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  1. Member
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    Hey guys!! I'm very new here, so please bear with me in case I'm posting this in the wrong place or I'm making any rookie mistakes!

    I was wondering about something - I am trying to connect 3 cameras to my computer in order to work as a teacher in an online education facility, but the software these people are offering only allows for one device to be connected during one session, and I'd really like to be able to switch between angles, since I already have 3 cameras at my disposal anyway...

    What is the cheapest / easiest way to connect all three cameras to a computer (so that they show up as one device)?

    I was thinking of a video switcher with a remote control, but unfortunately, the cheapest stuff I have been able to find would dig a hole of about $600 into my pocket, which is more than what the cameras themselves costed, ages ago, when I bought them

    All 3 cameras have a mini-HDMI output, so I suppose that anything with an HDMI input (edit: I mean 3 HDMI inputs, since there're 3 cams!) would work...

    Anybody can help me with this, or please move this thread in its right forum, in case I've posted it in the wrong place?

    I'd really appreciate any help on this one!!

    Edit / PS: These are not webcams (they're basic Sony handycams), so I can't plug them straight into my USB port... and even if I could, they still wouldn't show up as one device, so I'm afraid that wouldn't help much...
    Last edited by mircmirc; 28th Sep 2014 at 18:50.
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  2. If you just mechanically switch HDMI cameras you'll get glitches with each switch. The software may even get confused and crash. You need a seamless HDMI switch. Even with analog cameras you need a genlock to prevent loss of sync when switching between cameras.

    Maybe this: http://www.kvmswitchtech.com/3-port-hdmi-switch-3d-ready-with-remote-control-p48326.htm
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    I understand... is there any solution that you might be able to recommend me to get past that?? Thanks so much your reply, BTW!
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  4. I added an example to my last post. This isn't my area of expertise but the $87 device claims to offer seamless switching.
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    Woww, thanks a lot for that!!!

    From this demo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioz8srelhQ0 it seems that it takes an average of 4-6 seconds though for the switch to take place... do you know if there is any device available that is able to perform the switch faster?

    (I realize this is not your area of expertise, and thanks a lot for suggesting this in the first place!! if you or anyone else has any ideas, please do feel free to jump in!! )
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  6. How can they call that seamless?! Sorry. I guess there's a reason the true seamless switches are so expensive. They have to have three (really six for double buffering) frame buffers and switch between them on request.

    Hopefully someone with direct experience will step in with a suggestion.
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  7. So your laptop has an HDMI input, is that a built-in port or through an external device? AFAIK, the HDMI port on laptops is only an output and HDMI capture devices are rather pricey; just sayin' check your inputs. I see lots of HDMI switchers on ebay, this is the cheapest.

    It's likely your camcorders have a firewire (iLink) or A/V out (RCA) connector, then you could use a selector (check ebay) to send the video to the laptop's input. The simplest would be firewire if your laptop has it, otherwise you'll need a USB video capture device. Make sure their drivers support streaming video.
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    @jagabo: yeah, good question... I don't know how they can call it that, either!! Damn vendors and their exaggerations! :P

    @nic2k4: oh it's not a laptop, but a good old desktop PC! I've got a capture card on it, one that does have an HDMI input! The cams do have an RCA connector, so I suppose I could use a selector... but the question remains, will that truly work seamlessly (or at least, more seamlessly than all these HDMI switchers I've been checking out so far)?

    Do you know where I can check out any demo of these selectors, so that I can see how long it takes for the switch to actually take place?

