You know that old saying attributed to Mark Twain—“If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute; it’ll change”? Well, it might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s the first thing that came to mind as we considered the advancement of video technology used for live streaming. Tech in general is progressing quickly, and live streamers are benefitting with a growing number of ways to turn out more professional-looking broadcasts more easily than ever before. So with a tip of the hat to Twain, here’s a modern-day mashup for you:
“If you can’t find the live streaming technology you want, wait a minute; it’ll change.”
If it’s been awhile since you’ve incorporated some new tech into your live stream, there’s no better time than the present to give it a try. Below are a few slightly more advanced tech options we think you’ll be excited about—especially if you’re looking for ways to get more bang for your live streaming buck. Check out the following, and consider how they might work for your next live broadcast.
Video Streaming Technology For Next-Level Broadcasts
SDI For Maximum Flexibility
With a basic live stream setup, you’re essentially tethered to the action by a relatively short HDMI cable. In general, HDMI is a technology that won’t withstand a lot of wear and tear, and the longer the cable gets, the more its signal strength diminishes. That’s why we typically recommend keeping HDMI cables 10 feet or less.
SDI is an alternative to HDMI that allows you to go very long distances without amplification—up to 300 feet. Having this extra “room to move” will expand your production options and let you get a second camera involved in your stream. And it’s not difficult to start using SDI: The Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder includes HDMI and SDI connections, and, if your camera doesn’t have SDI natively, an HDMI-to-SDI converter costs less than $100. It will pay for itself in the amount of flexibility you’ll get over the long haul.
Wireless Tech For Better, Easier Production
What if, instead of running that 300-foot cable, you could have 300 feet of wireless capability? Then you could—almost literally—take your camera wherever you wanted to go.
For our clients, we always recommend Teradek’s Bolt wireless system. The Bolt creates its own wireless local area network (not using Wi-Fi or 4G) to talk to a receiver and a transmitter. The receiver goes into the camera, and the transmitter remains back at home base with the computer or hardware encoder.
An impressive live stream is about more than just technology. Improve your production process with this free Extensive Live Streaming Checklist, and pull off a smooth, well-organized broadcast every time.
The flexibility wireless provides leads to more creative broadcasting. You can spontaneously take the camera on the basketball court during a timeout, follow the action at a wedding, or easily navigate an audience to access multiple speakers—all without the need for a second person to spool cable. The one downside is batteries; you’ll need them to power the camera and the transmitter. Also keep in mind that the Bolt family of wireless systems goes up in price depending on how far you need to transmit video.
Network Device Interface (NDI) For Cost Savings & Production Versatility
One of the most interesting video streaming technology developments of the past year is NewTek’s Network Device Interface (NDI). NDI eliminates the need for costly cables or wireless equipment and instead utilizes the existing network in a production environment to allow cameras and other video sources to communicate. Essentially, you’re taking the network, the cabling, and everything that exists in a venue already and utilizing it for your broadcast.
Say, for instance, you’re filming inside a building on a college campus. You want to incorporate video from a camera at another campus location, but that camera is too far away to realistically run cables back to your main streaming center. However, there is a nearby jack that accesses a network shared with your main computer. NDI allows you to utilize that shared network to draw in the video source and use it for your live stream, even though it isn’t hardwired to your production environment.
NDI is award-winning video streaming technology that’s changing the way people stream. Eliminating the wiring in a network-connected environment allows for an extraordinary amount of flexibility, making it easy to use additional computers to run commercials, generate graphics, and accommodate telestration (drawing on the screen as the stream is happening). There are even NDI applications for mobile devices. NDI combined with a little creative genius (let us help you brainstorm!) can have a big impact on your live stream.
Graphical Tools For Added Sophistication
Good graphics bring a level of professionalism to any broadcast, and the graphical tools available for live streamers continue to improve. Now, high-end graphical software and even hardware allow you to create TV-production-quality graphics on the fly.
Rather than producing graphics ahead of time, you can have full-motion graphics available in 10 seconds or less. NewBlue Titler (made by NewBlue) runs alongside Wirecast, a software encoder, and lets you render new graphics quickly and integrate them into the Wirecast workflow. The NewBlue software can run on the same computer as your encoding software.
Advanced graphical tools can enhance any kind of broadcast, sporting events in particular. Imagine being able to provide information directly from a scoreboard controller or statistical information and headshots for players. Consider what information your viewers might like to see along with the action, and you can probably make it happen with the tech available today.
Wait a minute—here’s a heads-up…
In tech time, Twain’s “minute” could mean approximately eight weeks—that’s when the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention happens in Las Vegas. Plenty of new video tech has been unveiled at recent NAB conventions, including NDI, which won a Best of Show award for TV technology in 2016. So stay tuned, because you never know if the next new thing might be just what you’ve been looking for!
Need help implementing this new live streaming technology?
Technology is awesome, but it can also be complex. Don’t let that stop you from seeing your big ideas come to fruition! If you can think of a great way to use one of the above tools (or something else!) in your live stream but are hesitant about implementing it, drop us a line. We can talk you through the logistics on the phone or provide advice on the best tech for your needs.