Top 5 Multi-Camera Live Streaming Solutions in 2022
Whether you produce live church services, high school or college sports, corporate events or the highest-end live broadcasts shows, including professional sporting events and award shows, it all requires multi-camera live streaming solutions. The ability to switch between multiple video sources and stream video live to people watching on their smart TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones is a great path to success.
The Benefits of Multi-Camera Live Streaming
Multi-camera streaming offers producers a variety of production benefits. Live event production done with more than one camera is more interesting to watch. It enables a producer or director to choose between multiple perspectives—either on the same scene or another capturing reaction, interaction and emotion. That benefit alone makes multi-camera live streaming more dynamic, but there are many others.
Relying on a multi-camera setup for live streaming means it is possible to zoom or pan a camera without taking viewers along for the ride as would be unavoidable with a single-camera production. There are also far more possibilities when it comes to framing a shot. For example, with two cameras, a production isn’t locked into a medium or wide shot to capture all of the action as with a single camera.
More cameras mean more flexibility and options, making live productions a more effective storytelling medium for those producing content and more appealing to viewers, thereby helping to attract bigger and more engaged audiences. (More on that later.)
TOP 5 Multi-Camera Live Streaming Solutions
This is truly an unprecedented time for video producers because they can do so much for so few dollars. That’s especially true when it comes to multi-camera live video production.
It wasn’t all that long ago that these sorts of shows required a dedicated multi-camera production switcher and a host of individual pieces of standalone production technology, ranging from dedicated graphics systems and character generators to video servers, replay tech and audio consoles.
But today, affordable multi-camera live streaming platforms exist that are capable of handling a range of productions. Some are simply designed to stream content via social media and websites, while others do that as well as produce live shows for television and OTT platforms?
Here, we look at five popular alternatives: TVU Producer, OBS Studio, Vmix, Streamyard, Sony Virtual Production.
TVU Networks has built a suite of cloud-based video production solutions over the past several years, and the centerpiece of those offerings is TVU Producer, a multi-camera virtualized production toolset running in the cloud and accessed via a web browser and the internet.
TVU Producer Features
At the heart of TVU Producer is the virtualized production switcher. It can support up to 12 video sources. However, as a default, it supports four live video feeds and three additional feeds that can be used for local video, IP video or custom video. If more live video sources are required, it can be configured to accommodate as many as eight.
With a clean, easy-to-understand UI, TVU Producer is based on the familiar video multiviewer paradigm with two large windows—one for Preview and the other for Program—to give producers a clear view of what shot is live and what’s on deck. Smaller video source windows show what other shots are available.
To switch between Preview and Program, a producer clicks on one of the multiple available transition buttons. TVU Producer also can overlay native graphics, such as JPEGs, PNGs and GIFs, as well as online graphics and text from Singular.live and URL graphics from Singular.live and Dizplai (formerly never.no).
TVU Producer can replay up to five videos natively from the producer’s computer or from the cloud, create effect likes picture-in-picture and bi- and quad-views, mix audio with audio-follow-video support that can be enabled or disabled, iso-record each live video source as well as the entire produced show in the cloud and multi-stream to distribute live shows to social media sites like Facebook Live, Instagram, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube, a website, CDN partners and even broadcast via a TVU receiver that can convert IP video to SDI. In its standard configuration, TVU Producer can output to three destinations simultaneously; support for multi-streaming to additional destinations is available.
TVU Producer Functionality
There are several ways to input live video sources to an instance of TVU Producer running in the cloud. Using the free TVU Anywhere broadcast app can stream a smartphone camera’s video to the cloud after a simple QR code scan assigning the camera as a source. Other external IP sources can be assigned to an input. Even video cameras with an HDMI or SDI output can be used with the appropriate converter, such as those from Magewell, to convert the signal to IP, which can then be streamed with a smartphone or Ethernet connection.
Other ways to input sources to an instance of TVU Producer is with the TVU One video transmitter, TVU Nano router, TVU RPS remote production solution and TVU Grid video distribution and switching system.
TVU Producer setup is simple and gives users control over video resolution, frame rate, number of audio channels to be used and whether to stream a production with a vertical orientation as well as complete parameter control for each output destination.
Being a cloud-based video production tool, TVU Producer also can leverage other powerful cloud-based solutions from TVU, such as their Partyline mode to enable multiple guests to join a live production from their smart devices and their automated closed captioning, which leverages speech-to-text AI in the cloud to generate closed captions on the fly.
