What do you need to live video stream your event?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a New Media consultant is “How do I live video stream my event?” The fact is, the technology part of the live streaming equation is easier than ever before, but it still requires a little bit of equipment and, more importantly, good planning to get your live video stream up and running.

…requires a little bit of equipment and, more importantly, good planning…

Time to prepare

First, you need to give yourself some time. I often receive requests and questions about live streaming the day before, or the day of, and event. If you haven’t been streaming your events before, this is usually not enough time to do more than the most basic of video streams. This doesn’t usually have anything to do with technology, but more to do with logistics.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish you might simply have a laptop and webcam which is pointed at a stage or a speaker. Even then, though, you will need to have some basic knowledge of the different types of live video streaming services out there and what they can do. Ideally, you will want to do a “sound check” earlier in the day or even the day before your event to make sure you don’t have any issues with the local network, web cam and service. You will need to set up your account with the streaming service and learn how you can embed and link to your stream during your event.

Time to promote

This points to another issue with time, too. If you want to attract an audience to your live video stream, you need to give them plenty of notice. They will need to place the event in their calendars and plan around it just as they would if they were attending in person. This is one of the limitations of live streams, of course, you still need to be in a particular place at a particular time, even if that place is only on your own sofa.

Ideally, you want to promote your event 2-3 weeks ahead. Then you will also want to remind people 1 week before the event, 1 day before the event and finally, right before the event starts. You will want to embed the player for the live stream on your blog and/or web site so people can easily find it and even stumble across it if they have forgotten about the event.

Adding complexity

Live video streaming from one location is the simplest to set up, but often show hosts and producers what to take live callers, or even live video calls, during their event. While it is possible to do this in a number of ways, be aware that the complexity of your production will increase dramatically.

You will probably want, if not need, additional computers, higher speed Internet connections and more people to handle the technology…at least initially. Once you get things up and running, you might be able to produce your show by yourself, but allow yourself some “helping hands” at the beginning.

Saving it for later

You will also want to make arrangement to capture the video from your event for those who weren’t able to watch it live. The fact is, the size of this audience is often much larger than the audience watching live. You can deliver this video via YouTube or other video sharing site, embed it on your web site or blog or even sell it on DVD to those who might want to own a physical copy.

Do you want to learn more about live video streaming and how to get it working for your event? Add your comments here or email me at me@douglasewelch.com to set up a phone or in-person consult.

Remember, allow yourself plenty of time before your first event so you aren’t struggling with the technology while also trying to organize your event.

50 thoughts on “What do you need to live video stream your event?

  1. Hey Need quite a bit of advice really, hope you can help?

    Our charity is called xtremedeen and we are based in the UK. We basically do extreme sports and crazy stuff to raise money for charity. We have an event coming up in April 2011 where volunteers will be cycling from Glasgow in Scotland to london in England. Roughly about 500 miles over 7 days. What we would like to achieve is a good quality live stream whilst we are on the move. Over the 7 days we will be in different towns and different locations. We would firstly like to know if this is possible and then what equipment we would need and the setup cost. We would greatly appreciate your help thankyou very much xtremedeen!

  2. Since you are traveling you will need some sort of wireless broadband service to connect you to the Internet from wherever you are. You will probably need to do some pre-planning to see if you have cellular coverage along your entire route and also if there are some places where you can use existing Wifi connections, such as villages and such.

    One of the simplest solutions, although somewhat low quality would be to stream from an iPhone or other smartphone. uStream.tv, Qik.com and others have apps that allow you to stream wherever you have a cell connection, even on the go. For a step up in quality, you can go with webcams or full camcorders attached to a laptop PC with a wireless broadband card. With a little ingenuity you can mount these to cycles and develop ways to power them using Gel Cells or other battery methods.

    It is possible, for sure. You will just have to be a little creative in how you accomplish it. Please let me know if there is any other information I can offer.

