What is social media live streaming

Livestream for everyone - How to set up a social media livestream

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A guest post bySebastian Jabbusch,livestreamberlin.de

Are you ready for live streaming? Read here how you can get started with little money or even build multi-camera live streams and live cuts with your iPhones and iPads.

After text, photos, graphics and videos, everything should now also be “live” in social media. But even if videos overwhelm you, this is no reason to give up in frustration.

Because the live technology has been greatly simplified in the last few years. It still takes some training and a lot of testing. But it is worth considering what role live streaming can play in your content mix.

At its core there is today three levels of live streaming:

  1. Live stream with your own smartphone
  2. Network several smartphones and cameras, live editing via iPad
  3. The professional solution with TV cameras, cables and video mixer

The second solution is only a few years old and is currently turning the live streaming market upside down. Accordingly, I started a startup with this approach at livestreamberlin.de.

Thanks to the new technology, I can offer live streams from 500 instead of the usual 5,000 euros. The reason is simple: my entire setup fits in a trolley case. I no longer need the usual three cameramen, the 500 meters of cable and the Mercedes transporter full of technology boxes. In this article, I'll tell you how you can also use the new technology.


When is “live” worthwhile?

Live formats only achieve great ranges in two contexts:

A) Create the exclusivityÄt of the moment when your community can experience something collectively and exchange ideas. The content should thematically fit the community - from guessing games to experiments to karaoke. A classic example is the weekly Tatort, whose community gathers weekly on the hashtag of the same name on Twitter.

B) Focuses on the audience and creates events where they can influence what happens kcan. Facebook also offers live polls, emoticons and of course chat. The stronger the action and the more the moderators respond to the chat, the better the model works. In extreme cases, it can even be a pure dialogue between moderator and chat, as Christian Lindner (FDP) showed several times in the federal election campaign. It is also worth taking a look at the Let's Player scene on YouTube. Here some viewers can even gamble with their idols.

Passive live streamsin which the fans are “only” spectators, however, are not a mass success, because these are too similar to video-on-demand offers à la Facebook Watch.

Boring content doesn't get more exciting with a live stream.

Incidentally, a live stream can also be included few viewers be useful. Namely, when the mainstream is not the goal at all, but rather a stream is supposed to reach specific important actors (journalists, politicians, work colleagues in other countries) who would otherwise be prevented due to travel expenses or appointments and who were specifically invited beforehand. For these niche topics, however, low fixed costs for the live stream are decisive.

Live streaming - that's how it works

Live stream with the smartphone

The cheapest option is a single smartphone. Whether Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, all popular platforms now offer the uncomplicated in their apps One-click livestream at. You can find step-by-step instructions for the individual platforms online.

A smartphone is sufficient for the cheapest option.

You should use the following equipment:

  • iPhone with jack input or corresponding adapter and battery pack
  • Photo tripod with mobile phone adapter
  • Audio amplifier and microphone adapter for the iPhone (I recommend “iRig”) and an XLR cable, 15 meters
  • Alternatively: Rode directional microphone for iPhones
  • Stable WiFi with at least 1Mbit upstream or LTE

Place the tripod with the iPhone as close as possible to the object of the live stream (table / stage) in order to enlarge the image section. The height should be geared towards the speaker. To get a nice, clear sound, ideally pick up the sound directly from the microphone (or the room technology) using a so-called XLR cable. For small setups, a directional microphone directly in the smartphone can be sufficient.

Yes, there are also solutions for Android devices. Most of the equipment on the market, however, is for Apple smartphones, as the Android market is now divided into 20,000 different mobile phone models and manufacturers have difficulties in constantly adapting software and hardware to this variety. Should you still use Android smartphones, note that these have a different audio output than iPhones.

You can test whether your connection is fast enough for the stream directly on Google by entering “Internet Speed”. Make sure that not too many other people are active in the same WLAN, otherwise your live stream will be interrupted.

