Written: November 2015 after the successful streaming of The Static Monsters (in Australia, I mention Australia as we aren’t known for having the best internet connection speeds)
Length: 3000 words
So I put together a unique sporting event and I wanted people to be able to see some of the amazing feats of strength that will be on show, even if they couldn’t make it to the event. I also have had some amazing support from a couple of sponsors (Harris Stability Systems, Coco’s Gym and Nutrition Warehouse) and wanted to get them more exposure for their investment into my events. Below you can see the footage of two massive 400kg deadlifts from our competition held on November 22nd 2015, The Static Monsters.
The above stream was the summation of what I researched to gain a good quality feed based on the internet speed available to me in the region. The quality of your stream is very much guided by the quality of internet in your area. Feedback from the stream is that it has been very good and one of the better feeds that people have seen for our local strength sports in Australia. How do you do it yourself? I have put everything together in what I believe is a simple layout to help you be ready for your next sporting event.
Part 1 – Your first Stream
(Part 2 will come later with more information on stream layouts and sound options)
Equipment you need at an absolute minimum:
Laptop – most laptops have a webcam installed, you could use this webcam to stream with, though I don’t recommend it. You probably don’t want a laptop much more than 4 years old. ($$$???)
Internet Connection – upstream of at least 7 megabit upload (thats about 700kb per second, ‘ill explain conversions later) Check with your venue/gym what they have available. I’ll show you how to test the speed later. ($$$???)
A google account with a Youtube Account linked and setup. Free!
Open Broadcaster Software (Free and Open Source – means you can use it without charge forever!!! Hooray!) (https://obsproject.com/) Free!
Equipment to make it a bit better:
Powerful Laptop/Computer – higher power streams require more computing power ie Late model I7 intel processor (AMD chips aren’t as good at this stuff apparently). Though for our purposes in Australia you can get away with a lot less. I ran my stream at 360p and 15 FPS (Frames per second).
Webcam – Logitech C920 (http://www.logitech.com/en-au/product/hd-pro-webcam-c920) (About $130 in Australia online or $85 US on Amazon at the moment) is what I used and it will probably be good enough for anything you will get up to. It can shoot at up to 30 frames a second at 1080p (normal HD TV in Australia is 720p and 24 FPS). The quality of the picture is also very good. FYI – I found this out the hard way, not all 1080p cameras are made equal, don’t buy a cheap one, even at 1080p it may still be crap. You can however use other cameras, a high quality DSLR will work very well as well. Using my particular GoPro was an absolute failure as I have a model with a certain chipset. Some HERO 3’s will work and some won’t. HERO 4’s I believe won’t work at this time unless someone has made an updated peice of software.
Equipment to make it even better again (and beyond what I have done):
External sound system – You can handle the sound two ways. I will go more into it in a future article
Sound board and multiple external microphones for picking up athlete noise, crowd noise and commentator voices and mixing them to correct levels. (you may want a sound engineer or enthusiast for this. If anyone you train or compete with is in a band, they can probably help you here as they will have this equipment already!) As much money as you want to spend, running it in a sports stadium? Use their system!
3 megabit internet connection or higher. Theoretical 1080p connection at 30FPS. No need to buy cameras offering 60FPS etc as its a live stream, no one will be running it in slow motion anyway, plus the dataload will be massive. Most people won’t be able to download it if you manage to find a way to get it up onto the internet smoothly.
Large TV’s in the room to replay the live stream back to the competitors and the crowd. The stream will be delayed by about 30 seconds by the time it is up on the internet, that is about as ‘Live’ as you can get. The athletes can then theoretically watch their own lifts just after they do them.
Second Camera – possibly to show a feed of a different angle, or maybe a small inner screen of the commentators talking. This will also use more data on your internet connection.
Once you open the website, this is what you will see:
You can use both types of software, I know there are going to be a lot of MAC users out there (Kalle) but thats your fault. The settings are actually fairly similar as I have used both. So for the rest of us Windows users, please use the one on the left, “WINDOWS 7/8/10”. Once you download and install it, open/run the software and it should look like the below:
Now in the bottom left box, we need to add a “Scene.” This is just to name the setup we are going to create. You can see the three previous setups I have done. The first one is the actual one I used in the stream on November 22nd.
