Over the coming days and weeks I’ll put together some detailed guides about using all of the bits below with screenshots etc. For now I hope the below is useful to you. Any questions please get in touch: .uk

For more info and how-to videos and articles please visit this page which goes alongside this article:
https://www.theatrebath.co.uk/online-streaming-guide/


I’ve spent the last few weeks playing with online streaming options to see what works, what doesn’t etc and I thought it may be useful to share that information with you in case any of you are planning to do live streaming of events etc. Most of it is quite easy to set up but I am happy to arrange a zoom meeting or skype meeting to help walk people through it if anyone has any questions. I’ve gone mainly with free or cheap options (as I don’t have a huge budget myself) but there are more expensive options available as well. All of this is just based on my own trial and error and there are lots of other options available.

Internet Connection:
Try and use a wired internet connection where you can. It will work on Wifi but a wired connection will give you a more stable stream. Also if you’re doing this from home it’s probably an idea to make sure the whole household isn’t streaming music or videos at the same time you’re trying to broadcast.


Webcams:
They are currently like gold-dust for a decent one. Amazon has sold out of all of the decent ones. If you’re looking for a good, high-quality webcam for streaming content then Logitech do some good ones (currently you can still buy them direct from their website but delivery is slow). Microsoft do a life camera (again this is out of stock currently). One thing to consider is that the more bells and whistles the webcam has the more computing memory it takes to use and possibly more bandwidth.

If you don’t have access to a webcam there are a couple of work-arounds. You can download apps and turn your smart-phone into a webcam. I’ve been using Epoch Camera which has a free version (with hideous advertising and watermarks) and a paid version for ยฃ7.99. It works okay. There are some connectivity issues occasionally with it but for a cheap work around this seems to work.

You can also set up your phone as an NDI camera. This a broadcast quality camera but which uses low bandwidth so ideal for streaming. Epoch Cam has an option to connect via NDI, USB and over WIFI. To use NDI you will need to download the NDI framework and install it on your computer first. (more about that in the Skype/OBS section below).

It’s also worth noting that Windows only allow you to use a single camera/device for one app at a time. So if you wanted to do an interview with two people in the same room at the same time you would ideally need two cameras (unless they were sat next to each other).

Microphone:
It is worth considering getting a pod-casting microphone or similar that runs from USB to increase your sound quality. There are many different ones available online and you get what you pay for really. There are a range called “Yeti” which seem to be quite good. Other than that stick with known brands Rode, Shure etc. Or if you have access to a good external USB sound card you can plug microphones (such as the SM58) directly into that.

Headphones:
It’s useful for audio clarity to use headphones – especially when connecting with more than one person. This also helps limit feedback noise when you’re live streaming with multiple people / sources.

Online meetings:
Zoom seems to be the go to platform. You can connect up to 100 people at a time for 40 mins on the free version. Their pro account package offers you many more features and costs ยฃ11.99 a month. There are versions across all platforms including good mobile apps. There have been a few questions raised about the security of Zoom. I would recommend generating an random meeting ID for meetings and using a password. Use the waiting room option and then manually allow people to enter the room when you recognize them. Don’t give out your personal meeting ID anywhere online. This should stop unwanted people from Zoom Bombing you with inappropriate content.


Live Streaming Useful Links:
To get the most out of your live streaming it’s worth heading to individual platforms configuration pages. This will give you more control over your feeds than just hitting the “live” button on individual platforms.

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/live/create – this allows you to have more control over your broadcast, to schedule up a broadcast, to stream to multiple pages and groups and also to customise how your stream looks. You can also connect streaming software here to feed directly into Facebook.

YouTube: https://studio.youtube.com/ Lots of options here to schedule video premieres or live stream. If it’s your first-time streaming with YouTube you do need to allow for 24 hours for them to activate your studio account.

Periscope: (Twitter):https://www.periscope.tv/account/producer – lots of hints on best video and audio resolutions etc. Please note once you have set up your stream you need to click preview first before you can go live on Periscope. Once you have previewed mute the sound on the periscope player before pressing “live” otherwise it could cause you feedback issues during live streams.

