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Six Tips for Planning a Professional-Looking Live-Streamed Event

With a little planning and foresight, you can avoid some of the mistakes many inexperienced live event producers encounter, ensuring your live-streamed event is professionally produced with maximum reliability.

[This Telestream-sponsored article was originally published as part of Streaming Media's "Shoot, Switch, Stream" Live Production Field Guide.]

With today’s video streaming technology, virtually anyone can become a broadcaster via the Internet. However, even as streaming technology becomes more affordable and accessible, viewing audiences remain accustomed to a certain level of professionalism and quality, based on years of watching broadcast TV. With a little planning and foresight, you can avoid some of the mistakes many inexperienced live event producers encounter, ensuring your live-streamed event is professionally produced with maximum reliability.

1. Take Time to Evaluate Your Production Environment

Whether you’re streaming a small production from the local school’s baseball field, or a multifaceted live event from a venue with multiple cameras, the first thing you need to consider is your production venue. It’s a good idea to personally evaluate the unique facets of your production location. Seeing the location in advance of the live shoot is the best way to plan for and head off potential problems. Following are the kinds of things you’ll want to check out:

  • Where can you set up your video production gear, including your cameras, switcher, lights, microphones, and other equipment?
  • Is the available lighting adequate or very low, and will you be allowed to position auxiliary lighting fixtures at the venue?
  • Is there an audio PA or analog audio mixer at the venue that’s available for your use?
  • How will the venue be at the time you are actively shooting the show? For example, quiet, busy, noisy, dark, or crowded?

Visualize your production. Will there be dancers changing backstage that your cameras might accidentally catch? How about musical performances or ambient music your microphones might pick up?

These concerns are not trivial, as you wouldn’t want to be held liable for broadcasting or rebroadcasting pictures or sound that you don’t have permission to use. Line up any necessary releases from talent and extras. Negotiate for the music rights by contacting organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and SoundExchange. They can calculate and facilitate royalty payments, allowing you to legally use the music in your production.

2. Check Your Internet Connections: Hardwired or Wireless?

Your Internet connection is where it all starts, so make sure you know what that will be. There are few things more catastrophic than a dropped Internet connection in the middle of your live event.

  • Check your production venue or location to identify your Internet options.
  • Does the facility have a hardwire connection available that you can use for streaming?
  • Is it a 3G or 4G Wi-Fi hotspot? Is this wireless network available for your use?
  • What’s the available bandwidth?

Hardwired connections will almost always give you a more reliable connection, but your mobility will be restricted. Wireless connections offer greater mobility, but they’re more prone to fluctuate or drop out altogether. So you’ll be accepting a less reliable connection in exchange for mobility.

Upstream Bandwidth (Upload speed)

Related to the connection, and just as important for streaming, is the upload speed of your connection. The upload speed determines how quickly your streaming solution can transmit your stream to other locations.

It also impacts the picture and sound quality viewers receive. Always run multiple speed tests prior to your event to ensure sufficient bandwidth.

Use a tool like speedtest.net to test your upload speed.

For a Variable Bit Rate (VBR) encoded stream, ideally your upload speed should be double what your encoder’s Average Bit Rate is.