Livestreaming video may be a huge marketing opportunity for your business – if you know what you're doing. Here are some tips on the tech to use.
A little gear and some know-how can make all the difference in how professional your livestreaming videos look. Some brands prefer to stick to a more bare-bones appearance, to make the marketing message seem relatable and approachable, while others prefer a perfectly polished final product. Regardless of what style your company wants to present to the world, these technique tips and tech tools are sure to improve your livestreaming videos.
When it comes to both still photography and video, few things make a bigger difference than lighting. As you can imagine, there are many theories on the best way to light a subject, and lighting strategies vary depending on use case, but three-point lighting is a great place to start for livestreaming videos, especially if you've never dabbled in lighting before. The basic three-point lighting setup is to have one key light and a secondary fill light, both in front of the subject at opposing 45-degree angles, and then a single back light, typically facing toward the fill light, to minimize shadows and maintain focus on the subject. Checking out a few online guides on three-point lighting will go a long way toward giving your marketing videos a polished appearance, and portable lighting kits make it easy to stream anywhere.
When you're shooting livestreaming video for marketing purposes, audio is vital. Poor-quality audio can make an otherwise interesting livestream unwatchable and muddle your brand's message. External microphones are essential for professional-grade livestreaming. Inexpensive directional microphones, intended for use with smartphones, can be purchased for as little as $59, but the sky is the limit in terms of how much you can spend on individual and directional microphones.
Live mixing and editing
For marketing campaigns that require an extra polished feel, live mixing software is a great option. There are many audio-only as well as audio and video live mixing programs available, such as Wirecast, vMix and Ustream. In general, live mixing and editing programs are intended for larger livestreaming productions with multiple camera setups, not for individual users who are livestreaming directly from a mobile device to a platform like Periscope. However, most live mixing programs also have the built-in function to stream directly to popular platforms, making them a good option for marketing firms or large companies that want to livestream video and create rewatchable content.
Popping a fancy external lens onto your existing smartphone is a great way to achieve the unedited feel of a handheld streaming video with the benefits of a better lens and the flexibility to change lenses as needed. The best option for beginners in the video and photography world is to purchase a low-cost set of lenses and test them out before the livestreaming event. You will naturally get a feel for the look of different lenses and start to understand why a wide-angle lens might be a great fit for a large group event but less appropriate for an individual Q&A. Once you develop a liking for one or more of the lenses, you can upgrade to a higher-quality brand if necessary.
External batteries and transcoders
Livestreaming video eats up a huge amount of power, so unless you're doing clips that are just a few seconds long, you should either be connected to a power source or invest in an external battery (also called a power bank). Many external batteries allow you to charge multiple devices, usually via USB, so they're handy for streaming at live events while charging backup devices. Brands such as Anker and Mophie are popular for their charging docks for smartphones. If you are using an external camcorder or DSLR camera to livestream, you will need to stay plugged into a power source through a transcoder, so these types of power banks are irrelevant for you. Instead, check out transcoders that allow for simultaneous power hookups, like those from Teradek, Streamstar and AJA.
Tripods and gimbals
If you invest in nothing else for your livestreaming marketing videos, at the very least, purchase a tripod and a reliable gimbal. Tripods, as you likely know, allow you to set up your smartphone and precompose a shot rather than holding your phone in your hand. Tripods can be configured with lots of different mounts for specific shooting scenarios. They're vital if you ever plan on using attachments such as lenses and microphones, because without one, your phone will become too heavy to reasonably hold and shoot with.
Smartphone tripods can be purchased for as little as $10, but keep in mind that ultralight tripods will not support the weight of a smartphone that's sporting attached microphones, lenses and possibly lights. It's best to opt for a slightly more expensive aluminum camera tripod (think somewhere around $30 to $90) that also has a mount for a smartphone, but don't feel obligated to purchase a fancy name brand. Tripods like these tend to be sturdy enough for shooting in most conditions (except high winds) and have three-way head movement, which allows for full tilting and swiveling. In addition, you can use them with GoPro cameras as well as DSLR and SLR cameras, so they're multifunctional. Always look at the maximum load weight for any tripod you purchase.
Gimbals are another essential tool in the livestreamer's arsenal. Many marketers want their videos to have a handheld feel, but the second a shooter tries to move their camera, pan around a room or walk while shooting, stability becomes a major issue. Shaky camera work is difficult to watch, and thanks to the widespread availability of gimbals (sometimes called stabilizers), it's totally avoidable. There are some very cheap gimbals on the market ($20), but they aren't great. If you're purchasing a gimbal, expect to spend $200 to $300 for basic designs. For gimbals, check out reputable brands such as AIbird, Zhiyun, DJI, LanParte and Ikan.