
|Canon EOS 80D||Intermediate||Indoor capture, Multi-camera streaming, Live video||1080P @ 60 FPS||45-Point AF, built-in wireless connection, intelligent viewfinder, HDMI output||£700|
|Panasonic Lumix GH5||Professional||Professional capture, multi-camera streaming, Live video||4K 60P/50P (QFHD 4K: 3840 x 2160/ MOV or MP4)||4K Output, changeable lens, Image stabilisation, HDMI output||£1,300|
|CANON XA40 4K UHD||Professional||Professional broadcasts, multi-camera streaming, Live video||UHD 4K at 30 FPS||4K Output, two SD memory card slots, dual XLR, 3.5mm mic/line audio inputs||£1,300|
|Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camer||Professional||Professional broadcasts, multi-camera streaming||4K at 60 FPS||4 Built-in microphones, portable design, LCD touchscreen||£1,400|
Entry-level cameras for streaming
Typically, those that are only just beginning to take their content seriously start out using a variety of high-quality webcams.
This can be great initially as it gets you familiar with the format of your content. Getting you in front of the camera and becoming comfortable with the idea of speaking to your audience directly can be a challenge initially.
The two recommended starter cameras in order to stream live would be the Microsoft LifeCam HD 3000 or the Razer Kiyo. Both are geared towards live streaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitch. These cameras are also very affordable and great for those looking to increase the video production quality of their live broadcast but not quite ready for multi-camera streaming.
Mid-range cameras for multi-camera streaming
For those looking to sit somewhere between starter and high-end equipment, the Canon EOS 80D is a great halfway house. If you are not quite willing to splash out for the higher end equipment, but still want great results, this camera can help you achieve great results via 1080P at 60 FPS.
The EOS 80D is also capable of multi-camera streaming. So, it is a great entry-level bit of kit for those wanting to get their hands dirty. It’s a great way to venture into multi-camera streaming territory without breaking the bank.
High-end cameras ideal for multi-camera streaming
Venturing into the high-end territory both the CANON XA40 4K and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera are both great choices. These cameras could be ideal for those wanting to get the very best hardware while aiming for high production quality.
Although the price point is high, to get access to the latest and greatest tech, it is a worthy investment. Particularly when you experience the leap in quality. Your productions just take on a whole new lease of life.
Offering 4K at 30 FPS and 4K at 60 FPS respectively, both of these cameras are capable of outputting a great and stable image at super-high resolutions. This makes them suitable for not only multi-camera streaming, but also for single-camera use. For example if you’re creating VODs with the intention of achieving the highest quality and bitrate possible.
What other hardware is required for multi-camera streaming?
Depending on what you are recording and the type of broadcast you are streaming, you will want to consider additional pieces of hardware.
Microphones for live streaming
Many mid-range cameras and upwards support external microphones. If the in-built solution is not cutting it, you will want to consider purchasing an external microphone.
Framing and lighting
Due to the nature of how video capture works, your live video really shines when you have taken the time to frame and configure your scene. It is also important to ensure that the camera is set correctly, ready for a multi-camera shoot.
Combined with professional lighting placed in well-thought-out locations, this can take your production quality up to new heights when combined with other high-end equipment.
Hardware encoders for multi-camera setups
If you are streaming without a computer, you will need to have a look into using a hardware encoder such as the EzeCaster Pro. This device takes your live feed data and processes it ready for your streaming website of choice.
This works with multi-camera live video production setups including microphone feeds too, processing the RTMP data ready for the streaming/video platform.
Mixers and switchers for broadcasting
These are essential bits of kit for those with multi-camera streaming setups. These devices allow you to independently control video and audio feeds from multiple sources. They also give you the ability to mix the feeds as required on the fly, allowing live multi-camera switching.
Hardware switchers can be expensive and difficult to get familiar with if you are not too technically minded. They offer a ton of settings and advanced options and come with the corresponding price tag. So, if you want to save on the money side of things and still get easy switching of multiple camera angles, it may be worth looking at a software solution such as Wirecast.
For those that are familiar with a multi-camera setup and want to take things up a notch, it would be worth taking a look at a high-end hardware switcher. Some of the best devices in this category include the Blackmagic Video Switcher and the Roland V-1 HD. The latter is great if you are looking for something smaller and easy to transport.
Both would be welcome additions to any multi-camera streaming system.
Multi-camera streaming software
You should also look to utilise multi-camera open-source live video streaming software such as the easy-to-set-up OBS. This multi-camera live streaming software can further enhance the quality of your production.
Besides being awesome general-purpose stream software, OBS is completely free and is also competent as multiple camera live stream software.
Multi-camera streaming platform
Once you have chosen your hardware and set up your equipment, you will need to look at choosing a multi-camera streaming platform. This is the part which makes everything come together and gets your quality content to the viewer.
You may have spent a lot of time and money on picking your hardware and software, but it will not mean much if you do not pick a competent video platform. And, since you’ll probably be looking to achieve pixel-perfect video quality, you will probably need high-end functionality such as a scalable multi-bitrate CDN, custom RTMP encoders, support for varied streaming setups, and so on. If that is the case, we invite you to try StreamingVideoProvider.
Gone are the days where the high-end productions were exclusive to television studios and live mainstream sports channels. It is a great time to get the ball rolling with setting up and starting your multi-camera productions. Even if you are getting started in a small way via Facebook live with multiple cameras.
And you don’t have to jump to that higher end hardware and software at once. You can slowly start to switch from single-camera configurations into more sophisticated setups involving software mixers. Eventually, you can move to multicam live hardware mixers taking your streaming media to previously unimagined heights.
We hope that you now have a better understanding of what is required to dip your toes in multi-camera broadcasting.
References & Further Reading
Please look at the below links to better understand some of the terminologies mentioned.
- What does FPS(frames per second) mean?
- What does RTMP mean?
- What is VOD?
- Setting Up OBS From A To Z
- Best OBS Settings For Live Streaming
- The Best Live Streaming Platforms
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