Live Mobile Streaming: Six Tips for Success
May 3, 2016 by
If you use Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably seen live video streams showing up lately in your feed. These social media platforms were already engaging, but live mobile broadcasting takes it to the next level, commanding users' attention for longer spans of time. Would you like that same “power of now” on your own website, that sense of immediacy that engages your audience right away? Read on.
Like on-demand video, which we can now access almost anywhere, on any device, live streaming will soon be ubiquitous. Social media platforms have seized the opportunity of live video through intuitive mobile apps that make live-streaming technology easily accessible. Simplified live-streaming technologies allow anyone to get started in minutes using off-the-shelf products—and make it possible to build a custom solution in record time.
Numerous apps are available for live streaming from your mobile device. Our favorite (naturally) is Wowza GoCoder, a free download for Android and iOS devices, available from Google Play and the Apple App Store, respectively. It features an intuitive interface with simple first-time-user contextual help, and allows you to stream video with up to 4K resolution. You use Wowza GoCoder in conjunction with Wowza Streaming Cloud (a user-friendly managed cloud service with a free hosted any-screen player) or Wowza Streaming Engine (DIY server software that runs on your own server or in the cloud).
Off-the-shelf apps are great if you’re doing your own mobile streaming, but if you plan to have your audience or others contribute content for your site, you might want them to use an app with your branding. Fortunately, if Wowza GoCoder meets your mobile broadcasting needs, you can modify the branding and many of the settings via the Wowza GoCoder Private Label program.
Maybe live streaming is just part of what your app needs to do. Whether you already have a cool app or are planning one, you can add mobile broadcasting capabilities to it using the Wowza GoCoder Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK includes documentation, sample code, and sample apps. You can try it out first using open source code from GitHub.
Six Keys to Mobile Streaming Success
Once you’ve decided on the workflow from mobile device to viewers and you’ve cleared a path for outbound content, you’ll want to ensure that the quality is as high as possible. Consider the following six factors as you plan your live mobile streaming project.
Whether using Wi-Fi or cellular data, you’ll want to send a high-quality stream from your mobile device to your streaming service or server (such as Wowza Streaming Cloud or Wowza Streaming Engine), which will then convert your content into multiple lower quality levels and various formats to ensure every viewer can get the best stream his or her network conditions and viewing device allow at any given moment. If you're broadcasting a planned event, try testing your bandwidth speed (typically using a free app, such as Speedtest) and streaming in advance, ensuring the outbound stream from your mobile device is using 80% or less of the available bandwidth.
Capturing video of a live event won’t have much value if your viewers can’t see the subject(s) well. Some events are already well-lit, but others (such as live interviews indoors or at night) need a bit of help. Fortunately, a growing selection of inexpensive, bright, lightweight, and portable LED lighting options are available from online retailers.
Unless you’re going for the shaky handheld look of The Blair Witch Project, you'll want steady video capture so your audience doesn’t feel seasick. Inexpensive accessories allow you to put your mobile device on a tripod for shooting stationary video. Using the same kind of clip with a monopod may be a good option if you're shooting occasional movement. For full-motion shots, your best bet is to buy a device such as the Steadicam Smoothee to keep the camera stable as you move, but options range from high-end electric gimbals to low-budget stabilizers you build yourself using online plans and common plumbing supplies.
High-quality audio is vital for retaining an audience—hard-to-hear or crackly audio turns people off more quickly than bumpy or dark video. Good external microphones are numerous, including reasonably priced analog shotgun and wired lavalier mics, as well as sophisticated digital microphones that plug into your data ports.
Compressing raw video from your mobile device's camera into something that can be streamed usually takes a lot of processing power, which can quickly run down a phone or tablet battery. If you're broadcasting an event that will last more than a few minutes, it’s best to connect to an external power supply, such as a plug-in charger or a portable battery.
Nothing puts the brakes on a broadcast faster than an incoming phone call or pop-up notification that causes your streaming app to stop. To ensure you don’t get interrupted, put your mobile device in Do Not Disturb mode before you start.
With these tips in mind, you're well-equipped to bring the immediacy of live mobile broadcasting to your website and social media platforms.
For more on the runaway success of live mobile streaming and the democratization of streaming, check out these recent posts:
As you gain experience, we’d love to hear your success stories. In the meantime, let us know what questions you have via our forums, or our social media channels.