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PTZ Cameras for live streaming – What you should know

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Posted on July 7, 2022

PTZ cameras will help you solve your surveillance needs, especially when you follow the guide correctly. PTZ cameras are commonly used to eliminate blind spots in guard stations, supermarkets, airports, churches, museums, construction sites, large outdoor areas and so on. Read along to learn more about the types, advantages, and disadvantages of PTZ cameras. Besides that, you’ll also know the guide to using PTZ cameras for Livestream events.

What are PTZ Cameras?

PTZ (pan, tilt, and zoom) cameras have mechanical components that enable them to zoom in and out of a scene, move from side to side, and tilt up and down. They frequently deploy them in guard stations where active employees can manage them using a remote camera controller to monitor broad open areas that demand a 180- or 360-degree view. They can also be configured to automatically track motion-triggered activities or follow a predetermined schedule, depending on the camera or software. PTZ cameras typically use a more extensive surveillance system to track movement, while a stationary camera takes in-depth pictures.

ptz camera in view

What are the Types of PTZ Cameras?

There are some types of PTZ cameras available. They include:

1. PTZ IP Camera

WiFi or Power over Ethernet can be used to deploy PTZ Internet Protocol (IP) cameras (PoE). Compared to analog PTZ cameras, the Wireless PTZ Camera Without a connected connection, WiFi PTZ cameras connect wirelessly to a router. (However, a power source is still needed.) It’s also advised to have a robust WiFi connection to avoid slowness and poor video quality.

2. PTZ PoE Camera

For electricity and an internet connection, a PoE camera connects an Ethernet cable to a PoE switch. It often has a much stronger connection range than WiFi.

3. PTZ Analog Camera

PTZ analog (CCTV) cameras record security footage using an analog video signal and are connected to DVRs through coaxial cables. In most cases, analog PTZ security cameras can’t send video data independently and need a DVR to allow encoding, compressing, and saving the video.

4. Wireless PTZ Camera

Wireless PTZ cameras can send video wirelessly in situations where the installation cannot run video wires. Although you can use transmitter sets to convert analog transmissions, this is often done using WiFi. Long-distance outdoor monitoring applications where running cabling would be difficult or expensive generally employ wireless PTZ cameras.

5. Outdoor PTZ Camera

PTZ cameras used outdoors need to be able to resist more severe weather and temperature swings. They are usually protected from the outdoors by a waterproof shell with an IP rating that shows adequate protection.

Guide to Using PTZ Cameras for Livestream Event

You can use a PTZ camera that is easy to install for live broadcasting.

1. Wall or Ceiling Mount

First off, include a wall or ceiling mount with these cameras.

You might need to fabricate a wooden surface to screw your mount into if mounted on a scaffold. This system is simple to make using a plywood plate and a few bolts to hold it in place.

Secure your PTZ camera for live streaming wherever you decide to set it.

If you don’t, the camera can shake as it works. This might severely spoil a shot. In the worst situation, your camera might potentially become totally unattached and drop to the ground.

Let’s look at a few more things you’d need to set up a pan-tilt-zoom camera for live streaming.

2. Joystick Control by a Single Controller

Ethernet and/or SDI cables are typically used to connect PTZ cameras to a joystick controller. The production studio is typically where you’ll find this controller. There, a user can use a straightforward control panel to manage any camera’s movement and zoom. Additionally, remember that these control panels can be either hardware or software.

Small panels with different cable connections and controls are known as hardware control panels. Each camera’s input joins this controller. With this kind of control panel, you can:

  • Choose a given camera by hitting any of several buttons.
  • With a toggle, adjust the camera’s zoom in or out.
  • Focus (or select autofocus mode)
  • Shift it from side to side or tilt the camera up or down.
  • Set the iris/aperture (or choose automatic mode)
  • Program pre-set camera positions for each connected camera
  • Change those positions with a single button press.

That is how you can control wall-mounted cameras efficiently for live streaming.

3. Daisy Chaining

Several PTZ cameras support the RS-232 cable standard. Remote control of PTZ cameras can occasionally be accomplished using the serial communications protocol RS-232.

Linking PTZ cameras together is an excellent application for RS-232. A group of PTZ cameras is linked together by a procedure known as daisy-chaining, and one connection is then run to the controller. This method is effective, unlike discrete cables flowing from each camera to the controller.

Overall, this tactic enables you to shorten and streamline cable runs.

4. Integrating a PTZ Camera with an Encoder

Most PTZ systems have a software controller in place of or in addition to a hardware controller. Software controllers are inexpensive and Ethernet-connected.

Any computer on your network can control the camera with the right software. Due to redundant control and the ease of monitoring through an ethernet connection, this may be suitable for live streaming. This method may also do away with the requirement for dedicated hardware control.

For live streaming, many hardware platforms also include built-in connectivity with a PTZ camera. For instance, the TriCaster systems from NewTek are simple to combine with PTZOptics camera systems. Panasonic PTZ cameras work well with TriCaster as well. Other manufacturers’ cameras are also supported.

