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