Broadcast Live event with multiple smartphone video camera setup

Friends I earlier wrote about Bandwidth bonding , video streaming apps , Facebook live streaming etc. Recently I was trying to find way to use multiple smartphone camera and produce a live event.

Professional broadcast facilities are available to connect broadcast cameras to switching system and telecast the event live but my objective was to use our smartphone camera and create a free or low cost solution for quality broadcast. Now Smartphone cameras can also give quality HD video output so use our smartphones and broadcast a live event.

multiple smartphone video camera setup


Task in mind

I wanted to receive live video from multiple smartphone camera into my laptop and use these live video sources for producing the live event. Then i wanted to stream this video output to either YouTube, Facebook or some other streaming server for public distribution.


Difficulties in setting up multiple smartphone video camera setup

  • How to connect smartphone video to laptop – Using USB wired connection will limit the distance of camera so i wanted to connect smartphone with my laptop through Wi-Fi network.
  • How to send live video from smartphone to laptop – Send live video from smartphone to laptop over wi-fi network requires video streaming so i used IP Webcam app to stream video from smartphone over local Wi-Fi network.
  • Application to receive video from multiple smartphone – In my earlier article about video production and streaming app, i discussed about some Wirecast, vMix and OBS. I selected vMix as this application is free and it can receive multiple video streams.

Create multiple Smartphone video camera setup

Task here is to send video from smartphone to laptop and collect all video stream. Produce the live event with these video streams and then sent it for streaming to server.

Live video from Smartphone to Laptop – I installed IP Webcam app in my smartphone. When you open the app, it shows multiple configuration options for camera. At the bottom of app , there is a button to Start server. Once you click this button, IP Webcam app starts streaming server which can stream live video from cam. The live video screen on IP Cam app shows the URL of the stream. When you type or paste that URL in any mobile or laptop, you get connected to IP Webcam app of streaming mobile.The page opened on browser shows multiple options to fetch the stream from smartphone to laptop.
If your mobile is connected through public network ( mobile network) , your laptop will fetch stream through public network. If your smartphone is connected through local wi-fi network then streaming ip address will be local address so mobile will not consume your internet data. So its better to connect all smartphone and laptop through local network.
If you are already in some local network with Wi-Fi then there is no problem.Connect laptop and all smartphone to local network. If you don’t have local Wi-Fi network then you use a separate ADSL also to have internet and Wi-Fi network.
Alternatively you can connect your laptop to internet and create Wi-Fi hotspot through your laptop. The smartphones can connect to this laptop hotspot and join together in one network.

Receive live smartphone video stream in vMix – Receiving the video stream in your laptop is quite easy. IP Webcam builds the stream URL like http://(smartphone ip):8080/video . In vMix application click on Add Input->Web Browser. Here you enter your smartphone stream URL. Set browser width and height equal to the incoming video stream width and height. Click ok to complete the setup. You will start receiving smartphone live video in vMix.
In the same manner you can configure other smartphone video also and then start producing the live event.

Stream produced video – For streaming the live event, you configure the stream parameters. Click on the gear icon on left side of Stream button at bottom application tray. This will open Streaming settings window.Select the stream destination and then set other parameters according to destination. Save the setting. Click on Stream button to start streaming.


Limitation of multiple smartphone video camera setup

Qualitatively smartphone camera gives good video but focus remains a issue during movement. Auto focus for video is not fast which gives little defocused video during movement so slow camera movement is advised. Smartphone camera is quite compact and light weight so careful camera handling for smooth pan/tilt movement is required.Distance of wireless operation between smartphone and laptop depend upon Wi-Fi signal strength so never go beyond Wi-Fi limits otherwise video will freeze.
Tilt and Pan operations need careful handling. But smooth Zoom operation is not possible with smartphone video camera. Its good to place smartphones with some stand in fixed position for stable and focused frame.


Advantage of multiple smartphone video camera setup

  • Cost effective solution with good quality video
  • Compact setup
  • Limited equipment requirement – Laptop, Smartphone, internet

Conclusion

Producing live event with broadcast quality equipment is quite costly. It requires skilled manpower, equipment and finally funds. If you can compromise little on quality , you can use smartphones for live event. Just take care of smartphone camera handling, your video will look great.

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