Our school is hosting a competition and is thinking of streaming it. What camera would be the best for this? Any recommendations?
There are 2 main paths I have seen event partners go down for cameras: HDMI Cameras, like GoPros, and Networked Cameras, using POE-powered security cameras.
I’ve included information about the setup I use below and some troubleshooting tips based on my experience with this system.
GoPros provide a great option for livestreaming robotics events due to their cost and wide field of view. If you purchase GoPros, try to purchase a Hero 8 or newer. In this version, the USB C port can be directly connected to a computer and used as a web camera, which can provide flexibility for additional cameras. In most cases, older models are acceptable.
Many cameras will offer an HDMI out signal, which can efficiently achieve a low-latency stream. Before purchasing, ensure that the cameras you use have a clean HDMI out signal. Additionally, you will likely need to source several 50ft HDMI cords, the maximum length you can reasonably get without signal degradation or an active extension.
You will connect the micro-HDMI port to an external switcher or capture card. For most competition purposes, the Blackmagic ATEM Mini is an acceptable option. The ATEM Mini Pro is a slightly more expensive alternative but would allow you to stream directly from the switcher without a dedicated streaming computer.
You must modify your GoPros to ensure they don’t overheat during a long competition day. Usually, symptoms of overheating include the video feed blacking out intermittently.
Some ways to help keep your cameras cool:
- Remove the battery and leave the battery compartment open
- Disable H.264. In Video Compression, Select HVEC. The older encoding is not needed for our purposes and only increases temperatures
- Disable Wifi Configuration
- Set video mode to 1080p60
- Set the field of view to the widest setting
- Disable video stabilization
- If your venue is particularly warm, you may also need to invest in heat sinks to cool the cameras properly. Some Event Partners have found success in repurposing Raspberry Pi heatsinks. You will likely want to target the area of your GoPro directly below the sensor, but experimentation with your particular model is warranted.
We use Canon m200 + dummy battery + hdmi to usb capture card for this purpose. Sample stream VEX Robotics Ontario VIQC ES In-Person Provincial Championships 2022 - YouTube Hope this helps.
I keep it simple. Webcams with USB extenders. The changes I will make is the camera will either be on the monitors or the tripod will be right next to the monitors.
Here’s what we use: Team 3547 Livestream Equipment.pdf - Google Drive
As always, very informative post!
My goto is BlackMagic ATEM Mini Pro, or ATEM Elite - (4 or 8 inputs) has streaming built in. Then we use any HDMI cameras and a raspberry pi for overlay. Keeps it simple - easy set up. We also use fiber optic HDMI cables with long runs (each camera has it own spool to avoid tangles.
I think cable management is the biggest problem to tackle (I am paying the price for end of season pickup with first event coming and spaghetti city of ethernet and audio cable.!!)
If we had to do it now, I would seriously consider going this route. But once you take a particular path, you’re kind of locked in.
After watching some livestreams and observing good/bad stuff, our biggest emphasis was to make a livestream with decent audio, thus the attention to the USB-based mixer, good microphones to record field-sounds, and a method to broadcast royalty-free background music. Additionally, we like to switch around to “venue” cameras between matches to see the big picture. At our RiverBots signature event, we’re planning to add a couple PTZ cameras to the mix.
Challenge 1: have lots of spools on hand. I got our MakerSpace tech to save 3d printer spools for me, and now I have a bunch to wind cables onto. We also have cord winders from HF for the longer cords.
Challenge 2: get your helpers to use the spools! Fortunately, once cables are disconnected at the ends, you can usually grab any random volunteer and hand them a spool and a cable end, and they can wind it up without any training . This leaves you to do more high-value cleanup.
The best and cheapest option that my school uses at our home matches is to have somebody not playing stand in one of the corners and hold their school issued laptop with the camera on. This makes it very easy to stream to youtube or twitch or whatever you’d like because you don’t need to run any wires or have a wireless connection slowing you down. This is due to the fact that you are already filming on the device you’re going to stream from
The best and cheapest option that my school uses at our home matches is to have somebody not playing stand in one of the corners and hold their school issued laptop with the camera on.
Yeah sorry, we ain’t doing that. And based on your answers on other topics, I don’t think you have credibility.
