In a nutshell

  • It’s possible to produce a quality livestream solo by using specialized devices and software that allow for switching visuals, integrating graphics and managing audio inputs efficiently.
  • Dedicated hardware like the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro and software solutions like Switcher Studio can simplify the process of managing multiple camera feeds and graphics without needing a crew.
  • Tools such as the OSBOT Tail Air camera can autonomously track movements, ensuring dynamic and engaging video framing for solo livestreamers who need to move around during their broadcast.

Is it possible to have a quality livestream with only a solo technician-host? Like everything in video production, a livestream is often a team effort. But what happens when your team can’t be there? You could just turn your phone around and hit the go live button, but that won’t give you the quality and consistency that many successful streamers have for their streams.

This is exactly the problem I ran into when my crew (a.k.a. my wife and daughter) went off to a conference on the other side of the country. My first reaction was just to cancel the livestream for the night or do a pre-record. However, I know that our audience loves the interaction and dynamic of the live experience. I did some research and found an app that suited my needs at the time. Since that time, I’ve found a lot of great tools that could help you livestream solo.

Making the switch

The first step in any livestream is to keep the visuals moving and changing. Often times, this means that you need some kind of switcher. This can be an app or device that allows you to change up what you and your audience sees on the stream. From my experience, Switcher Studio is a great solution. It allows you to use a phone, tablet or a combination to become your cameras. You can even use the camera on the same device that you’re switching with to be a source.

There’s also a third-party device, the Accsoon Seemo, that connects your pro camera to your phone for the same quality image. Since everything is controlled with the phone or tablet, you don’t have to run any wires.

Additionally, the app uses your device’s photos and videos, so you can import all your graphics directly. There’s even a window that allows you to see comments from your social media platform and overlay them on the screen. This is perfect for the solo operator. One drawback is that the only audio input is through the device that is switching. In other words, if you’re using an iPad as your control surface, your audio must be plugged into lighting or USB C. You can’t use one of your cameras as an audio source.

Getting the hardware

Another method for the solo livestream is using a dedicated small switching unit like the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro. A switcher allows you to switch between multiple camera feeds using one solution. In the case of the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro, it connects directly to a network via Ethernet and will go live with just a single push of a button. As for graphics, those can be brought in with a connected laptop or tablet. That means your solo setup is going to take up a larger footprint. The Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro units come in either HDMI or SDI models, so interfacing your current cameras is not an issue.

There’s also switchers that are both hardwired-based and app-based, such as the Roland AeroCaster Livestreaming System. This is a separate device that allows you to switch between multiple phones or tablets that act as cameras. It features all the features of an app but gives you a physical control surface to switch. Because it’s a Roland, it has a great audio interface and includes standard XLR inputs. Unfortunately, there’s not a way to interface a separate camera. One more device that you might consider for a solo livestream is the Atomos AtomX CAST Module for the Ninja V monitors. If you already own a Nija V or V+, the AtomX CAST makes for a great companion. It has buttons on the front for easy switching and four additional HDMI inputs in the back. The unit can be battery-operated or plugged in with a separate plug. The USB-C plug in the back can connect to a computer for streaming. This device will only work with the Ninja V monitor and can be purchased as a bundle by some retailers.

Keeping it moving

There’s one more consideration for a solo act besides switching and streaming: movement. How can you keep the camera framed and focused on you if you move around a lot? Let’s say you have a cooking show or some kind of IRL sports stream. You can just keep everything locked down on a wide shot, but there are tools for that. The OSBOT Tail Air is an AI-powered PTZ camera that will follow our every move. It is a 4K camera with a 4x zoom lens. It has a Micro-HDMI output so it can connect with the hardwired switchers mentioned previously.

The time to start streaming is now

The tools are available, and it is possible to have a quality livestream without a crew. You can add graphics and videos. You can switch camera angles and even have a camera that follows you. Perhaps the biggest adjustment that you have to make is in your own mind. It takes some practice and planning to be able to press the buttons at the same time you’re talking. The best way to get started with livestream in 2024 is to simply hit the live button and get going.