Advantages of TVU Producer (Pros)
- On the pro side of the ledger, TVU Producer is a powerful, yet intuitive and simple-to-use video production tool that’s equally well-suited for multi-camera production of high school and college sports as for broadcasts of professional team sports, entertainment shows, church services, corporate events and other non-broadcast uses
- As with any live video solution built by TVU, they’ve put all their focus on stability, low latency, and frame accuracy which makes TVU Producer probably the most stable streaming solution out there when relying on standard internet connections.
- You also benefit from a dedicated and free 24/7 support line for any assistance to your live event production, so you don’t have to look around different communities and tutorials to solve any blockage.
- Being cloud-based, means there are no concerns over having to buy a powerful computer tricked out with a GPU video card, extra memory, and other expensive tech to produce and stream shows.
- From a workflow point of view, TVU Producer can be used by a single producer or by a team of people with different production responsibilities, such as video switching, mixing audio, and generating graphics and titles. That production crew does not have to be centrally located. Rather members can work from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
- Another attractive feature is how TVU Producer is priced. The production solution is offered on a pay-as-you-go basis with a starting price of $35 per hour—after the initial 20-hour free trial period is used.
Here is a link to try out TVU Producer through their 20h free trial offer currently running
Open Broadcast Software (OBS) Studio is free, open-source software that enables video recording and streaming live video content via popular social media sites and streaming sites like YouTube. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, OBS Studio allows producers to switch between multiple live video sources, playback recorded video clips, add graphics and text, mix audio and record, stream or do both simultaneously with the finished show.
The software production tool can be used by a variety of producers for a variety of productions, ranging from producers of social media video channels to multi-camera live productions of church services, high school, college sports and even broadcasts.
The OBS production concept is built on the foundation of scenes and sources. Scenes offer a producer a way to set up various parts of their production, such as an intro, a break and live scenes, ahead of time and define the media sources necessary for each.
The default UI opens with a prominent video window, Scenes and Sources boxes, Scene Transition selector box, and Audio Mixer which can be dragged and dropped on-screen to customize the look. The program comes with other UI designs, such as Studio Mode which enables a more traditional Program and Preview look. An additional Multiview interface can be added for a second monitor screen to make live selection easier.
A wide variety of plug-ins can add functionality. One brings NDI support to OBS so any video source on a Local Area Network is available for a show. Others enable advanced scene switching, the ability to stream to multiple CDNs simultaneously with RTMP and replay sources. Currently, there are more than 100 such plug-ins.
To live stream from OBS Studio, producers start off from the Output selection in the Settings interface of the Controls panel. There, they can define a variety of parameters for their stream, such as bit rate. From the Stream interface, users then setup which streaming destinations they wish to use, such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Live and others. It’s also possible to stream to a CDN.
To live stream to multiple platforms at the same time, a producer could use a streaming service like Restream.io. Once signed up, an OBS Studio producer selects the Re-stream function from the OBS Service list in the Stream interface found in Settings.
Finally, to go live with a stream or multiple streams, the producer selects Start Streaming from the OBS Controls interface and the show is live. Of course, each streaming service has its own way of going live, which means some will enable going live simply from OBS Studio while others will require one more step with the particular streaming service to go live.
Advantages of OBS Studio (Pros)
- One of the most used open-source software with a lot of online tutorials to figure things out. Not only in its production control options and capabilities but also in setup for video and audio sources, recording and streaming settings and network parameters.
- It also has a rich catalog of plug-ins that add more capabilities.
- It’s free! As long as you don’t add costly plugins such as Restream Studio (explained below).
Vmix is a software video production and streaming solution that runs on Windows 10 PCs. It can also run on a Mac with Boot Camp on a separate system partition running Windows. There is no Linux version. The software is available in several different versions—from the basic HD version with support for three cameras or NDI inputs and one overlay channel for $60 to the PRO version with support for 4K, 1,000 inputs, four overlay channels and eight-camera instant replay for $1,2000. A MAX version with all of the PRO version features is available for a monthly subscription of $50, and a 60-day free trial is available for download.
Regardless of the edition, Vmix supports multi-streaming to three platforms, including the typical social media sites and custom destinations, at the same time. Multi-streaming controls are accessed through the settings button. There, a producer finds numerals 1 through 3, each of which can be clicked to access a setup stream, which varies from destination to destination. Producers can specify Log-in info to specific sites, URL, URL stream name, quality parameters, such as streaming resolution and bit rate, and whether video encoding will be done using the system’s CPU or the GPU on an add-in video card, like those from Nvidia.
