Multi-cam Setup for Commencement Ceremony Livestreams

How I went about recording and livestreaming a series of high school commencement ceremonies.

Published Categorized as Behind The Scenes No Comments on Multi-cam Setup for Commencement Ceremony Livestreams
STISD BTS Graduation 2018
STISD BTS Graduation 2018

My secret weapon is the Blackmagic Design Web Presenter with Teranex Mini Smart Panel. The Web Presenter features both SDI (via BNC) and HDMI inputs. The optional Mini Smart Panel gives the Web Presenter the ability to live switch between the two inputs using smooth transitions, as well as monitor the program feed, and access settings more easily using visual menus. This effectively converts the Web Presenter into a two-input live switcher with professionally customizable options.

My Sony PXW-FS7 Mark 2 would be fitted with a telephoto lens and provide medium podium shots of all the presenters. My Panasonic AG-DVX200, with it’s affixed servo zoom lens at its widest setting, would remain mostly static throughout the events, providing me with something to cut to when the presenters changed. FS7-II and DVX200 would be connected to Web Presenter via SDI and HDMI, respectively.

The Web Presenter’s outputs are another worthy topic. Yes, the whole point of the Web Presenter is its primary function of converting a high-bandwidth broadcast quality signal and converting it to a 720p H.264 signal that is more easily digested by a computer’s web broadcaster (in this case, my 27″ iMac 5K Retina running OBS to my client’s YouTube Live) via USB. It has SDI and HDMI loop-outs, yes. But, the biggest feature here is Program Out via SDI. This output sits before the conversion happens but after the live switching, meaning the broadcast-quality live switching can be output uncompressed via SDI to a recorder before the coversion to low-quality web deliverable intended for live stream. That means a Full HD copy of the live-switched event can be recorded during the live stream.

I own an Atomos Ninja Blade Full HD recorder which would be perfect for this job. However, it is HDMI only so I needed a way to convert the SDI Program Out coming from the Web Presenter. Another requirement was the house video switcher needed to be fed an SDI or HDMI signal from my nest so whatever I was livestreaming was also playing live on video projectors in the house. The Blackmagic Micro Converter SDI to HDMI, with SDI Loop-out, was my solution.

From Web Presenter’s Program Out via SDI to Micro Converter SDI to HDMI’s SDI-In, I then fed the house switcher with SDI Loop-out, and my Ninja Blade with HDMI-out. The Ninja Blade could then be monitored on my SmallHD 7″ AC7-SDI via HDMI. I used two Atomos Micro to Full HDMI coiled cables for this.

During one of the ceremonies, the client requested a special video be played on the same projection screens as the livestream. To do this, the house video switcher was used to switch between my livestream feed and a Macbook containing the special video. The Macbook used a Thunderbolt (actually, Mini Display Port) to HDMI adapter to feed the switcher the video, plus a 1/8″ TRS to XLR adapter to feed the house audio patch.

By Jason R. Johnston

Jason is an award-winning cinematographer, and director of commercials, branding films, native content, music videos, documentaries, and narrative films. As a full-time freelancer, he can be hired to DP or direct almost any project you have in mind. He is based in Sparta, Tennessee, and ready to travel for any gig.

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