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An Introduction to Multi-Camera Live Streaming

Live streaming is becoming more and more popular and lucky for all the nifty creators out here, more accessible. Many are starting to look into ways to make their stream more exciting and versatile. A great way to do this is to explore multi-source live streaming. This boosts the production value of your broadcast.

Besides offering a better aesthetic, using multiple cameras also make it easier to add effects. That’s because you can actually test and prepare effects on a source that in that moment is offline. The other camera can be used as the main source of the stream and will allow adding effects with more flexibility. You can, of course, also add multiple angles, switch them up, zoom in or focus on different aspects of your stream without much hassle and moving about.

This is certainly more complex than a simple camera live stream but will be worth the effort. Keep in mind that you will need extra equipment which may not be cheap.

So what do you need?
Multiple Cameras

This may seem obvious. For a multi-camera shoot, you will need multiple cameras. Ideally, they would be the exact same model to ensure picture quality, colouring and resolution match. If this is not possible, experiment with the settings before to get them aligned, as especially during a live stream it is very easy to notice differences.

You can still have a multi-source stream with one camera, you can add pre-recorded sequences and add some multi-dimension that way.

Video switching software or hardware

Once you have your cameras set up, you will, of course, need to switch between them and the different angles. Switches come both in hardware and software version.

Software switches are usually integrated into streaming applications such as Wirecast or vMix. They are installed on your computer and can be controlled by it. They are less robust than hardware switches but work excellent, especially when they are run on a decent computer.

Hardware switches are the more reliable option but they are more expensive. Video sources are directly connected to the switcher’s panel or unit via an SDI or HDMI cable. A display panel is included or can be connected which will allow you to operate the switches instantly between sources.

However, nowadays as we often use mobile devices for our live streams and are able to wirelessly switch multi-camera using mobile options. These allow you to mix multiple streams from an iPhone, this allows stream from up to two cameras, or from an iPad, which allows up to four cameras.

The 9 Steps to Stream
  1. Set up the cameras and other equipment with plenty of time in advance if possible
  2. Carefully chose your camera angles and see where to best place the switcher to allow for easy access
  3. Test computers, switchers or mobile devices that you are using together with the camera to ensure they run smoothly together
  4. Do a test. Giving the whole live stream a run through will give you an idea of where you want to be and which angles to use, when to switch and to see if everything works. Make sure to see what the result looks like on multiple devices that your viewers might watch it on
  5. Start your live stream ahead of time and maybe add in a countdown or an animation to give people time to tune in
  6. Start your show!
  7. Ideally, you have a helping hand or two, someone to operate the switcher for you, ensuring an interesting broadcast
  8. Each camera should record its own feed to a local storage and the main program feed should also be recorded.
  9. End you live stream and say goodbye to your viewers. You can always post the live stream online later as a video to keep the content up or just upload the best bits in shorter clips.

Have you nailed live streaming already? We are sure our eager readers would love to hear your tips and tricks.