OBS vs ATEM or both?

Using the Church Webcasting System, YouTube, etc. Including cameras and mixers.
jviola
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OBS vs ATEM or both?

#1

Post by jviola »

I have some questions for those who use OBS or ATEM or both?

We are getting ready to reconfigure our setup.
1. 3 Cameras (probably HDMI). I don't know if there is a 3 port HDMI capture card for computers? so this makes me think I should just connect directly to an ATEM? If there are 3 port HDMI video capture cards I'm concerned about all the processing that would put on the computer.
2. If I connect my cameras to an ATEM, I would still need OBS for Videos, Hymns, Visuals, webpages, etc. However, What is better. Having OBS sent to ATEM on an HDMI input and let ATEM do all the switching and output to Teradek Vidiu?
3. Or plug in the ATEM HDMI to USB to the OBS computer and let OBS do the broadcast and send the output to Teradek VidiU?
spencerto
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#2

Post by spencerto »

I don't think you would need a Teradek at all in this scenario. That just adds an additional breakpoint. OBS can send an RTMP stream to Webcast, or to Youtube, Twitch, whatever. It can even be used as a "webcam input" to software such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, etc.

If you are going to use an ATEM (mini or pro I presume) I would let the ATEM handle the switching between cameras, but then rely on OBS for all the other media. Then bring the ATEM in as a input source to OBS. It isn't perfectly ideal as you have to remember when to switch on the ATEM vs. when to switch in OBS.

I personally have a 3+ camera setup using SDI (but can use HDMI too). I use a Blackmagic Design 4 input capture card in my desktop computer. For Stake Conference, I used 4 cameras, 3 at the back of house and one at the front to provide an "audience" cam. I use vMIX software to perform the complete switching capability rather than mixing between something like ATEM + OBS. vMIX has a couple of tiers that are affordable. I use vMIX for all the title overlays, to play the pre and post video as well as countdown, to place Hymns with Picture-in-picture of conductor etc. It worked very well. vMIX will send to 3 different streaming sources at the same time as well as it can perform record/ISO records of every input separately.

It is a ton of capability, but everyone loved Stake Conference this year. We had the highest attendance of any Stake Conference in recent memory and everyone said it "looked like we were watching General Conference". To them that is true, to me....well, I would like to light our chapels better....but that is just me.
jviola
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Location: Bowling Green, OH 43402

Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#3

Post by jviola »

Spencerto - Thank you for the information. I have a few questions.

1. What kind of computer do you have, specs? Does the 4 HDMI capture card use a lot of CPU/RAM?
2. What are you using to display your cameras? Video card and # of Displays?
4. What version of VMix do you have?
5. What features in vMix do you use that OBS doesn't have?
6. For the same price that the Blackmagic HDMI capture card cost you can buy an ATEM Mini and take all the process off the computer. Is the only reason so that you can do camera switching in vMix?
spencerto
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#4

Post by spencerto »

1. Computer: My desktop computer is an Alienware Aurora R7 (few years old now) with a 7th Gen i7, 32MB of Ram, 1 TB SSD, Liquid Cooled, NVIDIA GTX1080 GPU. My laptop computer is a 13.5" Surfacebook 2 with 512GB SSD, 16GB Ram, core i7 processor.

The capture card I purchased is an SDI capture card which was a $150+ more expensive than an equivalent HDMI version or their DUO-link SDI version, but it is future proofed for me if I want to jump to 4K productions in the future. For now, I'm just doing 1080p HD live productions, so it is overkill.

https://www.amazon.com/Blackmagic-Desig ... ics&sr=1-8

The capture card actually doesn't put much stress on the system in terms of cpu, gpu or ram, at least I don't notice any issue. The computer, although it is a bit older compared to modern desktop computers, has no trouble processing multiple cameras, playback videos, title overlays, NDI sources, etc.

2. What displays? well, the NVIDIA GTX1080 i have supports up to 4 displays. I'm currently using 2 40" 4K samsung Tv's as my displays (at home). When I used it for our broadcast, I only used 1 display so I didn't have to haul extra equipment to the Church. However, I did send a feed to the stand so the authorities on the stand could see the broadcast feed, instead of just the back of the head of the speaker. I think they appreciated that. I also can send a separate feed to the "house" for our leadership session which only showed media, ppt slides, etc. I wanted a separate display for people in person. There isn't a need for them to see the speaker as the video would have a slight latency for the in person guests and would be redundant. I have the option of using one of the inputs on my black magic as an output instead of as an input (actually all 4 are bi-directionally configurable) and vMix can direct a separate feed for that purpose when needed. It's a bit of work to get everything set correctly, but is a fantastic option to have.