Producers must be aware of the outbound bitrate required by each stream, calculate the total number of bits the upload connection can accommodate and test the setup before going live with a show to avoid exceeding available bandwidth and creating glitches like dropped frames or an entire failure of the streams. Vmix recommends using no more than half the available upload bandwidth, but acknowledges some users exceed the recommendation.
If too much bandwidth is required, producers should adjust the settings of each stream—for instance, scaling back from 4K to 1080p or 1080p to 720p or SD and reducing bit rate settings—until the sweet spot that balances quality with available bandwidth is achieved. To begin streaming, a producer simply clicks on the Stream button to begin all streams at once. There is a separate control that makes it possible to begin and end each stream independently.
To multi-stream to more than three destinations, producers must rely on a third-party restreaming service, such as Restream.io. Even if only two or three multi-streams are desired these services offer Vmix users with limited upload bandwidth and/or processing resources an attractive multi-streaming option because only a single video stream is necessary from the computer.
Video producers who know a hardware switcher will find the Vmix interface to be familiar and easy to use. The concept of Preview and Program is the centerpiece of the UI design. Switching between the two is done with a click of one of several transition buttons between the two, such as cut and fade.
Vmix also supports use of devices external to the computer, such as an Xbox, MIDI controller, keyboard and others, via macros (aka shortcuts) to control productions. Depending on the version, Vmix offers between one and four overlay channels, which are used to place titles, graphics, logos, video PIP and other elements over the program channel. Multiple elements can be overlaid and positioned independently per overlay channel.
Supported input sources include multiple video cameras, graphics, titles, video calls, web content, social media, instant replay, NDI and SRT devices and live and recorded audio. Individual audio sources, as well as master output, can be controlled from the main UI screen. Besides streaming, Vmix enables shows to be recorded or recorded and streamed simultaneously.
Users range from non-broadcast video producers, such as those wishing to stream corporate and educational video and church services to high school and college sports, eSports, special-interest social media channels and even broadcast.
Vmix Advantages (Pros)
- Vmix is a powerful, yet simple to grasp video production solution.
- Has multiple plans for many different budgets
- Vmix is able to sync streams and encode multiple frames
- It supports the most commonly used features a producer may wish to integrate into any given production.
Streamyard is a live streaming, cloud-based service accessed via a browser from a PC, Mac or Linux computer. It is even possible to access and run Streamyard from a smartphone or tablet device. It is used to make videos distributed via social media platforms like Facebook Live, LinkedIn, YouTube Live and others.
At its core, Streamyard was designed to make live streaming simple. The interface is easy and intuitive, a benefit those new to video production and streaming should find particularly attractive. Those with no or very limited video production experience can be up and running in moments.
As a result, those looking for more production values –the bells and whistles available in traditional video production and those done with tools like OBS or Vmix—will not find the same level of sophistication in Streamyard. However, they will greatly value its simplicity and end up using Streamyard for projects not requiring those bells and whistles. If a stable, professional-looking result that’s simple to produce is the goal, Streamyard may be the right tool.
Streamyard Functionality & Pricing
There are three versions of Streamyard: Free, Basic, and Professional.
The Free Version: includes 20 hours of live streaming per month, allows six on-screen participants, works with Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Twitter, supports on-screen comments from those social media sites, allows six on-screen participants and enables screen sharing for guests and host. All free streams are branded with Streamyard’s logo.
The Basic Plan: is available for $20 per month. It adds several features including support for 10-onscreen participants, three multi-stream destinations and six hours of video recording per stream per month. The Basic level also supports streaming of one-hour-long pre-recorded content, eliminates the Streamyard branding, enables broadcasting to any RTMP destination and includes production features like overlays, lower-thirds, backgrounds and logos.
The Professional Level: adds five more multi-stream destinations, four more hours per month of recording per stream, full 1080p video support, individual audio recording support for each guest and a second camera, enabling switching between two separate cameras or showing both at the same time for $39 per month.
The Basic and Premium monthly subscription prices quoted are for users committing to a year’s subscription (i.e. $240/year for Basic and $468/year for Premium). Month-to-month subscriptions are available for $25 for Basic and $49 for Premium.
Streamyard Advantages (Pros)
- it does what it does well and simply.
- More complex production elements can be introduced by using Streamyard in conjunction with other software and hardware products, such as TVU Producer and OBS or a small hardware video switcher.
