Recently for my personal company AN Productions, I did a 2.5 hours long live stream talking about the recent Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021) and the Monsterverse which proceeded it. I wanted to do something special since this targets a vast majority of my audience, so I wanted to bring in a guest (Lucas Schloth) and use a 3 camera setup.
But how was I going to do this? I only had a small room to work with? I have a good computer to utilize but I was worried that putting 3 1920x1080p cameras into it plus having to stream and monitor chats would overwhelm it.
A hardware solution was the answer.
Here's a list of what we used:
- RGBlink mini - Video Switcher / Mixer
- Panasonic AG-CX10 4K Camcorder - My Shot
- Sony XDCam - Lucas' Shot
- Black Magic Pocket 6K - Wide Shot
RGBlink Mini Video Switcher
While I could use my computer to stream with OBS and run graphics, I could use a video switcher to mix the 3 cameras. Thus taking a huge load off my computer.
The piece of hardware I went with was the amazingly simple and small RGBlink mini. This is a 4 HDMI video mixer what has a USB output that can be plugged directly into a computer. The output can then be brought into a program like Zoom, Wirecast, Teams, or in this case OBS with no problems at all. And it starts at $299.00.
The unit is small too. So in such a tiny space like I had, it came in handy so the person mixing could sit over in a corner while Lucas and myself chatted about the subjects at hand.
As for cameras, being on a tight budget we could only use what we had access to. In this case, it was not just 3 different cameras, but 3 entirely different brands.
We used a Sony Camcorder which admittedly is several years old but could still do 1920x1080. We also used a Pansonic AG-CX10 which is a camera specifically built for live streaming and also capturing sports events. We use this camcorder all the time to shoot behind the scenes footage on our show Frugal Filmmaking. These two camcorders served as our subject cameras. One was focused on me. The other on my guest.
But finally, we used my Black Magic Pocket 6K on a 24mm prime lens for the wide. And I was astonished how quickly the RGBlink was able to pick up all three cameras via HDMI and scale them to the proper output settings I wanted.
In this case, I wanted a more cinematic look for the live stream. While I wasn't too fond of the colors for our first round out, we already have a game plan for future live streams using this method.
To get more more cinematic look, we set each camera to 1920x1080p 24fps. These are the settings you'll find most movies you watch on Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu are set to. Then I went into the RGBlink mini and set the USB Output to match these settings.
Finally I made sure my stream was set to match that frame rate. But because I was worried about my bandwidth - me having to use wifi here - I wanted to downgrade my stream to 1280x720p. Keeping the same framerate of 24fps resulted in no issues video wise whatsoever.
To monitor the chat on YouTube, I simply had my personal Laptop open on the set with me where I could look at it and address any questions or comments made by the viewers. This is key because interacting with the audience is always a good practice for live streams. It makes the audience feel like they are a part of the show instead of a spectator, which keeps them coming back for more.
Because of this, I like hosting a Live Stream the first Saturday of every month be it just me chatting or with a guest I bring in usually over Skype NDI directly into OBS.
Because the room was so small, we ran into a problem of making us stand out from the back wall behind us. Our first solution was putting a light just behind the futon we were sitting on (an idea from my camera guy James Frasca). However, we soon discovered the light was getting too hot.
We put some LED strips on the back wall. While not the best solution, it was a solid Plan B which I recommend anyone stream have. This also has given us time to figure out a way to better present this back light in the future.
While not perfect, these LED strips did give us a bit of a backlight we needed to make us stand out from the background. We also know that the wall needs to be covered more. While I have a few posters on it, the more stuff I have on the walls will make the place pop more on camera.
We also had a table in front of us. Because the subject matter is Godzilla, I had Lucas bring a few of the models he had at his house, plus the amazing Criterion Collection Showa Godzilla Blu-Ray box set. As an added bonus - me being team Kong - Lucas also brought a painting of King Kong from 1962's King Kong Vs. Godzilla which I placed in front of my laptop to make the set pop all the more.
In other words, decorate your location as best you can. I recommend using stuff related to your subject matter. Like here at Videoguys -while it is a virtual set- we like to decorate the table with products related to the show we're streaming.
Lighting wise, we only used 3 LEDs. One served as a spot for Lucas and fill for me. And the other a sport for me and a fill for Lucas. Thus illuminating the need for 2 additional lights immediately. The other was a standard spot to illuminate the room itself.
Unfortunately because of the location being so small, our shadows are seen on the wall, which is naturally being so close to the wall. Truth is, the further you get your subjects away from the back wall, the less of a problem this will be.
As for audio, we hooked up my standard video microphone (a shotgun mic) and fed it via linein into the CX10, which then fed the audio via HDMI into the RGBlink mini. While not a perfect solution, both Lucas and I can be heard clearly.
Something we noted immediately is how much louder I am than Lucas. Our compromise was positioning the mic closer to Lucas than I. Personally, I find my audio to be a bit too "spacey" for my liking. So in the future, I'm going to rig up my green screen mounts and hook the mic to a boom pole, and point the mic down instead of up. This will take care of a lot of the natural acoustics of our voices bouncing off the ceiling.
But, with little money, little time, and a lot of ingenuity, it is possible to make a good looking multi camera live stream! We had great audience interaction, great and engaging conversations, and streamed for a whomping 2.5 hours with no issues. And I like to say, "If we can do it, you can too!"
As I've said before, as has Gary on Videoguys Live, "Fourth Time's The Charm." They more we stream with this layout, the better it will look and the stream will be! Same goes for you. Just keep streaming, and get your message out there! It's a win/win situation if you want to grow your audience.