How our video system works
We use OBS and Zoom to simulcast our services and also allow our parishioners to participate remotely.
We have two video cameras, a PTZOptics PT20X-NDI and a HuddleCamHD Pro IP. Both cameras deliver their video (NDI/HX) over ethernet and both cameras are powered over ethernet (PoE). They have both been set up to deliver 720x1280x30Hz video and can be controlled remotely.
This is our main camera and it is very versatile; it can pan and tilt and has a 20x zoom lens. It is on a pillar at the left side of the sanctuary. It has a power switch on the back (on the base just inside the left edge). When you turn it on in will start to move through its range to test itself (please take the lens cap off before you switch it on and place it behind the camera.). It is controlled remotely.
After you have used it and if you aren’t going to use it again for a few days please turn it off and cover the lens.
HuddleCamHD Pro IP
This camera is at the front of the church on a tripod and is used primarily to record the musicians. It has a large 4K sensor and you can pan/tilt/zoom electronically across this sensor (nothing physically moves) as long as you output at a lower resolution. Because it has been set up to output 720×1280 you effectively have 3x zoom capability. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a power switch so you can just unplug the ethernet cable to turn it off.
It’s possible to use an iPhone with NewTek’s NDI|HX Camera app to turn your phone into a third camera. This gives you a very portable solution. Be sure that your phone is fully charged though.
Controlling our Cameras
Both cameras can be controlled remotely over ethernet using either the VISCA over IP protocol or via HTTP-CGI. We can do this a variety of ways:
- through OBS directly by selecting the appropriate scene
- via the PTZOptics app on the Mac
- via PTZOptics’ iPhone app
Furthermore, to simplify operation, the cameras can store preset positions to quickly and repeatedly move to the same locations (eg pulpit, musicians, etc.). Note: the OBS and the Mac app make use of the camera presets built into the camera (you can both set them and go to them) while the iPhone app uses its own presets.
At the church we use OBS to select the scene/camera position and provide a video stream to Zoom. (We use a Stream Deck to further simplify OBS usage; see further below.) The PTZOptics app is only used to set a camera preset beforehand.
Our Computer Setup
We have a Mac mini with two monitors to run OBS and Zoom. OBS runs on the main monitor and we use its Virtual Camera output to feed the video intput into Zoom, which runs on the small monitor. (The video that appears on the small screen also goes to the projector and other monitors.) OBS runs in Studio mode, with the main window going to Zoom, and we use the preview window to pre-position the second camera. Each camera preset is accessed via an OBS scene. To more conveniently control OBS we use a Elgato Stream Deck utilizing Bitfocus Companion software. By pressing one of the illuminated buttons you can easily trigger OBS scene changes.
The Zoom audio (from remote speakers) leaves the Mac through the headphone jack and goes to the soundboard. Unfortunately our Mac mini doesn’t have line input (to get audio from the soundboard to Zoom) so we use a Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 audio interface that connects to the Mac through USB. Right now the audio goes directly into Zoom though in the future it should be routed through OBS. (The video is delayed relative to the audio but this is masked (literally) by the masks people wear. OBS can provide the necessary audio delay and will be worked on in the next few weeks.)
What to do on a Sunday Morning
- turn on both cameras
- turn on the monitor for the musicians at the front of the church
- turn on the Mac (button on the back at the right corner) and the two monitors
- log into the Mac and open OBS, Companion, and PTZOptics apps (conveniently they are all at the right side of the Dock). Arrange for OBS to occupy most of the large screen and PTZOptics to one side; Companion can stay hidden.
- in OBS select Studio Mode and start Virtual Camera (both bottom right)
- open Safari an select Church Zoom on the favourites bar. It should open Zoom.
- Move zoom to the small monitor. Make sure that video input is OBS and that audio input is set to USB.
- turn on the projector (the remote is behind you on the ledge)
- The keyboard and mouse are Bluetooth and may be switched off to save their batteries.
- Sometimes the PTZOptics camera stops listening to preset changes. Pressing on a different preset usually wakes it up.
- Sometimes when Zoom starts up it doesn’t set up audio/video correctly. Double check.
- if you use the iPhone as a camera you should set it to medium bandwidth (press the settings gear on the bottom right and then press the button beside the gear). The resolution then goes down to 1080P.