    Also, what kind of output do these selectors have?
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  9. Selectors always output the same signal as the inputs. Switching glitch is a good point. Maybe you can use ManyCam, it supports multiple inputs and can add transitions when switching source. Your other software sees it as a webcam. If your camcorders can stream through the USB port (act as webcams) that would simplify your setup, though you may need someone to do the switching for you. Just contact their support to see what they think.
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    Originally Posted by mircmirc View Post
    @jagabo: yeah, good question... I don't know how they can call it that, either!! Damn vendors and their exaggerations! :P

    @nic2k4: oh it's not a laptop, but a good old desktop PC! I've got a capture card on it, one that does have an HDMI input! The cams do have an RCA connector, so I suppose I could use a selector... but the question remains, will that truly work seamlessly (or at least, more seamlessly than all these HDMI switchers I've been checking out so far)?

    Do you know where I can check out any demo of these selectors, so that I can see how long it takes for the switch to actually take place?

    Also, what kind of output do these selectors have?
    nic2k4's suggeastion isn't a seamless switcher. It is a normal HDMI switch. It would be fine if you had a game console, a DVD player, and a Blu-ray player but only one HDMI port on your TV to use with them, but it is not going to be good enough for switching between cameras while conducting a class.
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  11. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Production switching & crossfading isn't cheap. When done correctly (w/ genlock/tri-level sync) it takes less smarts, but then you have to have MUCH, MUCH better cameras. When done without genlock/trilevel, the device has to have frame-syncs onboard to fix & match the timing, otherwise you have glitches/corruption, delays, and/or loss of signal. Six of one, half dozen of the other. No pain, no gain.

    I'm guessing the cheapest you will find would be old, used analog composite ones from For-A or Newtek (video toaster). As old as they are, you couldn't guarantee good performance. Nowadays, many people are using Newtek Tricasters & Octa-faders (usually using VGA, DVI & HDMI) to do ground-floor pro switching/fading. Real switcher/fader/mixer/ADOs etc. are still $$$$.

    Does it have to be a live switch? Not pre-edited?

    Scott
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    Wow, thank you so much, everyone, for all your help here!! This is really appreciated!!

    Originally Posted by nic2k4 View Post
    Selectors always output the same signal as the inputs. Switching glitch is a good point. Maybe you can use ManyCam, it supports multiple inputs and can add transitions when switching source. Your other software sees it as a webcam. If your camcorders can stream through the USB port (act as webcams) that would simplify your setup, though you may need someone to do the switching for you. Just contact their support to see what they think.
    Oh, that's very interesting! Do you mean that a software like ManyCam would be able to help me do the switch more seamlessly? Or do you mean that it would just fill in the black seconds with a transition to distract the user on the other side? If it's the former you're talking about, then that might be a very good solution.

    How can I check if my camcorders can stream through the USB port? I have 3 Sony HDR-CX220E...

    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    nic2k4's suggeastion isn't a seamless switcher. It is a normal HDMI switch. It would be fine if you had a game console, a DVD player, and a Blu-ray player but only one HDMI port on your TV to use with them, but it is not going to be good enough for switching between cameras while conducting a class.
    I understand And I'm guessing the reason for that would be that the switch won't happen smoothly enough, right?

    Originally Posted by Cornucopia View Post
    Production switching & crossfading isn't cheap. When done correctly (w/ genlock/tri-level sync) it takes less smarts, but then you have to have MUCH, MUCH better cameras. When done without genlock/trilevel, the device has to have frame-syncs onboard to fix & match the timing, otherwise you have glitches/corruption, delays, and/or loss of signal. Six of one, half dozen of the other. No pain, no gain.

    I'm guessing the cheapest you will find would be old, used analog composite ones from For-A or Newtek (video toaster). As old as they are, you couldn't guarantee good performance. Nowadays, many people are using Newtek Tricasters & Octa-faders (usually using VGA, DVI & HDMI) to do ground-floor pro switching/fading. Real switcher/fader/mixer/ADOs etc. are still $$$$.

    Does it have to be a live switch? Not pre-edited?

    Scott
    Oh man, that's discouraging! Yes, it has to be a live switch... because I would be conducting a live online lesson, so the purpose is not to produce a good final video, but to teach those people in real time. So unless I learn to see into the future , yes, it will need to be live.

