Multi-camera video for Racquetball streaming 2020 edition

I recently broadcast a day’s worth of racquetball at a shootout in Huntington Beach, California. I got a lot of questions from the players onsite as well as some on social media about what exactly my setup was. Here it is, with links to where you can get it.

1) Hardware encoder streamer – YoloBox by YoloLIV

2) Two Camcorders – Sony FDR-AX43(Sony’s official page)

3) Backup batteries and charger for the camcorders

4) Two Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripods mounted in tool case foam, in a undershelf basket tied to the light poles with 21″ Tarp Straps

5) A Wireless Headset Kit running into one of the cameras to keep the audio in sync with the video

6) Two mini-HDMI to HDMI adapters

7) Two 25′ HDMI 4K cables

8) A portable power station, to recharge the YoloBox and the camera batteries

As a backup, I had 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phones which I have broadcast with in the past, with Filmic Pro (for clean HDMI output) and USB C to HDMI convertors in case the video quality was poor or if the power solution didn’t work out.

Here is one of the example videos:

Posted by JT R Ball on Saturday, November 21, 2020

Problems with this particular setup:

1) The scoreboard provided by the YoloBox has a ridiculously small character limit for team names. Ten characters. I will consider using and modifying the built-in overlays instead, in the future. There is an option for displaying a team graphic, which would be good if you were broadcasting one match, and you knew the teams in advance. It doesn’t work for a racquetball tournament, where any match can get assigned to the broadcast court.

2) The YoloBox doesn’t take the local name and description into the Facebook post. So all the typing I did for the location and event and players had to be repeated on the Facebook posts if I wanted it there. Since it wasn’t getting transferred, I stopped adding that info to the YoloBox interface.

3) The YoloBox requires you to setup and select every option on every broadcast. On most of the broadcasts, the audio was way too high, because it kept getting reset when a new stream started. Steps to start broadcasting the next match:

  1. Name the broadcast locally
  2. Tap back into that new broadcast placeholder
  3. Enable the overlay, this did stick between broadcasts, so I didn’t have to retype the overlay once it was created.
  4. Enable the platform (i.e. choose the pre-setup FB or YouTube option), then choose Public. This was a significant problem, as the device is advertised (and has menu options for) broadcasting to a Facebook page, but only the personal timeline was available on the day of the event. Perhaps a FB change behind the scenes, but this is a dealbreaker for anyone needing to promote a specific FB page with their broadcasts. {Removing the FB account from the Yolobox and then re-adding it appears to have resolved the issue for now. Definitely build some time into your setup schedule to complete this part.}
  5. Change the audio to HDMI 1 and 15% (any higher fuzzed me out and you heard my breathing)
  6. Add the SD Card and the promo video as a video source to run at the end. I also had videos setup for timeouts, and to run between games, but the shootout was using 1 game per matchup, so they didn’t get used.
  7. Reset the scoreboard to 0 for both teams.
  8. Set team 1’s name (10 characters) and then team 2’s name
  9. Change the logos for each player or team
  10. Turn on the scoreboard display, move it to the desired location, and tap off of it.

4) The wireless microphone / receiver setup ran out of battery power, and since the batteries are built in instead of replaceable, the commentary stopped when the receiver battery died. Since I didn’t figure out that this was the problem, I didn’t recharge the receiver even though there was a second microphone charged and available, and a USB power bank available to sit in the box with the camera and the microphone receiver. I did get about 4 hours out of the charges, so for a shorter event, or for someone monitoring the audio from the broadcasts that could have figured that out and connected the USB charger, I will still be using it going forward.

If I were to put any more money into the current setup, it would be to add 2 more portable power stations so that the cameras (and the microphone receiver) could be plugged into that external power to supplement their batteries.

Things that I would have done differently if all of the events that I were going to broadcast were indoors (i.e. had wired internet and had power for a better encoder and a computer):

1) Hardware encoder streamer – Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro. This would allow 4 HDMI inputs instead of 2. The pro version can also do the streaming, taking all of that work off of the laptop. Then you would need a tool like H2R graphics for the scoreboard, which I would use if my budget kept me away from vMix and an appropriate laptop.

2) vMix software – Free 60-day trial download here. This would allow more control over the audio settings being consistent (instead of having to remember to turn them down on every single new match) and more control over the scoreboard, without the ridiculously tiny character limit for team names (10). This combination of ATEM Mini Pro and vMix does require a completely different laptop than I currently own, but would be a worthwhile investment if planning to broadcast 10-12 tournaments per year.

3) I would probably go with wired microphones in an indoor setup, but I would still run them through the cameras for the best sync of audio and video.

What would you want to know about this setup or the results that I didn’t address?
Contact me and let me know!