Advancing Your Live Stream Setup

Advancing Your Live Stream Setup

All of us at Stretch are huge advocates of incremental improvement. (If you’ve never heard us say “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” you clearly haven’t been reading our blog enough.) Like anything else, it takes time to improve your live stream broadcast, and acquire the skills necessary to do so. But little by little, one small change at a time, you—and, more importantly, your viewers—will notice a change in the quality of your stream.

But how do you know if you’re ready to try something new with your live stream setup? In my view it all comes down to four things:

  • Your comfort level with your current live streaming setup.
  • The availability of additional human resources.
  • Your live streaming budget.
  • The amount of time you can devote to learning something new.

If you’re super comfortable with how you set up your live stream and have been doing it the same way for a while, it’s probably time to consider new ways to improve. You can make the below ideas happen if you have an extra body to help, a bit of cash to purchase new equipment, and a few additional hours to perfect their use. (For low or no-cost ways to improve your live streaming, check out this article.)

Is your live streaming platform as top-notch as your broadcast? Have a look at the Stretch platform to see what we can do for you.

If you’re interested in how to set up a live stream at a more advanced level, here are three ideas we mention most to our clients looking to do the same.

How To Set Up A Live Stream—Advanced Edition

1. Incorporate one- or two-way communication into your production flow.

If you’re currently doing without camera operators, or have operators but no way of communicating with them, making a change to this aspect of your live stream setup will pay off in spades. Shooting from the same angles repeatedly gets stale over time; so does producing similar shots from multiple cameras. Adding one- or two-way communication into the mix allows you to tell your operators what to shoot on the fly, rather than giving them fixed directives ahead of time that can’t be changed.

For example, if you’re live streaming a band performance and you’re familiar with the set list,  you can tell your camera operator when and where to change the shot based on what comes next, maybe focusing on the vocalist or a guitar feature. You’ll still have multiple angles, but those angles will be focused, and you’ll be getting a lot more out of each camera.

From a hardware perspective, the easiest (and least expensive) way to make this change is to incorporate a one-way communication channel into your workflow—you can talk to the camera operators but they can’t talk back. But two-way communication can also be important depending on the location or venue of your broadcast.

Two-way communication—when the producer and operators can talk back and forth—isn’t as effective for some indoor productions (like a guest speaker or a play at a small venue, for example) because it could be distracting to the audience, but it’s ideal for most outdoor productions. Camera operators can see things from their vantage point that you may not be able to see inside the production area. For example, approaching bad weather may make it necessary to adjust all camera settings uniformly or wrap cameras to protect against the elements.

Implementing a communication method can be as simple as buying Motorola walkie-talkies with headsets. Clear-Com is the industry standard for wired communication. There are also wireless headsets available—great for those cases when you can’t run cabling—but be aware that battery power could become an issue. Wireless communication may not be right for every production due to cost and/or the distance you need to cover, but it’s a great option to have available when you need it.

2. Add one (or more) wireless cameras into the mix.

If your live stream setup is like that of most production crews, you rely on wired cameras to get the job done. But if you’re looking to take your live streaming up a notch, adding one wireless camera to your inventory can get you where you want to go—literally.

First, there are some places a wired camera simply can’t go. And if you’re filming at different venues regularly, you won’t always know going in when or how you might be restrained by wires.

But there’s also the added benefit of being able to get more interesting camera shots. Wireless cameras allow you to get in closer to the action and get a better variety of shots, like audience reactions, on-court activity, or action on a different part of the stage. And scenes from those areas can be captured at a moment’s notice with a wireless camera. Having the flexibility to get the right shot at the right moment is one thing that sets awesome productions apart from ordinary ones.

3. For live streaming sports events, up your graphics game.

If you could set up your live stream so that your next sports event looks like an ESPN production, would you? (The right answer here is yes.) You can; the secret is in the graphics.

Here are the two options we recommend:

  • Sportzcast video tools let you pull real-time score data directly from the scoreboard into your production workflow. For under $1,000, you can build fairly complex graphics using the new NewBlue FX Integration tool. It takes data directly from the venue scoreboard controller and delivers it automatically from the cloud to your applications, so it doesn’t intrude on your workflow.
  • AJT Systems has a more advanced ESPN-level product. Theirs is a dedicated graphics solution you can add into any production workflow, which will give you the highest level of graphics possible. It even has ESPN3 templates you can customize for your team. The AJT solution works differently than Sportzcast, because the scoreboard controller plugs directly into the LiveBook GFX system (rather than pulling data from the cloud). The level of all your graphics—the lower-third scoreboard, go-to-break graphics, sponsor plugs, player identifiers, the lower-third starting lineup, and more—will be on par with anything you see on national television.

Ready to give your live stream setup a boost?

If you have more questions about how to set up a live stream using more advanced tools, we’ll be glad to help. Set up a free 30-minute consultation with us to review your current live streaming setup and discuss your options for advancement—no commitment necessary. The more all of us live streamers talk, share, and improve, the better off we’ll be! (Kinda like building Rome all over again.)

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