I’m not saying you should do it. I was saying my school did it. It was full jank but it worked surprisingly well. I do apologize for saying it was the best I was being sarcastic and I assumed you understood
I think I can speak for the community of forum users here, as someone who’s been around for a little while… You’ve been a member of the forum for 20 hours, and we know you’re excited to be part of this group, but you’ve made a bunch of posts now, with about half of them more-or-less unuseful and, shall we say, “burdensome” to read. Please read this: Our Community Guidelines before making more posts, and perhaps maybe consider chilling a bit with your favorite beverage in hand, spend some time reading rather than writing, and get to know the forum a little better.
The alternative will be that your colleagues will get quite annoyed with you, and posts will start getting flagged by the community.
I truly am sorry. I’ve just had a lot of time on my hands recently due to events I won’t get in to. VEX is the only activity where I can hang out with my friends since I can’t play sports anymore. I thought it would be a good idea to make new friends on here but I guess I am not helpful and I’m sorry I wasted your time. I’ll get off now
Our setup is currently
PTZ cameras → SDI cable → SDI capture card → OBS
Previously we had used HDMI out fixed cameras with HDMI to SDI converters, but they had to be manually adjusted/focused, and any time somebody bumped the camera everything went out of focus and had to be manually fixed.
I guess other people have had more luck with HDMI than we did, but for us HDMI was a constant nightmare (including trying stuff like HDBaseT etc), switching to SDI for video signal improved reliability so much. We have 150’ SDI cables that work no problem.
This has been our workhorse camera for streaming for years: Amcrest 1080P POE (Power Over Ethernet) Video Monitoring Security POE IP Camera with Pan/Tilt, Two-Way Audio, Plug & Play Setup, Optional Cloud Recording, Full HD 1080P (1920TVL) @ 30FPS, Super Wide 90° Viewing Angle and Night Vision IP2M-841EB (Black)
Unfortunately, it appears that Amcrest has discontinued this camera and there isn’t a feature-equivalent replacement.
I just picked up two of these cameras: https://www.amazon.com/AIDA-Imaging-HD-NDI-Cube-Full-Camera/dp/B09ZJD235L/
I test drove them at an event last weekend and I was really pleased with how they worked. (livestream: Roadrunner VEX IQ Challenge - YouTube) They are NDI cameras with POE, meaning I just need to run a network cable to them from my switch.
I use OBS software for our streaming. It may be a bit more of a learning curve than something like an ATEM or another stand alone switcher, but there are a lot of cool things you can do and the software is free. There are several plugins for OBS that I use:
- DWAB’s obs TM Source (DWAB Technology / vextm-obs-source · GitLab),
- @MayorMonty 's TM OBS Switcher: GitHub - MayorMonty/tm-obs-switcher: Manages automatic switching for events that use Tournament Manager
- OBS NDI Plugin: obs-ndi - NewTek NDI™ integration into OBS Studio | OBS Forums
The TM OBS Switcher that MayorMonty wrote is AWESOME. It almost eliminates the need for having a person running the livestream computer. It also makes the job of the person running TM much easier. It automates the switching of cameras between fields and even automates changing the Audience display after matches.
By using NDI cameras or NDI encoders you eliminate the need for a capture card or a streaming console that inputs HDMI. You can receive and distribute video anywhere in your network.
Wut now? The only events I’ve seen live-streamed in FL have been the scrimmages in Tampa (no overlay), one in Kissimmee (overhead cams on both fields, overlay but not TM), and some down south (same as Kissimmee but different, non TM overlay that makes it hard to scrape matches). Interested to see more FL events live-streamed!
+1 for NDI, super convenient.
These are our field cameras, relatively inexpensive (by the standard of NDI cameras) and the very wide FOV means they can be pretty close to the field:
Anyone know where I can find non-copyrighted music?
Excerpt from the document I posted right after your first post in this thread:
“To avoid getting copyright strikes by inadvertently re-broadcasting the Spotify playlist which is used during the event… we play a background looping track of “royalty free” music through the livestream… I got our royalty-free music from https://soundimage.org/ . To use the music legally, you have to give credit to the artist (I do this on the opening screen of the livestream), or buy a license for the tracks. We gave him a donation for the use of his music. I searched the site and found some longer looping tracks (aerial / drone | Soundimage.org, for example), although it doesn’t really matter too much, the point is just to have some background sounds to work with.”
We’ve used the Youtube Audio Library in the past. Pick an appropriate genre or mood and download anything that sounds good. You can filter the list to Attribution Not Required which eliminates a lot of concerns.