  3. A basic list of equipment would include:

    Camera (Camcorder or web cam)
    A camcorder is best since it will usually have a nice zoom lens to frame your video shot

    Firewire/USB cable – to connect camera to computer

    Computer – as fast a computer as possibe. Working with video requires significant computing power

    Internet Connection – the fastest and most stable connection you can get
    This will prevent drop-outs and lower quality


    External microphone/mixer output
    Lavaliere mics for people or a shotgun mic for bigger environments can help to improve your audio. Remember that audio is really more than half of your stream. If people can’t hear they will stop watching, even if the video is good.

    If your environment is dark, consider investing in some lights to improve video quality.

  4. Hi, we are trying to set up a live stream from our church to a community center in the next town over. we have no idea how much we should invest in a camera. we really want the sound and pic. to be good. i know we could spend big money, but what are your thoughts on what we really need in a camera? thanks

  5. Any basic camcorder that does well in your lighting environment would be fine. If it records a good picture, it will also stream a good picture. There is no need to go with anything expensive. In my case, I typically stream with my older Digital8 camcorder as it is not being used for anything else at the moment. It is a good way to repurpose older equipment.

    Once you have a decent picture, the quality of the stream will depend more on your Internet connections than anything else. Make sure both are running well at decent speed. Do a test before you try to use it for an actual event, too.

    If you can, mic the speakers (pastor, etc) directly or place an omni-directional mic near the altar/podium/etc. People will forgive a slightly degraded picture, but will need to hear well to enjoy the stream.

  6. I’m looking into streaming snapshots of trafficked areas near to where I live to a website, do you have an idea on what would I need (Type of camera, Power supply, Internet Connection).


  7. Hi Douglas,

    Thank you for this very helpful thread. I have an existing tv show that is being broadcast from a local tv station. The show is a live auction and customers will be calling in to make purchases during the broadcast. I’m doing research now to figure out how I can set up a website and stream the same signal to my site. The image quality has to be good enough for viewers to see my products clearly with as little lag as possible. I was wondering what kind of software I should buy, if any, to achieve this. Thanks in advance…

  8. I would start with something like uStream.tv for the streaming and embedding. This might serve your needs for quite a while. Then you could upgrade to hosting your own streming server, but that is much more complicated.

  9. Thanks for your reply. Will I need to purchase any extra hardware or services for analog/digital conversion / encoding?

    Also, do you recommend HD or will SD be good enough?

    Thanks again…

  10. You should try StreamJunkie.tv for the streaming and embedding with out the adds on all the other sites. You could also try your own hosting server but why when there are so many free live video streaming services out there.

  11. I operate 4 big pool tournaments a year. I am looking to stream these events. The little bit, and I mean little bit, that I know is that I need a video capture card. My question is what type of card do I need. There are so many out there.

  12. You only need to go the route of a video capture card if you want to have mutliple streams or other advanced features. Routing the output of your video camera(s) or video switcher to a computer via Firewire or USB would allow you to start streaming that video.

  13. thak you very much to the answer you have been providing above.i ask my self if there is a camera that can stream live with out getting wired to the laptop? since i need to be moving the camera and hence its hard to move with the laptop beside a camera?

  14. You could use a smartphone, iPhone, Android, etc) to stream live directly from the phone. The quality will be poorer, but you gain the ability to move wherever you need. There are also WiFi web cams that broadcast back to the laptop without wires. You could position several of them and then switch between them. With multiple camera, though, you are rapidly approaching the level where some dedicated wired video cameras and a video switcher hooked to the laptop would be the next step up in flexibility and quality.

  15. I would like to stream my wedding.
    I want to know if it is possible to stream the camcorder from the photographer?
    If it is what kind of device or devices do i need?
    It will be a handheld cam so i assume the device will need wireless connection?

  16. I am thinking something like an iPhone might be better. It would be more difficult to try and wirelessly send the camera signal and the phone would be much more mobile. You can use a service/app like Qik.com to provide the web page for the stream.

