Open Forum

Live streaming - technical advice

  • 1.  Live streaming - technical advice

    Posted 06-17-2020 17:17
    I'm exploring options for live streaming shows in the fall, and I'm looking for any suggestions for the technical end of doing it.

    Background: I've been encouraged to see so many publishers adding the option to pay for live streaming rights for many of their shows. This past spring we performed a prerecorded show, for which the actors taped themselves in their own homes and sent the videos to me to edit together and then post online. That worked well for the stay-at-home portion of the lock down, but assuming things won't be back to normal in the fall, I'm working on a plan to find shows that can be done with the actors maintaining social distancing (I have a number of good possibilities already), and live-streaming the shows from our theater. I believe this is a way to give back to the students many of the benefits of live performances that they did not get from prerecording their parts. We may even have a small, socially-distanced audience (probably just their families).

    Now our district is live-streaming the school board meetings. Last month they did it from the library with a tablet streaming to Facebook, and there were complaints that the sound was terrible, among other technical issues. So later this month they are going to do it in the theater, where I can mic each of the participants, and the tablet will have better sound to pick up. I'm looking at this as an opportunity to suggest the district might spend a relatively modest amount to get a decent camera and other equipment that we can use for plays, board meetings, graduations, etc.

    Finally, the question: I've done some research already, and there are tons of options out there already, so I'm just asking if anyone has had a good experience at first-time live streaming with any particular company. Some provide turnkey solutions, others are just distributors of your video (and you have to find all the equipment yourself), with all kinds of variations. I'm just looking for one or two cameras and modest switching abilities. If anyone's had experience with this, especially in a theater setting, I'd appreciate your suggestions.

    Joel Brown
    Theater Manager
    Madison High School
    Middletown, Ohio USA

  • 2.  RE: Live streaming - technical advice

    Posted 06-18-2020 12:42

    This reply addresses the audio issues ....

    If you want a streamed program to sound good, you will need to mic it like a live performance - preferrably with each actor having their own mic.

    The mix however will not be exactly the same as a house mix - this is because when the audience is sitting in the house they are hearing a mix of acoustic sound and amplified sound, and so if you just feed the same mix to the live stream, it will sound clinical and devoid of the natural ambiance and reverb of the room.

    It is possible to warm the mix with the judicious use of a reverb effect, but I prefer adding 2 ambience mics near the middle of the room pointing at the stage and adding a little of that to the streaming mix - this works for recording too.

    Now if you are mixing for both the house and the  stream life gets a little more complex, as the ideal levels for the room of each mic may be significantly different than the level needed for the stream.  And the house mix shouldn't get those ambience mic signals.  The simplest way is to use a pre-fader auxiliary send to feed the stream and the faders to feed the house.

    The "right" way - how a live concert is also sent to a television feed, or a live album is recorded - is to split the microphone inputs to two (2) mixers and have one operator mix the house and a second operator mix the stream.  This splitting can be achieved via splitting the mics at their outputs using isolation transformer splits (not y-leads) or using the line outs on the first board (if it has them ) and feeding that signal to the second mixer.

    Getting the stream audio feed into your streaming device varies depending on the device.  If you are using an iPad/iPhone, then there are interfaces designed to let you do this.  If you are using a camcorder then you can use an different interface to connect the mixer feed into the camera that is feeding your streaming device - on some live streaming encoders you can connect the sound to the encoder - just need to ensure the audio and video are in sync.  Some encoders allow for multiple cameras and have varying degrees of switching capabilities from glitch-free switching to fades and dissolves and even the insertion of text over the transmitted image - good for pre-show announcements, intermission sponsor credits/ads & post show credits.

    Bodymics is working on turnkey solutions for hardware plus hardware and streaming solutions.

    We are looking at utilizing
    • basic high quality camcorders (Sony, Canon or Panasonic) with HDMI outputs and audio in capabilities
    • industry standard audio interfaces from mixer feed to camera - Saranomic probably
    • industry standard - and currently sold out - BlackMagic ATEM mini streaming encoders with switching capabilities for 4 cameras (which we have ordered from Black Magic for delivery June 30)
    • Dell Core i7 8gB laptops with pre-loaded OBS streaming software and ATEM software for addition control of the ATEM mini

    Rod Reilly
    Owner, Bodymics
    Somerset NJ

  • 3.  RE: Live streaming - technical advice

    Posted 06-18-2020 16:48

    Yes Rob got to it first. We have a streaming system within our school corporation. We place the camera in the center front row of balcony and send a feed directly from the sound board. Awesome sound and video quality. The only issue is that the shot is full stage so you sometime miss the intimacy.

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 4.  RE: Live streaming - technical advice

    Posted 07-31-2020 16:00


    Any musicals on that list of shows that will work with Social Distancing?


    Maria Stadtmueller
    Kendall Park,NJ

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