How to begin live streaming events at scale

October 13, 2020 2ndUnit

How to begin live streaming events at scale

Business seminars, expos, and other major gatherings have had to be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus.

Businesses have been forced to adapt to these sudden changes, and the solution they have turned to is live streaming.

What is live streaming?

Live streaming is now a big part of our lives. Unlike traditional video that requires post editing, live streams are recorded, live switched, edited, and broadcasted live on the internet.

Due to platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch, live streaming has become easier and more popular in recent years. This has allowed individual users and businesses to live stream content directly to their followers.

While many businesses were already familiar with programs like Zoom and Google Meet, forced shutdowns made live streams the go-to for communication. Interviews, meetings, product reveals, and small webinars have all been done almost exclusively online these past few months.

This has also been the case for many large gatherings forced to shut down due to the coronavirus. Everything from webinars and concerts to conferences and expos are now being live-streamed to large audiences at scale.

Professional video producers and event crews have been creating amazing shows and live streams, allowing new people to participate virtually.  Future events are following this format, and many event organizers are currently selling tickets to virtual attendees.

Interested in live streaming a professional conference or business event and not sure where to start? Here are 4 key live streaming concepts you need to understand that will help you scale your business live streaming and reach a greater audience.

Here are 4 concepts to help get you started.

1) Figure out your live stream content

2) What you need to get started

3) Prepare for when things go wrong

4) Finding the right location to film

1: Figure out your live stream content

Before you can begin live streaming content for your business, you’ll need a proper goal in place to help direct the content you decide to create. While you may be inclined to create a webinar or live stream a business conference, these mediums may not be the right fit for your business.

Consider your target audience’s viewing habits and the type of content they choose to consume, both from you and from your competitors.

Are they more inclined to watch a casual Livestream on Facebook? Are they willing to pay for access to your live webinar? How many people can you realistically get to watch your live stream in the first place? What about editing, setting up a professional set, making sure all of your camera settings match, and ensuring you capture crisp audio from all participating members?

It’s a lot, right?

With complex event seminars, we recommend getting professionals involved that can help guide your business and recommend the right platforms to use. These production professionals will ensure your event goes smoothly and that all of your needs are met. This is especially important if you have different stages for your viewers to jump into or break out groups that need to be organized within main stages.

One of the biggest draws to events and business conferences has been the ability to network. Oftentimes networking was a bigger draw to an event than the event itself. Breakout rooms are a great way to meet new people at a distance and provide extra value to your audience.

It’s also important to create a dedicated landing page for your live stream, which is a page on your site where interested individuals can sign up and reserve a spot for themselves in your event.

Include a tracking pixel on the landing page to gather useful information to guide your marketing. It will assist in creating lookalike audiences for your ads and will allow you to reach even more people as you begin to build hype around your live stream.

And don’t forget to include a GDPR compliance check somewhere on your site to ensure compliance with existing tracking laws.

As you gain more information about your audience, you can better direct the content you choose to make in the future, that you know will sell to your audience.

2: What you need to get started

A professional live stream requires production value and extensive planning. Here are some things to consider before you begin live streaming.

Hire a livestream production team
Your business seminar or webinar will need a producer, someone who will keep the whole operation in check and on schedule, and a team to support them. They will have the operational knowledge to ensure you can successfully scale your live stream and minimize any technical issues. The production team is in charge of getting as many of the details about the live stream worked out beforehand.

Live streaming equipment and tools
Hire professionals who can set up the cameras, computers, switchers, audio equipment, gear, etc. If you hire a production team, they will have all of the equipment ready for you so that you can focus on what matters: your speakers and your content.

If you are on a small budget, you can purchase a good quality video camera and mic at a reasonable price, or you could always rent out equipment you plan on using. It’s still important to get some help from someone with experience who can help you with the technical side of live streaming such as switching and broadcasting.

Set design and background
Your background plays a key role in elevating your production value. Designing a set or dressing your background is the perfect way to bring major value to your live stream event. For bigger productions you can rent show sets or bring in a set designer to customize your projects. Working in LED walls into your set is a fantastic way to bring a lot of production value to your project, but it can be expensive to incorporate.

Lighting your live stream
Ensure you have proper lighting that matches the mood of your content. Proper lighting makes all the difference and can greatly impact the feel of your live stream. Not only will it help your background stand out, but proper lighting on your talent or speaker will help reduce shadows on their face and make them look good on camera.

Capture quality audio
You want your viewers to be able to hear your speakers properly. A good mic will help reduce outside noise and will ensure crisp audio during the duration of the live stream. We recommend capturing audio through lavaliers if you don’t have a professional crew helping you with your live stream.

While people can put up with minor visual glitches, poor audio can ruin the live stream experience completely for your viewers.

Live stream over wired internet, not Wi-Fi
Make sure you have a stable internet connection during the duration of your live stream. This one is very important as your internet connection can make or break your livestream.

