I recently setup and ran a livestream of 4 student recitals over at Young America Music – and had some questions about how I did it from other music teachers. Here’s an overview.
A simple setup:
- Computer [desktop OR laptop]. A tablet is not a good idea for this – too many limitations.
- Webcam – a decent one. I’m partial to the Logitech line, especially the C930e. It has a good quality lens, STEREO mics that are halfway decent.
- An internet connection. I strongly recommend NOT doing wireless to your internet box [cable modem or DSL router]. Use a wire – it’s faster and more consistent.
Additional equipment if you want better audio:
- Microphone – I was using a Cascade large diaphragm condensor mic, but there are tons of options on Amazon [click to see]
- An audio interface – NOT needed if you are using one of the USB mics. CLICK HERE FOR SOME OPTIONS. Basically this is a box that the mic plugs into, and then you run a USB cable from the computer to the box. You MIGHT have to install some drivers, but once done, you’ll have a fully operational recording/streaming setup.
For the Young America Music School event I used a Cascade V57 mic running into a Presonus iTwo interface. The webcam was the abovementioned Logitech c930e. The 920 would work as well, but the 930 is a better model – better video, better audio.
Once you have the equipment setup and running, you have to send the data stream out to a service of some sort – a website, to keep things non-technical. I’ve used these 2 options for getting this done – both are free. There are tons of OTHER options online, but these have worked decently well.
This is an online community of musicians and performers which attracts a worldwide audience. At Young America we had roughly 150 different people watching portions of the recitals, from at least 5 different countries. The account is free to setup, and it is pretty easy to get running. You can schedule events, which will show up on the site front page.
The only negative for the moment is that it is using Flash, which can be a bit finicky. For my setup I discovered that Safari worked better than Chrome, but that was mainly because of the iTwo interface. [Chrome didn’t like it and was blanking out the audio every few seconds. THIS IS WHY YOU TEST YOUR SETUP BEFORE THE ACTUAL EVENT!].
This is NOT a Streetjelly issue – it’s a Flash issue. They ARE moving to a more modern backend, but that hasn’t been completed yet. It **IS** a major construction project, so it takes a while.
Ah, the ubiquitous Youtube. Login to your account, go to settings, and enable Live Events. You can setup a live event after you’ve created a Channel, and stream to your heart’s content.
You have 2 basic options with Youtube:
- Stream using Google+ Hangouts
Advantage: EASY EASY EASY
Disadvantage: LOUSY audio!
- Custom encoding – either using Flash media Encoder running on your machine OR another encoder [see below]
Advantage: MUCH better audio options, much more control over settings so you can get it looking and sounding as good as possible
Disadvantage: More complicated to setup
I’ve tried both. The audio for the Quick option was ABYSMAL. It would work well for speaking, but not so well for music. The Custom option worked much better, but it IS more complicated to setup. It’s not terrible – I found it quite easy, but I’m technically minded. Some people don’t want to bother learning the process!
I used a Custom encoder, and select “other encoder” as the option on the next screen. I used Open Broadcaster Software [“open” as in “open source” as in “free”] running on my Mac to digitize the video from the webcam, the audio from the iTwo, mush them together, and send the data up to youtube.
Again, practice is the key to see what works and what doesn’t. I watched the stream on my iPad to make sure things were working – listened through headphones while I played with the settings to get some good audio.