Your First Foray
Into Live Streaming?
In May, a former web developer contacted me about the possibility of helping his company produce a live stream for a conference that
was less than 3 weeks away. Like many prospective clients, he was hoping to find an off-the-shelf turnkey system to fulfill his business
and technical requirements. Another similarity was the lack of any written form of said requirements—such information had to be gathered by me during two phone calls.
Whether you are a service provider or an organization looking for someone to support live
streaming for your event, it is useful to have
a framework for planning. What are realistic
expectations for first-time live stream producers? How can such expectations be fulfilled in
a timely manner? I’ve compiled a list of considerations for organizations looking to add live
streaming to event productions:
1. Preparation time: The timeline will depend
on how large the team will be and how complex the plan is, but clients typically get events
in the planning pipeline 3–4 months ahead.
2. Number of simultaneous event streams: Specify how many live streams will be produced
during the event. If you have more than one
speaker presenting at a time, will each presentation be livestreamed? Many organizations
opt to livestream only the larger sessions, and
archive the recordings of the presentations in
smaller sessions. High-quality video and audio
are still required for both deliverables.
3. A/V production: Determine which ven-
dor (or department within your organization)
will be responsible for on-site audio and vid-
eo gear. Most larger live event producers al-
ready hire A/V companies for standard set-
up of projectors and screens, wired/wireless
microphones, stage lighting, computer(s) for
slide presentations, and gear to record audio
and presentation material. Not all events will
employ camera operators, but if you’re look-
ing for live direction of speaker/presentation
material, be sure to specify it in your require-
ments, as additional staff and gear will be nec-
essary. Also, be sure to confirm that the venue
you are using for the event doesn’t require you
to use its resources and staff for such produc-
4. Onsite live streaming tech: Determine which
party will be responsible for taking the output
from the A/V production to your preferred
live streaming CDN or your own streaming
server(s). Many A/V production services still
do not offer live streaming support, and if they
do, it’s likely a considerable line item in their
quote. Onsite live streaming tech will require
a dedicated internet connection from the venue, and a smart vendor will also bring 3G/
4G/LTE mobile connectivity as a backup. The
streaming tech will need to accommodate the
video signal being provided by the A/V production, such as an SDI or HDMI master feed.
5. Live streaming deployment: Identify how
you will take the live stream and provide it to
your audience. Will you use an IBM Cloud Video (formerly Ustream), Livestream, Akamai,
or something similar? Will you also want to
deploy to a platform such as Facebook Live or
You Tube Live? Maybe you want to create your
own live streaming experience for your web-site(s) or mobile apps and want to build a custom pipeline utilizing server technology such
as Wowza Streaming Engine, Red5, or NGINX
on Amazon AWS or another cloud platform.
Determine if you will need the streaming deployment vendor to transcode multiple bitrates
for each live stream (aka adaptive streaming).
6. Monetization and DRM: If you need a paywall
in front of your viewing experience, identify the
vendor or platform responsible for collecting
payment and securing the content for paid subscribers. Will you need to integrate an existing
user management system from your site(s)
and/or mobile app(s) with the payment platform? How will the payment gateway be linked
to the server deployment you’ve chosen? Will
you require—and are you willing to pay for—
the integration of digital rights management
(DRM) encryption for the live stream?
7. Player requirements: Clarify all features
you’re looking to add to your online video experience. Will you be using adaptive streaming?