When I explained to my mother that I had never owned my own TV, her eyes bulged. It even got more interesting when I told her that I instead watch live video broadcasts from all over the world on my computer.
Her jaw dropped.
By TechnoMag Reporter
How to stream live video over the internet, is a question I often hear. It might seem complicated, but it really is quite simple to do. I’m going to walk you through the basic concepts of what live streaming is, what its advantages are and how to stream live video to audiences around the globe.
What is live streaming?
“Streaming” refers to any instance where information is being transmitted in real-time, over the internet. You can “stream” your favourite pre-made shows online, this includes Netflix and Hulu. But, you can also steam a live video broadcast and watch it on your computer, tablet or phone. This kind of live streaming is what we’re going to talk about.
With a camera and internet access, people can broadcast a wide variety of live streams. Broadcasts include what you might normally see on television such as sporting events and the news. The booming esports industry of professional computer gaming is almost solely live streamed.
People can broadcast classes into other rooms, other schools, or even to other countries! Artists and craftsmen like costume makers live stream tutorials from their workshop. The smartphone app Witness is a panic button that uses streaming to send a live video feed from your phone, to an emergency contact.
There are lots of creative things people have done with live streaming. You really can broadcast anything you want, to anywhere in the world.
How to stream live video over the internet
A camera and an internet connection can be enough to do a basic broadcast. There are lots of different services out there, but here’s a quick rundown of the absolute basics you’ll need for live video streaming:
- An internet connection: Without this, you can’t live stream at all
- A computer: This is going to connect what the camera sees to the worldwide web. This can be a laptop, a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone.
- A camera: This can be a simple webcam plugged into the computer, or a more advanced setup with professional camera equipment.
- An encoder: This can be software on your computer, or a physical piece of hardware. It will translate what the computer sees into something which can be broadcast.
- Something to broadcast: After all, the camera needs to be looking at something! What do you want to broadcast to the world?
When live streaming video, a good internet connection is absolutely crucial. While you can live stream over wi-fi we recommend setting up a wired connection if possible. This will ensure a better streaming experience. The best bandwith to use (amount of data transmitted per second) is 1Mb per second or less.
The computer you use for live streaming does not need to be ridiculously powerful. If you have a good processor and around 8Gb of RAM, you will be in great shape. Most laptops these days meet those requirements, but many will suffer from over-heating if you stream for a long time. Streaming from tablets and smartphones have the same problem, and it will quickly drain their battery. Its best to have a desktop computer if you plan to be live streaming for longer than an hour.
In video production your camera isn’t as important as your microphone. People will watch relatively low quality video (as long as it isn’t too bad), but people won’t listen to low quality audio for a second. A webcam that can shoot in 720p is perfectly fine. If you want to live stream with a digital camera you will need to use a capture device. As an example, you can read our guide to live streaming with a GoPro.
The encoder will take the information from the webcam or capture device. It will then translate this data into something which can be live streamed over the internet. We recommend using the Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder which is free to download.
There are also feature rich paid-for encoders such as Wirecast and Xsplit which offer a great service. If you are running a very large production, you may consider using dedicated hardware encoding devices, such as TriCaster and Teradek, which take the pressure off the processing power of your computer. These often also double as capture devices.
Once have your camera, encoder, a computer and internet access, you’re all set to live stream video over the internet.
Next you’ll need a live streaming provider. Imagine radio waves transmitting a television broadcast to your TV at home. That is what your streaming provider does for your live video broadcast, but over the internet.
You film the source through your camera lens. The encoder then takes this information and uploads it via the internet to our servers. Then, viewers can go to the embedded code on your website, and watch your broadcast. They can watch your broadcast on any device, including computers, tablets and phones.
While there are some websites that allow you to broadcast for free, a paid service allows you to be free of adverts and host your broadcast on your own website. This also keeps your content yours, and therefore, this allows you to also monetise your content.
Advantages of Live Streaming:
Quite simply, it is live! Your broadcast doesn’t have to be recorded, copied to a computer, and then uploaded to a website. It is broadcasted immediately to your viewers. This also allows you to make your broadcast interactive through social media and instant messaging.
Live video streaming is also very affordable and requires little equipment. You can reach a global audience instantly, and simultaneously. Anyone can watch from anywhere in the world, the only barriers are language and time zones. Live video is also watched for 7% longer than pre-recorded online videos.
Disadvantages of Live Streaming:
Its biggest drawback is that both the broadcaster and the viewer need a good internet connection. This not only ensures that the video and audio quality is good, but also that the stream is fluid, and doesn’t keep stuttering.
Remember that it is also important to tell people about your stream! If you are using a self-hosting service like DaCast then you will need to promote your stream. Tell people to go to your website and watch, otherwise they’ll never find it.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start your live video stream!