Fellow live streamers: Let’s make 2017 the year you up your live streaming game. The year you try something new. The year you get creative.
The start of a new year is a great time to experiment with ways to improve your live streaming broadcast. You may have already been live streaming for a while and think you’ve got it covered, but there’s always room for improvement.
And it’s not as hard as you think. In fact, many of our suggestions for how to improve your live streaming rely on good ol’ creativity. That might surprise you if you’ve been thinking that the road to improvement is paved entirely with dollar bills. That’s not to say that money won’t help, and we do have a few ideas about that… but our favorite ideas for producing a better live stream are free of charge and only require additional thought and experimentation.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” (Thanks, Tony Robbins.) So give your viewers something a little different this year by trying one or more of the ideas listed below. You’ll likely discover that a little extra effort goes a long way.
5 Creative Ways To Improve Your Live Streaming That Don’t Cost A Thing
1. Use your secondary camera to experiment with new shots.
If you’ve been live streaming for a while, it’s likely you have more than one camera at your disposal (even if it’s not currently in use). But it’s not always easy to determine where to position them both for maximum impact. Rather than let the second camera languish, try something new. If your primary camera is typically positioned higher up, place your additional camera at a lower angle for at least a portion of the event, to give viewers a different feel.
For instance, church broadcasts are typically pretty similar from week to week. Viewers who physically attend can change their seat for a different view, but those who are watching at home can’t—your camera represents the only position available. It helps viewers feel more at home if you occasionally show things from a variety of angles.
Put your secondary camera in a new spot for a week and mix it up a little. If the shot looks good, incorporate it into your broadcast going forward. If not, you always have your primary camera focusing on the action; have the camera operator try something different next week. Even a slight change creates a different experience for the user.
2. Use your secondary microphone to capture new sounds.
The same advice we gave for the camera holds true for your microphones. Moving a second mic to a new location can capture entirely new sounds that will enhance your broadcast.
At a basketball game, for instance, you might usually place a microphone near the announcer to capture sounds from the crowd, but for a portion of the broadcast, why not take it closer to center court so you get the whistle or the sound of the ball bouncing on the floor? Or, at a choral performance, try placing a mic farther away. A different arrangement of sound will enhance the performance. No matter what the event, incorporate audio more thoughtfully to add context.
3. Freshen up your look with new graphics.
The graphics you’re currently using are probably fine. But fine is not what we’re going for, remember? Graphics play a major role in the overall aesthetics of your on-screen presentation, so they shouldn’t be overlooked. Introduce new graphics or upgrade the ones you already have to create a noticeable change in your broadcast. Any change you make—whether it’s font, size, color, placement, or content—will be appreciated by viewers. (Just be sure to follow a few basic graphic design rules no matter what: Contain elements in the safe zone of the “lower third” to avoid blocking the action, keep the text simple, limit font selections to one or two that are easy to read, and choose aesthetically pleasing, complementary colors.)
4. Change the way you go in and out of commercial breaks.
An often-overlooked broadcast element is the way you transition in and out of commercial breaks. Just like on-screen graphics and the content itself, these transitions affect the feel of the presentation. Review your current transitions and see if they can be improved. Are they consistent and tight every time? Even the simplest details add polish without adding to your bottom line.
5. Spend just a little more time preparing.
If your live streaming process typically starts the minute you set up a camera in your usual spot and hit record, this one has real potential for you! Even investing a small amount of prep time well ahead of the event allows you to add elements of interest. For instance, some of our sports clients have three or four production meetings before a big game where they time everything out, including pregame and halftime shows. They also decide on topics to cover in the commentary (including contingency plans—i.e., “If this happens, let’s talk about it”), note which players are coming close to making milestones so they can keep track of it throughout the broadcast, and more. Churches can do the same. Find out ahead of time what the sermon is about and build elements into your live stream to enhance it. Get key quotes or passages before the service starts and have those ready for the broadcast—don’t try to do it on the fly. A little bit of preparation pays dividends.
Want your live stream to go off without a hitch? It’s all about preparation. Download this free Extensive Live Streaming Checklist to learn the steps you should take every time for a worry-free broadcast.
How To Improve Your Live Streaming Broadcast—Cash Required
Money isn’t everything, as you can see from the suggestions above, but it does help. Even moderate cash investments can do wonders for your live stream. Depending on your current situation, one of the suggestions below—in combination with one above!—might be just the thing you need to produce a more professional-looking broadcast.
1. Invest in an updated camera.
Any discussion about how to improve your live streaming usually includes upgrading your equipment. It goes without saying that a newer, nicer camera will increase the quality of your broadcast. But upgrading is also a good way to expand your resource pool. Buy a new primary camera and pass the original one down so that your secondary camera becomes your old camera. Your primary camera should always be the best because it’s used the most. But if you continue to upgrade and spread them out, you’ll increase the quality of your secondary and tertiary cameras very quickly. Remember to always vet the camera ahead of time to make sure it is compatible with your current streaming workflow (or chat with your friendly live streaming provider to be sure!).
2. Turn one of your cameras into a wireless camera.
Any camera can be turned into a wireless camera, but you might spend upward of $2,000 to do it, which makes this one of our more expensive suggestions. However, the capabilities of a wireless camera jive with some of the creative ideas above, like getting shots from different places you might not otherwise be able to go. That opens up a multitude of options for what you can actually do during a broadcast.
3. Upgrade your design elements.
Enlist the help of a graphic design firm (like 99designs) to come up with a unique identity for your broadcast. This doesn’t have to cost much; a little cash spent here goes a long way toward creating a more polished feel. A professional can help design custom logos, graphics, backgrounds, and your lower third, all of which help build your brand and enhance your presentation.
4. Invest in the right live streaming platform.
If you’re really interested in how to improve your live stream, make sure your platform has features you can grow into as time goes on. For instance, if you hope to eventually stream multiple events at once, make sure your platform supports multiplayer viewing. Additional features you might want to consider include on-demand viewing and the ability to integrate social media or live data for your viewers. Assess your needs and your current platform, and make sure it will continue to be a good fit well into the future.
If you’d like to talk to us about how our platform could work for you—or about how to improve your own live streaming—drop us a line! We’re always working to add new features and love to hear what live streamers are currently doing. Best of luck with your live streaming in 2017!