Livestreaming makes it possible to share your event and brand with a wider audience—a much wider audience, if you play your cards right. Livestreaming your event also makes it available for viewing at a later date, so guests who could not attend can still engage with your programming or message.
So, how do you live stream an event? What equipment is needed to stream live video, and what is the best way to live stream? (Spoiler alert: It depends on your event and audience!) Is live event broadcasting online difficult? We’ll answer these questions and many more in this step-by-step guide to live streaming events:
How to Livestream An Event
In the age of social distancing, event planners are looking for ways to connect audiences to their events or messaging without requiring physical attendance. Livestreaming is ideal for that purpose, but it’s also an effective tool for streaming in-person events to guests who could not attend, or new audience members (re: potential clients!) looking to learn more about a brand or organization.
For event planners researching how to live stream an event, the amount of information available online can be overwhelming: What equipment is needed to live stream an event? What streaming platform should I use? Can I stream my event live for free?
At Earle Brown, we’re happy to help clarify and streamline the process. The key steps are actually quite simple:
- First, you’ll need the appropriate AV equipment.
- Then, you’ll choose your platform and make sure you’re prepared to stream day-of.
- Finally, you’ll stream live to your viewers, monitoring the stream for any issues.
What Do I Need To Livestream An Event
In general, the equipment necessary to live stream events online is minimal. Some use little more than a smartphone or tablet! That said, for the most professional-looking, successful online event streaming with the best video and audio quality, you’ll likely want to have at least one camera with a tripod and microphones for any speakers.
You may decide to use our helpful AV Checklist to make sure you’re equipped to live stream your event, or use refer to this list of suggested equipment:
- Internet Connection
- Streaming site
- Video encoder
Additional support equipment:
- Artificial lighting
- Tripods or Trusses
- Gaffer Tape
- Extra Batteries
- Power Strips
- HDMI Splitters and Spare Cables
- Network Switches
Note that streaming in-platform from a mobile device like an iPhone typically does not require the purchase of any additional equipment—but once you branch out beyond smartphones into cameras and camcorders, you’ll need to shop for some very necessary tech before you get started.
The type and quantity of cameras you’ll need depends on the specifics of your event.
If you’re planning on a single, sustained shot of a speaker, one camera, or even a smartphone, may do just fine. In fact, for many, a smartphone streaming to a social media platform is often the cheapest option, and the video quality is suitable for capturing events like lectures or well-lit award ceremonies.
But if you’ll need to position your camera far away from the speaker, would like to capture multiple angles, or would like to capture professional-grade footage for later replay, multiple cameras or higher-quality cameras may be necessary.
There’s a wide variety of cameras on the market that could suit your livestreaming needs. In general, you’ll be looking for a camera that:
- Has clean video and audio HDMI out
- Will not overheat
- Will not automatically shut off after a period of time
For non-webcam, non-smartphone cameras, you will need a USB capture card or hardware encoder to livestream.
If your budget is on the smaller side ($50-600), a starter camcorder, DSLR or mirrorless camera may be your best bet. Consider the Canon Vixia HF R800 camcorder ($210) or the mirrorless Panasonic Lumix G7 ($500).
If you have more money to spend on a higher-quality camcorder or camera, consider the Sony a6300 ($900) or Panasonic Lumix GH4 ($750 for body, additional $250-1,000 for lens.)
For professional-grade productions with a large budget, a pro camcorder like the Canon XF400 ($2,500+) or the Panasonic AG UX180 ($2,700-3,700) is the way to go.
If you can capture combined audio from the DJ booth or masterboard at your event, you may not need additional microphones, but it’s always a good idea to have microphones on hand, just in case. Wireless microphones are the most convenient option. They will need a receiver station, which can be connected directly to your encoder or audio mixer.
The most common types of microphones for event use are:
- Lapel mic: A small, wireless microphone with a dedicated receiver, clips on to the speaker.
- Shotgun mic: A microphone with an elongated barrel that can be attached to a camera or boom stick.
