The holidays are approaching fast, and this year, the festivities look a little different. Lots of events are coming up, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, and much more.
In order to keep gatherings small, a lot of organizations are live streaming their holiday events and encouraging participants to attend online.
Live streaming at the professional level may seem like a bit of a daunting task, but with the right information and support, hosting a virtual event is not too difficult.
In this article, we’ll discuss six key steps to live stream a holiday event. We will cover everything from sharing the news with your audience to configuring streaming equipment.
To get started, let’s take a look at a few types of festive live streams that churches, cities, and other organizations will be hosting this holiday season.
Table of Contents
- Types of Holiday Live Streams
- 6 Steps to Live Stream a Holiday Event
- Prepare Your Audience
- Set Up Equipment
- Choose an Online Video Platform
- Configure Your Encoder
- Create a Live Channel
- Start Streaming
Types of Holiday Live Streams
The holiday season is known as a time to gather and spread cheer, but this year, gatherings are limited in order to avoid spreading germs. Thanks to live streaming and video conferencing technology, people can come together from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Here are a few different types of holiday events that can be live-streamed:
- Tree Lighting ceremonies
- Christmas pageants and concerts
- Christmas church services
- New Year’s countdowns
- Office holiday parties
Live streaming your event will help your community stay connected even when they have to keep physical distance from one another.
6 Steps to Live Stream a Holiday Event
Live streaming is easier than ever before. In fact, live streaming technology has progressed to the point where nearly anyone can set up a live stream. With the right tools in place, only a small amount of technical know-how is required.
Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to live stream a holiday event in 6 steps.
1. Prepare Your Audience
The first step to live streaming isn’t technical. Instead, it’s about your audience. Once you’ve decided to do a live broadcast, you need to give your audience a heads up.
You can promote your virtual event on your social media platforms, website, email list, physical mailers, or as an announcement at any prior in-person events.
Ask interested viewers to share their email address or cellphone number with you so that you can send them reminders for the event and instructions for tuning in. If you are monetizing your event, require guests to enter an email address on the paywall.
2. Choose an Online Video Platform
The next step to prepare for your holiday live stream is to choose a professional online video platform (OVP). An OVP is a platform for hosting and delivering online video.
Broadcasters hosting virtual holiday events like yours are encouraged to invest in a professional option. The range of features that come with a professional online video platform provides several advantages over free, consumer-grade streaming solutions.
When you choose an online video platform to live stream a holiday event, you’ll have a range of specific needs. Some of these needs include:
- Live streaming capabilities
- 24/7 support
- White-label platform (as opposed to social platforms that include third-party ads and logos)
- Full-featured monetization tools
- Real-time analytics to track your stream’s performance
- Event pricing options
- A reliable content delivery network (CDN)
One video platform that could meet these needs is Dacast. Dacast’s live streaming platform includes each and every one of these features ideal for holiday event streaming.
For parties and more intimate gatherings, web conferencing might be more appropriate. Make sure that your chosen online video platform either offers real-time latency or integrations with a web conferencing tool.
Dacast, for example, integrates with Zoom. This way, the stream becomes interactive, rather than a one-sided broadcast. The advantage of using a professional video platform rather than the web conferencing tool on its own is that users don’t have to worry about time constraints, overloaded servers, and other limitations that Zoom and other consumer-grade platforms come with.
3. Set Up Equipment
Live streaming equipment comes down to a few basic tools, including cameras, microphones, and an encoder. Cameras and microphones are for capturing the content, and encoders are for taking those captured files and converting them into a format that is easy to stream over the internet.
There are thousands of different live streaming cameras available. Which is best for you will depend on your budget and technical needs. The same is true with audio equipment. However, we recommend XLR microphones as the best available option. For specific equipment recommendations, check out our guide to live streaming equipment.
When it comes to encoding, you have a couple of different options. Most often encoding is done with special software on a computer, but a hardware encoder is an option, as well.
If you go the software encoding route, a moderately high-powered laptop should be suitable for most live streams. You’ll need to install encoding software directly on this laptop. There are a variety of encoding software packages available. We recommend starting with OBS Studio, which is a free, open-source software encoder.
One critical element to live stream a holiday event is an internet connection. You’ll want a fast, reliable internet connection for live streaming. Tethered internet is the best way to go, but wifi can be a suitable alternative.
If you’re live streaming outdoor events, you’ll also have additional equipment needs. Please check out our special guide to live streaming outdoor events for more information.
4. Configure Your Encoder
Now that we’ve figured out the equipment basics, let’s talk about how to get your video online. Specifically, this step requires configuring your video encoder.
For video resolution, you’ll want to choose the best quality you can. Then, you’ll need to choose an appropriate video bitrate for that resolution. We’ve put together a few combinations of suggested bitrates and resolutions.
- 4K / 2160p — use 30 Mbps
- 2K / 1440p — use 20 Mbps
- HD / 1080p — use 10 Mbps
- SD / 720p — use 5 Mbps
- LD / 480p — use 2 Mbps
- SLD / 360p — use 1.5 Mbps
- ULD / 240p — 0.5 Mbps
Of course, these aren’t strict rules. However, varying too much from these numbers could cause issues.
After setting your resolution and bitrate, you’ll need to choose some other encoder settings.
Here are a few recommended settings for broadcasters live streaming with Dacast:
- Video Codec: H.264 or x264
- Audio Codec: AAC or AAC-LC
- Audio bitrate: 128 kbps or higher
- Sample Rate: 48 Khz
- CBR vs. VBR: CBR
- Frame Rate: 30 fps is standard for online video. However, 25 is standard in certain geographic regions.
- Keyframe interval: 2 seconds
If you want to broadcast a live stream in multiple bitrates simultaneously, you’ll need to configure this in your encoder. This makes adaptive bitrate streaming possible, which means that viewers are automatically pushed content in the rendition of the video that best suits their internet speed.
5. Create a Live Channel
The next step is to create a live channel, which is the final step before going live. When using a platform like Dacast, the process is pretty straightforward.
First, log in to your Dacast account and click “Live Channels” in the menu. This will open your list of existing live channels. Click “New,” and you’ll have a chance to name your new channel and choose a few other parameters.
At this point, you can navigate to the “encoder settings” tab. Here you’ll receive a list of configuration options to link your live channel with your encoder. This includes stream name, stream URL, login code, and login password. Simply copy this information and enter it into your encoder at this stage.
Once you have your live channel set up, you’ll copy the embed code and paste it into the code of the webpage where your video will live.
6. Start Streaming
Once you have all of your equipment set up and settings configured, it is time to start streaming. For most online video platforms, getting started is as simple as clicking “Start Streaming.”
We recommend testing out this whole process at least once before your big event. That way, if any problems arise, you can deal with them without the pressure of a live audience.
The holiday season is an exciting time, and events of all kinds are a big part of the seasonal experience. Live streaming a holiday event is a great way to spread the cheer to people both near and far.
In this blog post, we’ve provided some actionable insight on how to live stream a holiday event. We hope that it has given you the confidence to live stream a holiday event for your business, church, or other organization.
If you want to get familiar with the live streaming tools that come with an online video platform but aren’t ready to commit, we invite you to try our platform risk-free for 30 days. Create a Dacast account today to start your trial. No credit card required.
For information on special event pricing, feel free to contact our support team directly to discuss your specific needs.