Right click your mouse in the “Scene” box and choose “Add Scene”.
For the sake of this test setup, lets call it “Static Monsters 2” (Blatant advertising for next years competition).
Once you have done that, you need to add a camera view to your stream. To do this, right click your mouse in the “Sources” box and move your mouse over “Add” and then down to “Video Capture Device”.
It will ask you to give the device a name. Now for this “Howto” I am showing how to use the external camera but if you don’t have one yet and are just practicing, the instructions are almost identical if you want to use your laptops inbuilt webcam for now. So I have entered “Logitech C920”
For this version, I am choosing the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 as I am guessing most of you won’t be using your internal camera when doing your own live stream.
No need to adjust custom resolution.
The Logitech C920 has an inbuilt microphone, it isn’t very good but it will work, you could theoretically use it to pick up ambient and crowd noise in the room you are recording in. If you do this, choose “output to stream only” as you don’t want the crowd sound being spat out the main speakers from into the room you are doing the event in. Also leave the level between 40 and 60%, this tends to avoid distortion without making it too quiet.
Click “Ok”. Now you have your video capture device set up. If you then move to the “preview stream” button and click it, you will have a feed showing from your camera. Like the below:
Note the person looking back at you may not be this good looking. Yes, there is a fish tank behind me. Also note the figures down the bottom, Dropped Frames, FPS and the green box with 780kb/s beside it for later reference. Click “Stop Preview”.
Important: Connecting your Webcam!!!!
I found out something that may be of use to a few of you. The webcam I used was connectable by USB port. Most external webcams are. USB interface is interesting in that it transports data through the cable differently to most protocols. The longest you can possibly transport data through a USB cable is 10 metres. With webcams, due to the amount of data going through the cable and the fact they require power, means you can not extend the cable!!!
How do I know? I tried it. I tried several options. I even tried connecting the webcam through a USB powered Hub, it still lost signal. No matter how much money you spend on a USB extension cable, it will not give you a proper feed from your webcam to your laptop.
What does this mean? You have to set your laptop/computer up close to where your camera will be shooting the live stream from as you can not run extension cables to set you camera up away from your computer.
You now have the essentials for what is needed to set up a live stream from your hardware and your computer. We will however make a couple of adjustments before we head over to YouTube and make the connection.
Now click on the “Settings” button and this below screen will open up:
Once here, we don’t need to do anything but move down to the item on the left menu that says “Video”. Now we are going to make some adjustments to the video output to make the amount of video going out is not too rich for your internet upload speed.
Up the top, you can ignore the Video Adaptor, it will automatically select it for you. (Unless you are a gaming or video editing nerd, then you can select the one you want if you have another). Choose Custom resolution and put in 1280 and 720. Then move down and choose resolution downscale “2.00 640×360”. Leave the bilinear filter and change the frame rate to 15.
The 1280 by 720 is the screen area. Think of it in millimetres or centimetres, for those using freedom units, call it Inches and fractions of inches. The screen area we are going to work with will be 1280 wide by 720 high. Where we get cheap though, because of our Australian internet connection, is the resolution downscale. As there are 1280 units across and 720 units down, we are then going to show only 50% of those units by having the resolution downscale at “2”. This mean less video image or “stuff” has to go over the internet connection, meaning your live stream is not as “fat” but the user still can get a good screen size without missing too much of the detail.
The frame rate is set at fifteen for the same reasons as above. Less data over the stream, means a smoother stream which means a better user experience. A video cut from the stream we did can be seen below to demonstrate the 1280 by 720 feed with the downscaling of 50%.
The scrolling text and opaque logo’s on the feed I will demonstrate at a later time, both are very simple.
Next we adjust the buffer for the encoding. Don’t worry about the words, just click on the menu item that says “Encoding”.
Encoder stays as x264. This is just the way the image gets turned into data for the computer to read after it leaves the lense of the camera.
If “Use CBR” is ticked, please untick it. This is some auto buffering that uses up a lot of your upload data. It promises a better feed for the viewer IF you have a really good internet connection, but it seems to had an extra 30-40% data over the stream that you can’t afford to give away. With our settings we shouldn’t have much trouble as long as you have a 800Kbps to 1 megabit connection. Lets test your connection!
