What Kit do you Need to do a Livestream?
I do not mind admitting that the idea of capturing visuals and sound for a recording or livestreaming was a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as I had not done this before. After months of experimenting, researching, trial and error I finally got it. It is one of those things that when you know what you are doing it is not too difficult.
It seems whether you are interested in capturing a recording for a livestream, teaching online, or creating video content, knowing how to do a quality livestream is a useful skill to pull out of the bag. I’ve broken down what I’ve learnt, hopefully, it will help you too. This is the no-frills approach to get the job done approach for beginners.
Capturing the Visuals
For most of us, especially musicians, visuals are not as important as sound. I was pleasantly surprised just how good a decent webcam or phone set-up can be for visuals and I do not think my phone is that great! However the sound bit needed improvement especially for acoustic.
I used my phone recently to film Ian for a local community music project. I additionally captured the audio through a mic via an audio interface into a pc for editing together afterward.
Good lighting does help of course, so try and sit in front of a good light source, or if needed grab all the desk lights, and table lamps possible to throw some light on the shot. There are some lighting and tripod combinations which are budget friendly on Amazon, useful if your natural lighting isn’t great or you are recording on an evening, as a lot of musicians are.
Three Options for Capture Video for Livestreaming
- Basic setup = Phone on a tripod.
- Middle Option = A webcam
- Higher end a mirror-less digital camera.
Last year I spent a month looking over options and went for the Canon EOS M50 it was a ‘family purchase,’ bought last year because we didn’t have a camera of any description for video. One of the reasons for my choice was the amount of tutorials on Youtube about this camera. These have come in handy, I’ve used a few to improve my camera set-up. Easier to digest than reading the manual. Thankfully this camera has become very useful for livestreaming and doing online teaching. I do however go for the phone on occasions as it is just so easy. There was a bit of a learning curve for the Canon I have to admit as I’d never owned a camera like this before. I did get stuck at one point and the Canon customer service line was very helpful.
The Phone Setup
If you decide to experiment first with your phone that is absolutely fine. The less tech in the beginning, the easier it is to get started. I think I am defiantly a proponent of KISS (keep is simple stupid).
Remember to mount the phone on a tripod so that the screen is wide angle / horizontal. My daughter told me off for using the phone portrait, saying ‘mom you know old people use their phone that way.’ She was right of course much better to go for horizontal as below.
There are a few options on Amazon for mounting your phone to a tripod, an example being the Neewer Smartphone Camera Stabilizer Video Rig.
For even better camera visuals, get an extra-wide shot view by adding a wide-angle lens to your camera. Such addition can really improve the quality of your streaming visual.
If you invest in a webcam go for something that is at least 1080p (pixels) preferably with a wide-angle view and at least 30 frames per second. Anything above 1080p isn’t really needed and will increase the load on your broadband risking issues with broadband load times, especially if you are out of a major city.
Logitech C90 camera was a favorite for a long time you might be able to pick one of those up second hand. It has now been replaced by the C902s. It comes tens of thousands of 5.5 star reviews on Amazon that shows it’s value. Again you can mount this on your laptop or a tripod with a USB cable out to your laptop.
The recommended Logitech camera isn’t currently available in the US Amazon store (but worth checking) so I think this could be a good alternative given the features and excellent reviews it is showing high ratings and is still 1080p.
Capture the sound
For a decent sound capture you will need an audio interface or DI unit with enough channels for the various mic inputs. It should have a USB output so you can connect to your computer. A set of headphones plugged into the interface will enable you to monitor and adjust the levels simply.
Sound to Phone
If you wish to use your phone for the visuals, It is possible to take the sound from the interface and output this into the phone if you are streaming from your phone. Some interfaces have a ‘device link’ socket, if yours does, then you will simply need a lightening cable for either an Apple or android phone. If you do not have a device link output you will probably have a USB type B connector (sort of small square usb socket), if this is the case then all you need to get is a USB type b to lightening cable.
If you are unsure of what you have a quick search on google for your device handbook should explain the hardware outputs on the back of your device.
Sound to PC
If you intend to you use your PC for the visual capture (for example with a webcam) then you can easily plug your interface into your computer with the USB cable. Ensure that when you are on the Facebook live page that you select the correct sound input and video capture device.
You could end the process there and be quite satisfied with the audio, however, if you have several audio inputs or you are not happy with the audio on playback there is a further step which is not that difficult which will enhance your broadcast even more.
To Get Even Better Sound
Most of the social media platforms (including Facebook) compress the sound. To get around this and really polish the sound you should consider using OBS or Open Broadcast Software. This is a free ‘open’ software solution that you can download from the internet. www.obsproject.com It is available for Mac PC and Linux.
There are a few steps to be done in OBS to capture your audio and visuals. This video from a helpful Youtuber takes you through what is needed. There are a few videos on Youtube so I won’t go into too much detail here. Essentially you need to ensure your audio and video is captured correctly by selecting the required inputs in OBS.
Mix To Mono Your Audio Inputs
You can see in your audio mixer two input signals which are tracking the various inputs, in this case, two channels. If these are not equal in the mix you can adjust these by clicking on the little cog to the right of the display, see the red arrow.
Choose advanced properties, ensure that the audio input capture is mixed to mono which will that the inputs will be coming in on both sides.
If you want to hear yourself as per the recording you could do a mini recording before you go live by choosing the record button, record some vocals / audio and then stop and playback the recording.
The file is saved locally to your PC / Mac. You simply need to choose file (top left screen) > show recordings. Having located the file you can playback the recording to hear the sound mix.
There are of course more advanced techniques in OBS which you might wish to investigate on Youtube.
(NB you are unlikely to need to capture anything other than audio and video unless for example you are going to teach a student and would like to share your screen desktop).
Connecting OBS with Facebook
Before you go live on Facebook you need to connect OBS with Facebook. This is quite simply a case of getting a ‘stream key’ from Facebook and adding it to OBS.
In Facebook after you choose to do a live stream you will see the admin panel fo the event, from there you can see the ‘getting started’ and the ‘Use Stream Key Button.’ Copy the stream key number from Facebook and return to OBS.
Choose: OBS > preferences, and then Stream >
Under Service> choose Facebook Live. Paste the key into the box > ok
You can then choose to livestream from OBS with quality audio and video.
I have another post on using Eventbrite and Zoom for ticketed online events. Facebook as of May 2020 does not support paid for private events, however, you can use your Facebook page to sell your livestream event tickets. If you want to get paid through a ticketed event your best option is to use Zoom. In the near future it is expected that Facebook live will support paid for events within its platform. At of writing the best way to get paid for Facebook live gigs is through a paypal.me link which you can add to your event description and then promote to your audience.
Things are definitely heading in the right direction to support online streaming. We’ll wait to see what Facebook pushes out with its revised Facebook Live offering. Remember to stream where your audience is. Bite the bullet and start to learn the tech, you can only build on the skills.
Author: Zoe Humble
(links used are not affiliate)