When it comes to streaming setups, you need something that goes straight to the point. In this article, you will find some ideas to configure a minimal live streaming setup to stream your live performances in high video quality alongside your favorite VJ loops.
Option 1: Webcam via USB
We may have a great laptop, but the built-in webcam always sucks. We can also buy an external webcam, but most of these leave a lot to be desired. In this case, to be safe, it is best to use one of the following Logitech models:
- Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam (80 USD)
- Logitech StreamCam (175 USD)
- Logitech Brio 4K Webcam (200 USD)
In both cases, the results are excellent, managing to keep the audience's attention through his entire mix shows. You will find more information about this and other artists below so that you can get inspired in planning your live stream setup.
Less than 200 USD.
A webcam has a small sensor and a low dynamic range. It results in less sharp images and underperformance in low-light conditions. In short, look for a sensor size greater than or equal to 1/3" (5 mm) and do not invest more than 200 USD in a webcam.
Option 2: Camcorder or DSLR via HDMI
The sensor of a Logitech C920 (5 mm) or an iPhone 12 Pro Max (9 mm) is not comparable to an APS-C sensor (28 mm) or a Full-frame (43 mm). Even if it is difficult to tell the difference in a small display, a bigger sensor guarantees a higher quality on any output display. You will also have a higher dynamic range, so low light conditions will not be a concern.
When you connect the HDMI cable from your camera to your laptop, you may realize that the HDMI input does not exist, but do not worry. It happens that few laptops have a built-in one. You can solve this issue with one of the following compact capture devices:
- Elgato Cam Link 4K
- Megawell USB Capture HDMI Gen 2
Starting at 850 USD.
Before buying a camera or a capture device, verify that everything is compatible. In the case of the Cam Link 4K, Elgato offers a detailed list of compatible cameras. It is also important to remember that the main advantage of a camcorder or a DSLR is that you can use it for other things apart from live-streaming.
Option 3: Smartphone via NDI
You can use your smartphone as a high-quality 'webcam' on your PC. It is possible thanks to the NDI video protocol. In the case of smartphones, it is always advisable to see the size of the rear camera sensor before making a decision on which one to buy. In this sense, the GSMArena comparison tool is helpful. It is also a good idea to look for a sensor with a diagonal size greater than 1/2.0" (8 mm).
If you wonder what kind of mobiles have this kind of sensors, it is mainly the high-end ones. Here are three that can serve as a reference:
- iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera Sensor Size: 1/1.8" (9 mm)
- Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro Camera Sensor Size: 1/1.33" (12 mm)
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Camera Sensor Size: 1/1.12" (14 mm)
It does not mean that you cannot use a mid-range smartphone. It all depends on your goals and budget.
The next step is to download an app to share the video signal through the network where you are connected. If your PC is in the same network, you can use the video in OBS, and next, stream it on a platform like Twitch or YouTube Live.
The apps with the best reviews by users are the following ones:
- Camera for OBS Studio (iPhone)
- EpocCam Webcam for Mac and PC (iPhone)
- iVCam Webcam (Android / iPhone)
- IP Webcam (Android)
Approximately 1,200 USD.
In the case of high-end smartphones, by buying an earlier model, you could save up to 50%. If a 2mm difference isn't worth 600 USD to you, you'd better wait for at least a 30% drop, or if you're in a rush, buy the previous model.
Why Not Just Use an NDI Camera?
An NDI camera is an excellent investment if your goal will be to live-stream conferences, religious services, or amateur sporting events. You can connect several of these cameras to a router and set up a multi-camera studio for your client for a relatively low budget. Many of these are PTZ or Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras, and their parameters are remotely controllable. AViPAS, Lumens, and PTZ Optics are some of the leading manufacturers. Prices range from 600 USD to 2,400 USD per unit.
Some VJ software alternatives give the option of sharing their outputs through the NDI protocol. This way, you can use your visuals or VJ loops generated in Resolume as a background in OBS when working with the Chroma Key filter.