- Handheld mic: The classic. Ideal for interviews or for placement on podiums for lectures. Usually transmits to a large receiver.
Encoder and Network Connection
What’s an encoder? This is the technology that takes your audio and visual stream and turns it into a “language” that the internet can interpret and display as live video. Streaming using your computer requires the installation of streaming software, or “software encoding.” This method requires the use of USB capture cards (a small, external piece of equipment that “grabs” the signal from your camera) and uses a significant amount of processing power, which could slow down your computer.
A hardware encoder is a more reliable solution, as they do not require capture cards or put strain on your computer. They are often an “all-in-one” solution, allowing you to manage streaming, recording and live switching from one system. Hardware encoders can be simple, portable devices, but they are also significantly more expensive than purchasing a USB capture card.
Many venues, like Earle Brown, can provide a variety of lighting options for your event, from overhead lighting and spotlights to dimmable room lighting. If your venue is already well-lit, or if you’ll be streaming outdoors on a clear, sunny day, you may not need any additional lighting.
However, if you’re streaming a “talking head”-style interview, a nighttime event outdoors, or anywhere the lighting might be sub-par, you’ll want to take additional artificial lighting into account when setting up a live webcast.
Mobile studio lights are among the most universal and affordable options. 3-point lighting is the standard for most video lighting set-ups and includes a key light (the strongest light, positioned down at your subject on an angle,) a fill light (half as strong as the key light, positioned to the opposite side of your subject on an angle, to “fill” the shadows on their face,) and a back light (positioned above and behind your subject, usually off to one side, to help them stand out against your background.)
You may also use lights filtered through a commercial light diffuser (or “lightbox”) for softer light, which can be especially useful for business-related shoots. For an outdoor video, the sun will act as your key light. You can create your fill and back lights using white reflectors to “bounce” sunlight onto your subject. You can purchase bounce reflectors, or even DIY one using a white sheet of cardboard.
Choose a Streaming Site or Service
Choosing the right streaming site or service for your live stream is crucial, as each offer different benefits and limitations. The simplest platforms that host live streaming for free happen to be ones with which many planners are already familiar: YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Stream Live Events On Youtube
A YouTube stream is ideal for businesses looking to use their event to reach new audiences. All you need to get started on YouTube’s live feature is a verified, live-enabled YouTube channel for your brand or event.
To enable livestreaming on your account, log into your YouTube Channel and visit www.youtube.com/my_live_events. Note that it can take up to 24 hours for YouTube to activate livestreaming on your account after you request permissions.
Stream Live Events On Facebook
Facebook Live is an especially useful tool for brands looking to broadcast easily to their existing audience of current clients or fans, plus friends and family. Your stream will appear in your News Feed and on your event’s Page while you are live. Once your livestream has ended, live videos will appear under Videos on your Page, so guests who could not attend your event or watch the live stream can view your video in perpetuity.
Login to Facebook in your browser and select ‘Create Live Stream‘ to begin. Select which profile, Page, group or event you’ll want to stream from, then follow the prompts. You can also livestream from a mobile device in the Facebook app. Just don’t forget about the 4-hour time limit on mobile devices!
Stream Live Events On Instagram
Instagram has two streaming features available: Instagram Live and IGTV. Both Instagram video features are designed for vertical smartphone viewing, and lend themselves well to footage shot on a smartphone.
Instagram Live is similar in functionality to Facebook Live, and is good for spur-of-the-moment livestreaming of events. The recorded video lives in your Instagram Stories section for just 24 hours before disappearing for good, so this option is best for brands that do not need or want their video to be available for viewing in perpetuity.
IGTV on the other hand, provides options for longer-form videos, as pre-recorded 10-60 minute videos can be uploaded and do not expire. You can also add filters, stickers, and branding to your content and include hyperlinks.
Survey The Venue
Your venue may be any size, shape, indoors or outdoors, etc., but the basic AV needs for streaming are the same. In general, you’ll need:
- A reliable internet connection
- Nearby power sources
- Space for camera(s) with a clear shot to the speaker(s)
- A location for AV “mission control,” a central location to gather all your video and audio outputs in close proximity to your power sources, cameras, etc.