A PTZ camera can link to and be controlled by additional software that streams live video. For instance, vMix includes a PTZ software control.

Other software programs, like Wirecast, do not include the native capability for PTZ control. Broadcasters can, however, utilize other PTZ software. In this manner, you can manage cameras broadcasting live over Wirecast.

Lastly, be aware that some PTZ cameras, like those made by PTZOptics, support open-source control software through SDKs. Ensure your hardware or software platform is compatible with any PTZ live streaming cameras.

5. PTZ Camera Presets for Live Streaming

Programming precise camera locations in advance are one of the best features of using a PTZ camera for live broadcasting. This is quite helpful for quickly changing to a predetermined position.

For instance, during a live broadcast, one camera would concentrate on the stage’s left side, while another might focus on the right. In this situation, you can pre-program three positions for each camera.

The first is a wide shot that includes most of the stage and the audience. The following image would be a medium shot that only displays the set. The third would involve a microphone, lectern, or podium close-up.

In other words, you can set up this software before going live.

Pros and Cons of PTZ Security Cameras

Although the idea of a PTZ camera has been romanticized in Hollywood films, its camera adaptability has advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to know regarding capability, use case, cost, and more to make an informed purchase decision.

Advantages and Features of PTZ Cameras

1. Motion-Based Auto Tracking

PTZ cameras may automatically alter their visual field to follow objects moving, thanks to the auto-tracking feature. This function’s use case is often best implemented in still places with little traffic.

2. Time-Based Auto Scan

PTZ cameras can be set up with auto-pilot, so they move in patterns and scan pre-defined areas (tours). It is possible to program pre-set positions to move in response to time. To record various regions of interest within the camera’s overall surveillance area, a PTZ camera, for instance, can be set to pan, tilt, or zoom once every 30 seconds.

3. Large Field of View

PTZ cameras can be used to monitor a sizable area, and it is frequently advised to utilize one in tandem with a static camera to prevent coverage gaps. Cameras can move in any direction between 180 degrees of tilt and 360 degrees of pan, depending on the type. Digital pan and tilt is another feature of some solutions that enables video to be altered after recording, albeit the resulting video will be grainier and have lower resolution.

4. Zoom Capabilities

Most PTZ cameras have optical zoom capabilities, which you can use to see and photograph distant objects like license plates or faces. The most significant focal length divided by the lowest focus length is known as optical zoom (i.e., 20x, 30x, or 40x); the higher the number, the greater the zoom.

5. Remote Camera Control

To monitor suspicious activities, conventional PTZ cameras can be manually and remotely adjusted. Users can do this to alter the camera’s field of view without physically going to the location.

Disadvantages of PTZ Cameras

1. Shorter Lifespan

PTZ cameras are less robust than fixed alternatives because they have more moving parts (such as motors for pan, tilt, and zoom) that are prone to failure over time. The total cost of ownership for these cameras tends to exceed the purchase price because of their high failure rate.

2. Surveillance Blind-Spots

PTZ cameras are notorious for pointing in the wrong place, especially when on “auto” or “home.” No matter what occurs in the field of view, a camera may continually pan to the following pre-set. Although having a guard monitor the camera is always ideal, blind spots are still possible due to human mistakes if the controller is left in the incorrect position.

3. Limited View

A significant drawback of PTZ cameras that causes coverage gaps is their inability to record areas where the camera isn’t properly pointed at. Although not simultaneously, cameras may pan, tilt, and zoom to capture potentially vast areas. Incidents could happen, and intruders could sneak through the camera’s range of view without being seen (FOV).

4. High Cost

In many instances, compared to one PTZ camera, one or more fixed cameras (such as fisheye cameras) can provide additional coverage at a lesser cost. For example, a 4K fisheye camera can be set up to cover the same space as a PTZ camera and provide digital zoom on high-resolution footage without the risk of being moved in the wrong place.

5. Latency Sensitivity

High command latency is a problem that many PTZ cameras encounter frequently. The command latency is when the FOV changes on the monitor after an operator gives a command to adjust the camera’s FOV. It’s critical to be mindful that high latency occasionally can result in PTZ controls failing and shifting out of gear.

6. High Risk of Malfunction

Inadequately mounted PTZ cameras might cause issues from a mechanical and legal standpoint. On the technical side, improperly fitted camera hardware may malfunction in varying weather conditions. PTZ cameras that inadvertently include even a tiny amount of private property in their range of view could result in serious legal issues for both the installer and the owner.

Final Thoughts

PTZ cameras are fantastic pieces of technology and continue to evolve rapidly. PTZ cameras with 4K resolution are starting to become accessible. We believe the next generation of PTZ cameras will be even more powerful. Live streaming with pan-tilt-zoom cameras enables a small workforce to produce a professional performance quickly. Additionally, you can use PTZ cameras in addition to conventional cameras. And this allows for creative views and lets you profit from a fewer crew and lower prices.

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