How to Make Videos with Multiple Cameras
There comes a time for every creator when he or she thinks: “Ugh! If I just had multiple cameras to shoot this with, life would be so much easier.”
And it’s true. Many situations need to be seen from different angles or you just aren’t showing the action clearly to your viewers.
Whether it’s showing a close-up of a cooking technique, or simply keeping the viewer engaged with a different angle on a talking head, having the ability to shoot simultaneously from more than one angle is awesome.
Enter livestreaming, and the need for multiple cameras becomes even more obvious as we learn to create our live shows with some of the same flair we’ve established with our on-demand videos
But here’s the thing…
If you’ve looked into it, you’ve probably figured out that shooting with multiple cameras is not as straightforward as it should be.
The fact is there are many different ways to shoot with multiple cameras, and figuring out which one is right for you is hard to do.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various ways you can put together a multiple camera studio for your small business or in your home – and tell you about our new product that seeks to make this production technique much faster, easier, and more affordable.
Multiple Smart Device Solution
- Using a handful of mobile devices is one way to solve the riddle of how to shoot with multiple cameras.
Many of us have access to more than one device through friends or family. A little research will reveal that there are several apps available to make them into an ad hoc multicam studio.
These apps are relatively easy to use and all work in the same basic way. A master device runs the camera switcher software and receives video streams from the other devices. The only things required are that all the devices are running the host app, and all the devices must be on the same WiFi network.
The user interfaces for these apps are all somewhat similar, as well. The individual video feeds appear in windows and can be selected to switch to live while shooting. Graphics can typically be added in on the fly as well.
- These apps offer a quick on-ramp to get into multiple camera production, especially if you already have extra devices available to use.
- For anyone familiar with smart device functions, these apps are pretty intuitive and easy to use once they are set-up.
- Simple starter apps are moderately priced or free, though more advanced apps can get expensive (at least by app standards).
- Livestreaming directly to Facebook and other mainstream platforms is easy to set up.
- Depending upon Wifi to transmit video can result in laggy video signals, low resolutions, and dropped connections.
- Using a mix of devices frequently produces very different images (color, brightness, saturation, etc.) on screen making for an unpolished presentation.
- Your handset or tablet is not available for regular use while shooting – especially inconvenient if you use your device to follow live chat during a stream.
- Shooting handsfree while alone is not very convenient. Mounting a mobile device on a tripod requires a special adapter.
Laptop + Multiple Webcam Solution
- Another way to build a multiple camera studio is to use multiple USB webcams with your Mac or PC.
There are several camera switcher programs available for Windows or Mac that give the user the power to produce multiple camera video. Once installed, you simply point the software to the connected USB camera and your good to go.
OBS Studio (pictured at right) is an example of one of these programs. OBS is a powerful open-source program with most of the features anyone would ever need to produce a good looking multiple camera content. And it happens to be free.
There are several well-known commercial applications available as well. Manycam is a popular commercial choice for under $100. Other packages can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Using a computer vs. a smart device as the primary manager of the livestream a few advantages. Having a mouse and keyboard to work with vs a touchscreen makes managing your shows a bit more convenient.
If you use graphics in your livestreams, developing and importing them is faster than sending them to your tablet. And if you want to do any screen capturing while you stream, this is also easier to do with a PC-based set-up.
- Webcams are relatively inexpensive, and it’s possible to use the built-in webcam on your PC as one of the cameras as well.
- Webcams are USB based making them plug-and-play friendly.
- OBS Studio is free and despite the lack of flashy interface, it’s pretty easy to use. More sophisticated programs are certainly available, but they can cost hundreds of dollars.
- Webcams produce one “look” on screen that you may not like. Their autofocus feature is frequently very sensitive and pops in and out during active moments. Overall, they just aren’t very flexible for creating a variety of shots.
- Webcam cables are pretty short, typically just 6-10 feet making covering larger areas difficult. Extension cables are available, but video signals are particularly sensitive to interference (meaning bad image quality) over distances more than 20-30 feet.
