The mystery of setting up a live video broadcast is solved in this short 6-step post that outlines the steps and consideration you should make when setting up and executing a live stream. From video software to camera hardware and everything from cables and audio equipment beyond, this short article will get you in the frame of mind to start broadcasting video today.
Step 1 – Setup your live streaming software
The foundation of any live video broadcast is the software that powers it. There are two main software components you should be concerned with, 1) the encoding software or the broadcasting software and 2) the video playback or online video platform that is presenting your live stream through a video player on the web. Some software solutions offer both included in a single package while others might focus on one component like encoding and not touch the streaming portion. Regardless, make sure your live streaming software allows switching between multiple cameras, graphic overlays, video playback, high-resolution recording, and multi-bitrate streaming etc. These features will ensure you are armed with features to not only capture the footage you need but also brand the broadcast according to corporate guidelines. In terms of streaming hardware, it’s not necessary for smaller budget broadcasts but large events with volume audiences calls for live streaming hardware, so check with your chosen video software vendor to see what hardware is compatible with their platform.
Step 2 – Choose your video capture equipment and camera
Having the right camera hardware can make all the difference in the world when it comes to live video. For smaller broadcasts it probably best to find a camera that pairs both audio and video in a single device. Larger scale events will call for separate systems for audio. To find the best camera for your needs, think about budget and purpose. Do you need a dedicated ‘live camera’ or can you use the same equipment for other production projects around the organization? A few great recommended cameras for live streaming are the Sony PXW-X70, Sony PMW-300K1 and Canon XA10.
These cameras work great for both single-camera and multi-camera video production.
Step 3 – Make sure you have the right cables to connect everyone
One thing that can often be overlooked are the cables needed to connect everything up and make it work. Cables such as power for cameras, computers, lights, encoding equipment, Internet, comms, etc, are essential for the broadcast. Along with the cables themselves is the actual length of the cable. Do the cables have enough length to make to outlets, the stage, or wherever they need to go? Some live streaming software providers offer cable-less solutions by providing a piece of hardware that clips on to the camera and communicates with other equipment via wireless network or Bluetooth. Those types of solutions are worth checking out especially if you are shooting outdoors.
Step 4 – Setup and configure your audio
When it comes to the actual production of video the two most important elements besides the camera are lighting and sound. Without good lighting you can’t see the subject and the quality of the production goes down. If you have good lighting and no sound its a lose, loose situation. Good audio on the other hand can make every okay! Audio with bad lighting still makes the content tolerable and usable later in other contexts like podcasts etc. The easiest and recommended audio setup for live streaming is to use an external microphone or mixer plugged into your camera that way you have complete control of the broadcast.
Step 5 – Make sure you have enough Internet bandwidth and power
Step 5 seems like a given, but you’d be surprised how much Internet and electrical power can be overlooked especially with smaller events that are not staged at hotels or conference centers. First and foremost you are going to need electrical power for lights, cameras, encoders, audio equipment and mixers. The recommended power load setup for live broadcasts is a 20-amp circuit. As for Internet, make sure you broadcast over a hard-wired connection and not via wireless network. We recommend having at least two T3 connections hardwired ethernet, 10Mbp minimum upload speed. Have IT at the location open ports 1935, 80, and 443 to allow for large amounts of inbound and outbound traffic. If its a conference make sure the Internet pipe for the live stream is separate from that the guests are using.
Step 6 – Focus on the performance and the story
In order to successfully execute the 6th step you need to make sure you have completed steps 1-5 thoroughly. The best way to do that is to create a live event checklist which lists your equipment needed, shot list/ run of show and any red flags or things you might need from the venue to fill gaps in your list. Think about redundancy, do you have the right measures in place so if something fails you can quickly switch over to backups? If you’ve done all these things then you are ready to broadcast. Now its all about focusing on the performance and the story you are trying to convey through live video.
To make live streaming easier for businesses, we’ve assembled a list of the top live streaming software solutions which you can view here.