You’ll also need to consider cable length limitations, where cables and equipment will be in relation to guests/walkways, and physical limitations of the space like columns or walls. Ask your venue coordinator or planner about these considerations during your initial tour or meeting. Many venues will be familiar with live stream requirements and will be able to accommodate your needs and answer any questions you may have. They’ll also be able to instruct you regarding custom set-ups like hanging lights or cameras.
Set Up Your AV
To begin setting up your AV for your livestreamed event, start by setting up and securing your cameras. First, decide on the number of cameras and their placement, bearing in mind limitations like power sources and obstructions in the room. Secure cameras in place using tripods or other sturdy equipment, and make sure your camera operators are well-versed in both the tech and the plan for both the event as a whole and the stream.
Next, you’ll want to identify your venue’s pre-existing audio infrastructure. Where is your audio coming from? Is the venue fitted with a sound system, and do you have access to it? Does the venue provide microphones? Talk to the venue’s sound technician or DJ. They’ll be able to familiarize you with the existing audio layout.
If your venue has no existing sound system or microphones, you’ll be providing your own speakers and mics, and thus will be responsible for setting up audio before your event. Bring your speakers, microphones, audio mixers, etc. and the person or people on your team who are well-versed in setting up and operating that equipment.
Finally, be sure to synchronize your audio and video. Sync issues are difficult to correct in live video, so if you have camera or spacial limitations that may make synchronization difficult, consider using an audio inserter as a workaround.
Configure and Test Your Stream
Once you’ve settled on the final location for your “mission control” table or booth, gather all your AV sources and connect them to your encoder. You’ll need to prepare your layouts (one or more arrangement(s) of video and audio to switch between during the stream) before day-of, so be sure to source any graphics, titles, logos, backgrounds and any other materials you wish to use well in advance.
Next, create the stream page in-platform and fill out all the details: title, tags, etc. If this is a public event, you’ll want to set up your stream page in advance so you can share the link with others. (More on that in a moment!)
Finally, you’ll need to test your stream, which means testing your cameras, microphones, graphics, and just about everything else. Stream to a private destination to ensure everything is working properly without having to stream publicly. Don’t forget to stop your test stream and double-check that you’ll be streaming to the correct location after the test is complete.
Remember: Configuring and testing your stream takes a significant chunk of time. Set aside more than you think you’ll need to ensure there’s no last-minute emergencies!
Promote and Monitor Your Stream
Promoting your stream is perhaps the most important part of livestreaming any event, aside from ensuring the fidelity of the technical processes. Promotion ahead of the event helps to drum up viewership and get people excited about tuning in. At least two weeks before the event, create and share the event page on social media. Be sure to include details, like what time to watch or what hashtag to share while watching.
You can take your promotion a step further by encouraging others to like and follow the event page on social media ahead of the event to increase your potential viewership. Tease the event with promotional images or videos, and be sure to make all materials publicly shareable and comment-enabled.
You’ll also want to share the livestream page once it is created. On the day of the stream, be sure to share the page widely across all your brand’s social media pages.
Once your stream has begun, it is now your responsibility to monitor the stream for any issues that may arise. Monitor image and audio, but also keep an eye on public comments and viewer interaction, if those features are enabled.
When the event is over, be sure to stop your stream. Remember that, until you physically end the stream, anything you say or do on camera or within range of your microphones will still be streamed to your audience—so shut it down as soon as it’s over!
Streaming Your Event From Earle Brown Heritage Center
If you’re planning to live stream a conference, live stream a private event, or are looking for a venue that is experienced in hosting events that include a livestreamed component, Earle Brown would be delighted to be your partner.
We offer a variety of AV amenities in all our spaces, and our expert planners are no stranger to the tech needs of livestreaming at events. Contact us today to begin planning an extraordinary event you’ll be proud to live stream to the masses!