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Live Streaming Hardware

How to Add Live Stream Production Elements Without a Video Switcher

In this post we will cover how to add basic production elements like a second camera, a presentation, or graphic overlays without a video switcher. It's part of our series on how to start live streaming.

Some organizations live stream their events from a phone. Some use one camera setups. Others have entire AV production teams with multi-cam setups worth tens of thousands of dollars. There's an entire spectrum of production options.

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This graphic obviously is an extreme oversimplification. There are endless levels and variations of live stream set ups.

In this post, we'll be covering your options for a broadcast that falls between the single camera and the multi-camera production. You'll find this useful if you're looking to add minor production elements (a second camera, a presentation feed, or basic graphics) to your live broadcast without investing in the equipment for full production.

If you're looking for something simpler than that, you might want to check out the BoxCaster. If you're looking to expand to a bigger production, start here. Otherwise, read on!

It's a pretty common question we get:

"We need to add ____ to our broadcast, but buying a video switcher seems like overkill."

There are several different ways to bring in simple production elements without a switcher.

However, it's also worth noting that switchers are simpler and cheaper than ever before. If you're looking to bring in more than one of these production elements, we'd recommend at least looking into beginner level video switcher options.


How to Add a Second Camera Angle without a Switcher

If you want to add a second camera and only need the ability to switch between the two and do nothing else, there is another, cheaper option to a full video switcher: an HDMI switch.

HDMI switches allow you to take in HDMI feeds from multiple sources and switch back and forth between the feeds. They have a single HDMI output that you can feed into your live streaming encoder (like the BoxCaster).

Before buying one of these, there are a few important limitations and caveats of these devices to keep in mind:

  1. They are not nearly as robust as full video switchers. They take more effort and patience.
  2. You'll need to have cameras that can specify exact resolution outputs as those will have to match when fed into the switch.
  3. Sometimes, there can be a short delay during the switch over. This will create a poor viewer experience if you are planning on switching a lot between the two feeds.

Use HDMI switches at your own risk. You can purchase HDMI switches for between $5 - $50. Yes, they can work and can be much less expensive than the cheapest video switchers that will run you $600-$1000. But, they are also less powerful and more finicky devices.

The best scenario for these are if you plan on using two cameras, and switching between them only a couple of times during the length of the broadcast.

You can search through HDMI switches here.


How to Add a Presentation without a Switcher

Sometimes you might want to add a presentation to your one-camera broadcast. Perhaps you have a speaker and need to show both the speaker and the speaker's presentation.

Sometimes broadcasters decide to zoom in on the presentation with the one camera they already have. Sometimes they decide to upload the presentation as a PDF for viewers to keep open beside the live stream. Both of these scenarios eliminate any need to add production elements.

However, if neither of these options for integrating presentations work for you, you can still add a presentation to the stream without a full switcher.

Using a tool like ProPresenter, you can bring a slide deck or other presentation into your live stream. In this workflow, you would need to add a video capture card to bring your camera feed into your computer to mix it with the ProPresenter software.

Here's how that would look.


How to Add Basic Graphic Overlays without a Switcher

If you want to add simple graphic overlays to your live stream without a switcher, you can do so using BoxCast's Graphic Overlays tool or (Scoreboard Overlays if you're a sports organization looking to integrate your scoreboard.

The feature allows you to add production value and enhance the viewer experience of your broadcast without a full video switcher. You can add a logo or watermark to the corner of your broadcast or insert the name of a speaker with a lower thirds graphic. Overlays can be a great way to recognize sponsors, promote upcoming activities, or feature basic advertisements.


Final Thoughts + Further Reading

So yes, there are ways to add production value to a simple live stream without a video switcher. However, as you level up your live stream, a simple switcher will definitely be a worthwhile investment. Here are a few more posts along those lines that you might find interesting:

What is a Video Switcher (Mixer)?

The Best Video Switchers for Beginners

How to Add Lower Thirds to Your Live Stream