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5 guidelines for a successful live streaming event

live streaming eventThe content and speakers for the live event you are producing are excellent. You’re excited to be streaming it live to the world (or some part of the world) but you know a choppy video or audio stream will ruin it for viewers.  So here are five tips to help you deliver the best live streaming event ever over the public Internet.

  1. Estimate how much bandwidth you need. Here are some recommendations from Streamingmedia.com on how to estimate:  “A good rule of thumb is two times the target bitrate for all the encoded streams you’ll be generating. Most encoders use variable bitrate encoding, which spikes over the target bitrate” and “10Mbps upload for HD, but even with less than 1Mbps up you can get a great stream out if you choose the right quality and test“.  If you don’t have the bandwidth to support HD then don’t try to stream it. It may look good while you’re recording it, but the end user experience will not be good.
  2. Always use wired Internet connection. Wi-Fi used to be a poor choice due to bandwidth limitations. But these days the 802.11n protocol, and routers for the next generation 802.11ac protocol hitting the stores soon, mean bandwidth via Wi-Fi is no longer a restriction. In ideal circumstances these protocols would work just fine, but if you’ve ever run a live event you’ll know things are rarely ideal. Wi-Fi is still subject to two weaknesses you don’t want to experience during your event:  Interference and range issues. If you decide to go Wi-Fi (or have to use it because of the venue) just be aware these might be a problem and make sure to address it in your rehearsals.
  3. Check the actual bandwidth available at the venue. You can test using speedtest.net or other sites providing the same service. Beyond just the speed test, look into how the venue allocates the bandwidth. For example, will you have your own reserved connection or will all the attendees (for your event and possibly others) be sharing it during the event? It’s quite probable everyone will hop onto the Wi-Fi with all their devices if it is free, and maybe if it isn’t free. Depending on the situation, the sharing could reduce the bandwidth you’ll have during the event.
  4. Rehearse under live conditions. You always check all the connections individually to make sure it’s all hooked up correctly. But for streaming, it’s best to test from end to end using the exact equipment you’ll have during the event. If you’re mixing streams from a podium laptop and a set of cameras wandering in the audience, make sure you run through it in rehearsal the way you’ll do it live. This is really the only way to know where trouble may lie and be able to fix it before you start streaming.
  5. Test all end devices you think might be used. During those live rehearsals, make sure to test how the video and audio are seen by the end viewer on as many devices as possible.  Tablets and smartphones are often preferred in today’s mobile world, but there will still be users watching from their laptops with a variety of browsers. You may set up a test webpage for the rehearsal, or you could stream the rehearsal to the actual webpage and player you’ll use during the event. Maybe bill it as a “sneak peek” into the event to come so the public (or whomever your audience is) can watch it too. You’ll have testing under live conditions without a doubt.

Following these simple guidelines really can make the difference between a successful live streaming event and one that’s well, not so successful. If you have any questions on bandwidth calculations, setup or testing, we’re happy to answer your questions. Reach out to us in the comments, email, chat or give us a ring.

Oliver Burt

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