It all depends on your needs.
It’s a balance, like everything else, of cost and quality.
Consider the following suggestions before your next Live Streaming event.
- Don’t just set up a single camera! Use a video switcher to create a more dynamic stream with multiple cameras and angles. You may also want to include graphics, animation, and pre-recorded videos! There are both hardware-based switchers like the TriCaster and LiveStream units as well as software-based switchers like Wirecast Pro (which doubles as an encoder).
- Before your feed can go online, it needs to be encoded into a Live Streaming file format. There are free encoders that run on Windows or Mac OS, but it may be wise to pay for a good software encoder like Wirecast Pro, which will also require a capture card (which can be internal or external) to process the video signal from the camera into the computer. Hardware encoders like the Elemental Live cost much more but benefit from better reliability and the ability to send out more streams.
- Different viewers have different internet connections, so you’re going to need to send out different streams! This again has software and hardware solutions – streaming services can take a single stream from you and encode it into many different versions in the cloud, so a viewer with a poor connection can watch a low-resolution version and vice-versa.
- Keep internet bandwidth in mind! Use a wired connection if possible since WiFi can be unreliable. Test your upload speed before the event, and understand that the audience might use up a lot of your bandwidth with their phones if you do not have separate dedicated bandwidth. This is a conversation to have with the venue’s IT support staff so your stream doesn’t suffer because the audience is too wrapped up in their Instagram feeds. It’s best to have two times the target bitrate, so about 10mbps upload for HD
- Make your stream accessible with closed captions. Enterprise-level encoders can support sending out closed captions, and streaming providers like YouTube can support captions as well.
- Start streaming before the event starts! Even if it’s just a slate that states the start time of your event, it’s better than just giving the viewers a black player. It may confuse them and turn them away if they don’t see anything. Even better would be to show a feed of the live crowd turning up to the event so they feel more like they’re really there.
- Don’t end on a blank screen either. Switch to a slate that provides social media pages for your or the client’s company, or start playing a replay of the event.