  17. I work for a large corporation and have a $100,000 budget to produce and stream live events on our website (think small scale X-Games). Content will be delivered to our users through our CDN via satellite communication with the production team on the ground. I’ve done a lot of research and have the process down but not having a production let alone a video background, I’m basically throwing a darts at a wall hoping to hit quality equipment based on how expensive it is relative to other decent/well marketed products out there. I would love some feedback from someone in the industry that knows a little more than I do in this area. As far as cameras, I’ve selected the Sony XDCAM EX PMW-EX1 not sure if this is overkill or if there are better cameras out there?? I’ve narrowed it down to a couple different switchers, the NewTek Tricaster and the Sony Anycast. The Tricaster looks far more robust but is about twice the price. Do you know anyone who has used either of these with or without success? Are there better ones out there? The 3rd piece to the puzzle is the encoder. I’ve looked at both the Viewcast 7550 and the Digital Rapods StreamEz live ABR but again not sure if there is something better in the market place. And last but not least, how are you supposed to power all this? What size generator would be needed?

  18. LOL! Wow, you are far above my knowledge level on this one. I tend to help individuals and small businesses, but you taking this to an entirely different level.

    I have posted your comment in hopes that someone else will be able to offer some information.

  19. We are looking to expand our worship services by live streaming the preaching portion of our services to one other location. We want the off-site location to have a good experience and not be “punished” with poor quality video and sound.
    We would have a live band for the music portion, a pastor their to MC and be available and when the preaching starts, the streaming would start.
    What would you recommend for this type of setup?

  20. My husband is a high school basketball coach and we would like to broadcast the games live online. He has a laptap and an HD video camera and a firewire. But the HD camcorder doesn’t have a firewire plug on it … any ideas on how to connect the camcorder to the laptop via firewire? Or is there another way we could be doing this? He is working through a website called http://www.ihigh.com. Thanks!

  21. You might be able to use USB, if the camcorder supports that. You might be able to find an older camcorder that does support Firewire or use a midrange web cam to show the floor. That would be a wide angle shot, though and not allow you to zoom, which is one big advantage to the camcorder.

  22. I would recommend a camcorder with Firewire output which you can connect to the computer connected to a streaming server. This allows you to pan and zoom for a better experience for remote viewers. To get the best sound, you would want to take an audio feed of of your sound mixing board and connect that to the streaming computer, too. When using services like uStream.tv you can tell the software to take the video from the camera and the audio from the Line In port of the computer (i.e. the feed from the mixing board) You can also use a web cam for the video, although that would probably only provide a wide angle shot without any ability to pan or zoom.

  23. hi

    we do smaller motorsport events and have LED screens/Jumbotrons for the spectators. In total, 4 x camera, 1x graphics laptop into a video mixer. I would like to live stream these events. What equipment do i need from the mixer onwards?

    much thanks for all your help

  24. I just found you, and appreciate that you so generously share your knowledge & experience. My son and I started a video production company 18 months ago focusing on Sustainability Issues, and this info will help us a lot. Thanks again!

  25. Doug,

    Your advice on this post is great. Looking at setting up a skate park that I want to stream live, I want to be able to have like 8 cameras streaming live at the same time, possibly up to 16. I already am setup to have a T1 connection for stability. If I want the videos to stream to my own site, I need to know what streaming services I could utilize, and also what cameras are best. Quality is important. Also will each camera need its own computer? or can like 1 mac pro control a number of them? I have a really decent budget to get this started. any advice helps. Thanks.

  26. Bill,

    Wow! Sounds like an amazing idea.

    It doesn’t really matter what system is capturing the video itself, as long as you can connect the video output of the system to a computer, which can then stream that video out. This could be something as simple as a video security system that supports multiple cameras or a television switcher that can take input from all the cameras and allow you to mix them live.

    For both of these scenarios, you would take the output of the security system or video switcher, run that into a video to Firewire or USB interface on the computer. This interface could then be selected as the input for whichever streaming service you might use.

    For example, a typical use of these streaming services is to stream one webcam connected via USB. Replace that web cam with the Firewire or USB video interface which is receiving video from your cameras and you can now send video from any of the cameras to the stream. Video switchers can also allow you do picture-in-picture, and other effects to combine video from several cameras.

    The Edirol V-4 4-Channel Video Mixer is one possibility for a small video mixer you could use in your installation.


