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Live Streaming Equipment and Controls

This is less of a Panopto-specific question, but we'll be using Panopto webcast with what we eventually get. We'd like to purchase equipment/software to be able to control multiple A/V sources for live-streaming. For example, if we have multiple cameras set up we want to be able to control which camera is showing at any given time. We also want to be able to display things like screen-capture. Anyone have ideas for what would work?


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    Darren RichardsDarren Richards Whiz Kid
    edited March 2021

    Hi James,

    Great question-- I think I can provide you with some insights here!

    So, Panopto webcasting can be done in 2 ways: One, using Panopto's own desktop tool (Panopto for Window/Mac)... or two, using most RTMP-capable streaming tools. For this functionality, I would recommend going with an RTMP-capable tool. And for this, I would recommend starting out with an open-sourced tool called OBS.

    With OBS, you can call up a number of different input sources: your screen, a webcam, an HDMI video input, a webpage, etc.

    OBS will support the 'switching' functionality... but some folks may tend/prefer to get a dedicated hardware switcher to support with that. Why? Primarily because there are physical buttons that you can just click... much easier than using your mouse.

    So, now that you've got the 'switching' taken care of... in addition with the RTMP stream support... you'll next want to sort out how you will get your cameras "into" your computer. And for this, typically, you'll use something called a Video Capture Card. Panopto officially supports this one from Magewell. I've used it and was happy with it.

    Finally, you'll want to make sure that your computer can handle all of this. You'll need a pretty powerful one depending on how many cameras you're using. Which brings me to the final point - this is probably one of the biggest determinants you'll find when deciding "software" versus "hardware. For example, some video switchers will take all of your camera inputs on their own- without needing to connect them all to your computer. Some video switchers also support RTMP streaming built-in.... so in those cases, you may not need to rely on a computer so much. Or, you may just use the video switcher to handle all the inputs... but then send the one output to OBS on your computer, so that you don't need to invest more money into a computer.

    My recommendation- start out with software. Build out your proof of concept... and then when you're comfortable and have more information, you can venture out into purchasing more expensive hardware.

    I hope that wasn't too overwhelming. This is just my perspective and from my experience. Others may have some different approaches!

    Happy to clarify anything along the way.

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    Thank you Darren. This is very helpful to get us started. I appreciate it!

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    I concur with Darren, if you want to dynamically control of the cameras and different scenes, then OBS is the way to go. We use Epiphian remote recorder devices that support two video sources (desktop capture and a video camera focus on the whiteboard) There are several remote recording vendors that support two or four video sources - just need to get one that works with your video management system (in our case, Panopto.) The recorder sends the recording to Panopto and Panopto creates the web view of the session with the primary video and secondary desktop area. However, the teacher can switch the secondary source during the recording session so it can show the desktop, a document camera or even a laptop screen).

    We also use Panopto distributed recording in some classes - the professor brings his/her laptop and launches Panopto recorder and join the Epiphian remote recording session to add a second camera (as a secondary video source). We have an OBSBot Tiny webcam that tracks the professor as he/she moves in front of the classroom. We have had minor issues with it due to a bug in Panopto end, but they are issuing a fix for this in the next patch.

    Good luck

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