There is another alternative for those DJs who use Scratch Live, Serato DJ, or Serato DJ Pro: MixEmergency. This software allows a DJ to assign VJ loops to the decks on his mixer and control effects and other visual parameters directly from the mixer. Also, if you are very focused on mixing music and forget to assign a VJ loop to a specific track, MixEmergency takes care of it for you. It is the method used by DJ Beneficial and other professional artists, so the Serato-MixEmergency is a highly recommended integration if you are a DVJ looking for great results. Just imagine being able to scratch a VJ clip through the turntable.
The price range is 5-40 USD per VJ loop. It depends on what store you choose. For more information, read which are 10 Best Websites to Download VJ Loops.
When choosing a good GPU, do not think twice, avoid integrated GPUs, and go for an NVIDIA or an AMD GPU. Your VJ software will thank you.
If you are a professional DJ, you can skip this part, otherwise keep reading. Regardless of the video tool you choose, you will need to guarantee something more crucial than video: audio. Mainly, a good microphone. In this sense, you have two options:
XLR Microphone + Audio Interface
If you have different types of microphones and musical instruments, this is still the most suitable option. It is good to check out what the following brands offer and look for the microphone and audio interface that best suit your needs:
- Microphone: Rode, Shure.
- Audio interface: Behringer, M-Audio.
If you need a microphone just for voice-over, a good USB condenser mic will do the job. There are many brands, but you can take the model used by DJ Beneficial as a reference. It is a HyperX QuadCast S with a pop filter, an anti-vibration shock mount, and a four-polar patterns selector. The Elgato company also offers two options especially designed for live streaming: the Wave:1' and the 'Wave:3'.
Starting at 150 USD.
Don't skimp when it comes to your mic. Remember that poor audio affects much more than poor video quality.
The green screen presents a problem: you will need several light sources to be able to correctly illuminate your figure, get rid of shadows, and not look like you just woke up:
- Key Light & Fill Light: two lights to illuminate your figure correctly
- Back Light: a light to separate your figure from the background
This type of setup in a two-hour mix show will not only make you sweat but can also overheat your lighting equipment. LED light panels can be an ally in this regard, but keep in mind that their cost is much higher than CFL light bulbs.
Remember, a poorly made chroma key can do more harm than an empty background. Therefore, before purchasing a complete lighting kit, check out the option below.
With a projector, you can easily create a club atmosphere by projecting your VJ loops onto a projection screen. Starting at 500 USD, you can find good options. Many unknown brands offer projectors under 100 USD, but remember, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
If you compare parameters such as resolution, lumens, and contrast ratio, you will see why you should choose brands like BenQ, Optoma, or EPSON over unknown brands. You will also need a projector screen or a white wall. The size should fit the angle of view of your camera.
Another parameter to take into account, especially in small spaces, is the projector's throw. Projectors generally need to keep some distance away from the projection surface so that the projected image area is large enough. In a small space, such as a room, getting away as necessary is practically impossible. Therefore, in such cases, you will need a short-throw projector.
For example, you will see a short-throw projector in action during all the Bombtraxx label mix shows. Henry D., label founder & DJ, uses an Optoma GT5600 Ultra Short Throw (1,200 USD). VJ Galaxy's VJ loops have had the privilege to appear in his projections, and the results are exquisite. In a few words, an image definition that keeps his Twitch channel growing.
It is a free option when you already have VJ software that allows you to share your VJ loops via NDI or when you decide to import your visuals as Media Sources in OBS. Then, you only have to switch between different scenes: a scene with you mixing and another with your VJ loops playing.
Free or more than 500 USD.
Putting All Together
Everything will need to pass through OBS in the form of sources so you can live-stream it. If you are looking for a better user experience, you can use an alternative software called Streamlabs OBS: same code, more facilities. From the options you've seen, these are the OBS sources you'll probably need:
- Video Capture Device: This source will allow you to use the video from your webcam, camcorder, or DSLR.
- NDI Source: This source will allow you to live-stream the captured video from your mobile, PTZ camera, or VJ loops from VJ software such as Resolume. To have this source available, you will need the obs-ndi plugin. For more details, check out the video tutorial about Live-Stream with OBS and Resolume.
- Audio Input Capture: With this source, you can live-stream the captured audio from your USB microphone or audio interface.
- Media Source: If you want to import your VJ loops directly into OBS, without the need for any VJ software, use the Media Source.
- Chroma Key Filter: If you opt for the green screen, this is your filter.