o r m s These software mixers add lots of value to a production at
little cost; Wirecast starts at
$500 for a software-only version, with turnkey systems starting at $4,995 ( go2sm.com/wire
castgear). Wirecast is the only
desktop mixer that runs on both
the Mac and Windows, and has
very deep integrations with most
premium services. This means
simple operation and features
like the ability to see the number
of viewers and comments while
streaming to Facebook Live.
vMix is a very popular Win-dows-only desktop mixer that can also support multiple outputs, although you’ll need the
4K version ($700) to do so ( go2sm.com/vmixgo).
vMix just released vMix Call, a simple way to
input remote webcam video, making it a natural for producers seeking an affordable way to
produce interviews with remote participants.
With online options, you encode one live
stream and send it to the service in the cloud.
From there, the service redirects the stream to
multiple outputs, which process it just like they
would an original stream produced by an onsite
encoder. The first benefit of this approach is that
it saves bandwidth; so long as you have about
5–10Mbps of outbound bandwidth to reach a single service, you can distribute via as many live
services as you would like. The second is CapEx,
as again, you can support multiple live services
with a single encoder.
As you’ll see in the service descriptions below, online products add features that you can’t
really get from on-premise products, like the
ability to pick and choose from multiple inputs
and direct them to multiple outputs, including
different Facebook Live targets.
The negatives are the per-event cost, though
it’s likely that your bandwidth savings may exceed this for many services. These services add
a layer of complexity (as they are one more interface to learn) and a bit of latency to the output. All that said, particularly for live event
producers who work in disparate locations
where bandwidth is either limited or prohibitively expensive, these services are a dream
Start With Your Existing Provider
If you’re currently using a provider for any
kind of live video, you should first check to see
if that service can also support other providers. For example, as mentioned around Figure
1, Livestream, a livestreaming service provider
that used to broadcast only within its own ecosystem, now supports Facebook Live, YouTube
Live, or generic RTMP destinations. Online video platforms Ooyala and JW Player, and conferencing vendor BlueJeans, also support Facebook Live output.
StreamShark is a livestreaming service from
MetaCDN with more advanced, agency-focused
features for companies publishing to Facebook
Live. For example, agencies can request temporary access tokens to manage and oversee their
customers’ Facebook Live streams, and then centrally manage (provision, preview, start, stop) live
streams on their clients’ Facebook pages and profiles. StreamShark can simulcast a single stream
to multiple pages or profiles simultaneously.
Many live-streaming providers used to tout
their closed ecosystems as a key feature. However, this closed-system approach is forcing
their customers to find other ways to stream to
third-party sites, which is becoming a distinct
disadvantage. This dynamic will likely encourage all live-streaming service providers to support third-party destinations, sooner if not later. So again, if you’re live already via a service
provider, check with them first.
Online Distribution Platforms
This category of product was created specifically to enable live producers to support multiple output platforms. One of the first was a