3. What version of vMix do I have? I purchased the vMix 4K version because I have other needs for the software. It isn't strictly necessary for the average church production, but I use it when I need to bring in (up to 4) remote guests to a live stream. You can certainly use Skype with NDI to accomplish something similar, but vMix's remote guest feature is pretty amazing because you can control what you send back to each guest and they can all operate in a "green room" until ready to bring them on live. With Skype, Zoom, Teams, etc. you can't really do that. They are all in at the same time and you can't have a private conversation with a guest while live on the air like you can with vMix....so you can say to the guest, please get ready, you are about to come on in 20 seconds.... etc.

Honestly, I could have survived easily with the Basic HD package for Stake Conferences, etc. which is only a one time $60 fee...pretty reasonable for what you get. Their licenses allow for installation on 2 computers at the same time. I have it installed on my laptop as well which I have used for smaller meetings like a Missionary training meeting. I just brought my laptop and used an Elgato Camlink-4k USB capture card with a single camera and used my iPhone with NDI (wireless) as a secondary, mobile camera on an inexpensive gimbal.

4. OBS can actually do most of what vMix can do, but it is much more difficult to setup and use. The biggest features that vMix has, besides a rock solid piece of software, is the wide support for different hardware, a great audio mixer with sub mix control, vMix guest capabilities, great title system for overlays, 4 overlay busses, great scripting capabilities. You can trial the full version of vMix for free for 60 days. I did our first production using the free version and that is when I fell in love with it. They also offer a nice NDI screen capture software making it easy to capture a Mac or PC computer screen as an input, such as PPT, etc. over the wireless network. They even give you "tally" capabilities so that a camera operator can use their smartphone to see if their camera is about to be live (in preview bus) or if they are live (program bus). This is helpful for a camera operator to know when they are "clear" to adjust their shot. Finally, there is a cool, free piece of software called vMix panel builder which will let you create a "control surface" from a touch screen device like a Surface computer or an iPad. You can create macros that will let you quickly pull up title overlays, roll to a video, etc. It is super powerful.

5. The ATEM Mini (especially the pro version) is a really great piece of hardware. One of the benefits to doing full switching in vMix is that you can preview the inputs from your cameras before switching to it. The ATEM mini pro version will let you sort of accomplish this with a special multi-view mode, while the lower cost ATEM mini version won't. vMix will let you "ISO" record your inputs....so if you are doing a live production and you switch away at the wrong time, you can fix it later in an edit because you will have all the feeds recorded. Of course, you can also press record on your camera as well, but if you are using iphones and ipads as input sources, or computer screen captures, this becomes harder to record....vMix shines here as they will record all those inputs in isolation.

All-in-all, the ATEM Mini is a great value and really gives a lot of bang for your buck. I am not advocating for wards/stakes to spend a lot of money on these capabilities. My stake did not purchase this equipment, I did with my own money because I have other needs for using it.

I use vMIX every day on my video conference calls. I have 2-3 cameras connected and feed my laptop in as an additional input, USB Microphone inputs (presonus VSL1818) with high quality mic (Audio Technica AT2035) and i have connected my Yamaha MOX8 synthesizer keyboard so I can play music over my calls for things like devotionals, etc. Working 100% remote for the past year has helped me develop a lot of these capabilities and while I did invest a fair amount of personal funds to upgrade my abilities, it has been money well spent. I do a lot of remote training and these extra capabilities give me the flexibility to make and record quality trainings for my users.

I'm still learning and trying to improve my abilities. It is amazing what a single person produced event can accomplish with these software and hardware capabilities...events that would have required a staff of several people in the past, I have been able to accomplish with just me as Technical Director, Video Player, Audio Mixer, CG and Title Coordinator, etc.

One thing I wish I could do is upgrade the lighting in my chapels....they are too dark for nice high quality recordings and my cameras have to "gain up" so much that it introduces "noise" into the image and softens the quality of the image...again, most viewers really don't care so we probably will never do anything about it, but it is a shame because we have some really nice cameras for the Stake (Panasonic AG-CX10's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkyjyEEni6E) and the low light isn't letting us maximize the quality...but oh well, good enough I guess.

If you would like to see some samples of events we have produced recently, you can visit:

https://www.benlomondstake.org/events/past

Kind of a long post, but i hope that answers some of your questions.
jviola
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Location: Bowling Green, OH 43402

Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#5

Post by jviola »

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and explain your setup. I really appreciate it. You have helped tremendously. I love the pre-conference video footage. Nice job.
russellhltn
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#6

Post by russellhltn »

I think it's worth taking a step back and asking some questions about long-term.

The guidance from church headquarters has always been to keep things simple and inexpensive. I highly doubt if we'll still be in any kind of lockdown by the end of this year. Stake conference is only twice a year. I do think that webcasting will be a permanent feature for the shut-ins. But when the church does standardize on a plan, it will probably be something like a Mevo - a single camera, "just turn it on" system.

It begs the question of if going out and buying elaborate multi-camera setups are a wise use of funds.
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spencerto
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#7

Post by spencerto »

russellhltn wrote:I think it's worth taking a step back and asking some questions about long-term.

