These are trying times for performers of all types. Being a production company based in Nashville, TN, we’ve seen this reality first hand. Pretty much every bar, concert venue, and even restaurant has shut down, simultaneously closing the stages performers reach their audiences on throughout our city every day. Even further, the Mayor has asked religious groups to move all of their services online. Understanding the basics of live streaming video is essential now more than ever. Below we’d like to give our advice, based on our years of experience live-streaming concerts, studio sessions, and events. Hopefully this can give you a baseline to get started. As always, if you need help setting up or running a live stream setup for any sort of event, feel free to reach out to us.
Live Stream video is the best current option to get your content out to your audience. It is a phenomenal resource and something nearly anyone can do from their phone. The ability to livestream from a mobile device is incredibly convenient. However, many scenarios call for something higher quality. If you are looking to go beyond the limitations of all-in-one solutions for live streaming you need to consider the following:
1. A Camera - You will need a camera. This can be as simple as your phone. For a more quality image, you could use most standard DSLR/Mirrorless SLR cameras. If you really want to hit the big leagues, you can broadcast with a professional video camera. Here’s a couple of the cameras we use to live stream.
Sony A7III - a mirrorless SLR that will produce a stunning image, but will be limited on recording runtimes and audio input options.
Sony FS5 - a pro level video camera that produces an even better image, and offers more flexibility in terms of audio inputs.
2. A capture device - you need an adaptor to make your camera talk to your computer. To know which one to get you need to know what kind of video output you camera has (micro HDMI, mini HDMI, full sized HDMI, SDI, etc.) You’ll also need to know what kind of inputs your computer has (thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt 3, etc.). You may not be able to find a capture device with your exact plugs, so adaptors may be necessary. Here’s what we use as sort of a test case for you.
- Sony FS5 > full sized HDMI cable > Blackmagic UltraStudio mini recorder > thunderbolt 2 cable > thunderbolt 2 to 3 adaptor > thunderbolt 3 ports on our MacBook Pro.
3. A computer - Video work is some of the most difficult work for a computer to do and adding the live element makes it an even heavier task on your CPU. For the best quality and effectiveness of a livestream, you don’t want to skimp on your computer in your set up. We use a 2016 MacBook Pro with a 2.4 Ghz processor with 32 gb of ram and an upgraded video card. You can get away with less, but don’t skimp!
4. Software - Some websites, like Facebook, will pick up the camera connected to your computer directly. However, if you want more control over your steaming destinations, you’ll need a 3rd party software. For Mac users we recommend Ecamm Live. For PC users we recommend you buy a Mac (just kidding, kind of). For PC users I’ve used OBS before and it’s worked well, but here are tons of others out there.
5. A destination - you need to decide where you want to broadcast your content. You can broadcast to FaceBook, YouTube, via a private embed on your website, or a host of other options. Each site is going to have a specific way it interfaces with your broadcast software and all the ones I’ve encountered have tutorials for how to get it all working if you run in to snags. If you want to broadcast to multiple destinations at once Restream.io is a great resource.
A note on audio: You don’t technically have to have any audio other than the microphone built in to your camera to pull this off, but if you are trying to step up your game visually, you should probably do so audibly too. This could be a simple as plugging a shotgun mic like a Rode VideoMicro into the input jack on your camera. You could also plug a wireless lapel mic into your camera for dialogue. If you are broadcasting music or something more complex like that you may want to think about using an audio interface and some professional quality condenser microphones.
A note on video mixers: Outlined above is how to livestream a single camera. If you want to broadcast multiple angles, you’ll need to insert a video mixer in between the cameras from setup 1 and the capture device in step 2. Here’s a link for our favorite video mixer, but there are also a lot of other ones depending how many cameras you’d like to use.
Hopefully this can help get you started in the live streaming world. If you need help setting up a live stream system or would like to just have someone else handle all of this for you. Contact us below and we’d be happy to setup a phone or video consult!