Not so long ago you needed a massive budget in order to have a full hd multi-camera set up. Full Hd switchers alone were in the vicinity of $7000-$10,000 which meant for many churches a multi camera set up was just not an option.
What is a Multi Camera Set up?
For starters, a multi-camera setup is simply having multiple cameras to record a service or event. The cameras are all connected to a central device known as a video switcher which is controlled by an operator. The operator would have a monitor for each camera and would cut between shots, choosing the best shot at any given moment. They would usually also have some sort of key source where they could overlay titles and images over the footage. The final output would be recorded and distributed. This typically is how a any live or tape delayed show you see on TV works. As you can imagine it is very labour intensive and requires a lot of personnel in camera operators, switchers, keying etc
Why Multicamera Setup’s have become accessible to churches
Many churches are now embracing the multicamera setup to record their services and get what is happening within their four walls out to the world. More churches are able to achieve basic consumer level multicamera setups quite simply because the technology has become less expensive. Consumer level Full HD cameras are relatively inexpensive compared to 10 years ago and there are now options for software switching devices, which are controlled by a computer meaning you only pay for the hardware. One of these being the ATEM Television Studio (TVS) by blackmagic design. The video below shows how our church has a multicamera setup using a few older computers and three Sony Cameras using the ATEM TVS:
The Atem TVS allows you to input up to 6 sources which is more than enough for most smaller situations. It also can receive a digital audio signal. Devices like the Behringer Ultra Match 2 are cost effective solutions for converting your analogue signal to a digital one which the ATEM TVS can receive. With an old G5 Mac we were able to both control the switcher and also record the full hd video which the TVS was outputting simultaneously. Below is an low quality example of footage we have captured and uploaded to You Tube using this setup. We had to reduce the resolution of the video so it was suitable for youtube so the quality is not a true reflection, but gives you an idea:
Live Streaming with the ATEM Television Studio
Live streaming is also an option. There are many ways you can do it, but we found the easiest way was to convert the HDMI out signal from the Atem Television Studio into a composite signal. You can buy these converters for around $40 from hong kong on ebay. Then we bought a simple USB video capture card which captured the composite signal. We used an old PC and with the free flash media live encoder installed. There are a number of free services, but we found Justin.tv to be the most suitable as they only run one ad at the start of the stream and then do not interrupt the stream after that.
We now are using Ustream. The ads occur more often on their free service, but we are finding that they provide a more reliable, consistent stream.