It’s never been easier for businesses and individuals to go live to an audience. With technology constantly evolving and most mobiles having professional-quality HD cameras, businesses or individuals can go live at the click of a button to a huge audience with minimal hassle.
For brands that aren’t yet utilizing all the opportunities that live video has to offer though, it’s important to make sure your live videos represent your brand and don’t end up tarnishing your reputation by being poor quality or unprofessional.
To help your brand achieve an effective and reliable live streaming setup, here are some of the key components to invest in.
1. Video and audio source
First things first, you need a video source to record the video image you want to be displayed when you go live. Whether you decide to use a DSLR camera, IP webcam, or a smartphone, your video source needs to be able to capture video in HD quality to provide your audience with an enjoyable viewing experience.
Another key thing to consider is audio, will you use a built-in microphone on your camera or go one step further and use an external microphone to ensure you can achieve clear audio feeds constantly? External microphones can be either handheld, USB, or lapel mics.
Most video signals these days will use HDMI or SDI outputs, where the audio feed from your microphone is embedded with your video and transferred to your live streaming platform using a cable.
2. Video encoder
Usually, the video images recorded by your camera or smartphone are not in the right format for live streaming. This is where a video encoder comes in. Its job is to compress and convert the video signal that comes from your video recorder into a format that’s streamable and suited to the web.
There are two types of encoders - hardware encoders and software encoders. Software encoders are ideal for situations where you need your live streaming setup to be portable and minimal, allowing you to encode and stream your video using one device. All you will need is a capture card to make sure your video source can be transmitted to your computer or laptop device. If you are on a budget for your live streaming, there are a wide range of affordable and even free software encoders available online to benefit from.
The downside of using software encoders is that your computer or laptop must be powerful enough to handle the process without running out of storage space or letting you down. Hardware encoders are far more reliable due to having a dedicated device to handle the entire encoding process. You can find an encoder that suits your budget, requirements, and the scale of your live streaming campaign.
3. Live streaming platform
Once you have decided on your video and audio source and have an encoder to make your content streamable, you need a streaming destination. Your streaming destination refers to how you plan to distribute your content and the platform you are going to stream from, whether its a social platform or a dedicated professional live streaming platform.
You may choose to use a free social platform like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube to stream to your audience or a paid live streaming platform to provide professional live streams on your site or dedicated web pages.
Some examples of free CDN’s:
Zidivo offers a dedicated live streaming platform aimed to allow businesses to go live on any webpage at professional quality using a simple embed code. You can create your own landing pages to go live to your audience in broadcast quality with minimal hassle.
4. Internet connection
Your brand can invest in all the fancy recording and encoding equipment in the world, but if your internet connection falls short, your entire live stream can be ruined. Having a stable and powerful enough internet connection can be the hardest part to get right in your live streaming setup.
Most of the time, brands will require an ethernet connection to make sure your internet connection is hardwired and won’t let you down by cutting out unexpectedly. Of course, WiFi can suffice but it’s worth keeping in mind that the signal is far less consistent and reliable, particularly for instances where your brand may want to live stream for long periods of time.
Make sure to test, test, and retest your internet connection before your planned live stream to avoid any last-minute issues and identify any times where your internet may fluctuate. You should always make sure your internet upload bandwidth overcompensates for the bit rate of your live video. It’s far better to have some bandwidth to spare than to have a live video that buffers, crashes, or appears blurry for your audience - no one wants to stick around to watch a poor quality video.
Now you understand the key components of a live streaming setup, you can weigh up your options and find a solution that suits your brand’s unique goals, budget, and requirements. Whether you are planning a large scale live event that will require multiple cameras and a powerful internet connection or a simple video where a smartphone and USB microphone will suffice, it’s important to keep in mind the same core components to a live streaming setup.