The video production for your livestream can be an elaborate, multi-camera/location setup, or as simple as one person sitting in front of a webcam. It’s up to you to decide what you want and need and to produce the video content / livestream outside of the software. This article provides on overview for planning and producing your livestream. Once you've decided how to produce your feed, use these instructions to connect your livestream feed to your event site.
Latency is the amount of time that lapses between when something is recorded and when the viewers see it.
Our built-in streaming platform provides extremely low latency - typically < 1 second) for direct, unedited video feeds (broadcasting from a single webcam).
Using multiple webcams, locations and/or incorporating pre-recorded videos, static images and overlays (green screens) require more processing and will introduce additional latency (typically +1- 5 seconds) depending on the level of processing and the tools/settings used.
Planning your Livestream:
Easy and Lowest Latency: Direct Video Feed from a single webcam
Broadcasting from a single webcam is the simplest and fastest option. From a technical perspective, this is the easiest set-up. . . once you've chosen the direct feed option you'll click a "Broadcast" button from the computer you're going to use for the webcast, then "Start Livestream" when you're ready to launch. All livestream feeds launch in preview mode - when you're ready to stream to your supporters, a slider allows you to switch from preview to live.
- To minimize latency on direct video feeds, you'll want to make sure you're recording from a well-powered computer with highspeed and reliable connectivity.
- To prevent feedback from multiple mics - all other computers/devices in the webcast room must be muted or used exclusively with headphones.
- If possible, conduct a dress rehearsal at least a day before your event. Test lighting, audio, connectivity, video feed and all communications/instructions you'll be sending to your supporters.
More Tools and Low Latency: Multiple and/or Pre-Recorded Video Feeds
If you want to include pre-recorded videos, static images, overlays and/or video feeds from more than one location/webcam, you'll need to use additional tools (or the services of a video professional) to manage the various elements within your livestream.
Regardless of the tools used, your video content needs to be formatted using the web-standard RTMP protocol.
Be aware that software and services may use differing versions of the RTMP protocol and thus may not be compatible with our software. It is not possible for us to test/verify compatibility with all products on the market, we can only tell you which products we know will work (and those with known problems). If you do not find the product you want to use on the list below - it may or may not be compatible - it is your responsibility to test in advance - and we cannot provide support on products we are not familiar with.
ManyCam offers both free and low cost ($60) options for incorporating pre-recorded videos and/or multiple webcam feeds into your livestream. It is fairly easy to use and both free and paid options provide the same features/tools - but the free version will display the ManyCam branding as a watermark on the lower portion of your livestream.
StreamYard provides a low cost ($20-$39/month) option. Note: Streamyard's free version is NOT compatible with our software. Streamyard is an online tool, so it doesn’t require any installation (though it does require that you use Chrome or Firefox).
Streamyard is a better option for incorporating feeds from multiple locations than OBS (see below), but it doesn't have direct support for streaming a pre-recorded video clip (though it is possible to use it’s screen share feature to share the video from your screen.)
Open Broadcast Software (OBS) is free open-source software - it is a very powerful, robust tool, but it is not the easiest piece of software to use. It should be learned well ahead of the event, by someone who is computer and video savvy. If you choose to use OBS, you must edit your Output settings to support our ultra low latency stream.
OBS is a better choice than StreamYard for incorporating pre-recorded videos, but does not have the tools needed to incorporate feeds from multiple locations.
If no one on your team has experience or expertise with Video production - you should consider hiring a video studio or professional. Video production for live streaming can be fairly complex, especially since additional "processing" creates additional latency. The difference between amateur and professional video production for livestream may be most noticeable in realized (vs anticipated) latency level.
VMix offers robust tools that are designed/priced for and used by professionals.
Note: Vmix indicates that if you are broadcasting to multiple sources, any issues with one source may affect another. For this reason, we do not recommend sending your feed to multiple sources simultaneously. In addition, sending to multiple sources significantly increases the required bandwidth and cpu/gpu requirements of the machine being used for the video broadcast.
