Tuesday night I live streamed my first large-scale event using free, browser-based software from Mogulus. A few things I learned:
Do as much advanced preparation as possible. If you’re covering an event (concert, debate, forum, meeting), contact audio technicians at the venue and find out what kind of audio setup they have. Find out if it’s possible to plug into the PA system and find out if there are any extra cables/cords you’ll need to rent or buy before arriving. Try to avoid using the microphone on your camera. Audio is the most important part of your stream and the camera will likely give you echoey feedback. Set up a time to actually visit the venue and ask yourself:
- Do you get a good wireless connection? (If not, is there any way to access ethernet?)
- What are the acoustics like?
- Where will you plug into the audio?
- Where is the best spot to set up your camera(s)?
- Where are the electrical outlets?
- How long of a cord do you need (extension cables?)
- Who are the technicians? Meet them.
Bring a backup for everything. I had two cameras and two laptops because I planned to have one camera pointed at the stage and the other at the audience so I could switch back and forth without awkward panning. One camera and laptop stopped working though. Were it not for my backup, I would not have been able to continue streaming. Take extra batteries for your equipment and make sure your laptop is fully charged.
Show up early. Even after doing advanced preparation, show up an hour early (at least the first time you live stream) the day of your event to make sure everything is working properly. Just because your computer recognizes your camera once doesn’t mean it will happen again. Technology is unpredictable sometimes. Get the stream set up and test it out to make sure the audio is working
Work in teams.Â When things fail (which they will your first time, if you’re anything like me), it’s a lot easier to endure with more than one brain working on the problem. Teams are great for using multiple cameras (which Mogulus allows you to do) and for having a few moderators focusing solely on the chat. We had 2-3 chat moderators, a live-Twitterer, a reporter taking notes, a photographer, and someone managing the video (we were covering a town-hall style meeting with students and administrators regarding fee increases). Effective multimedia is not a one-man game.
Why Mogulus? For our situation, it was the best option (the other major live stream option is Ustream). If we hadn’t encountered technical difficulties, we would have ideally been switching between the two separate cameras– a feature unique to Mogulus. MasterNewMedia.org has a great, in-depth guide that can help you decide if Mogulus or Ustream is best. Both have ridiculously simple back ends that make streaming easy.
I used Mogulus for the following features that Ustream doesn’t have:
- Ability to use multiple cameras
- Ability to que up pre-recorded video (which was very useful during the first half hour of technical
- Professional-looking overlay options for lower thirds and a rolling ticker
Train everyone. After the first team figures out all the kinks of live streaming, let them bring back their experience to the newsroom. Teach as much of your staff as possible how to do it. The more the merrier. Good luck!