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What is Ideal Number of Cameras for Webcast?

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:21 pm
by jwabraham
I have had one Stake Conference and used a single camera with local operator on a tripod near the video port on the side near the back of the chapel. This was my first Webcast and the technology worked mostly OK.

There were some comments from the other buildings that the members felt that the speaker never looked at them. There were also some comments that following along with the hymns was difficult.

I am thinking about the long term configuration for future Webcast Stake Conferences and wanted to ask for comments from other stakes about what they considered the ideal number of cameras might be and where they would be mounted.

I was thinking about having one (or two) of the Sony cameras mounted on a pole that is attached to the ceiling above the accordion door between the chapel and cultural hall such the cameras were about 10 feet off the floor. Would the cameras and pole be distracting to those in the stake center? Would having the cameras mounted on the top of a volleyball pole work as well?

Another Sony camera might be at the side of the chapel near the normal video port location but mounted higher up on the wall.

A future goal might be to superimpose hymns and have an organ audio feed for those at the remote locations.

Looking for thoughts and suggestions about the number of cameras and their placement from those who have been down this road before.

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:04 pm
by michaelfish
Your thinking is the exact placement of where we have our cameras.

The main camera is in the center in the overflow and is motorized and lowers 7' out of the ceiling. This places the camera 8' off the floor above everyone's head. Right behind the camera is the motorized screen for the cultural hall which blocks the view of the camera from the back of the hall. In addition, the chapel side of the video screen is black and the camera and pole is also black so it blends in with everything.

Before the camera was mounted in the ceiling, I used a 4 square box mounted on the side of the beam above the expanding doors with the 3/4" knockouts removed. The camera was mounted to a 3/4" EMT conduit (with the wires hidden conveniently inside) and so the camera was able to be removed or attached to the 4 square box with a locknut. I ran the power, CAT5 for control and RG6 for video through the attic to the library so the wiring would be permanent. Once everything was in place, installation/removal was easy except for the fact that I had to use a tall ladder to place it there. Even though the ladder had to be used, the time to set up the camera was reduced to about 5 minutes.

For the cameras on the side (we use two), mounting is 8’ above the ground. Since the chapel is raised 18” and the average height of the speakers is 6’, the cameras give great camera angles…high enough to be above anyone’s head (standing for the intermediary hymn) and low enough so a bald headed person looking down to read his talk doesn’t blind us with his forehead.

For a more information on the motorized dropdown camera project, see Camera mounting ideas for Sony EVI-D70. The motorized camera is discussed later in the post under: "An idea for motorized retractable camera". Towards the end of page 2 you can look at some pictures of parts used, behind the scenes and pictures of the finished product.

I love sharing ideas...let me know what I can do to help.

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:45 am
by heyring
We currently use two EVI-D70 cameras that are both controlled remotely from the tech room. On camera is mounted on a custom built shelf above the left rear door of the chapel, and the other one mounted on the center volleyball pole in the cultural hall. We have a small round table with a hole cut out of the middle and the entire pole and table are covered with a black cloth one of our sisters sewed for us.

Why have more than one camera

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:21 am
by michaelfish
A single camera may be simple to operate but if you're using robotics, having more than one camera can be beneficial.

Since most speakers stand at a different height, the camera must be adjusted between speakers (and chorister).

With a single robotic camera, composing this ‘live’ camera for the new speaker/chorister is not only difficult with robotics, it is frustrating. It is also distracting to the viewer. Robotic control at 60’ away, trying to frame a 2’ x 3’ picture, is tedious and the new angles can take many seconds to compose. This is because at extreme zoom, the slightest tap on the remote controller causes movement of the camera past the point you were trying for (all while being ‘live’ during the adjustments).

Two or more cameras allows for precise composition of other camera angles while being ‘live’ on the main one. The ability to switch to a wide angle on anther camera between speakers provides time to frame the new speaker or chorister. It can also allow time for other duties such as getting a PowerPoint hymn chroma-key set up on the mixer, adjusting sound levels, etc. Since the viewer sees nothing of what you’re doing, there is no distraction.

Additional cameras can make composition of new shots easier and less frustrating. They also add professionalism to the broadcast.

Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:31 pm
by Aczlan
I agree that two cameras is better, but if you use a robotic camera with presets and you set up several shots ahead of time in the presets, it is doable.

I set up the following shots for our stake conferences:
  1. Wide shot of rostrum
  2. Close up on the pulpit (wide enough to see a 6' tall person but centered so that I can zoom in on a shorter person)
  3. Close up on Chorister (I have the chorister conduct the prelude music for a minute)
  4. Choir wide shot (the whole choir)
  5. Chapel wide shot (as much of the non-rostrum area of the chapel as I can)
  6. Special Musical number (if applicable)
Then I only have to nudge the camera (if the speaker isnt staying in the frame) to keep it on the speaker.

Would it be better with 2 cameras? Yes and we may do that someday, but for now one 6 preset robotic camera does the trick.

Aaron Z

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:54 am
by gregwanderson
I would suggest that one well-operated camera is enough. For the cost of a second camera (depending on the camera, of course) you could get a fantastic tripod with a nice, smooth fluid head and maybe even some gear to assist with on-screen titles (hymns). I like the suggestion of using pre-set shots if you're using a remote controlled camera. As others have noted, you can spend a fortune trying to solve your broadcast problems with gear or you can put lesser gear into experienced hands and solve the same problems. Ideally, you'd have plenty of money and skilled people to rival general conference. But....

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:47 pm
by michaelfish
Just a few reasons why reason our stake went for the robotic camera: 1) the borrowed camera, tripod, operator, cables, etc. was distracting 2) the operator and the equipment blocked the view from the people seated behind him, not to mention we lost 9 seats for the platform the equipment was on 3) the camera angle of the robotic camera was superior to any other camera angle that was acceptable when using a tripod and 4) one finger, 4 presses on a keypad, and 15 seconds lowers the robotic camera into place. Oh, and the cost was $550 for the camera and $150 for the parts to retract the camera into the ceiling (I will admit, there was labor to install everything, but that's done now.)

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:58 pm
by russellhltn
Well, since the title of the thread is what is the ideal number (which seem to imply that budget is not an issue), I'll say 3. One centered on the podium mounted about eye level with the speaker. And two more, each to the left and right of the podium about 30 from center (as viewed from the podium). That seems to be what I remember from past general conferences.

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:56 pm
by Aczlan
michaelfish wrote:Oh, and the cost was $550 for the camera and $150 for the parts to retract the camera into the ceiling (I will admit, there was labor to install everything, but that's done now.)

What camera did you get for $550?

Aaron Z

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:36 pm
by michaelfish