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HOW TO SET UP A PLATFORM FOR LIVE STREAM AND RELATED EQUIPMENT?

Most likely because of COVID-19, the cases of people using live streams to launch new products, to hold church services, and to teach classes are surging. In the meantime, we have noticed that people face different problems during live streaming. We have friends and customers who started to ask us how to build a live stream platform, how to choose live stream equipment, and in general, how to connect and set up the devices. So today, we invited Dave, the technical director of Hollyland Technology, to give us some suggestions and share a few examples on how to properly build up a live stream platform with the right gear.

This article is mainly focused on how to come up with a live stream solution with the necessary equipment.

A complete live stream solution can be divided into seven parts. The schematic diagram is as follows,

 

1. VIDEO CAPTURE

The first video capture part is about video content collection, generally using small cameras such as the Sony Z280, FS7, Panasonic AG-DVX200MC, etc., or mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A6400 or Panasonic GH5 that can shoot for a long time, or PTZ cameras such as Sony PTZ or Panasonic PTZ. As for the video capture device, 1080P image quality would be good enough considering the network bandwidth and the smoothness of live streaming.

The number of cameras depends on the shooting scene requirement. Generally, there is the main camera and a close-up camera. If a moving scene is required, it is then necessary to add a mobile camera, whether on a track or handheld, to work on the tracking shots.
 
2. VIDEO TRANSMISSION

Signal transmission is a crucial part of live streaming. Multiple video capture devices need to transmit high-definition videos to the switcher. In most cases, video clips or presentation images on the laptop would also need to be transferred to the switcher.

Transmission methods are generally divided into two different types, wired and wireless. The fixed camera can be either wired or wireless, while the mobile camera is normally wireless. Wired video transmission mainly uses HDMI or SDI cables. One single HDMI cable cannot be too long, typically within 3 meters. An SDI cable, on the other hand, can reach up to 70 meters. It can be used on the live stream setup depending on the distance between the camera and the switcher, and the interfaces on them. 

Wireless transmission uses wireless video transmission devices to transmit video signals. The transmission range is normally around 50 to 500 meters. In the current market, Teardek and Hollyland have very stable wireless video transmission devices, such as their mature Blot series and COSMO series wireless transmission systems. Besides those, the MARS 400S series prosumer wireless transmission system recently released by Hollyland is a very cost-effective device that is suitable for small and medium live broadcast applications.

In the future, wireless transmission in live streaming seems like it will become more common than what it is being used now because of the convenience and the practicability it brings. Hollyland's trial-period new product, a multi-transmitter-single-receiver transmission system, allows several transmitters connected to a single receiver. A full set of this system only takes one frequency channel; therefore, it supports multiple sets being used in the same shooting environment. With that being said, over ten cameras can easily be connected and monitored with the system for quick and temporary multi-camera live streaming platforms. 

 
3. SWITCHERS

A switcher supports multi-camera shooting. It can easily switch among the main camera, close-up camera, presentation, PIP, etc. It can also bring on the special effects of image switching.

VMix or OBS software can be used for image switching for standard two-camera live stream setups, while hardware switchers such as the SONY MCX500 and BMD Mini Pro, the most popular ones on the market now, will have to be used for four-camera setups.
 
4. LIVE STREAMING 

The solution of using a laptop + the OBS software is the most used concept for small-sized live streaming cases. The software can quickly and conveniently select video streaming rate and other parameters to achieve a balance between image quality and bandwidth, and further, to avoid frozen frames. It’s recommended to choose live streaming rate according to the bandwidth, typically around 2000 ~ 5000kbps.

Another option is to use hardware for live streaming, such as the YoloBox3.0. The advantage of using hardware is that no computer is needed, which lowers the malfunction rate. 
 
5. AUDIO

The two most common microphones are directional microphones and wireless microphones. Directional microphones are normally set up on cameras to collect the audio right in front of it. They work the best for fixed cameras in a quiet indoor environment. On the other hand, wireless microphones are usually used to collect individual voices. They are more suitable for mobile cameras or environments with loud noise. The most commonly used microphones are SONY UWP-D11, RODE Wireless Go, etc.

6. INTERNET

Live streaming requires the internet to have enough uploading bandwidth. Usually, YouTube and Facebook need 10M or above to live stream 1080P. A private network is the best way to do live streaming. Using a shared network or a public network might cause an unstable network connection and frozen images.

7.PRODUCTION CONTROL

On the live stream set, the director needs to communicate with the cameramen frequently. Full-duplex intercoms are currently the most convenient solution other than walkie talkies. They free the camera men’s hands so they can focus on operating the cameras. 

There are two types of mainstream full-duplex intercom systems, wired and wireless. Wired systems are applicable for fixed locations, while wireless systems are suitable for mobile scenes. Both systems can also be connected with a 2/4 wire converter.
  
ClearCom 702 and HANSON are believed to have the most reliable wired full-duplex intercom systems on the market. As for wireless full-duplex intercom systems, Hollyland provides a portable and cost-effective solution with their MARS T1000. The highly recommended system supports up to 4 wireless beltpacks, and can perfectly work for a four-camera live streaming setup. 

That is the full preliminary plan of how to set up a live streaming platform. For the next article, let’s get into the details of signal linking and precautions of using wireless for live streaming.
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