I got a question the other day about how to live stream an event. This person had a great idea, they wanted to live stream some of the chapel times at camp for the parents back home so they could feel a part of what was going on. I thought it was a great application for this technology. A few years ago offering a stream of a live event on the Internet would have cost a small fortune and required a truck load of equipment. Today it’s surprisingly easy and inexpensive. Here’s a quick tutorial of how to do it.
Equipment you’ll need: A computer (preferably a laptop if you’re on the road), internet connection, video camera
Optional: Microphone (although this really shouldn’t be)
How to do it:
- You’ll need an account at one of the streaming services. They are a bunch of them, and most of them offer a free level that ad supported. I use Ustream.tv, and have been really happy with it. I use it to stream the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast and have also used it to stream sessions at the National Youth Ministry Conference. There’s newer service called, LiveStream.com that looks really good also that I’ve been tempted to try out. Stickam.com is another option for you.
- Once you have you’re account setup, plug in your camera. This might be a simple as a webcam (this is a good one), a home video camera, or a big professional rig. One warning is the better your camera, the better your computer needs to be to keep up with the video stream. As a point of reference, my 2 year old MacBook Pro can’t keep up with an HD signal, but most of the free services won’t allow an HD stream anyway. So a nice Standard Def stream is probably your best bet. Another thing to watch out for is some of the services will only accept 4 x 3 screen ratios, so if you’re camera is normally letterbox you may need to if you can change it in your settings menu. This is also where if you have a microphone you’ll want to plug it in. You may find what you are doing the built in microphone in your camera is just fine, but usually most people want something a little better. There are some great external mics that you may want to get to connect directly to your camera. Or you might want to get the audio directly into your computer. If it’s a small area you are filming in, a nice USB mic to may work well. I use a Snowball from Blue it works well and is a great omnidirectional option if you have a group of people. If you have a traditional XLR mic you’d like to use you can get a XLR to USB setup. If you have a little more of a production you working with you may want to take a line out of the sound board and into your camera.
- Once you have the video and sound set, you’ll want to press the broadcast now button available once your logged into your streaming service. It will ask what audio and video source to use, and pick the appropriate one for your setup. In ustream once you press the broadcast now it actaully doesn’t directly start broadcasting, but pulls up the control panel. Here you can test your settings before pushing your stream live. When your ready you can push it live, and even record the stream if you want to.
- Once you begin your broadcast, the last step is getting people to watch. The easiest way is to embed the video on your own site and directing people there to watch. You can also direct people to the show page for the streaming service you’re using.
Remember that one of the bonuses of streaming is that people are limited to just watching, you can also have a chat room with the video so people watching can comment and interact with what they are watching. I find this to be one of the best parts of live streaming an event. It’s amazing the engagement people can have while watch a video. It’s a great way to interact and build community with those that can’t be at the event live. If you have an extra person helping you out, I recommend assigning someone whose job is to monitor and interact with the chat. Not only can they act as moderator, but they can also help the chatters feel a part of what’s happening in real time.
There’s a lot of great uses for this technology. I already mentioned the idea of doing this from camp, but you could also do any event.
What ideas do you have for live streaming?