How to Adapt an Existing Multicamera Switching Setup for Streaming
Adapting Existing Tech
All of these devices can get you up and streaming; how well they serve your specific needs depends on how many other features you require. Most of them will cost you a few hundred dollars minimum to get you going. I didn’t want a new switcher; I only wanted to stream from the one I already had. I decided that I wanted to look beyond the usual brands I check in with to see if there was anything more economical in these times.
My son, who is into online video gaming and recording, introduced me to the Elgato HD60 S (Figure 5, below). He did his own research and picked out something that a high school student could afford. This simple $145 device is designed to take the HDMI output of a gaming computer’s graphics card and record and/or stream on another computer. Looking at the specs, I found no reason why it wouldn’t work with a video camera, and indeed it worked. If it works with a camera, I thought, why not a switcher?
Figure 5. Elgato HD60 S
In testing the setup during a few Zoom meetings, I connected a couple of cameras to my Lumantek VS-4 and attached the switcher via HDMI to the Elgato HD60 S. During my brief presentation, I switched between camera angles of me talking to a receptive audience.
I’m not going to knock the professional devices that do the same things for more, as they are made of metal instead of plastic and can probably take some rougher handling. However, from what I have seen so far, it’s a cost effective solution that’s enabled me to do professional work with low-cost consumer gear.
Whichever device you choose to convert your live A/V setup to streaming, here are the basic steps to follow:
- Set up your cameras.
- Connect the cameras to the switcher via HDMI or SDI.
- Set up your microphones.
- Run cables, or attach a wireless receiver, to your audio mixer.
- If you intend to display PowerPoint slides, attach a laptop to the switcher via HDMI. If you need to play additional audio, run audio from the headset out to the audio mixer.
- Run a feed of the mixer output to the main camera input for recording and streaming. (I suggest running to a second camera for redundancy.)
- Make sure the audio of the cameras that are taking the audio mixer feed have their audio on and adjusted in the video switcher.
- Make sure the switcher’s “audio follows video” feature is off.
- Run an HDMI cable to the streaming device (in my case, the Elgato HD60 S).
- Optionally, run an HD-SDI cable to an external recorder, such as a Blackmagic Design Video Assist or an Atomos unit, to make a high-quality recording for use in postproduction.
- If the laptop you’re using defaults to the built-in webcam, in the settings of your streaming software, navigate to the drop-down menu that allows you to select different camera options. Select your alternate camera source. When you do, you should be seeing the output of the switcher.
- Stream away!
Of course, there are other ways to do this, but this is the configuration that got me up and streaming for my clients with a minimum of new investment or alteration of my existing workflow. It offers flexibility and redundancy. If you aren’t using a switcher or an audio mixer, you can do it even more simply: Just plug your camera directly into the streaming device.
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