Getting the hardware and software you need for your live streaming setup can be a bit daunting—especially if you aren’t technologically savvy. (If you don’t know what a Twitter handle is, or have ever referred to “The Google,” you may fit into this category!)
But before we discuss what you need for your streaming setup, keep this in mind: It’s better to have an extremely simple live stream than not to have one at all! Therefore, it’s important to keep your first live streaming setup as basic as possible. You don’t need your first video stream to have four camera angles, instant replay, and graphics. As you get more comfortable with your live streaming setup, you can add on.
Below, we’ve outlined the basic live stream setup you’ll need to begin sharing your event online.
Live Streaming Setup For The Computer Illiterate
To get your event online, you’ll (of course) need a camera—and frankly, it doesn’t matter what camera you use! Any consumer camera that has been created in the last five years should give you what you need. You can even use a GoPro or an iPhone if you want!
Remember, you’ll get the same type of feed and signal out of both a $200 camera and a $5,000 camera. Of course, the $5,000 camera will have more options, including a much nicer lens and better image resolution. So before you purchase your camera, assess your specific needs. For instance, if you’re shooting from far away and need to zoom in quite a bit, look for a camera with high-quality zoom capabilities. If you’re able to get pretty close to your subject, you may be fine using a less expensive option.
To successfully live stream, there are a few things you need to be sure your computer can handle:
- Your computer needs to have either a Thunderbolt or a USB 3.0 port. This is where you’ll plug in your capture device (which we discuss below). If you’re already panicking, don’t—there are some easy ways to tell if your computer has one of these two ports:
- USB 3.0: Depending on the manufacturer of the computer, one of two different symbols will designate the USB port—either the inside of the port itself will be blue or the port will be labeled “SS” (which stands for “Super Speed”).
- Thunderbolt: Thunderbolt technology is most often found on Apple computers—if you have this port, it will be labeled with a lightning bolt symbol, as shown below:
Note: You may see that your computer has an HDMI port—so why can’t you simply plug directly into that? Because the HDMI port on your computer or laptop is an output, and you need an input. Since there are dedicated inputs and outputs for HDMI, a single HDMI port cannot do both.
- You need a software encoder on your computer to be able to send the live stream anywhere. Encoders range from free to about $1,000. If you’re just getting started, we suggest using Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) from Adobe. It’s free, and it’s very simple to get up and running.
A capture device is a piece of hardware that converts video into a signal that the computer can understand. You’ll need to buy the capture device that corresponds with either your Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 port.
You can get high-speed internet a few different ways:
- Ethernet (Which is hardwired internet.)
- Mi-Fi (Provided through cellular carriers like Verizon and AT&T.)
One element that will almost certainly affect your live streaming setup is your internet upload speed. It’s simple to test this—simply go to speedtest.net, click start, and see what your upload speed is. The minimum speed you’ll need is 3-4 MBPS for a high definition (HD) live stream and 1-2 MBPS for a standard definition (SD) live stream.
There are two major processor manufacturers—AMD and Intel. Intel has about 90% of the market, and it’s what you’ll need for video processing. AMD products don’t generally work with video software (and they can be a pain to deal with in that regard).
If you aren’t sure if your computer has an Intel processor, simply Google your computer model and type to find out. If it’s an older model or you can’t find the answer online, a local computer store should be able to tell you quickly and easily.
Remember: Your live streaming setup does not need to look like it could be on cable television! You can always add to your streaming setup down the line when you get more comfortable with it.
If you would love to live stream your event but want a partner to guide and assist you through the process, let’s talk! At Stretch Internet, we stream more than 60,000 live events every year with an emphasis on providing outstanding support and memorable experiences.