Instagram: Not so easy to use a streaming platform to go live on Instagram. Essentially they haven’t publicly released their streaming keys so it makes streaming to them slightly harder – but not impossible. The best bet is from the app directly – but this does mean you can only go live on their platform and nowhere else. One option I have found is by using a service called Loola – they are one of only a few simulcasting or multistream platforms to enable you to connect to Instagram as well. https://loola.tv/ – it’s also worth noting that Instagram streams in Portrait rather than landscape so you may end up cropping things out of the video accidentally. To get around this try and make sure you (or whatever you are streaming) is at the very centre of the camera shot.

Multistreaming/Simulcasting:
If you want to broadcast the same feed across multiple platforms this is easily achieved using a re-streaming / simulcast broadcast account. Essentially what this means is you send one stream of content to one of the re-streaming platforms and the platform then sends it out to different social media accounts for you. This saves you bandwidth and lets their servers take the extra workload and strain. It also means you only have to worry about getting one feed working. There are many different price options available depending on what you want to achieve. I use Castr.io https://castr.io/ – their free account should be more than adequate for most organisations needs and is fairly easy to configure.

Streaming Software:
You need a platform to create the feed to send out to multicasting platforms. Even if you only want to just stream to a single platform using streaming software can make your videos look much more professional. You can add logos, images, pre-recorded videos, text etc over the top. I use OBS Studio which is an opensource piece of software and free to download. https://obsproject.com/ – using OBS you can stream directly to any of your favorite social media platforms or connect it directly to a multi-streaming site.

Using OBS you can do a window capture and live stream Zoom meetings for example. I used this to broadcast a Theatre Quiz live by screen-sharing a powerpoint on Zoom of the quiz questions and then capturing that window in OBS. It seemed to work quite well.

Interviews or streams with more than one person (ie conversations etc)
If you want to host interviews or say talks that include more than one person in a different location you can do this using OBS. There are several options. You could use Zoom and do a screen capture. The paid version of Zoom also allows you to stream directly from the app to one platform (such as Facebook, YouTube etc). The downside of this is that you don’t have much control over how the live stream looks.

You can use Skype. Enable NDI Streams in settings. Create a group call. Make sure you download the full version and not the app version on Windows 10 as it doesn’t seem to work from there. You will need to download the NDI framework and install that on your computer as well. But essentially using OBS you are able to capture the video and audio from each individual caller separately and then you can arrange those feeds in OBS so that you can have people next to each other on the screen or set up scenes to allow speakers to go full screen or you could switch between a few different presets to get different views. The downside on the free version is that you get a Skype logo watermark on each of the video feeds. This is currently a requirement by Skype to show you are using their platform. I believe there are high-end paid options which remove the watermark (but would require you to buy one of Skype’s broadcasting devices which aren’t cheap).

There are a few things you’ll need to download to get NDI working with Skype
The Plugin for OBS: https://obsproject.com/forum/resources/obs-ndi-newtek-ndi%E2%84%A2-integration-into-obs-studio.528/
The NDI Framework: https://ndi.palakis.fr/runtime/ndi-runtime-4.5.1-Windows.exe

This is by no means an exhaustive list and based on personal opinion but certainly I’ve found all of the methods above workable and usable.

Under my other hat I’ve briefly reactivated Theatre Bath to share information during this time. One of the things I’d like to do is a series of interviews – or “In Conversation With” pieces live across our platforms. If any organisations would be interested in being involved with this – maybe talking about what online alternatives you’re offering, plans for the future etc then please do let me know and we can arrange a time for that to happen.


I don’t know if any of the above is useful to any of you but please do get in touch if you want to talk through any of the possibilities – unsurprisingly I’m not doing very much at the moment so have lots of time to help offer advice, where I can.

Stay safe and hopefully see you all soon!

Luke John Emmett

.uk