    By "composite ones" you mean a switcher using the composite input, right? Which I guess I could connect to using some sort of adapter at other the end of a cable coming out of the RCA output of my cameras?
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  13. I thought about mentioning software solutions but you still have the issue of getting three HDMI signals into the computer. HDMI capture devices run about $100 to $200 and you'll need three of them. Then there's the issue of whether or not the switching software works with the particular HDMI capture device/drivers. And you'll need a computer strong enough to handle three simultaneous HDMI caps.

    Keep in mind that composite PAL video has an effective resolution of a blurry 640x576. I don't know if that's sufficient for your needs.

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/283861-VGA-to-S-video?p=1756748&viewfull=1#post1756748
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    I thought about mentioning software solutions but you still have the issue of getting three HDMI signals into the computer. HDMI capture devices run about $100 to $200 and you'll need three of them. Then there's the issue of whether or not the switching software works with the particular HDMI capture device/drivers. And you'll need a computer strong enough to handle three simultaneous HDMI caps.
    Ohh, that is VERY interesting!! I HAVE got access to three capture cards actually - 3 Blackmagic DeckLink Mini Recorder cards https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/decklink/techspecs/W-DLK-06 !! Though they wouldn't belong to me, I actually have virtually unlimited access to those!!

    What switching software do you think would work with these??

    (also, what kind of specs would I need?? The computer I'm using has an i7-4770 3.40-3.9 GHz processor and 4 Gb DDR3 RAM - do you think that would be enough?)

    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Keep in mind that composite PAL video has an effective resolution of a blurry 640x576. I don't know if that's sufficient for your needs.

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/283861-VGA-to-S-video?p=1756748&viewfull=1#post1756748
    Oh, that would indeed be a pity, considering that the camcorders I'm using would be capable of recording in up to HD quality!
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  15. Originally Posted by mircmirc View Post
    Do you mean that a software like ManyCam would be able to help me do the switch more seamlessly? Or do you mean that it would just fill in the black seconds with a transition to distract the user on the other side?
    I just mean that it can do transitions and it looks like you create a preset for each A/V source and just click that to select it. The problem is it would be distracting for your students if you have to look down at the PC every time you switch camera hence the switching assistant. Can your camcorder be used like a webcam when connected through USB? If they can that will simplify the whole setup as the PC wouldn't have to capture anything.
    Last edited by nic2k4; 29th Sep 2014 at 22:50.
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  16. Member
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    Originally Posted by nic2k4 View Post
    Originally Posted by mircmirc View Post
    Do you mean that a software like ManyCam would be able to help me do the switch more seamlessly? Or do you mean that it would just fill in the black seconds with a transition to distract the user on the other side?
    I just mean that it can do transitions and it looks like you create a preset for each A/V source and just click that to select it. The problem is it would be distracting for your students if you have to look down at the PC every time you switch camera hence the switching assistant. Can your camcorder be used like a webcam when connected through USB? If they can that will simplify the whole setup as the PC wouldn't have to capture anything.
    I understand!! Do you think that this freeware software is reliable enough for this kind of job?

    I don't know if my camcorder can be used like a webcam when connected through USB... I would have to check!
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  17. The source switching is only available in the paid for Pro version. As for reliability, that may be more dependent on the hardware/drivers. You would get better answers from their helpdesk.
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    Once again thank you so much, to everyone who replied to this!!

    The people from ManyCam got back to me though, and told me that they don't support video capture cards... and my cameras can't stream straight through USB.

    Do you know of any other software that can make something like this work?

    Or do you know of any sort of hardware solution to make it possible for a camera like mine (Sony HDR-CX220e) to stream through USB even though they don't officially support that functionality?
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  19. You can check software like vMix, wirecast, vidblaster and OBS (free).
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  20. I am working with Streamstar and i like it. It has easy replay system included.
    We have more devices from them, you can also buy software only.
    http://www.streamstar.com or http://blog.streamstar.com
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