Never use Wifi for your livestreams as the connection may drop, be interrupted, and cause your entire show to go down. Always use a direct connection (ethernet cable) to power your live stream. When looking for a sound stage for bigger productions, look for facilities that have Fiber or dedicated 30mbps up and down for the stage.

Maintain consistent power to all of your equipment
Keep equipment powered. Just like your internet connection, losing power on your equipment can cause your live stream to go down. There are multiple points of failure in a given operation and your production team will ensure you have extension cables at the ready, each marked to avoid confusion.

Software versus Hardware
While we highly recommend hiring a production team to assist you with scaling your live stream, we understand that not everyone will have the ability to do so. If you are currently unable to hire a professional team, here is some good information to help you out.

To ensure your live stream takes off without any issues, you will need a proper video encoder to compress video files and reduce file sizes transmitted to the end-viewer.

An encoder is what formats the video captured from your cameras and allows it to be streamed online.

There are two different types of encoders, software and hardware.

Software encoders use the processing power of your computer directly. You’ll need a capture card to capture video from your camera directly onto your computer.

Popular encoding software includes OBS, XSplit, and Streamlabs, which are all user-friendly, offer a decent amount of customization, come with a low cost, and can handle most small-scale productions.

The main issue with software encoders is that it relies on the processing power and RAM of your computer, and if you have multiple programs running at the same time, you’ll notice a dip in quality. This becomes more apparent the more cameras you have attached to your computer.

Hardware encoders come with a higher price tag, but they do all the video processing on their own. They are designed to handle large scale streaming over extended periods of time and the only time you’ll notice any dips in quality would be if your internet goes down.

Professional production teams rely on hardware encoders to stream video content and scale the live streams they produce. It ensures large audiences from anywhere in the world receive quality video content regardless of distance and viewing device.

3: Prepare for when things go wrong

Even if you have the perfect team and the best speakers available, problems can still arise outside of your control. Even professional teams have technical issues that can come up unexpectedly. When things go wrong, you need to be prepared and tackle the problem head-on.

Don’t forget that everything you say is live. While many live streams are delayed by a few seconds to cover up minor mistakes as they happen, you can’t cover everything in real time.

And even though you’ve secured your live stream behind a pay-wall, viewers can still find a way to record and share your content with others.

It’s important to bring on a few moderators for your business live stream as well. Moderators monitor your chat and ensure things go smoothly among your viewers. The moderator collects questions, provides answers, and deletes inappropriate and offensive comments. To make things easier for the moderator, some live streaming programs allow you to add restricted words to filter out any negative comments.

If your stream goes down or you have audio delays, do your best to push through it. Do a test run to make sure you can catch as many problems before going live. If you’ve hired a production team to help you with your live stream, they will handle all of the heavy lifting for you.

Monitor your chat to see if your viewers are having problems with your stream and make changes accordingly.

4: Finding the right location to film

Depending on the size and scope of what you are trying to live stream, you may need a larger space than what your office building currently has to offer.

First you’ll want to scout a suitable location that meets all of your requirements. Make sure the location has a wired internet, enough space for your cameras and other equipment, and that there is stable power for all of your equipment.

The location needs to be quiet and private to minimize external factors from ruining your show. When scouting for a spot, be mindful of the type of content you’ll be creating and the type of backdrops you’ll be using.

Sound stages are popular venues for holding events such as webinars and conferences, and are a great place to live stream at. Sound stages are a perfect solution for holding webinars and seminars as they minimize outside noise and are large enough to build a stage and set for your event that can be customized to fit your brand.

The Film Hub has the perfect spaces to help your live streams come to life. You have the choice of two stages outfitted with all of the equipment you’ll need.

Stage 2 at The Film Hub

Perfect for live streaming, Stage 2 is located on-site at The Film Hub and includes a 50×27 soundstage and white cyclorama. This true soundstage has a raised platform perfect for staging a set to have a true event look. This soundproof stage includes a lighting grid, a green room with a makeup and hair station, and fiber Ethernet for consistent, high-quality live streams.

With an adjutant control room to add on to your rental, you can run all your live switching in a separate space.

Stage 3 ‘The Cafe’ at The Film Hub

The Cafe was designed to be used as a kitchen set or for a restaurant setting. It comes with a fully functional kitchen, 2 lighting grids, Wifi and Fiber ethernet, and quiet air conditioning. The total space is 60×35, perfect for live streaming large scale events and classes.

Learn more about the different stages and areas at The Film Hub.

Why The Film Hub is the perfect location for your next Livestream

Scaling your business live streams has never been easier. The Film Hub has all the space and sets you’ll need to get you started. Not only does it provide three different stages to choose from, but The Film Hub includes a lunch deck, a makeup room, an editing control room, a lighting grid, set rentals, and so much more

Sprott Media held a week-long livestream at The Film Hub and were able to fully utilize the space. You can watch a short introduction of the event below.

Interested in shooting your next live stream at The Film Hub? Be sure to book a tour and see how we can help you set up your live stream. No matter the size, big or small, we have the tools and resources to help you out!