  27. I am wanting to live stream graduation ceremonies and banquets. I have two Canon GL2 video cameras. I have one laptop. Is it possible to hook up both to the laptop? I am looking for quality video and audio. What other equipment do I need to get started? Not sure what else to get in order to get started as I read in some of the other posts that good internet connection is a must. Is there a device that can provide good internet connection especially if the facility does not have internet connection and if the event is held out doors? Thanks in advance!

  28. Pauline,

    In order to have two camera feeding one stream you would need to connect them to a video switcher of some type. That would allow you to choose between the two video feeds or intermix them i.e. picture-in-picture, etc. The video and audio feed from this switcher could then be sent to whatever streaming site you choose to use i.e. uStream, Livestream, dedicated streaming server.

    As for connectivity. If you don’t have an Internet connection at the site you would need to use some form of wireless broadband cards that use the cellular system to connect you to the Internet. You may need a router that allows you to connect multiple wireless broadband cards to increase your overall bandwidth.

    I also recently highlighted 2 different devices on my New Media Interchange site which you can connect directly to the cameras and then stream live via built-in wireless broadband capabilities. This would not allow you to mix the videos but it would allow you simplify your setup a bit i.e. have one, wandering, handheld camera for the event. See these posts for more information:



  29. Hi would like to know about the best streaming service or software and technical equipment needed to acheive smooth live streaming and a recorded version in the archive

  30. Olatubi,

    Unfortunately, if you ask 10 people what is “best” you will often get 10 different answers. It will depend greatly on 3 items:

    * Your location (using a local streaming provider will be faster than something based elsewhere, such as the US, if you are not located there)

    * You computer speed (you need that fastest computer you can and you need to dedicate it to streaming the video as much as you can. Sometimes you will have to run other software, but keep the processing load as light as possible)

    * Your Internet connection (This is probably the most variable and it can change from moment to moment. As a backup, you should always try to shoot local video so that you can, at least, broadcast it at a later date if the live stream fails. Test the connection ahead of time, if possible. Also, try to maintain the entire connection for your video, if possible. If others are using the connection for bandwidth intensive activities, your stream will suffer.

    I hope this helps!


  31. Hi Douglas, Please what are the basic equipmets we need to be able to recieve live streaming from a sister church in a distant location location to our church and also be able to do vice versa. Thanks

  32. Hi, Our Pastor will be undergoing his second kidney transplant in July. He is only 33 and a great God filled caring man. To show you the extreme love his wife has for him…turns out she is a 100% match. My question is this: They will be down for aprox 2 months and I want to be able to stream the church service into his home. We have basic equipment (sony hd camcorder, internet, new laptops, desktop is a couple years old, projector) but we have no idea how to set anything up like this. I have Skyped with my laptop a few times but that is about it. The picture tends to be jerky. I would like for the church to be able to see and hear him as well as the ability for him to see the chruch service on his end. If Skype is our best option then I can handle that. Or if ooVoo is good then I will research that. Thanks for your input.

  33. Cameron, Skype is probably your best answer as it is a direct one-to-one connection and you already know how to use it. Video and audio quality is most effected by the Internet connection at each end. You wil want to make sure that you aren’t running any else bandwidth intensive on that connection during the call.

    ooVoo and others are also appropriate. Give them a try if you think their quality might be better or features more in line with what you need.

  34. Great thread, and very generous of you to share your expertise! I’m exploring the possibility of a live webcast of pupil performances in a main hall, using at least two cameras, and I’d like to be able to mix in one or more roving camera feed too. I’ve read through all the comments, but can’t quite grasp what I’d need (sorry!). I can see a wired connection being impractical in the main hall, never mind the ‘roving’ camera. Are there any cameras you’d recommend (maybe simply iPads?) or software/hardware for live mixing through a Macbook? uStream sounds a good bet for streaming the output

  35. Dave, multiple cameras are a big step up in complexity. While you can get wireless broadcasting rigs for prosumer/pro cameras, I would imagine the costs would be extremely high. These would be the types of cameras you see covering sporting events where they can roam around the field and such.

