Using an Auto-Tracking Camera for Live Streaming

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This article was syndicated from our sister website Church Technology Superstore.

Auto-Tracking Cameras And Live Streaming

Auto-tracking PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras are perfect for live streaming of conferences, classes, and meetings, in part because the camera automatically moves to capture the lead person so that you don’t have to do it yourself. At one time, auto-tracking cameras weren’t very advanced and, therefore, if you used them, you lost some of the quality provided by other types of cameras. These days, that is no longer the case because of the advanced technology now included in auto-tracking PTZ cameras, meaning you can use them with confidence for a variety of live-streaming events.

How Auto-Tracking Cameras Work

Auto-tracking cameras are great for all types of events and can even be used in gaming applications. This is because many of them use a 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second (FPS), and you can get this result by using the DVI, SDI, or even USB 2.0 or 3.0, depending on the camera you’ve chosen. One of the reasons auto-tracking cameras are so successful is because they have dual lenses, which is essentially two different built-in cameras. One of these is usually a wide-angle reference camera, while the other one usually has an optical zoom of 20X or even 30X.

The way it works is simple. The camera with the wide-angle reference feature is there to capture information about the entire room, which is what you want when live-streaming an event. In addition, the software you’ll be using uses both motion tracking and facial tracking to keep the subject in the frame at all times. The cameras automatically know whether to use facial tracking or motion tracking, and one of the reasons they can do this is through factors such as movement detected close to the presenter.

More Detailed Features Make a Difference

You can usually both preset certain settings and make the adjustments you need to get the best results once the camera starts recording. If you have a medium or large meeting space, not to worry because many auto-tracking cameras can detect subjects up to 50 feet away, and the subjects still come out clearly in the recording. In fact, because of the software you’ll be using, you can fine tune all of your settings so that preferences can be recorded and, therefore, the camera can be left alone to work its magic. The fact that this is a hands-free camera once you get it all set up is a huge advantage to busy people everywhere.

Since most auto-tracking cameras are made to be compatible with both Mac computers and PCs, anyone can use them. Once you install the software, you just select that particular camera as your “primary” camera, but if you need more complicated setups, many of these cameras give you the capability to perform various video outputs, and they can even be connected via DVI, HDMI, SDI, NDI, or USB. For this reason, it is easy for you to send a video output to more than one device in your facility, including other computers, digital recorders, other PTZ cameras, and so on.

Of course, perhaps the biggest advantage of one of these auto-tracking PTZ cameras is their elimination of the need to use live operators. In fact, your production crew can operate the cameras from some type of studio, which is especially helpful to churches that have small staffs. Indeed, remote management is a huge perk when using these types of cameras, and they are perfect for both one-camera, hands-off setups to huge multi-cam setups of all sizes and types. Most of the time, a built-in ethernet connection is all you need to utilize remote management and control.

Getting Your Auto-Tracking PTZ Camera Set up and Going

Auto-tracking PTZ cameras usually offer several different outputs, including SDI, where you’ll have to adjust both the resolution and the frame rate after connecting it; DVI, where you can connect the camera to the DVI output or connect the DVI to an HDMI converter so you can run the camera through the HDMI; and a USB connection, which connects easily and quickly to the USB output feature. One important tip to remember is to follow all of the instructions found in the user manual in the right sequence, just to make sure you get everything set up properly and there are no problems afterward.

If you’re shopping for a good auto-tracking PTZ video camera for live streaming, pay attention to the following recommendations:

  • Choose a 1080p resolution, unless you have the option of a 4K.
  • Camera outputs of 60 FPS are better than those with 30 FPS.
  • There are two types of camera zooming, including digital zoom lenses, which increase the quality of the image they just enlarged; and an optical zoom lens, which is a true high-quality zoom lens.
  • If you wish to use the panning/tilting and zooming function, keep in mind that you’ll likely need a PTZ controller.

When it comes to the PTZ controllers, there are essentially two types. One is a joystick and the other is a toggle type of controller. If you decide to use any type of controller, make sure the controller you choose is compatible with your camera.

Some Final Thoughts

Auto-tracking PTZ cameras look a lot like surveillance cameras and in some ways, they do the same thing as surveillance cameras. Auto-tracking cameras are usually installed on the wall because they are meant to be permanent, and they are often enclosed in some type of case to hide the camera or to make the room more aesthetically pleasing. They are, in essence, robotic cameras because not only can you use them without a human operator, but you can also manage multiple cameras even if you are the only person to do this.

Auto-tracking cameras are also able to get very close to the subject because they can usually detect a subject up to 50 feet away. Unlike a conventional tripod, these cameras can accommodate angles and closeups that you simply can’t accommodate with a standard camera. Does this mean that these cameras can be operated without a human being to help them? No, but they are in fact robotic and, therefore, they are both flawless and can be operated with little effort on your part.

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