In this day and age, how would a relatively small organization with limited funding be able to navigate through social media and new technology in order to share their content on a larger scale?
Dance Asylum, an association that teaches dance and performance in Costa Mesa, California encountered this exact problem when they started involving the virtual community in their in-studio dance recitals. Even though facilitating a live audience is priority, they wanted an opportunity to widen their reach to an audience outside of the studio space. So for all the people who couldn’t come see the performance personally, Dance Asylum decided they wanted to stream it online, live.
As a sports video broadcast, dance comprises of a lot of dynamic action and – like any other sporting event – required multiple camera angles in order to capture all the movement. Dance Asylum is a smaller organization with a restricted budget and limited knowledge of live streaming. So the challenge lies in creating an impressive stream that would properly represent their company. By utilizing innovative, convenient technology, they delivered a high quality production level output at a low cost. So what if you too only have the slightest clue about live streaming? The following step-by-step production guide explains how to live stream professional looking content in a cost-effective way to a wider, more global audience.
Pre-Production: A Plan of Attack
Just like how breakfast is the most important meal of your day, pre-production is the most important step of your production. Having a solid plan ensures the smooth assembly of your content and helps to identify all the issues that you might deal with during your live stream. For example, organizing and developing your content would occur in this stage: having a script and a specific idea of what you’re going to be streaming. Finding an appropriate venue also attributes itself to being one of the more important goals of your pre-production. Evaluating your venue requires knowing where your cameras should be placed for the necessary angles, finding the right space for the switcher and other production gear, understanding how audio would be interpreted within that space, and the availability of electricity. For this reason, a huge portion of pre-production involves planning how to receive the most out of the venue and space you’ll be using.
Last but not least, having a strong Internet connection is the main component of live streaming your event. Without a connection to the Internet, live streaming becomes an empty venture. With that in mind, the gear you decide to use, whether for a small or large event, can determine just how adept and effortless your production will be in the long run.
Equipment with a Purpose
While your production will always involve a complex web of tasks and hassles, the equipment that you choose to utilize can dramatically alter the manageability of your workflow. To make it more intricate than it already is, you can have a plethora of wires everywhere for the typical switcher that you’d connect to separate monitors, and hire extra manpower for all this gear. You’d get whiplash with how rapidly it can develop into a convoluted and expensive production.
Like Dance Asylum, you might have a budget that can’t stretch enough for all the paraphernalia that you think you would need in order to successfully stream your content. Let’s start with the most essential tool in the shed: the switcher. The switcher is the central hub of your production because it directly affects every aspect of the workflow. However, a standard hardware switcher may more or less cost around $5,000 is not the most plausible option when there’s limited funding available. Knowing that this can be a significant hurdle, Teradek has developed Live:Air.
Live:Air is an application for the iPad that you would download as a cost-effective alternative to a traditional hardware switcher. The app performs the most basic functions as a switcher set-up, but without the bulky design and expensive price tag. It also encourages for a wireless set-up, so you wouldn’t have to worry about an excess of cables running through your production. In order to utilize Live:Air’s optimal workflow with wireless cameras, you’ll need a consumer-grade Wi-Fi router that’s not much different than the one you may already have a home. To become more familiar with Live:Air, Teradek provides comprehensive tutorials on their YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/TeradekNAB.
Not only is there a free version available of Live:Air in the App Store, but since it’s on your iPad, it also has a much smaller footprint than a regular switcher. It simplifies the whole process. Once you’ve created the graphics you plan on using in your live stream, you can use the app to add them and even load pre-roll footage, images, and other visual effects to your broadcast. This ultimately raises the production level, which can be especially important for a small studio that wants better quality content.
If you need help saving on your budget goals, Live:Air gives the unique option of employing your iPad, iPhones, and iPod Touches as cameras, instead of being restricted to using a regular camera. However, if you rather not use an iPad, make sure to use a camera that ranges between a consumer and a professional camcorder with an HDMI output– depending on the project. If this is the case, by using Teradek devices VidiU or VidiU Mini for your camera, you can still work wirelessly with Live:Air since it allows your audio and video to go directly from the camera to the app. In other words, the feed from the camera is quite literally transferred to the palm of your hand through the Teradek app without the need for pesky wires.
Live:Air can also reduce the amount of people you would have to hire for your crew. For a small, simple production, one might even be able to manage it alone thanks to the technological conveniences of the app, which can allow for a more innovative way of approaching live production. This is particularly beneficial if you have a small program or prefer a workflow that allows you to be a “one-man-band.”
After giving your budget a little breathing room, you can use those savings to add a CobraCrane jib and dolly to help enhance the movement of the camera. Another convenient tool is The Padcaster, which not only houses the iPad, but it also allows you to attach a lens and a tripod plate.
Production: Lights, Camera, Stream!
So after picking the venue, planning your content, and hooking up all the right equipment, how would you actually get the content to stream? Connecting to popular streaming platforms like Livestream, Ustream, or YouTube Live can all be done through the Live:Air app. All you have to do is enter your username and password according to your chosen platform, and then you decide when to broadcast your content. There’s no need for a middleman; your content goes straight to the platform of your choice.
While some products limit which platforms you can stream to, Live:Air lets you send content to any live streaming platform worldwide, not only to the more popular streaming websites. Of course, there are in-app purchases that allow extra utilities. For example, even though the free version offers you great functionality by permitting graphics, titles, and lower thirds, the Pro version of Live:Air includes advance camera control along with unlocking chroma keying and the ability to add movie files that you can integrate with your stream. With a small footprint and all this functionality available at a relatively low cost, the Live:Air app improves not only upon a common, industry-standard hardware switcher, but also on the entire live streaming workflow.
With your innovative, wireless Teradek gear, wrapping up is the easiest part throughout this whole process. It’s simple to get in and out of venues and move on to the next streaming project.
A great side of live streaming is that it’s not just about the “live” facet. The platform can still continue hosting your content and, if you personally wanted a backup, Live:Air can record all your content so you can choose to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s important to realize that Live:Air is software, which means that features are constantly improving with updates that help it evolve with the most up-to-date hardware. The great news is that Live:Air will not only be available on iPad, but will also launch as an app for the iPhone. For more information, check out Teradek.com – or better yet, download the free app now by going to the App Store. Happy Streaming!