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5 Key Factors for Conducting a Successful VR Live Stream

Thanks to recent advancement in camera technology, there are numbers of 360 or VR180 cameras out there for you to choose for a live event. From thousands of dollar pro-level to affordable 360 action camera, from in-camera stitching to ultra-high 8k resolution, how could you make the best choice?

Now let’s take a look at 5 key aspects of a VR live stream, to help you be well prepared before pitching a client or conduct a successful VR live.

1. Choose the Right 360/VR Live Streaming Video Camera

Thanks to recent advancement in camera technology, there are numbers of 360 or VR180 cameras out there for you to choose for a live event. From thousands of dollar pro-level to affordable 360 action camera, from in-camera stitching to ultra-high 8k resolution, how could you make the best choice?

1) Personal use:

If you’re a VR live beginner, a portable Facebook live stream camera with 2 lenses is all you need. With it, you can make your first step by streaming daily life in VR to social media.
It should be easy to set up, supporting image stabilization, instant live from smartphone and works compatible with the social platforms. As it’s a personal live, people care less about the image quality. But there’s one thing you needs to know, the wireless connection might cause interruptions of your stream, the length of your stream is limited by battery life.

2) Business purpose:

While things are different when conducting a business live stream project. As most of the VR live are watched in the headset, it requires better quality streaming. For a serious live, a 360 live streaming camera with 6K or above resolution and the 3D feature is necessary.

Compared to the consumer 360 cameras, the live streaming workflow of high-end VR camera may be more complex but more reliable at the same time. Like Kandao Obsidian, it offers up to 8k resolution video recording with its 6 high-quality wide angle lens. Connecting the camera with a PC server, Obsidian’ live can stream in real-time with full control of the settings.

Here is a checklist of what you need for a pro-level VR live stream:

  • 6k/8K 360 3D camera
  • Ethernet cables, routers
  • Power source with POE (Power Over Ethernet) charger
  • Laptop for preview and stitching
  • Fast and reliable Internet connection

It used to be that you needed a huge truck, camera video recorder, and crew to do the video live streaming. But, with the right equipment, you know only need a laptop, a friend, and a few pieces of equipment small enough to fit in a briefcase.

2. Get a good camera spot

You should always keep in mind that immersion is the key for a great VR live streaming. The VR camera can’t digital zoom in or out, can’t pan tilt like the traditional camera does, like Canon Vixia HF. But it will show an all-around environment, not only the sports field and stage but the audience as well.

1) Unique view

Therefore, try to arrange the VR live stream camera at somewhere people rarely can be. Like the VIP front roll, under the basketball stand, on the stage with the music band, etc. It can make the audience viewing experience more intimate than ever before. Also, if you want a moving camera shot, remember to use a gimbal to achieve image stabilization. If not, your audience will feel dizzy when they watch live stream.

2) Get organizer’s permission

In general, the media mirrorless cameras will be arranged in the corner or on the last row of a concert. As the DSLR camera can do like 20x optical zoom, they can get the shots and won’t block the view of the audience. But for VR, if you want to get a good camera spots, remember to discuss with the organizer first. Make sure they’re fine with the idea of putting a camera in the center.

3. Reliability is essential

When producing a live streaming event most of the emphasis is on the video content, however, the technical part of live streaming is equally important. If something goes wrong with the live stream your online audience will be rudely distracted from your video. No one wants to see a low quality, or corrupted live, bad experience will not only lead to loss of audience but make you embarrassed as well.
This also puts a big challenge on the 360/VR live streaming. As it needs the equipment to capture images from separate lenses, the system must ensure the synchronization of images and sound. Also, it needs a fast process speed of real-time stitching and gains the lowest latency. There’re several streaming services and open source software options, but it’s still hard to ensure reliability.
Kandao manages to help handle most of the risks, by providing a rock-solid 360 3D camera and the industry-leading live software. We’ve developed a set of technics to support the reliability of the system, they are:

1) Using POE (Power over Ethernet) to supply power while transferring data. You can use an AC power adapter to charge the camera too.
2) Support camera built-in audio, external cameras audio and external audio for desktop/PC, use timecode to adjust and avoid unsync.
3) Real time Optical Flow stitching and H265 encoding, to gain the lowest latency with the best up to 8K image quality.
4) Support presets to apply previous settings at once.
5) Integrated 5G network into the VR live streaming workflow, to deliver 8K 360-degree stream smoothly.
6) Recording at the same time when you started streaming. Obsidian can save the full res footage to SD card for you to do future post-production.

