The concept of being in one place but instantaneously knowing how events in another area are unfolding has always fascinated the human race. From mystics in medieval times gazing into crystal balls, to live broadcasts on television channels in the twentieth century, we have surely come a long way.
However, the inexorable progress of technology has ensured that we have taken things one step further: today, any layman can conduct live streams from virtually anywhere in the world using the Internet.
What is Live Streaming?
According to the Oxford dictionary, “live stream” is a verb which means “transmit or receive live video and audio coverage of (an event) over the Internet”, as in ‘you can live-stream the performance from your computer’.
Live Streaming can also be used as a noun to mean “a live transmission of an event over the Internet”, as in ‘a live stream of Saturday’s concert will run from 6:30 p.m.’
While many people choose to use live streaming to share personal events – such as their trip to the zoo – with their Facebook friend lists, others use it to broadcast events of much greater significance, such as protests and demonstrations happening in a country.
However, a large percentage of live streams in today’s world originate from people’s living rooms or workstations. Whether it is celebrities on Facebook interactively discussing events with a multitude of fans, or YouTubers using live streams to review products with constant feedback from their audiences.
Given its popularity, it is crucial that all such live streams be of the highest quality. This is why most regular live streamers prefer to use DSLR for live streaming.
What Do You Need to Live Stream?
First and foremost, you need a proper camera. Whether you use a DSLR, a mirror-less camera, or even a webcam is up to you, but a DSLR usually always better if regarding video quality.
If you are a Youtuber and already own your vlogging camera, you can check whether it has a video output port for e.g: an HDMI port or not. Not all vlogging camera has video output port, you better check with the vendor.
Secondly, you will need a tripod to hold the DSLR camera in place. Not only can you then adjust the height and position of the camera, but a tripod also ensures that your camera is steady throughout the video. Of course, if you are on a budget, a simple stack of books will also do!
In addition, it is always best to use a camera with a wide angle lens while live streaming from indoors. The wider view this provides is far more aesthetic than a video zoomed in on a person’s face!
A proper light source is also needed to illuminate your face correctly and evenly. Whether you opt for LED lights or professional umbrella-style lights, the key is to make sure that the light falls equally on your face.
Furthermore, you will need a USB microphone to capture the audio along with the video. There is a plethora of different microphones to choose from, so that should not be an issue. You may also consider purchasing a pop filter along with your microphone. This prevents any unwanted pop sounds when you speak, while also ensuring that saliva does not land on the microphone directly.
Lastly, you have to ensure that the video is at least in truly HD, it is even better if you can have 4K resolutions. Simply plugging in a DSLR with a USB cable will never result in high definition videos. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that you procure an HDMI cable.
However, the HDMI ports on most laptops cannot be used, as these are generally provided for output, rather than input. Thus a converter such as Elgato’s Cam Link can be used to seamlessly convert the input from the HDMI cable to a USB port compatible with everyday computers.
How to Connect the Equipment for Live Streaming
Connecting the equipment for a successful live stream is quite simple. For microphones, we ensure that the wires are correctly plugged in, with one end going into the microphone, and the other end going into the USB port of the computer. Simple as!
As for the camera itself, firstly, we plug the one end of the HDMI cable into the camera. The other end of the HDMI cable is then inserted into the back of the Cam Link so that the USB end of the Cam Link is free to go into the computer.
It is also best to keep in mind that when a camera is connected via HDMI to a computer, live view ceases to work for most brands, and it will only flash on momentarily if you try to turn it on. This is normal and nothing to be worried about.
Best Software to Help You Live Stream on YouTube and Facebook
Actually you can live streaming directly via Facebook or YouTube. But there are several applications that can be used.
1. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio)
If I have to mention the best free and open source software to help you live streaming then I would mention Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio).
First of all, you must have downloaded and installed OBS then immediately run the application on your computer to configure your device.
How to use OBS Software
The following paragraphs describe in detail how to set everything up. Although the instructions below are for Apple’s macOS, it should work for Windows as well, with minor differences:
1. To kick things off, click on the ‘+’ button from Sources, and then select Video Capture Device. This lead to a new dialogue box where you have the option of naming your camera. You can name it anything you want, and then click OK.
2. This leads to another dialogue box called Properties. Here, we select Cam Link from the drop-down menu entitled Device. Next, we choose 1280×780 from Preset to provide the highest resolution. After that, you can click OK.
3. This takes you back to the main screen which will no longer be blank but need your camera’s output on it. Now you can make any adjustments that you need.
You may want to zoom in or out, adjust the angle, or alter the lighting, depending on your need. Your camera is now ready to use!
4. Now we need to set up the microphone. To do this, we once again click on the ‘+’ sign from Sources and select Audio Input Capture from the drop-down menu. This opens up a dialogue box once again, from where we can name it anything we want, and then click OK.
5. This opens up the Properties dialogue box, from where we select USB Microphone under Devices and then click OK. You notice that input levels now appear, indicating how loud the audio is. It is a good idea to keep the input levels at a green, as red input levels are considered painfully loud.
6. Now that our video and audio are set up, we are ready to stream! Just select the setting button from the OBS application at the bottom right corner of the window. Next, choose Stream from the left side of the dialogue box. After that, select your desired platform link (Facebook or YouTube) from the Services drop-down menu. They also ask for a Stream Key, which you can get if you are streaming from YouTube.
To begin a YouTube stream, leave the OBS settings as it is, opens up YouTube, and click on Stream Now under Live Streaming. This lead to a settings page where you can set the name of the video and so on.
Now that YouTube is set up, you can click on “Start Streaming” at the bottom right of the OBS window, and voilà! You are living on YouTube! If you now go to the YouTube website, you can see a preview of the live screen, chats from viewers, and so on.
It is essential to turn off any power saving modes or automatic turn off settings on the camera. As the setup can take a while, many cameras automatically go into sleep mode, which can hinder the process.
Another convenient option, though paid, for broadcasting to Facebook, in particular, is using a service from belive.tv. Moreover, of course, you need not pay from the get-go; you have a free trial for two weeks!
Log in to the website (https://belive.tv), and choose the kind of live broadcast you want. You can select a solo, interview, or talk show. For regular users, click solo.
This opens up a dialogue box. You can choose how and where on Facebook you would like to broadcast from – whether from your profile or a page you manage.
You can also display and add your brand name or any other kind of banners on the video by clicking on the Add Your Branding option.
After that, click on Create Broadcast. This leads you to the page which should have your live video. If it is empty, click on the gear icon which represents Settings, and then make sure that your camera and microphone are correctly chosen from the drop-down menu. Save settings, and click on Reconnect Camera, and your broadcast should start right up.
Now click Start Broadcast to begin live streaming on Facebook immediately! You can also add banners and on-screen updates by using the options on the right side of the screen.
Phew! That seemed like much work. However, believe me, once you have familiarised yourself with the process, it becomes second nature, and seem as easy as pie. Happy live streaming!