Click on “Begin Test”. I believe this is a flash website. For MAC users, please just try another one, google “internet speed test” and a heap of them come up. Do a speed test and look for both your upload and download speeds. Mine is below:
Your download speed is the speed you see the internets at. The upload speed is how fast you can upload your cat videos to the youtubes. In this case mine is shown as .92Mbps (Megabit per second) or 920Kbps per second. You might remember our earlier test of the “preview stream” showed us at 780Kbps it actually ended up spiking to over 1100kbps. Once you do the above settings changes I mentioned for the encoding and buffer size, it shouldn’t spike that high.
FYI 1 Megabit is 1024 Kilobits. This is normal internet speed “speak” and is different to megabytes and kilobytes that you talk about when referring to file sizes and hard drive space. 1 Megabyte is equal to 8000 Kilobits or 8 Megabits.
If your speedtest shows a higher upload speed, you could look at changing your settings to offer a better quality stream (more pixels and more frames per second). Check out this link for options on how to figure out how much you can up your stream quality based on how fast your internet connection is – OBS Estimator
Youtube – where your stream will show up!
Next. We have to set up your Youtube Channel!
Go to www.youtube.com (please have your account set up, or sign up for one now if you haven’t already, you may need to get a gmail email address and sign in with that). Once you are in your account, click on the “My Channel” button on the left.
Next, click on the “Video Manager” button as marked below:
Now click on “Live Streaming” and the below window will probably show up for you:
Now you have to “Get Started” to get your streaming ability to be authorised by Youtube. Once you are authorised by youtube, when you click on the “Live Streaming” menu option you should have a screen layout that looks similar to the below. Remember, I have added images and information already to get my stream setup already.
To get your Open Broadcast Software to send your video from your webcam to youtube, you need to give it an “address” as such. This is the Path or Stream Key. This is simple to find. On that same screen, make sure you have the menu item selected as “Stream Now Beta” and not the “events” item. Then scroll down the screen slightly and look for the box that says “encoder setup” as below.
Down in the Encoder Setup section is the “Stream name/key”. Click the “Reveal” button then copy the revealed text. We need to paste that into our Open Broadcaster Software.
Back to Open Broadcast software. Open settings, if you don’t already still have it open and click on the menu item that says “Broadcast Settings”.
From “Streaming Service” please select “Youtube/ Youtube Gaming”. Then the FMS URL should be left as it is. Then on the “Play Path/Stream Key” this is where you paste the stream key we copied earlier.
It will give you an error as you can see on my screen, the “Warning: Your CBS settings are not optimized for use with Youtube/Youtube Gaming.”
Please ignore that error message. It will work just fine. It is to do with the way Youtube handles the stream from their end with their encoding and how they save the DVR (DVR = They save your video onto youtube so you can watch it again later). I haven’t had any problems yet and you will find the same for others online.
If you click “Automatically save stream to file” it will save your stream to your hard drive. FYI at these settings it saves the stream at a size of about 400 megabytes of data per hour. If you have a higher quality stream, 30FPS and 1080p, it will be very hard on your computer. I have heard stories of computers melting at these levels if you dont have a high level computer as mentioned earlier in your “Equipment to make it better” area.
You are now ready to start your stream. Click on “Preview Stream” to make sure you are happy with the feed you see on your screen. Then click “Stop Preview”.
To start your stream, make sure you have your live streaming page open on YouTube and then in Open Broadcaster Software, click on “Start Streaming.”
Congratulations. You are now Streaming!
Once you have had enough or your event is over, click “Stop Streaming.”
I recommend you go and test the setup and connection and setup at the venue before the actual event.
always use the same hardware you test with as you run the event with. Ie, if you tested with laptop “A” make sure you run with Laptop “A” and not a different one on the day. If you test streamed with camera ‘B’, make sure you run your event with camera ‘B’
These couple of things will make sure your streaming event runs smoothly.
In Part two will cover sound input to the stream and the venue in a following article as I didn’t expect this one to be so big. I will also cover additions and layouts to your stream in a following article. Thanks for reading.