    With multiple cameras you will also need a video switcher that allows you to combine all these cameras into one feed that can then be sent out to the streaming site. This is what allows you to choose each shot, combine shots, add graphic, etc. This output is then what you send to the streaming service.

    There are some services that say they support multiple IP-based cameras, but I haven’t found one that works well enough to use really.

    One interesting thought that comes to mind would be to use multiple iPads/iPhones to stream into a Google Hangout during an event. Then you could select which camera to make the main window.

  36. pls i have a programme dat will come up in september and i wish to stream.pls what are the neccessary things i will need and how do i use them.Thanks

  37. What equipment do you suggest?
    I will be doing live socia media events with a laptop. I heard it is suggested there is some kind of box in between the camera and the laptop?

    Camera: (suggestion)

  38. John Stoneback: Most camcorders will connect directly to your Firewire or USB port using the correct cable without need for any additional equipment. A webcam would also connect directly to the USB port.

    The only time you would require an external connector (probably and analog to digital convertor) would be if you are pulling in video from an older camcorder or camera that doesn’t support Firewire or USB…or…in the case where you are using multiple cameras into a video switcher, you might need the A-D convertor if the switcher did not support Firewire or USB.

  39. Hi Douglas,

    Am interested in streaming live video from a game park (out in the wild) to a tours and travels website on which interested parties looking for places to visit can watch live as I record. Apart from a camera/camcorder,cable, computer and internet connectivity, will I require any other kind of arrangements to be successful at this?

    Another thing,If I were to advertise houses on the web where people can view a video of the entire house online before they purchase, will the same arrangement work?

  40. Pingback: “How to Live stream?”question and answer session via email « New Media Interchange

  41. Hello Douglas,

    The theatre I’m working for is looking to broadcast productions live over our website using a multicam system. So we’re essencially talking OB unit with minimum 4 microphones and 2 cameras. Is there anything special we’ll need to be able to stream live?


  42. Hi, I need to livestream a 2 hour event. I am thinking of using Ustream to broadcast and a MacBook Pro, a Sony camcorder and 3G for the Internet connection. The camcorder has a HDMI and a USB out. I need to connect to a Thunderbolt port on the laptop. Is this possible? Also, do you recommend any sites for livestreaming? Thank you in advance.

  43. It would depend on how the DSLRs are connected to the streaming computer. It would seem you might be able to connect the HDMI out of the cameras (if they have one) to a video switcher and then use the video switcher to connect to the computer and the outgoing stream.

  44. I work in an elementary school and we would like to do live morning announcements. All of our classrooms have projectors and computers. I have a laptop in the office and a desktop computer. If we buy a webcam how would we broadcast the children doing morning announcements each day? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  45. Hi, We are a socio-religious organisation based in India. we have weekly events and want to stream them live so that people can watch it on their computers and mobile devices. as we are new to social media, just wanted to know that what hardware and software do we need. as we have events in those areas also where we might not have wifi but do have 3G facilities limited to 1mbps . our wifi speeds in india are also not more than 2 to 3mbps. we have a Hd camera , a mac book pro and a 3g dongle. what else do we need. i was checking ustream and other sites. but they are charging on basis of viewership numbers which can be quite high at times. we are willing to pay couple of hundered dollars a month but need a solution where unlimited number of people can see our events live accross different platforms. kindly suggest what to do. thanks

  46. My husband and I teach a relationship weekend retreat. We’d like to be able to stream it live and have the people on the other end be able to participate even if just via a chat box. It would be approximately 7 hours of video each day (Sat and Sun). We want to be able to charge to see the event.

    We have an HP laptop and a new Samsung Tab 2, and both of us have Samsung Galaxy S III phones. What equipment configuration do you recommend and what streaming service would allow us to charge? We don’t want this streamed out to the world for free.

  47. Hello! I too need quite a bit of help as I have no idea when it comes to this stuff. I am getting married this July in Canada. Unfortunately some of our family and friends can not attend the wedding. I am looking for some details on what equipment I would need to do this as well as the asic “how to” stuff. Any help would really be greatly appreciated!!!

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