4. Higher the stream quality, better the VR experience

If you want to deliver a “highly realistic” VR experience, making the audience feel as if they’re actually there, the video quality of the stream is important. Here are some factors that may affect the final image result:

1) Resolution

Some people think 8K is way-too-early to arrive, but for VR, it’s not. People can only see a section of 360 live videos in a VR headset, so even the overall VR stream is 8K, what they see is around full HD quality.

Due to the limitation of internet bandwidth and HMD player, most VR live streaming project conducted in 4K. Producers have to sacrifice some resolution to ensure the Live is stable, even though what the camera’s capture card is capable of 8K resolution or higher.

But with the arrival the 5G technology, a faster, clearer VR live can be achieved. In China, Japan, Britain, some major telecommunication companies have successfully demonstrated the 5G capacity by applying 8K VR live into the filed. This tech revolution will unleash the potential of VR and definitely set the bar of a resolution higher than 8K.

2) Real time Stitching

Compare to traditional live streaming, VR live has an extra part that needs to take care of Stitching. There’re different live stitching methods, in-camera stitching & computer-based stitching, each suits specific scenario:

– In-camera stitching

All the video sources are stitched inside the camera, so the camera can output a ready-to-publish video directly to the media server. In this way, it provides a simple workflow for producers to set up and conduct the VR live.

However, you may find some noticeable stitching artifact, exposure difference from the final output. It’s because the stitching requires a powerful workstation and graphics card, there is not enough computing power for in-camera stitching to calculate every pixel.

– Computer-based stitching

By using this method, the streams will be automatically stitched into a high quality 360 live video on a computer-based stitching software. Take Kandao Obsidian as an example, Kandao Live can stitch the 6 high-quality 4K video streams captured by the camera. The streaming software utilizes the deep-learning based algorithm to generate a seamless stereoscopic 360 video.

You don’t need to worry if the live scene has a complex light condition. Kandao live allows you to manually adjust a rich set of settings like color, exposure while the live is on.

This method has its limitation too. You’ll need more equipment to conduct a live, not only video camera but a computer as well. If you want a moving shot, it might not be flexible. But in most of the cases, the computer-based stitching really helps with your serious live project.

– Cloud stitching

With the development of 5G network, the VR live stitching and streaming server can be put on cloud. It can achieve real time processing online thanks to the large bandwidth and super-fast up/downloading speed of 5G.

Now Kandao has successfully transplanted the Live 8K stitching algorithm to the cloud based on 5G network, and introduced “5G Cloud VR live streaming”. Imagining one day in the future, no PC server is needed for a high quality 8K VR live, you can start the live at anywhere, anytime.

5. Which platform you want to distribute the live?

The last but not the least, all the efforts we’ve made is to deliver a compelling VR live to engage your audience. But where is the audience? Do you understand their way of how to watch the live stream?

If you want to reach your audience through Internet, there’re several live video platforms that support it. VR headset including Oculus Go, PlayStation VR, HTC VIVE Pro, HTC VIVE, Windows Mixed Reality, Gear VR, and Google Daydream, etc. You can also try streaming to Facebook live and YouTube, Remember to choose to stream via RTMP or HSL protocol in the live software.

You can also create a local VR live for demonstration purpose using a LAN connection. Or you can embed your live stream directly to traditional television broadcast system, by using SDI output.
Choose the live platform according to your project needs, Kandao Live provides all the format and streaming solutions requires.