The Budget-Friendly Cinematic Live Streaming Kit (2020)

The Budget-Friendly Cinematic Live Streaming Kit (2020)

Updated

Do you dream in bokeh?

Is 24p your love language?

But...

You lack the Hollywood budget?

Have no fear...

This is a list of everything I recommend to create a cinematic looking live production without breaking the bank.

In this list you'll find:

But first, some expectations...

Not Your Father's Production

This package doesn't wear a fresh pressed suit and tie to a 9-to-5.

It rides a unicycle.

It brews its own kombucha in reclaimed oak barrels.

It joins pyramid schemes that build from the bottom up.

It wrote its thesis on why focus is a rule made to be broken.

Nay...

This package belongs in the Criterion Collection!

Therefore, it's important to understand a few things.

What Makes Something 'Cinematic'?

The cinematic look is a sum of many parts.

Many will say a shallow depth of field and 24 fps is all it takes.

Maybe. But...

I would say there are more things involved:

Lighting can make or break the shot. Creating a cinematic look starts with the light. Working on your lighting will go a long way to achieving a look you want.

Camera movement creates a more dramatic and compelling product. Handhelds, dollies, sliders, and stabilizers keep things interesting. Don't expect putting all the cameras on tripods to get you cinematic results.

More dynamic range means more details in shadows and highlights, which gives you creative freedom to paint a more customized and creative look.

Composition helps tell a story and guide the viewer. Being able to (tastefully) get a variety of angles and framing can set your video apart.

What Are The Pros & Cons To This Kit?

Pros

Cons

Now, on to the list...

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Camera

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Image quality and features for the price are impossible to beat.

Output up to 1080p60 while recording in high quality codecs including ProRes and Blackmagic RAW.

Apply your own LUT to the HDMI output for creative control.

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 60 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps

My Favorite Feature: Versatility

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Lenses

The great thing about Micro Four Thirds (4/3") sensors is that they strike a good balance of cost, image quality, and depth of field.

When you need a fairly standard shot without a super shallow depth of field, then an aperture like f/4.0 or f/5.6 usually works well without losing too much light sensitivity.

But, when you really want to throw the background out of focus for more creative shots, you can use lenses with apertures all the way to f/0.95 to get some wonderful results.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8

My favorite standard zoom for Micro Four Thirds.

Extremely sharp and great contrast, even at f/2.8.

Full Shot: 8'-24'

Medium Shot: 3'-10'

My Favorite Feature: Classic Olympus sharpness and contrast

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Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8

Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8

A great telephoto zoom with built-in image stabilization.

Full Shot: 20'-60'

Medium Shot: 8'-25'

My Favorite Feature: Built-in image stabilization is nice for handheld use

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SLR Magic 8mm f/4

SLR Magic 8mm f/4

A low budget wide angle with very little distortion.

Great for handheld, gimbals, or wide cover shots.

My Favorite Feature: Low distortion

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SLR Magic 25mm T/0.95 HyperPrime Cine III Lens

SLR Magic 25mm T/0.95

You want bokeh?

You got it!

A great lens for creative handheld work.

Be aware - it is manual focus only and has no built-in stabilization (neither do the Blackmagic cameras), so it will require some practice and a steady hand to work well.

My Favorite Feature: Shallow depth of field for the price

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Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95

Voigtlander Nokton f/0.95 Lenses

These are great lenses for creative handheld work.

Be aware - they are manual focus only and have no built-in stabilization (neither do the Blackmagic cameras), so it will require some practice and a steady hand to work well.

My Favorite Feature: Build quality

View 10.5mm on Amazon View 17.5mm on Amazon View 25mm on Amazon View 42.5mm on Amazon

Other Lens Options

Here are some other lens options that can work well:


Tripod & Fluid Head

Manfrotto 755XB MDeVe Tripod

Manfrotto 755XB MDeVe

Solid support and good build quality that won't break the bank.

Material: Aluminum

Maximum Height: 64.9"

Minimum Height: 16.4"

Folded Length: 25"

Weight: 5.25 lbs

Payload Capacity: 15.4 lbs

My Favorite Feature: Price

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Manfrotto MHXPRO

Manfrotto MHXPRO

I probably use this head more than any others with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras. It just works.

I love the quick release plate and overall consistency this head provides.

Base Mount: Flat Base with 3/8"-16 Mounting Hole

Camera Plate: RC2 Quick Release

Load Capacity: 8.8 lbs

My Favorite Feature: Standard RC2 quick release plates are super fast

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Switcher

Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro

Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro

I'll admit...

