How to Stream to Facebook Live

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In Publishing Tools, click Videos on the far left (number 1 in Figure 4), then Live on the top right (number 2). This opens the screen in the center of the figure that contains the publishing information Server URL and the Stream Key. If you open the Stream Settings dialog in OBS, or the analogous screen in other programs, you'll find fields into which you can copy and paste these values, as well as fields for your name and password.

Note that the Stream Key only remains valid for 24 hours. Once you've actually previewed the video, you only have 1 hour to go live. This should be plenty of time for prebroadcast checks, but if you're running a separate rehearsal, you'll need a different Stream Key/Server URL combination.


Figure 4. Here's where you get your Server URL and Stream Key to paste into your live streaming program.

Configuring Your Stream

If a program doesn't have a preset for Facebook Live, you'll have to create one. Note that Facebook has three very specific requirements for the compressed stream you supply as the live input:

  • Maximum 720p resolution at 30fps
  • An I-frame at least once every 2 seconds throughout
  • A maximum bitrate of 2500Kbps for both audio and video

Configure your outbound stream to meet these requirements. When you're ready to go live, start the outbound stream in OBS. Then click Preview on the bottom right of Figure 4 to move to the screen shown in Figure 5. Here you'll add a few finishing touches before going live. Specifically, the Basic tab contains the title and any video tags, which is obviously critical for potential viewers to find your videos. The Destination tab contains the Server ID and Stream Key, while the Advanced tab lets you prohibit embedding and designate your broadcast a "Continuous Live Video" that extends beyond 90 minutes. Facebook will likely eventually let you target a Profile, Event, or Group from this screen, but I couldn't when I wrote this review.


Figure 5. Final configurations before going live

On the bottom left in Figure 5 are options for tagging people in the video, choosing your mood and location, and restricting your audience as shown in the figure. When you're ready, click Save to close the Audience Restrictions screen (if open), and then click Go Live on the bottom right of Figure 5 to start the broadcast. You'll automatically move to the Video Details screen shown in Figure 6, which is the control room from which you'll monitor your live event.


Figure 6. The live broadcast control room

What are the gaps in this workflow? There aren't many, except you can't publish to your Profile or any Groups or Events, only the Page you started from back in Figure 3. This is a problem if your marketing department wants the broadcast somewhere else.

Facebook Live and Wirecast

In Wirecast, you have a completely different workflow (Figure 7). Specifically, you start in Wirecast's Output Settings dialog. Next, you click the Output Settings dialog, choose Facebook Live as the destination, and enter your credentials. This lets you skip over the steps shown in Figures 3–5, but you lose your ability to target your audience as shown in Figure 5. However, Telestream will likely address this in an upcoming release. In addition, Wirecast lets you publish on your Profile or any Page associated with the Profile, but not to a Group or Event.


Figure 7. Logging in to Facebook Live from Wirecast

In addition, there's the little matter of opening the screen shown in Figure 6, which you'll want to see during the event. If you're publishing to a Page, just click the Insights page (Figure 8) and select the event. This is also where you'll go to find event analytics afterward, or to Boost the post once it's been converted to VOD (you can't Boost live events).


Figure 8. The Insights page, where you can open the Video Details page by clicking the event

How do you get to the Video Details screen shown in Figure 6 if you're broadcasting to a Profile, Group, or Event? I emailed a product marketing person at Facebook (who never responded) and asked several vendors who work with the service, but I was unable to find out. If there isn't a way to get there today, there almost certainly will be soon.

Using the Facebook Live API

While you can't stream directly to Profiles, Groups, or Events in the Facebook widget shown in Figure 4, developers can target these destinations through Facebook's Live API (live.fb.com/api). One developer, the iag.Me Seriously Social site, has created a widget that everyone can use to broadcast to various locations supported in their Facebook accounts (Figure 9).


Figure 9. A third-party widget for broadcasting to a Group or Timeline

I used the widget to broadcast to my Profile Page. It seems secure, though I have no way of knowing for sure. This also doesn't get you to the control screen shown in Figure 6. Once you complete the wizard shown in Figure 9, it disappears, rather than taking you to the Video Details screen.

I contacted Ian Anderson Gray, the owner of iag.Me, and asked if he knew of a way to access analytics when streaming to a profile, group, or event. He responded, "The Facebook Live Video Details screen is only available to pages at the moment. Hopefully Facebook will roll this out to profiles and groups soon. It may be possible for a developer to create this, but I am not sure."

So there it is. As you stream live to a Page, you should have no trouble managing the event or accessing the analytics once it's over. Otherwise, the control and analytics side is unclear. But I'm sure these issues will be addressed in the next few months—perhaps even by the time you've read this article.

[This article appears in the September issue of Streaming Media magazine.]

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