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.

Facebook Live from your Laptop – How To

Social media is playing key role in connecting with people. Day by Day World is narrowing down with more connectivity. Video, Audio, Images and Text messages can be sent to large group of people in seconds. Information sharing is much more convenient with different social media tools. Social media tools and network bandwidth together open options for more and more facilities. Now it is possible to organize a live event on Facebook. You can stream live video to Facebook servers which publish your content to your Facebook page.

How to do Facebook Live

First look at the requirements for live streaming to Facebook servers.

  1. Facebook account
  2. Good quality network connection
  3. Video source – Laptop inbuilt camera or use external camera or video capture
  4. Video encoding and streaming application

Lets discuss above points to understand the process better.

  • You can stream video to your Facebook page. So you must have an account on Facebook.
  • Good quality network connection is essential for video streaming. In case of video streaming , video content is uploaded to Facebook server so demand for upload speed matters a lot. How much upload speed you need? This depends upon the quality of video you want to upload. Quality of video depends upon video encoding parameters.If you compress more, quality will be lower. So understand the encoding parameters for maintaining good quality for your captured video. Generally 2 Mbps stream is good for general purpose but professional broadcast require more bandwidth which depends upon video resolution and compression parameters.
  • You can get video from single camera or multi-camera setup. Your laptop can capture video from inbuilt camera or you can use external USB camera also. In case of multi camera setup, collect the final output of multi camera setup ( produced output) and capture the video through some capture device. Multiple video capture devices are available in market. Blackmagic Intensity shuttle can be a good choice to capture external video.Its drives are supported by most of the applications.
  • Finally you need some application to encode video and encapsulate for streaming. In my last article about Video streaming applications, I discussed some of widely used application. My choice here is Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS) as this is completely free for usage.

Facebook Live – In few Steps

  • Connect your Laptop with internet.For safe side, test your network speed also so that video stream goes smoothly to Facebook server.You video data upload limits should be less than the average upload speed of network otherwise frames will be dropped and freezing will be observed in live video.
  • Open video streaming application. I am giving example here with Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS). Add video source to your OBS. Click on + button in Sources, then select Video Capture device->Create New. A pop up window will emerge which will show capture devices.From the drop down window, select your video capture device.Your video will be visible in preview window. You can then cut it for final output.
  • Now you need to configure video stream.Click on Settings button on right side. The settings window has option for Stream settings.Following settings need to be done.
    • Stream Type – Streaming Services
    • Service – Facebook Live
    • Server – Default
    • Stream Key – You will get this stream key from Facebook configuration page.After necessary configuration on Facebook page, collect the stream key and paste that here.

OBS Facebook live stream settings

  • Now login to your Facebook account and go to Facebook page where you want to do Live video streaming.
    • In Top menu option, Click on Publishing Tools
    • Publishing tools page will open. In left side menu, click on Videos
    • In this Videos section,click on +Live button to create a Facebook Live
    • A popup window will emerge showing the stream url. Stream Url consist of two parts. First part is Facebook server url and other is stream key. You copy this URL and stream key because this will be required for configuration in your streaming application.
    • Facebook live stream
  • Now go back to OBS and paste this stream key into OBS stream settings. Click apply and then OK.
  • Your system is now ready for Live video stream to Facebook. You can now click on Start Streaming in OBS. Without live stream signal, Facebook page shows Offline status which changes to Live after server receives live stream.

Facebook Live configuration is just for getting the unique streaming URL. Some other settings on Facebook page is like Title, description of live event which you can apply as per your requirement. The video streaming applications requires Facebook streaming URL ( complete URL or just stream key) which you may apply as per your application.

I hope, you would have got a broader idea of Facebook Live Event.

Live Video Streaming applications – Review

Live Video streaming from ground event is becoming popular day by day. Earlier it was quite a difficult task because sufficient bandwidth was not available for live video streaming through mobile networks. Now 3G/4G networks provide a reasonable amount of bandwidth which can transfer live video streams. Generally 3G networks provide around 500-600 kbps of data transfer for live stream .This may not be sufficient for good quality video but highly compressed video can be sent live easily. 4G networks are supporting much higher data transfer speed so you can even live stream high definition videos also.

There are number of software applications which you can be used for live video streaming. Few of them are recommended here for reasons like simple user interface, better video encoding options, additional video production features etc.

live video streaming

Wirecast

Wirecast by Telestream is one of the best video production cum streaming application. Software demo is available for testing. Wirecast Studio cost around $500 and Wirecast PRO version cost around $1000. If you are planning to use application for some professional prupose then its worth to spend $500 .

Pros

  • Simple Graphic user interface
  • Multiple options for streaming to YouTube, Wowza etc.
  • Large set of predefined encoding parameters
  • Complete control of video encoding parameter for custom encoding
  • Best video production features
  • Multiple Predesigned video streaming profiles for different video resolution
  • You can take video output from the system but this feature is available in PRO version only.

Cons

  • No free app
  • Wirecast trail application comes with wirecast watermak

Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS)

OBS studio is an open source application. It offers similar streaming and production features as Wirecast. From the video encoding and streaming point of view, it is as good as Wirecast but video production interface is much better in Wirecast. Different layers of A/V is more easily managed in Wirecast than managing different scenes and sources in OBS.

Pros

  • Free application
  • Good for video encoding and streaming
  • Video recording facility available
  • Option for streaming to Youtube, facebook streaming service etc. Custom streaming server connection facility as well.
  • Large set of video production feature

Cons

  • Video production requires dynamic changes so toolsets should be always available in production interface. Wirecast display different production tools systematically that help for dynamic changes.OBS has most of the features but require more user friendly interface.
  • No predesigned video streaming profiles

vMix

vMix is a feature rich video production and streaming application. It also offers to record video. You can use playlist option to sequentially play list of a/v sources. vMix interface is better than OBS. It brought all the toolset in the primary interface like record, stream,add input, playlist etc. One of the good thing is production tools like cut, fade ,wipe are simultanesouly available in primary interface. You can cut one scene to other and then wipe other scene. This thing is even better than that of Wirecast. One more advantage with vMix is video output. It support external out from the application. You can get video output from some video render like declink  or HDMI.

Pros

  • Large set of feature for video production
  • User interface is good
  • Support multiple streaming servers like youtube, facebook etc. Custom stream option also available.
  • It gives Video out from application. This is useful feature if you want to record your produced output to some external recorder or you want to display produced output to different display screen.
  • 60 day free trail version is available

Cons

  • vMix is not completely free application. Some of the features like HD, SD, 4K resultion,  two external out, more than 2 camera requires paid version.The Basic free version offers only 768×576 resolution. But just $60 can upgrade your application for 1920×1080 resolution. I think , the cost of this HD version is quite nominal. Free version has restriction of only 2 camera input. But you get video streaming, recording and external output in free version also.

 Conclusion

Wirecast is a good application but it’s a paid application. OBS Studio is completely free but little compromised for features and interface. But it can serve your purpose of video streaming without any limitation. vMix is a good application in terms of video production features and user interface. You can use vMix freely if you want to stream video upto resolution 768×576. If want to stream HD video then you need to pay some charges but its cheaper than cost of Wirecast