- Using more than one webcam of the same type can introduce USB conflicts, meaning your computer gets confused when it finds two devices with exactly the same name. The results are lost connections which are no good.
Dedicated PC-based and
Professional Broadcast Solutions
- Stepping up in price and quality, Professional multiple camera rigs are another option.
Prosumer grade PC solutions require installing a high-end video card into powerful desktop computer, like a gaming PC or something similar. These cards have multiple HDMI or SDI video inputs that allow you to connect any DSLR camera, camcorder or other device that outputs one of these two formats.
These cards also support multiple HD resolutions up to 4K. While most livestreaming is done at 720p or 1080p, some think downsampling 4K video looks better than native video at lower HD resolutions.
The switcher software that ships with or is used to manage these cards is very powerful and offers lots of bells and whistles to make great looking, professional shows.
Beyond the PC-based solution, there are many higher-end professional broadcast solutions that could be considered here as well. Suffice to say that the results from these systems are even beyond what the dedicated PC solutions offer – and are priced accordingly.
- These rigs produce high quality results comparable to many TV broadcasts.
- Cable-based camera connections are rock-solid (no WiFi dependencies), and SDI cables can be run for hundreds of feet if necessary.
- These rigs support a wide-array of cameras and HDMI devices.
- Adding high-end graphics, including green-screen virtual sets, to your shows is made possible.
- Most of these set-ups have integrated software toe livestream straight out of the box.
- Putting together a dedicated PC with enough power to run the card and software is expensive – several thousands of dollars – and that’s before you add in the cost of the cameras.
- These rigs require much more technical expertise to put together, operate and troubleshoot.
- For most independent creators these rigs are overkill, offering many more features than they will ever need or want.
Designing Cutbox Studio
So this was the landscape of production options available to creators when we began designing our product, Cutbox Studio. When we stepped back and really looked at what was out there, we had to ask ourselves several questions:
Where was the solution for the creator who wanted an easy-to-use, reliable product to make high-quality, multiple-camera video?
Where was the product that removed the hunt-and-peck exercise of researching and piecing together all the disparate components?
Did we really need to understand all of the technical jargon to be able to make a multiple camera video?
And wasn’t there a way to make getting into shooting with multiple cameras less expensive?
Cutbox Studio was designed to answer these questions by focusing on three main goals:
- Make it an All-in-One product – you should be able to open the box, set-up the system and have everything you need to make a multiple camera video.
- Make it an Easy to Use product – you should not need a Broadcasting Engineering degree to understand how to set-up and operate the system.
- Make it an Affordable product – you should be able to buy the cameras, microphone, base station, cables, tripods, etc. for less than it cost to buy all those things separately – preferably a LOT less.
What is Cutbox Studio?
Cutbox Studio is the first all-in-one multiple camera studio designed for creators and live streamers.
The system comes complete with everything needed to start shooting multiple camera videos straight out of the box:
- Three (3) 1080p HD Cameras
- Base Station with built in Switcher Software
- 9″ LCD monitor
- Powered uni-directional microphone with 24′ cable
- Three (3) C-clamp portable tripods
- A 32GB SD card (enough for 5 hours of straight recording)
- Three (3) C-clamp mounting tripods
- Cutbox RF remote control
- USB mouse
- Three (3) 30-foot HD-SDI camera cables
By keeping these three ideas in mind, we found that we would naturally avoid some of the technical issues that hindered other solutions.
For example, we knew from the start that we would not create a WiFi-based system. Why? First, bundling in the technology necessary to create an ad-hoc WiFi network would be prohibitively expensive. Next, if we relied on local WiFi coverage for communication between our components, we knew bandwidth issues would always plague our users. Finally, by using the SDI cable standard, we knew we could run cable lengths up to 250 feet without interference issues. We did all of this by staying true to the vision for the product.
Another example: by putting three of the same camera together in one box, we not only filled the mantra of an “All-in-One product,” we also avoided the technical issues of having random cameras that didn’t produce the same look on screen. Productions shot with Cutbox would automatically provide creators with video content that did not need a lot of post-production manipulation to look professional.