There are loads of ways to live stream, but we are going to keep it simple today. Our goal is to give you the cheapest way to stream with two cameras, screen sharing and an upgraded audio input. This will allow you to have a main camera, another camera for a cutaway or separate angle and the ability to screen share for either showing a program, slides or a video. You’ll also get an audio input for a microphone. The final cost of $140 is an easy investment to take your live stream from amateur to pro.

The switcher

The cheapest way to control multiple inputs is via a software switcher. Good enough too, because there is a great free option: Streamlabs OBS. It’s open-source and works well. It doesn’t require a deep understanding to operate it, and it’s simple to set up. What’s cheaper than free? Nothing, so we’re off to a great start. Plus, within OBS, you can choose to share your screen and computer audio. This will allow any presentation to play video or show images or programs in action. Additionally, OBS can also encode your stream and send it to wherever you will be streaming, be it Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, or any site using the RMPT protocol.

Camera one

The first camera is going to be a built-in webcam on your computer. This will be the main camera, shooting the subject: You! This is a great place to start because it’s not an added cost. To get the image to look its best, optimize the lighting using three-point lighting. Make sure to read our article on three-point lighting to get a better grasp on this fundamental lighting setup. Video lighting can be expensive so utilize the natural light in the room if you can.

Camera two

The second camera is when this set up can get a bit tricky, you will need a way of getting an external camera into the computer. HDMI is the standard for video output these days, so make sure whatever camera you use, it has an HDMI output. This HDMI output will then need to get into the computer. Unfortunately, the HDMI port on most computers is only a one-way port for outputting video — it’s not an input. To connect an HDMI input to your computer, you’ll need an I/O device.

This is where you are investing your money; this one tool will take the HDMI output from your camera and convert it to a USB camera input using the USB webcam protocol. Within OBS, it will show up as a webcam — don’t worry, OBS will allow for multiple webcams to be used at the same time.

There are loads of choices when it comes to HDMI to USB converters. However, for the best price, choose the IOGEAR HDMI to USB type-C video capture adapter for just $100. Supporting up to 1080p and using either USB-C or USB 2.0 with USB Type-A (the typical square USB), it doesn’t need to have power outside of what it draws over USB, so no messy cables.

We would not recommend doing this for more than one input, so if you want to add more cameras to your stream, consider adding an internal HDMI capture card to your PC or investing in an external switcher. You can learn more about these options in our live streaming gear guide.

Audio input

There are so many USB audio input devices. You can use a USB microphone or any other device that will act as a USB input device. In fact, you can even use the microphone input your computer already has. For instance, you could use a gaming headset with a built-in mic.

At some point, however, you may need to convert an XLR cable to another input type depending on the microphone you have available. And if you want to input a condenser microphone, you will need phantom power. In that case, the Polsen XLR-USB-48 is a great choice for an audio input device, it has controls of the input gain, allows for phantom power and will set you back just $40.

Is $140 worth it?

Sure, the $140 doesn’t include tax or shipping, but being able to have a multicamera stream with the ability to play video and have better than typical audio is well worth the small investment. The only issue with this set up is that to take it to the next level, the cost will quickly balloon. Make sure to use proper technique with your production tools and test before each stream. That way, you can be sure your stream will be great!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Chris,

    Please consider the free version of Cinamaker Director Pad Studio. It allows 2 iphones as cameras, media engine, audio mixing, editing and more with no watermark or time limits. Plus you can learn it in about 10% of the time it takes to learn OBS.

    Benjamin

  2. With all the issues related to bandwidth, and the cost involved with starting from scratch….I’ve wondered if going standard def would get the job done for many people. Got an old laptop, or workstation with a firewire port? Got An older DV camera laying around? Audio into the camera, camera into the PC by firewire….Bob’s yer uncle. Seems like some FB & Youtube streams come through with the bandwidth reduced way down anyway. Has anyone tried this? Might it not be better to have barely compressed 480p than 1080p with half its data thrown away…..?

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