Comparison of the Top Multicam Streaming Software: What You Need to Know [2021 Update]
Table of Contents
Globally, one-third of all online time is spent watching video content, and many businesses and broadcasters are asking how they can capture as much of that attention as possible.
One of the best ways to make a live stream more engaging and professional is by incorporating multiple sources. “Multiple sources” could refer to using a mix of live and prerecorded content or a multicam stream.
In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about multicam streaming software. We will first look at the benefits of Multicam live video streaming and discuss some of the challenges of this approach. Then, we’ll dive into the best live stream software. We’ll look at three different platforms, including one free multi-camera live streaming software option.
To wrap things up, we’ll review a list of equipment necessary for multicam streaming and go over a very basic example workflow to help you understand how to get started.
Table of Contents
- Why Stream with Multiple Cameras?
- Challenges of Multicam Streaming
- Best Multicam Streaming Software
- OBS Studio
- Equipment Needed for Multicam Live Streaming
- Example Multicam Workflow
Why Stream with Multiple Cameras?
Streaming with multiple cameras makes video content more engaging than a stream with a single camera angle. Think of any professional broadcast on TV or any film. The video tends to cut between multiple different sources.
News shows, for example, often use three cameras that capture a wide shot that shows the entire studio, a medium shot that shows both hosts and their desk, and a tight shot that shows the head-and-shoulders of each host individually.
This allows the broadcaster to switch between different views in real-time. The wide shot can be used to “establish” a setting and help the viewer orient themselves. The medium shots are ideal for interactions between multiple people. And the tight shots capture the emotion and allow for one person to take center stage.
This is basic cinematography. Multicam filming has been a staple of video production for more than 100 years, for good reason. It’s simply more interesting, more engaging, and a better way to communicate a story.
Challenges of Multicam Streaming
Of course, there are challenges that come with this method of storytelling. More cameras equal more complexity. Multicam streaming requires linking all the different cameras to one central hub.
In addition to configuring the perfect setup, you’ll need a skilled camera operator who will decide which shot to switch to at any given moment. This person has to be fast and decisive.
Generally, multicam streaming requires increased staff-power, more equipment, and more data. However, the advantages are worth it and this type of broadcast is getting easier to manage than ever.
In the past, multicam streaming required a major crew and a television studio. Although it does require some more resources, multicam streaming software can help you stream from several sources within a reasonable budget.
Best Multicam Streaming Software
Let’s take a look at three of the best live stream software options on the market. We’ll review how they work for multicam streaming. These software options include VidBlasterX, Wirecast, and OBS Studio.
VidBlasterX is an encoding software that includes tools for multicam streaming. This multicam software is only compatible with the Windows operating system.
Basic features of the platform include:
- Live mixing tools to switch between multiple sources in real-time
- Low latency design using proprietary “SyncLok” feature
- Modular audio mixer
- Video effects and green screen support
- Custom scripting language
VidBlasterX supports multiple cameras via the camera module. More than one camera module can be added to the monitor to switch between different cameras.
Its unique modular design makes VidBlasterX highly expandable and customizable, which is attractive to advanced broadcasters.
VidBlasterX is available in three different editions. The Home edition costs $9 per year, and it allows the use of up to seven modules at once. The Studio version costs $99 per year and increases that limit to 25 modules. The Broadcast version costs $999 per year and supports up to 50 modules simultaneously.
Wirecast is a powerful live streaming software from Telestream that’s available for Mac and Windows. This software is also primarily an encoder with multicam streaming being a secondary function.
Basic Wirecast features include:
- Support for multiple sources including cameras, webcams, IP cameras, and NDI sources
- Screen share and video conferencing built-in
- Stream and record streams locally
- Tool for animating titles and graphics
Wirecast has built-in support for multiple camera sources. There are two different versions available. Wirecast Studio costs $599 and supports two guests via video chat. Wirecast Pro costs $799 and adds support for up to seven guests via video chat, supports a wider range of capture devices, scoreboards, 3D virtual sets, and more.
3. OBS Studio
Since OBS Studio is pretty simple and free to use, it is often used by beginner broadcasters who are just learning the ropes.
Here are a few of OBS Studio’s settings and basic features:
- Support for a wide range of sources including cameras, audio devices, screen capture, webcams, etc.
- “Scenes” feature allows you to preconfigure complex arrangements of graphics, video, overlays, etc.
- Audio mixing capability
- Video transitions and effects including green screen
- Support for a wide range of plugins to add features such as NDI support
- Modular user interface
OBS supports multiple camera sources natively. These sources (up to 8 of them) can easily be monitored via the Multiview feature. Multiview also makes it easy to transition to any of them with a single click.
We have a couple of guides for live streaming with OBS Studio, one for streaming with Windows and one for streaming with MacOS. We urge you to check them out if you plan on using OBS Studio with Dacast.
To learn how to live stream using OBS Studio, click here or check out this video on how to live stream with OBS using a PC.
Equipment Needed for Multicam Live Streaming
There are three routes you can go in terms of equipment setup for multicam streaming.
The first option is to use a powerful laptop, external capture devices, and cameras/audio devices. The second option is to use a desktop computer with capture cards. The third option is to use dedicated switching hardware, such as Blackmagic. This option still requires computers but offloads much of the load of “switching” to dedicated hardware.
We’ll focus here on the first option since it is the simplest. Multicam streaming in this scenario would require the following equipment:
- Laptop computer (a powerful computer is best)
- Capture devices such as Blackmagic Intensity (HDMI), Magewell USB Capture (for SDI), or something similar
- Professional-grade cameras
- Microphones (if using external mics, you can use a USB mixing board to capture these audio sources and connect to your computer)
- Cables for connecting cameras to capture devices
- A live streaming platform
The second option is very similar. However, you’ll usually use internal “capture cards” in this scenario rather than external devices.
Example Multicam Workflow
In order to give you a better idea of how this equipment looks in action, we’ve created an example of a multicam workflow.
Here’s how it could work:
- Select a central location for your primary computer running the best live stream software.
- Setup the computer and the capture devices.
- Set up cameras on tripods in the positions they will film from.
- Run cables (HDMI or SDI, if available) from these cameras to the capture devices.
- Turn everything on, and make sure your cameras are outputting live video via their settings.
- Open up your best live stream software. Select the correct input to activate the feeds from your cameras.
- Use the information provided by your streaming solution to set up your encoding software
- Test everything to make sure your cameras are outputting video and audio correctly.
Multi-source streaming can be a little complicated the first time you set it up, but with a little guidance and the right multicam streaming software, it is doable. As always, we recommend testing thoroughly before you start streaming.
An online video platform for streaming is also essential to a successful multicam live stream.
Dacast is one solution that is compatible with all of the multicam software options we mentioned above. We invite you to check it out and see all of our great features for yourself.
Sign up today to try free streaming with all the Dacast features for 30 days with our risk-free trial. No credit card required. No strings attached.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below! We love to hear from our readers and will get back to you as soon as we can.
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