Sony Virtual Production
Sony is offering a multi-camera, cloud-based live video production solution known as Sony Virtual Production as an alternative to the traditional method of sports and entertainment live production based on rolling a mobile television studio—known as an OB (Outside Broadcast)—truck to a venue.
Sony Virtual Production Features
Rather, Sony has virtualized the key elements of that workflow in the cloud. In other words, a virtual equivalent of a video production switcher, playout server, audio mixer and other tools is available in the AWS cloud via a web browser running on a laptop computer and an internet connection.
Up to eight source inputs—a combination of six inputs + two clip players, seven inputs + one clip player or eight inputs—are supported. IP-based cameras, including models ranging from Sony cameras, such as the PXW-Z280, to smartphones, connect via the internet to an instance of Sony Virtual Production service to contribute to a multi-camera production. Available virtualized production tools and elements include transitions, picture-in-picture, overlays and audio mixing. Singular cloud-based graphic overlays are also available.
Sony Virtual Production Functionality & Pricing
Finished productions can be streamed to multiple social media sites, such as Facebook Live, Twitch and other destinations like YouTube. Support for multi-streaming to three destinations in parallel via RTMP is available.
Several codecs and clip formats are supported, including H.264 and H.265, 1080p and 720p resolution and bit rates up to 15Mbps.
The cost of the Sony Virtual Production service varies depending on how much streaming time is purchased. An hour of virtual switcher use is priced at 49 Euros + VAT ($52.40 + VAT); 300 minutes costs 220 Euros + VAT ($235.28 + VAT); 1,200 minutes at 780 Euros + VAT ($835.19 + VAT); and 3,000 minutes at 1700 Euros + VAT ($1,818.10 + VAT). Without the VAT tax, that’s $52.40, $44, $39 and $36.36 per hour, respectively.
Audience & User Base
At the moment Sony Virtual Production is “restricted to European customers only.” The company is advising others to “stay tuned for Geographic expansion soon.” (That’s why Sony quotes the cost in Euros.)
Sony is targeting a variety of users with its Virtual Production Service, including broadcast organizations looking to cover sports and entertainment programming and the growing number of non-broadcast video producers looking to communicate with high-quality streaming video via popular social media destinations.
Advantages of Sony Virtual Production (Pros)
- Sony Virtual Production offers video producers a way to sidestep much of the expense of traditional production. (It still is necessary to have cameras on site regardless of whether an OB truck or the virtual equivalent is used).
- Virtualizing the production switcher, audio mixer, graphics and other production elements in the cloud brings advantages beyond cost savings, however. Working in the cloud transforms video production workflows, bringing a new degree of freedom and flexibility to how shows are produced.
Attracting Your Share of Viewers
The outlaw Willie Sutton once famously replied to a reporter who asked why he robbed banks: “because that’s where the money is.” Those considering streaming multi-camera productions to multiple social media destinations could say something similar about their motivation. But in their case, it would be “because that’s where the people are.”
Research from Statista revealed that as of January nearly one-quarter of U.S. adults streamed TV shows multiple times a week. That falls right in line with Nielsen, which reported that in March streaming accounted for nearly 30 percent TV use.
Drilling down a bit on generational differences, as of September 2017, 61 percent of America’s younger generation—ages 18 to 29—reported watching TV via the internet using streaming services—a sizable pre-pandemic number, according to a survey of U.S. adults from the Pew Research Center.
Of course, live-streamed TV programs just scratch the surface. The video view count for Facebook Live reached 2 billion, according to 99 Firms statistics. YouTube posts equally impressive numbers for live streams. In 2020, for instance, 70 percent of people used YouTube to watch live events, according to YouTube’s official blog. There were 2.3 billion YouTube views that year.
Having the proper multi-camera video production tool makes it possible for video producers not only to reach these viewers where they turn for content but also to reach them with great production values that make their content more entertaining and engaging. A multi-camera production done properly on a subject of interest has a huge competitive advantage over a production on the same subject done with a single camera.
What’s more, the multi-camera production solutions discussed here either come with the ability to multi-stream content or work closely with third-party services that do so, helping producers maximize the number of viewers who may watch their shows and thereby maximize the potential revenue they can generate.
At the same time, producers of multi-camera productions have the capabilities needed to entertain the millions of people who still prefer to watch broadcast, cable and satellite TV. They also have access to powerful tools to make these productions reality—without the expense and logistical commitment required only a few years ago.