Over the past couple days and weeks, interest in live streaming has increased drastically. Social distancing has become the new normal and live streaming has become common place; from streaming a worship service, providing distance learning to students or remote communication with clients and coworkers. As varying as the reasons, so are the options for it. Live streaming is neither difficult nor is it inaccessible. In fact, we stream more than we may realize. If you use FaceTime, or "go live" on instagram and facebook, then you are using live streaming technology, in some form or the other.
So what are the best options to start live streaming right now, without expensive cameras and other equipment. We all know the trade-off between Time, Cost and Quality. Well, we are about to break the rule, just a little. Let's look at ways to present a quality live stream right now, with minimal cost.
It's already on your phone:
When it comes to live streaming an event, or a presentation, it isn't much different from the social media platforms that we already use. We don't often consider those to be a "professional" way of doing it, but many organizations have found ways to incorporate these platforms.
Most social media companies have made it easy for their users to live stream and for viewers to watch by having the option built right into their apps. In a matter of seconds, one can "go live". Choose the app that most of your audience will prefer to watch. When using a phone as a camera be careful with unsteady hands. This can make the video appear unstable, which would reduce the professional quality of your presentation. Shaky videos cause your audience to lose interest as they turn away from the screen. Mount your phone on a tripod or use a gimbal/stabilizer if you plan on moving around. Also bear in mind, that using the built-in microphone may impact the audio quality of your stream. Besides the low quality of these mics, they tend to pick up surrounding noise just as loud as it picks up your voice. Stream in a quiet space or consider using an external mic. These can connect easily to your phone, via the headphone jack (or data port).
Your laptop is a mean, stream machine:
In a previous article, I discussed how to build a live streaming rig. You can check out that article here. Your laptop contains all the key elements to produce a quality live stream. Most modern laptops already have an HD-quality camera. The built-in mic is decent quality, and there are a host of professional grade encoding software available. Since, this topic is about cheap or free, I will mention one program that, in my opinion, has an edge on even some paid encoding software. OBS Studio is free and open-source, has a big community of supporters and sponsors. It is cross-platform, and has a long list of features. The good thing about using the laptop is that it extends your options. Besides the built-in camera, you can add additional video sources to your live stream via the encoder. Maybe, you need to play a video, or switch presentation slides, or even have another host join you remotely. The options are as many as you can imagine.
Additionally, you can add multiple audio sources. Let's say you have multiple host with you (hopefully maintaining social distance), and each person has a mic, then you may use an audio mixer with an audio interface that would give you more sources and better control. Using the laptop with encoding software will certainly make your live stream more professional and engaging.
We're all set, but I don't see anything:
That's right! How will people see the live stream? Or a better question: Where do you want your audience to watch your live stream? I mentioned these earlier. Facebook live and YouTube live are two popular destinations. Most of your audience may already be accustomed to using those platforms and are comfortable navigating them.
Note: I must point out at this time that, while these platforms are free, their focus is on the viewer experience and won't necessarily have your best interest in mind, as the content creator. If you are concerned about content security, branding, customization, and copyright issues, you may not want to go the free route. If your only concern is getting your message out to an external audience as quickly as possible, then it may be just fine. But, if the stakes are higher, then consider a live streaming service with premium support and customizable options.
You can then consider directing your audience to your own website, where you have more control over the look and feel of the live stream. Plus, you can keep your audience engaged without distractions from pop-ups and Ads.
You can begin live streaming today. Your phone or your laptop has a HD-quality camera, a built-in microphone. Although the mic isn't the best quality, it can be sufficient for most situations. Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube provide the means to stream via their apps. While these are functional and quite capable, they may not necessarily meet the needs of an organization that's looking for a secure, customizable and robust streaming service.
Mickella Solutions Inc, provides scalable and affordable means to live streaming. We provide on-site services, streaming equipment, and custom-built platforms for streaming on your website. Contact us today, if you'd like to discuss a live streaming solution.