More and more businesses are getting involved in live streaming. In fact, it’s estimated that the video streaming market will be worth $70.5 billion by 2021. Live streaming will make up the majority of that growth. To get a part of this revenue, businesses that stream live video and VOD need a plan.
This blog will provide 7 useful tips to make your streaming video more professional. We’re going to look at topics like equipment, encoding, streaming solutions, and more. Let’s dive right in with our first tip.
Tip #1: Choose a professional video hosting service
Professionalism has a number of connotations. One of the most important is branding. Most professional brands don’t use social platforms like YouTube Live or Facebook Live. Or, if they do, it’s as one small element in a larger strategy.
Instead, professionals should use a dedicated video streaming platform. Using such a platform allows you to host your video content on your own websites. There’s no label belonging to YouTube or some other corporation on your content. These are also sometimes called “white label” services. You can add your own corporate branding, and achieve total native integration for maximum professionalism.
This has some other effects as well. When it comes to social media platforms, embedding on your website is possible. However, when anyone clicks on the video, they’ll be taken to the social media site. This is a boon for them. They get the pageviews, the audience, and the advertising revenue.
When you embed using a white label service, this is flipped. Clicks can lead to your website. You can include your own monetization options. Professional platforms to stream live video may have many other benefits as well, such as:
- Robust security features
- Monetization options
- Built-in analytics
- 24/7 customer support
- Maintain exclusive full licensing and rights to all content you broadcast
Tip #2: Invest in creating excellent content
Our second tip is simple but critical. If you want to be professional, you need to make sure you’re creating excellent content. This doesn’t change depending on what you’re broadcasting. It could be sports, product launches, training videos, meetings, education, news, video gaming, or any other form of video.
It has to be compelling, quality content. Any business that wants to stream live video needs to make the material good. If it’s not worth people’s time, there’s no reason to keep at it.
So here is the call to action: invest in creating excellent content. Do what it takes to make your material good, and everything else becomes much, much easier.
Tip #3: Use professional equipment
Our next tip is around equipment. One excellent way to boost the quality of your stream is to use high-quality equipment. That includes cameras, encoder, and any audio recording equipment and microphones.
A low-quality video camera can produce decent results, but only if the lighting is good. In low light, a cheap camera will produce a grainy video with poor color. To maximize quality with video, we recommend two things in particular. First, use a camera that shoots in full High-Definition (HD) 1080p or higher resolution. Second, use a camera with as large a sensor as possible.
Check out the most popular video cameras at different price points on B&H Photo Video if you need some guidance here.
Audio is often more important than video. So when it comes to equipment, we recommend you invest heavily in audio. The built-in microphone in laptops, smartphones, and low-cost cameras are poor quality. Good-quality microphones like those used by professionals are pricey. However, it’s worth the investment. Purchase good microphones and learn how to use them correctly.
As far as encoders, we’ve published many articles on this topic. Check out these blogs for recommendations for software and hardware encoders.
Another critical element that may fall into this category is an internet connection. For best quality when you stream live video, make sure you have a fast broadband internet connection at your location. Ideally, this network should be reserved for streaming to ensure there is plenty of bandwidth available.
Tip #4: Setup your encoder properly
Let’s keep moving since we still have four more tips to get through. The next tip is to use the correct encoder settings. An encoder changes your video into a suitable format for live streaming. But it needs the right instructions to do this right.
First, you’ll need to connect to your live streaming video host servers. This involves entering a URL, username, and password. These will be provided by your host.
Next, you’ll need to choose the resolution, frame rate, and bit rate for your stream. These measurements may vary depending on how much internet bandwidth you have available to you.
Additionally, you may be broadcasting in multiple bit-rates simultaneously. This allows you to reach people with varying internet speeds and provide each with the highest possible quality.
Key encoder settings when streaming with Dacast include:
- Keyframe interval: 2 seconds
- Framerate: no lower than 24 fps (30 is most common)
- CBR (Constant Bit Rate) instead of VBR (Variable Bit Rate)
On your camera, you may have to change settings such as resolution and frame rate. In the menu settings for your camera, go take a look. Generally, the resolution should be set as high as possible—at least, as high as your internet connection will support. These days, 1080p full High Definition is a de facto standard.
As far as frame rate, generally, we recommend setting it at 30 fps (frames per second) for most subjects. If you’re shooting sports, 60 fps is recommended. The higher number of frames will capture rapid plays more completely.
When it comes to your audio gear, you can change settings as well. Generally, you’ll be able to choose recording sampling frequency, which mainly determines quality. The most common frequency is 44.1 kHz. If you’re a stickler for quality, feel free to record at 96 kHz.
Bit depth is important as well. 16-bit is common and captures plenty of data. If you plan on editing the audio from your recording in the future, you can record it in 24-bit. This will give you more latitude to make edits.
Tip #5: Test before going live
My next tip for keeping everything ship-shape is to test your setup. There is nothing less professional than technical problems. When you stream live video it should function perfectly, with no buffering, no lagging, no quality issues.
The stream should just work with no issues.
When conducting tests, you want to be thorough. Get a test stream online and ask a couple of dozen co-workers to tune in. Then, try to find any bugs. Stream in high and low quality. Change other settings. Test the equipment you’re going to use during your real live stream. Test any backup equipment you have as well.
You should do this a few times. The more important the stream is, the more thoroughly you should test it. And if issues do arise during your live stream despite all your best efforts, you may need rapid 24/7 tech support—so make sure your video host provides that service.
Tip #6: Setup a stream backup plan
Live streams have a lot of moving parts. These include audio, video, encoding, internet connections, cables, software, and more. With so many working parts, issues can arise.
The best way to be prepared is to have a stream backup plan. If you’re streaming an essential event and your stream fails, you may have just wasted a huge budget. You want to avoid that at all costs.
Professional streaming platforms like Dacast allow you to designate a backup stream URL when you stream live video. If your mainstream goes offline for any reason, video players embedded in your websites will attempt to fall-back on this backup stream. This is essential for security during important broadcasts.
We also recommend having backup equipment in place and set up for essential broadcasts. This includes cameras, audio equipment, encoders, and computers. Proper settings can be plugged into this equipment so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. In the event of a problem with your mainstream, this secondary equipment can be brought online almost instantly.
Tip #7: Use video-on-demand to maximize audience size when you stream live video
When you stream live video, it’s easy to focus on the real-time event. However, for maximum professionalism, your events don’t end when the curtain drops. Instead, you should continue to build excitement and engage the audience.
This could mean multiple things. Most obviously, you should make a VOD (Video-On-Demand) version of your live stream event available as soon as possible. This way, those who were late or wish to re-watch the live stream are able to do so.
It could also mean having a new website ready to launch during your live stream, continuing to advertise for the VOD version of the event, and many other approaches. But professionals don’t just end an event and walk away. They follow-through.
Making a live event more professional isn’t rocket science. It just requires some focused effort. Hopefully, these seven tips have helped you learn how to make your productions more “pro.” This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great start. Do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments!
As we mentioned in the first tip, a professional video hosting platform is essential for businesses that stream live video. We hope that try out live streaming with Dacast. We offer a cost-competitive platform based on the best CDN on the market, Akamai. Plus, our service includes a wide range of features for monetization, security, analytics, and more! Sign up today to try free streaming with all the Dacast features for 30 days (no credit card required).
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts!
Note to our readers: this article has been updated as of 2018.