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How to Create Virtual Multi-Camera Production Setups With a Single 4K Camera

With only a single 4K camera and encoder with 4K capture capabilities, you can easily tap into the power of a traditional multi-camera setup for a fraction of the cost.

How It’s Done: Creating Your Own Virtual Multi-Camera Setup

Creating a virtual PTZ setup is a relatively simple process. All you need is a 4K camera and a live production encoder capable of capturing 4K signals with a cropping, downscaling, and custom layout feature set. The steps below illustrate this process using the Epiphan Pearl-2 4K live production switcher and sample video images taken from the presidential debate to illustrate how this event could have been presented like a multi-camera switch using a virtual PTZ approach.

With your 4K source connected to your Pearl-2, you’ll first need to access your encoder’s configuration interface, create a new channel (also known as a “program”) and specify a frame size (1080p or 720p). You’ll then need to add your 4K video source to your layout and crop the source as required (Figure 6, below); Pearl-2 will take care of the downscaling for you.

Figure 6. Adding and cropping your 4K source. Click the image to see it at full size.

When the source is configured to your liking, simply add the same 4K camera source a second time and repeat the cropping/downscaling process to create a new shot. Position your cropped shots within your custom layout and size them to your liking, as shown in Figure 7 (below).

Figure 7. Adding and cropping your 4K source again and placing both crops within your custom layout editor. 

Save your current layout. From here you can create new layouts, if desired (Figure 8, below), following the same steps to add and crop your 4K source to create new and unique layout configurations.

Figure 8. Creating additional custom layouts using your 4K source. 

After configuring your layouts, you just need to set your encoding and streaming/recording settings (e.g. bitrate, streaming protocol). Once complete, your virtual multi-cam broadcast is ready to stream anywhere—including Facebook Live and YouTube. It’s as easy as that. 
Practical Applications

Of course, virtual multi-cam setups aren’t limited to presidential debates! Using a 4K camera with a live production box like Pearl-2, you can create a virtual multi-cam setup applicable to a variety of common broadcasting settings.

Live events, such as concerts for example, often have significant activity on the stage, particularly if there is more than one performer or presenter. With virtual multi-PTZ, you can use your 4K encoder to isolate and crop individual performers and create dynamic layouts to capture all the action on the stage without sacrificing image quality.

Conferences can also use virtual PTZ in a similar way to create multiple cropped shots and custom layouts with ease, including up-close shots of the speaker at the podium, the speaker’s presentation slides, a full stage view, and more (Figure 9, below).

Figure 9. Virtual multicam used for a typical conference presentation.

Even legal environments, such as courtrooms, can use virtual PTZ to highlight different areas of the courtroom—witness box, judge, jury, audience, lawyers’ desks etc. The applications of 4K virtual multi-cam setups are endless.

As you can tell, virtual multi-cam productions are an incredibly valuable and versatile style of 4K shooting that can be applied across many different production settings to great effect. With only a single 4K camera and encoder with 4K capture capabilities, you can easily tap into the power of a traditional multi-camera setup for a fraction of the cost.

Related Articles
Streaming Media's Tim Siglin and Epiphan's Dave Kirk discuss Epiphan's capture, encoding, and live streaming workflow solutions at Streaming Media West 2015.
Here's a look at how the Epiphan Pearl Production Switcher performed under pressure on live-switched keynotes at the Computers in Libraries 2016 conference in Washington, DC.