Tools with Known Issues :
Black Magic Design The software Black Magic uses to connect to YouTube, facebook, Twitch, and Vimeo does not support direct connection to our software. To utilize Black Magic's hardware components (camera/audio), refer to their instructions for USB webcam output for video software (OBS recommended, see above). Be aware that even though Black Magic's output rate is fixed at 1080p - OBS/external software should still use our specified setting of 720p.
Castr (Does Not Connect)
Livestream Studio (Unreliable Audio and Video)
Director Multicam Studio (Unreliable Audio and Video)
Our platform is designed for an ultra-low latency livestream feed and uses a different technology than typical online live streaming services (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc). You must configure the external software/services differently for our "real-time" livestream than you would for a higher latency platform. Click here for more information and our Specified Settings.
To ensure the success of ANY livestream:
You MUST use a well-powered computer(s) with up-to-date operating systems and browser to broadcast.
- Tablets, chromebooks, or any device running Internet Explorer are NOT suitable for livestreaming.
- Livestreaming will consume a significant portion of a typical laptop's CPU. If it exceeds 70% of CPU, you can expect the quality and reliability of the livestream to suffer.
- If your streaming software supports a graphics card, we recommend using one (typically an NVidia based card).
- The broadcast machine should ONLY be used for the broadcast- no other browsers, windows, tabs, or applications should be running while livestreaming.
- If you are broadcasting to more than one location (which we don't recommend), you MUST use software in combination with a machine rated for video/livestream broadcasting. Using an online service, such as Streamyard is safer as they have dedicated video hardware to handle multiple streaming.
You MUST have a strong, reliable, high-speed connection to the internet for the computer(s) you are broadcasting from. We HIGHLY recommend using a wired ethernet connection for this machine.
- Most Wi-Fi setups, locations with moderate connectivity, Hot Spots, buildings with deadzones are NOT suitable for livestreaming. Because Wi-Fi is a shared resource, it is not as reliable and adds additional latency.
Restrict the number of other devices/windows connected to the livestream in the broadcast room/building to the minimum necessary.
- Be aware that each device/window/tab in the broadcast room/building that is connected to the livestream will consume 1.5mb/s of the bandwidth available. This may not sound significant, but many people assume their internet speed is much higher than it actually is (see below). You may be paying for 1gig speed, but if your router only supports 100mb/s, you probably only have (at the best of times) 70mb/s - so having a few more laptops, each with several tabs open to different streaming pages will add up quickly.
Test actual internet speeds at your broadcasting location:
- Conduct several speed tests at your broadcast location(s) using multiple services such as http://compari.tech/speed or http://speedtest.net. Keep in mind that these services are designed to measure your "best case" bandwidth rather than average or reliably achieved bandwidth.
- Remember that the actual speeds delivered by your internet provider fluctuate based on current bandwidth usage in the wider neighborhood - so be sure to conduct tests at the same day/time as your broadcast. Try to anticipate and make allowances for other events that could affect the bandwidth availability during your event (eg March Madness, weather related outages, another event in the building/complex, etc)
Testing Your Livestream
You MUST conduct at least two tests of your livestream:
1. Well in advance of your event to confirm compatible production software and equipment, adequate bandwidth and the quality of the livestream across a broad spectrum of devices/connectivity.
We recommend testing the livestream itself at least one week prior, then running a "dress rehearsal" at least one day PRIOR in the location(s) and using the same equipment you'll be using for your event. Trying to pull it all together the morning of your event creates unnecessary stress, dramatically narrows your options for adjustments and our ability to assist you.
2. Within 90 minutes of your specified start time. Your event site will be moved to a dedicated, live server two hours prior to the start time you specified in Site Settings > Virtual Event > General. It takes 5-15 minutes to spool up to the new server - so you should avoid testing during the server transfer AND conduct a quick test on the new server to confirm there are no cacheing issues. IF you notice and glitches or synching issues on the Live server - reboot the machine you are broadcasting from to clear any caches.