Different angles and perspectives are important in order to cover an event. There is no set number of cameras required to live stream an event but the more angles you have, the better the coverage will be.
The golden standard for event coverage can be achieved by using a wide angle, a medium range, and a long telephoto lens. The wide-angle view can be used to showcase audience reactions to speeches and conferences, while close-up shots are usually best for interviews, speakers, or couples getting married, to name a few.
The mid-range lens is most commonly used to capture what we’d normally refer to as b-roll, where you can capture moments such as a group of people talking without interfering with the action. It is also great for transitions where the speaker walks into a podium, or for shots where a bride is walking down the aisle.
Are wide, mid, and close-up shots mandatory for an event being streamed live?
No, not really.
These angles will give you the best coverage, but they are also very demanding for a live event. In order to achieve all these angles, you will need at least 2 camera operators and a person managing the actual broadcasting.
If you’re streaming small or medium events, like we ones we usually broadcast at EventLive, you can get away with two angles, and only two people to deliver a fantastic experience.
The setup would look something like this:
One person is handling the encoder and a camera (usually the telephoto as it is directed to the speaker at a conference and it doesn’t require a lot of input) while the other person handles the second camera and makes sure that the audio is located nearby the action.
The second operator can use a wide or mid-range lens, as these often require movement and adjustments to increase the quality of the live stream.
How many video sources can I include on my live stream?
You can include as many as your hardware and internet connection can handle.
For serious live streaming, I’d recommend starting with an ATEM Mini Pro which includes 4 HDMI input ports. The higher-end versions of ATEM include up to 8 video sources, but I don’t think you will ever need that many video sources for a live event.
Since there are multiple ways to add video sources and camera angles, you can use a DSLR or Mirrorless as the main camera, and other devices that you might already own for second angles, such as smartphones, tablets, or even webcams.
How to connect multiple cameras for live streaming?
When choosing the number of cameras you use for live streaming the event, you need to consider that some venues are bigger than others, and not all systems are failproof in every location.
While connecting one or two cameras using HDMI cables might seem like a great idea, when connecting 3 or more you might face some issues like guests tripping over your cables or longer lengths than desired which can result in signal degradation.
Both of these problems can be solved with proper cable management or by choosing a wireless setup that allows you to add multiple video sources without the hassle of the cables laying on the ground.
If you decide to use HDMI Cables, you should be aware that the thickness of the cable -measured as AWG- can affect the quality of your video feed at long distances.
To simplify the explanation you should know that the lower the AWG number, the stronger the signal will be. For the more affordable HDMI cables out there, the signal might start degrading after 25 to 50 feet.
When using a wireless live streaming system such as the Hollyland Mars 300 Pro, you can get a signal up to 400 feet away (120 meters). Personally, I used a set of these to stream a wedding at a distance of about 150 feet (45 meters) with great success.
Things you should consider when live streaming with multiple cameras
Batteries, backups, and more batteries
Let’s start with the obvious one:
You will need plenty of batteries to keep them running at all times.
The benefit of having 3 or more cameras is that even if one dies or overheats during the live stream, nobody should notice. You can simply switch to another angle and replace batteries or let the camera cool down.
Are there any other important aspects you should know? Definitely.
Audio and Video can go out of Sync
The most important one for me is Audio and Video being perfectly in sync. You might run into this problem if you’re using a wireless system and you’re sending the audio straight to the encoder, instead of sending it to the wireless receiver instead.
This can be easily fixed easily, but it isn’t always the case.
Some cheap capture cards introduce a slight delay that might become noticeable during the event, which is very uncomfortable to watch. If you’re using OBS you can fix this by setting a small delay to the audio channel until they’re in sync again.
Some cameras don’t have a Clean HDMI Output
You must verify this before going live, as some cameras will introduce a lot of overlays such as focus points, exposure information, and even recording time.
This can be solved by our friend Google with a simple search:
“Does YOUR CAMERA support clean HDMI out?”
Conclusion and Final Tips
Using multiple cameras to live stream an event can provide a cinematic experience for viewers at home, and guarantees a professional presence at any event.
The more gear you have, the more people might be curious about how you solve certain problems. It can be a conversation starter with employers and prospects, which can bring new leads too.
Before jumping into a real event and attempting to do this on your own, I’d advise you to test it extensively at home. The best way to do it is to try it with a stable connection and introduce some stress by uploading some files in the background.
This will give you an opportunity to see how your encoder and live streaming platform behaves under poor conditions, and it will give you a chance to play with bitrates to solve it as fast as you can.
When testing, don’t forget to use real camera feeds and distances, as those will mimic the problems you might encounter at a paid job.
I encourage you to try to match different cameras and devices and start offering this service as soon as you get a grip on how everything works.
Live streaming with multiple cameras is a skill that pays well, and clients are happy to pay for a job well done.