Recently, we have received inquiries from clients regarding how to livestream their content. In response, our own Brandon Johnson has written a white paper detailing what is needed to create a high-quality livestream. Please feel free to share!  

Livestreaming Overview

As the demand for the streaming of live content grows steadily, many performing arts organizations have found opportunities to take advantage of the technology to not only reach out to current audiences, but to find ways to connect with new audiences as well. The technology needed for livestreaming ranges from highly complex to very simple. Many are already providing streaming content to viewers using only a smartphone, though there are many inherent limitations with such a method. This overview highlights methods that will generate a quality level much higher that what is possible with a smartphone, and can be accomplished using the following:

  • DSLR Camera with clean HDMI output/tripod($400 – $2000)
  • HDMI to USB Adapter or Switcher with HDMI Inputs($150 – $5000)
  • Microphones/Stands/External Recorder/Mixer($300+)
  • Laptop with encoding software(cost varies-free software is available)
  • High speed internet connection(6 Mbps or higher)
  • Subscription with streaming/hosting platform such as Facebook, Twitch, Youtube(Free)
  • A DSLR or Camcorder that outputs a clean(without the camera’s status/data being shown)HDMI signal are great options for livestreaming.  They offer a high video quality, and can be mounted anywhere with a tripod. Many DSLR cameras also include an external audio input, and can receive professionally mixed audio from an external mixer or other audio source. For example, the Sony A6000($700) is an excellent choice, as it provides a clean HDMI signal and accepts external audio.
  • The next piece of hardware is the converter that will connect your HDMI signal to your laptop or computer, and ultimately to your streaming site. For doing single-camera broadcasts, a simple HDMI to USB adapter is all that is needed($145). For multi-camera livestreaming, a switcher is required to combine the multiple camera feeds(some switchers cost as little as $300, while others can cost several thousands). The HDMI cable from the camera connects to the adapter or switcher, and the switcher gets plugged into a USB port on your computer.
  • External audio can be fed into the camera-this is recommended to keep audio and video in sync.  A pair of microphones connected to a mixer or recorder is a very simple way to accomplish this. Be sure to set audio recording levels properly through the chain, as to not overload the camera’s audio inputs.
  • To encode your video for livestreaming on the internet, there is a variety of software available.  OBS(Open Broadcaster Software) is a free program that does this very well, and is available on Windows or Mac computers. OBS will convert your video/audio signal from your camera into a stream that is compatible with a variety of livestreaming content platforms(Youtube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch, etc). An internet connection with upload speeds of 6 Mbps or greater is recommended for streaming video content at 720p.
  • Lastly, an account or profile with the hosting site of your choice is required in order to send your stream out to the internet for people to watch. Each host/platform works differently, and has different features, so choose whichever suits your purposes best.  Many start with Youtube or Facebook, as most people are already affiliated with those platforms in some way.  

Livestreaming your concerts is a tool that can be utilised to achieve a great deal when it comes to reaching audiences near and far, and should be considered by anyone that is looking to grow and maintain a connection to their audience.  For around $1,000, using the laptop or computer that you already own, you can be up and running with high-quality livestream concerts. Soundmirror is able to provide a rental kit with the necessary hardware and software at a rate of $995/day, including an operator.  The kit may be rented without an operator for $400/day, but we recommend that first-time streamers rent with an operator to ensure optimal results.

Brandon Johnson, Engineer