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How to Stream With a Portable Encoder to Facebook Live

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As an aside, I originally attempted to work through this process in the Chrome browser, which failed miserably. After several hours of flailing, I switched to Internet Explorer, which worked perfectly. As I later learned, I was testing with a version of Chrome that automatically disabled Flash, which the LiveU configuration schema still required.

It’s highly unlikely this scenario will still be in effect when you read this tutorial, but it does highlight two major points—that all browsers operate slightly differently, and that browser vendors can make decisions that can adversely affect the operation of devices and services that depend on them. When working with a browser-based service or device, if at first you don’t succeed, don’t try and try again as I did with Chrome. Rather, try another browser.

STEP 1. CHOOSE THE DESTINATION

To get started with your broadcast, click Select New Destination (Figure 3). This takes you to the screen seen in Figure 4, which contains multiple presets (along with generic templates not shown that are further down on the page). For any service with a preset, you’ll select the preset, then log in or otherwise link the service to your Solo unit. I’ll do this for Facebook in the next step.

Figure 4. Choosing a preset

If you’re working with a different on-camera encoder, you’ll likely find one of two basic operational schemas. For many devices, particularly those that are bonding multiple internet connections, operation will be very similar to LiveU. That is, you’ll log into the vendor’s portal, choose the appropriate preset, log in to connect the service and the encoder, and set up and manage the event within the portal.

Another schema connects the encoder to a mobile app for configuration and control, but typically these only manage a single internet connection. Using the app, you can easily connect to a service, usually with a preset, and control the event from the app.

STEP 2. LOG INTO FACEBOOK

Since we’re broadcasting to Facebook Live, I’ll log into my Facebook account (Figure 5) to connect Solo with Facebook. This routes the bonded signals from the Solo through the portal to Facebook. If I wanted to broadcast directly to Facebook Live, I would use a generic RTMP preset and enter the server address and stream name manually.

Figure 5. Connecting the Solo portal to my Facebook account

STEP 3. CONFIGURE THE EVENT

In Figure 6, I’m configuring the event. Just work through all the tabs atop the screen and press Submit when you’re finished.

Figure 6. Configuring the Facebook Live Event

During your first few tests, you’ll likely want to broadcast so that only you can see the post. As far as I can tell, you can do this when broadcasting to a personal profile as opposed to a page (I show the VA9th page below), though this may change by the time you read this tutorial. Whatever the case, you’ll want to experiment with starting and stopping several private broadcasts before you take your first live stream public.

Note that the RTMP addresses created during this configuration expire after 24 hours. So, if you’re going to create the event beforehand to take live via the Solo hardware in the field, keep this in mind, since you’ll have to do this within 24 hours of the actual event.

STEP 4. GO LIVE

To go live, you can either click Go Live on the top right in Figure 7 or press the On/Off switch on the Solo hardware, which is the button below the joystick in Figure 8.

Figure 7. Click Go Live on the top right to start the event.

Once you start streaming, whether from the portal or the unit, you’ll see the Streaming indicator on the hardware unit as shown in Figure 8. Here, I’m pushing 4Mbps using only the Verizon modem.

Figure 8. We’re live and streaming at 4Mbps.

STEP 5. MONITOR THE EVENT

If you’re broadcasting to a page, you can open the Post Details screen shown in Figure 9 by clicking Publishing Tools and clicking the video post. This lets you see the stats but doesn’t let you respond to any comments or reactions. For the record, I took the Solo live multiple times while creating this tutorial, but am substituting images from a ballet as more interesting than internal scenes from my office.

Figure 9. Publishing stats from the Post Details page (simulated screen)

If you’re streaming to a profile page, your only option is to view and monitor the video as you would any other post (Figure 10). Again, this may be different when you read this tutorial since the Facebook Live service is evolving quickly.

Figure 10. Monitoring comments from the regular post (simulated screen)

When It’s Complete

Once the event is complete, you stop the stream by pressing the On/Off button on the hardware unit or the Stop button in the browser, which the Go Live button shown in Figure 6 changes to once you start the stream. At this point, Facebook automatically converts the live stream to VOD for post-event viewing.

The Solo and portal are polished product offerings that I’ve used multiple times, including to stream live from Streaming Media East in 2017. Still, it takes a few tries before you grok the schema and workflow and iron out all the wrinkles. As with any live event and any piece of new equipment, you’re best served by practicing several dry runs before the actual event.

[This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Streaming With a Portable Encoder to Facebook Live."]

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