The guidance from church headquarters has always been to keep things simple and inexpensive. I highly doubt if we'll still be in any kind of lockdown by the end of this year. Stake conference is only twice a year. I do think that webcasting will be a permanent feature for the shut-ins. But when the church does standardize on a plan, it will probably be something like a Mevo - a single camera, "just turn it on" system.

It begs the question of if going out and buying elaborate multi-camera setups are a wise use of funds.
I agree that it isn't necessary to purchase elaborate multi-camera setups...which is why if you read in my long post, I clearly state that my Stake did not purchase this equipment and software. I did, because I use it for other purposes.

The Mevo is a pretty affordable and decent camera, and if you have 3 of them (one for each building, for instance) you can combine them using NDI over the network with OBS or vMIX software and have an inexpensive multicamera shoot available.

We use a slightly easier camera (than the MEVO) with the Panasonic AG-CX10. It truly is a one button start and stop, and doesn't require extra gear like a smartphone to make it work. Additionally, it sits comfortably behind the audience as it has a real zoom lens, has XLR audio inputs so we can get good quality audio feeds. We demo'd the MEVO and the Panasonic but ultimately decided to invest in the nicer camera and we are happy we did.

To me, the most important factor is good audio. If you watch people watch TV, most are distracted on their phones, etc. and aren't watching the feed, but listening to the feed. It is far more important and critical to get the audio right.

That said, I often have this discussion of balancing "the widow's mite" vs. "the worth of a soul". When we debated how to build out our broadcast solution, we considered both of these. We decided that the quality needed to be at a level that people would tune-in, and not just at the beginning of the pandemic when it was a curiosity. We decided that if we were going to broadcast, it needed to be watchable...not Zoom, not on an Android phone looking up someone's nose at the pulpit, not some crazy complex raspberry pi setup with webcams to achieve a sub $150 solution, and goofy gooseneck adapters, etc. It also should not be distracting to the people attending in person or speaking.

I've seen some pretty hideous broadcasts and I wonder how many people just tune out or give up because it isn't worth their time to suffer through it. We have been fortunate to see steady and even growing numbers for our broadcasts throughout the pandemic. I consistently hear people thanking us and report that they are able to feel the spirit through our broadcasts. In fact, some people are attending multiple wards each week because they love the spirit it brings.

We just enjoyed the most well attended Stake Conference in the history of our Stake due to our broadcast.

Was it worth the expense. 100% yes for me.
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#8

Post by russellhltn »

I've seen some good meetings with just a single camera and good audio. The camera was well-positioned. The lighting and color balance was typical for "home" vidoes, but wasn't distracting. I find some multi-camera setups to be distracting - but that might just be me since I've dabbled in tv production so I tend to watch the "production" as much as the speaker.

I'm curious how much of the viewing growth is within the stake and how much is outside. There will always be some outside viewing as friends of the speakers drop in. (Just like in-person.) But long term, I'd expect something to come down from above that would stop any "micro-mega churches" in the making. Meaning, anyone who starting getting too much viewership from areas that belong to some other ward/branch/stake.
spencerto wrote:I agree that it isn't necessary to purchase elaborate multi-camera setups...which is why if you read in my long post, I clearly state that my Stake did not purchase this equipment and software. I did, because I use it for other purposes.
I missed that, but I wasn't trying to single you out. I'm sorry if I came across that way. I was addressing the thread as a whole. Otherwise, it's presence would encourage other units to "keep up".
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spencerto
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#9

Post by spencerto »

I would not be offended even if you did single me out. I don't believe it is necessary to go over the top with our productions. The most important factor is to make it watchable and this is by having 1) good audio (more important than good video) 2) non-distracting video and 3) ease of setup and operation.

I agree that some multicamera work is over the top and unnecessary.....I may have been guilty of that for Stake Conference....since I had real camera operators (my ward camera operators) there and felt some pressure to use their shots, TBH. I didn't have camera operators for the Missionary fireside however, so felt no pressure to switch camera views without necessary context.

I don't think wards and stake should spend excessive money on equipment and software, nor do I think they need to try to "keep up, or compete" with those who do.

I also don't believe that there is some badge of honor awarded for trying to produce the cheapest solution if it is overly complicated and/or provides a poor viewing experience.

The beauty in all of this is that the Lord has truly blessed us with technology to accomplish his work. What would have required hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and a small army to produce broadcasts in the past can now be done with a very small investment in time, bodies and money while still producing a dignified, quality event, even with a single camera. We have reaped the benefits of the Lord's help and it has been a blessing in our Stake to its members.

As in all things, we must be prudent and stick to principles that guide our decisions.
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Re: OBS vs ATEM or both?

#10

Post by russellhltn »

Along the costs, I'd also consider labor costs and making sure the talent pool is sufficiently deep to continue as people move on.
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