Multi-camera live stream

One and the same camera setting is pretty dull after a minute at the latest. You like to watch your live stream much longer if you multiple cameras brings it into use, it is networked and the viewers via a Live cut shows the most exciting excerpts at that moment.

Until now, this area was reserved for absolute professionals. Lots of cables, expensive cameras, complicated video mixers and expensive software were among the entry barriers. But solutions like “Slingstudio” or “Live: Air” from Teradek both rely on the networking of iPhones and turn your iPad into an editing studio. This makes multi-camera live streaming accessible even to ambitious amateurs.

What you need for this:

  • 3-6 iPhones, tripods and battery packs
  • iPad Pro (processor load)
  • WLAN router with SIM card, approx. 300 euros
  • Only proprietary hardware can be used at Slingstudio. A minimum set starts here at around 1,000 euros (see Slingstudio website)
  • Live: Air from Teradek can be used with any hardware and earns more from selling the software. The iPad app starts here at 170 euros. Install the free client app on the iPhone cameras ("Live: Air Remote", available in the App Store).

The principle is then pretty simple: You set up your WiFi router, insert an LTE SIM card with a large data volume and connect all iPhones and iPads to the same. Install the hosting app on the iPad (for example Live: Air). After starting, all client cameras automatically appear in the same WLAN. All you have to do now is clamp your iPhones on tripods and distribute them around the room.

If you want to save a little, you can also use older iPhones or inexpensive iPads. Some Android phones can also run the Live: Air client app, but they are not stable enough. If you use your colleagues' smartphones, remember to ideally uninstall all other apps and turn everything off except for the WiFi before the live stream so that calls or WhatsApp messages don't kill a camera in the middle of the live stream.

Multi-camera live stream with close-ups

Your setup already looks very nice. But you still need to catch up with the pros close ups. Smartphones cannot deliver these due to the lack of zoom lenses. Unfortunately, the cheap clip-on lenses do not solve this either. Nevertheless, you don't have to buy large TV cameras, but can instead rely on inexpensive digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR), which are available in the hobby photographer area for less than 1,000 euros.

Both Slingstudio and Liv: Air offer appropriate hardware adapters for such old “offline” cameras in order to bring them into the WLAN and make them compatible with the app. (Integrated WLAN modules of the cameras are not sufficient here.) So you still need the following equipment:

If the cameras are connected to the hardware boxes and integrated into the WLAN, they then appear in your iPad editing program like the iPhones and you can now insert close-ups into the stream.

When is it worth investing?

Even the simple setups need a few hours or days of preparation, depending on prior knowledge and order duration. Do not overwhelm yourself right away, but test everything in detail.

Start small and slowly increase your knowledge and practice.

If you want to work with several cameras, you can count on about two to four weeks of training and preparation. That sounds like a lot, but it's not much when you compare it with the three years of training that such technical professions previously required.

Training and investments in multi-camera technology are worthwhile from around one live stream per month. If you only plan a few events per year, it may be a good idea to use inexpensive external service providers. If you regularly organize events, it is worthwhile to purchase the equipment yourself.

But out of sheer enthusiasm for technology, you shouldn't neglect the most important things:
working on the content of the livestream!

Do not neglect the content because of the sheer enthusiasm for technology.

Sebastian Jabbusch is a strategic communication and social media expert with a focus on politics and managing director of Public Impact UG. Together with his team, he mainly advises NGOs, authorities and political parties. At LivestreamBerlin.de, his team has been offering live streams and workshops on the subject of live streaming since September 2018.

Image sources: Sebastian Jabbusch, Public Impact UG, LivestreamBerlin.de
Cover picture: Anna Maucher on Kees Steefkerk on Unsplash

This article first appeared in SocialHub Mag - download our social media magazine for free here!

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When Anna is not working on new marketing campaigns, showing you the SocialHub at events or writing funny social media / blog posts, you can probably find her eating pizza by any lake, sea, puddle or other body of water or like her on foot or explored undiscovered areas on a motorcycle. Of course, she always has her smartphone with her to fill her Instagram feed with pretty photos.