I was not a big fan of the original ATEM Mini.

While it filled a niche, I think Blackmagic aimed too low on price and compromised important features like a multiviewer.

But...

Blackmagic Design thankfully listened to customers and delivered BIG with the updated ATEM Mini Pro.

It still fills a niche, and while it's not a great fit for everything it is a solid option for those wanting a professional, low-cost solution.

Be aware, though - it only has one physical HDMI output.

If you use the only HDMI output for a preview or multiview monitor, you have no other video outputs available.

But considering it has 4 inputs, frame rate and format conversion on every input, built-in recording to USB-C drives, built-in RTMP streaming, and a multiviewer output, it all adds up to one wonderful package.

Inputs: 4x HDMI

Audio Inputs: 2x 3.5mm

Program Outputs: 1x HDMI and 1x USB-C (to computer or hard drive only)

Aux Outputs: N/A

Multiview Outputs: 1x (only on HDMI output)

Supported Formats: Broadcast formats up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps

My Favorite Feature: Built-in recording and streaming puts this in a previously under-served, low-budget market

*At the time of this update, the ATEM Mini Pro is still under pre-order and is also a very popular item. Don't be surprised if it takes a few weeks, or possibly even months, to receive one or find them in stock.

View on Amazon View on B&H

Computer

A computer is not necessary for the main tasks like switching, encoding, and recording.

But...

I recommend having a good computer that is always connected to the switcher running the control software. That way you can adjust settings, administrate the live stream, and get more advanced features like adding graphics and setting up keys.

Since this part comes down mainly to personal preference and taste, I will include the computer I would choose.

Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air 13"

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Communication

If you have a director and camera operators, you need a reliable way for them to communicate.

Pro Intercom LLC

Pro Intercom

In my experiences with many production intercom systems, Pro Intercom LLC has consistently provided the best bang for the buck systems I've used.

Their products are built very well while remaining quite affordable, and all of their systems are hardwired so you get the best quality and reliability for the lowest price possible.

They have many packages to choose from to fit various system sizes and budgets.

I recommend the econoCom systems with BP-1 belt packs for smaller budgets.

View on ProAudio.com

Preview Monitor

Use it for a switcher preview, program, or multiviewer.

If you choose another monitor, be sure it accepts broadcast formats through HDMI (this info can be hard to find for many models). A lot of computer monitors will not accept all formats like 1080p23.98.

TCL 40 Inch 1080p TV

TCL 40 Inch 1080p TV

Input: HDMI

View on Amazon

Required Accessories

Important: In order to maintain the camera control features between the ATEM Mini Pro and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, you must use a direct HDMI to HDMI connection with a cable that has the CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) protocol. All the HDMI cables listed below have CEC.

Also Important: If you use HDMI fiber cables, be aware that fiber is inherently fragile. If the cable will not be permanently installed in conduit, then I highly recommend using armored, kevlar, or tactical fiber cables made for more rigorous use.

AmazonBasics Snagless Cat-6 Cable

AmazonBasics Snagless Cat-6 Ethernet Cable (5')

Connect switcher to computer, network, or Internet.

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Monoprice Certified Premium HDMI Cable

Monoprice Certified Premium HDMI Cable (6')

Connect switcher to preview monitor.

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Monoprice Certified Premium HDMI Cable

Monoprice Certified Premium HDMI Cable (15')

Connect any camera to switcher (within 15').

Includes CEC - maintains camera control feature.

One cable required for every camera.

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Kramer HDMI Fiber Optic Cable

Kramer HDMI Fiber Optic Cable

Connect any camera to switcher (further than 15' from switcher).

One cable required for every camera.

Fire Rating: CMP (suitable for nearly all installation types including plenum spaces)

Available Lengths: 33', 50', 66', 98', 131', 164', 197', 230', 262', 295', and 328'

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Recommended Accessories

Samsung T5

Samsung T5 500GB SSD

For recording from the switcher's USB-C output.

Interface: USB 3.1 (USB-C to USB-C cable included)

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SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SDXC Card

SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SDXC

For recording in camera.

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Core SWX Powerbase Edge for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras

Core SWX Powerbase Edge for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras

Battery base for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras gives you up to 4 hours runtime.

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Canon LP-E6N Camera Battery

Canon LP-E6N Camera Battery

Internal battery for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras gives you around 30 minutes runtime.

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System Diagram

The Budget-Friendly Cinematic Live Streaming Kit Wiring Diagram
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Need Assistance?

If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to send me a message.