Sources: associationsnow.com/iStock

Many dai­ly process­es are increas­ing­ly mov­ing online — busi­ness, learn­ing and sim­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion. New con­di­tions require new ways to con­nect with your audi­ence, cus­tomers and friends. One of the most pop­u­lar ways of com­mu­ni­ca­tion today is online broad­cast­ing, or video stream­ing.

Video call­ing seems like a no-brain­er when you’re just talk­ing to friends on your smart­phone, but if, for exam­ple, a yoga teacher sud­den­ly needs to move their class­es online, a much more thought­ful approach is required. What do you need in order to con­duct an online video broad­cast? The choice of equip­ment and stream­ing plat­forms can be over­whelm­ing for a begin­ner, so we have pre­pared a few basic rec­om­men­da­tions to help you take the first steps.

What will be needed first?

First, make sure you have a reli­able high-speed Inter­net con­nec­tion — this is a must. The more band­width, the bet­ter it is for your broad­cast. Sec­ond­ly, you will most like­ly want to use a qual­i­ty cam­era that will show you and your prod­ucts in the best pos­si­ble light. Third­ly, a sep­a­rate micro­phone will come in handy so that your audi­ence can hear you well.

Choose a platform for broadcasting

While it may seem nat­ur­al to first choose which cam­era you want to use, in prac­tice it’s best to start by choos­ing the plat­form you’re going to use for stream­ing and then adapt your hard­ware to it. Some ser­vices have video con­tent res­o­lu­tion restric­tions and spe­cial con­nec­tion require­ments that will lim­it your hard­ware capa­bil­i­ties. Some of the more pop­u­lar ser­vices are list­ed below.

Face­book Live allows you to sched­ule and host live broad­casts from your Face­book account for free, as well as receive feed­back from your view­ers. The ser­vice also allows you to save live broad­casts. The eas­i­est way to access Face­book Live is from a smart­phone or tablet, but the ser­vice also allows you to con­nect cam­eras through your com­put­er using Face­book-com­pat­i­ble third-par­ty apps.

YouTube Live is a sim­i­lar free ser­vice that also has real-time sched­ul­ing and com­men­tary fea­tures, with a slight­ly wider range of cam­era com­pat­i­bil­i­ty options. The ser­vice also allows you to direct­ly con­nect with indi­vid­ual users, which is con­ve­nient for lec­tures, sem­i­nars, etc.

Source: cbc.ca

Zoom is even more adapt­able in this regard, per­fect for sem­i­nars and col­lab­o­ra­tion: all con­nect­ed users are dis­played in small win­dows on the screen. The ser­vice pro­vides many spe­cial tools for broad­cast­ing, and con­nect­ing your cam­era to the stream is quite sim­ple.

Basic set

When using a com­put­er to broad­cast, the eas­i­est way is to con­nect a web­cam, such as the Log­itech B525, which pro­vides a basic HD pic­ture, fast con­nec­tion and easy USB con­nec­tion. For video calls, you don’t need any­thing spe­cial, any smart­phone or tablet with a cam­era and the appro­pri­ate app will work with­out any has­sle.

Source: logitech.com

Because a web­cam or com­put­er may not have a micro­phone, a stan­dard lava­lier or USB micro­phone is great for stream­ing clear­er, more intel­li­gi­ble audio.

Source: zoom.co.jp

How­ev­er, if you are, say, teach­ing yoga, a wired micro­phone might not be the most con­ve­nient option. Upgrad­ing to Zoom Q2n-4K can be even more inter­est­ing — the device can simul­ta­ne­ous­ly shoot wide-angle video, trans­mit it in 4K via micro-HDMI and record high-qual­i­ty sound through a pro­fes­sion­al micro­phone.

Intermediate set

If the basic options are not enough for your tasks, and you want to use a more advanced cam­era — a cam­corder, DSLR or mir­ror­less cam­era that you prob­a­bly already have, then there are sev­er­al options.

Pana­son­ic HC-VX980

For exam­ple, a cam­corder like the Pana­son­ic HC-VX980 is a great option for tak­ing your broad­casts to the next lev­el in pic­ture qual­i­ty. It deliv­ers high-def­i­n­i­tion video up to 4K, fea­tures a 20x Leica zoom lens so you can cap­ture even the small­est details, and a micro-HDMI con­nec­tor for trans­fer­ring high-def­i­n­i­tion video to your com­put­er. You can eas­i­ly con­nect the cam­era to your com­put­er using Elga­to Cam link 4K, Magewell USB Cap­ture HDMI Gen 2 or oth­er sim­i­lar device that allows you to trans­mit HDMI sig­nal via USB port con­nect­ed to your com­put­er, so you can use the full cam­era like a nor­mal cam­era web­cam. You can also con­nect a DSLR or mir­ror­less cam­era with a suit­able HDMI con­vert­er and cable.

Advanced streaming

For your com­pa­ny pre­sen­ta­tion or online class, one cam­era and a lap­top may not be enough, and con­nect­ing mul­ti­ple cam­eras will require some addi­tion­al invest­ment. If you have mul­ti­ple cam­eras with HDMI out­puts, you can include a device like the Roland VR-1HD in your set­up, which allows you to switch between cam­eras and con­trol audio lev­els from the pro­fes­sion­al XLR audio inputs.

Roland VR-1HD. Source: videomaker.com

You can also use two cam­eras by con­nect­ing them to a com­put­er if it has a con­fig­urable PCIe slot, using a video card with two HDMI ports and switch­ing soft­ware, which will allow you to send each stream to a sep­a­rate plat­form, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly stream­ing to YouTube and YouTube, for exam­ple. Face­book. If you don’t have a PCIe slot, devices like the already named Magewell for cam­eras with HDMI ports or the Black­mag­ic Design Micro SDI to HDMI Con­vert­er for pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras with SDI ports will do.

When using mul­ti­ple cam­eras and audio sources, each cam­era may need a direc­tion­al shot­gun micro­phone. For exam­ple, the Rode VideoM­ic Rycote offers high qual­i­ty sound in a fair­ly com­pact form fac­tor, or if you want a wire­less sys­tem, you can check out the Rode Wire­less GO.

For broad­casts that require a wider range of cam­era place­ment, such as music or small sports broad­casts, PTZ cam­eras with remote lens direc­tion and zoom con­trol can be a good choice.

One often over­looked aspect of video stream­ing is light­ing. It’s espe­cial­ly frus­trat­ing to ruin your broad­cast with bad light­ing after you’ve already invest­ed in a good cam­era, pro­fes­sion­al micro­phone, and oth­er acces­sories. Remem­ber the basics of light­ing — the light should be placed in front or side of the sub­ject, but not behind. Putting the mod­el right in front of the win­dow is not a good idea unless you want it to be com­plete­ly dark, but using a side win­dow works just fine.

LED illu­mi­na­tor Ray­lab F002

For addi­tion­al light­ing, you can use LED illu­mi­na­tors: ring light, small on-cam­era sources or LED pan­els. We will dis­cuss the issue of light­ing for shoot­ing vlogs and stream­ing in more detail in the fol­low­ing arti­cles.

If you have had a suc­cess­ful (or unsuc­cess­ful) video stream­ing expe­ri­ence, feel free to share it in the com­ments. We are also inter­est­ed in what equip­ment you use and how it meets your expec­ta­tions.

* when prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resources bhphotovideo.com and dpreview.com were used


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