How to livestream, for dummies
It's gotten really, really easy to do
I’ve been helping out my community newspaper, the Easy Reader, to live stream local news events lately, namely city council and school board candidate debates, and I marvel at how simple the process has gotten.
So much so, I thought I’d relay the process for you. Maybe your place of worship will ask you to live stream their events, or you’ll be called into duty during election season to broadcast from the Rotary Club or local high school.
At its core, all you need is a phone. That’s fine if it’s you talking into the camera, or comfortable with what looks like basic security camera footage of an event, but if there’s more involved, like needing to zooming in on people as they speak from across the room, you’ll want a mirrorless or DSLR camera with a good lens. Add to that a laptop, USB-C to USC-C cable and possibly a subscription to a streaming software platform like Streamyard. And a microphone for better sound. Ahem, and good internet. That’s it.
Let’s run down the process.
A good portable computer will do the trick. I use an Apple MacBook Pro. Windows computers will do just fine as well.
For the events I did at the local high school, I needed to ensure that I had good, solid internet. Lose the signal, lose the event. Luckily, Mira Costa was able to provide me an ethernet cord to plug into their system. Come armed with 100 foot of ethernet anyway, just in case. It will cost you around $15 from Amazon.
You will probably need an adapter to plug the ethernet cable into your laptop. Computers of yore had ethernet port. Most don’t anymore. But there are adapters. When I called the local Apple Store, in a panic, to buy their $30 dongle, they were out of stock, as was the local Best Buy. Luckily, it turned out that my Belkin USB dock for the MacBook has two USB-A ports, one USB-C, HDMI and here’s a big bonus, an ethernet port as well. I already owned the $75 accessory, and it really saved the day!
One more cable
USB-C to USB-C, to connect from your camera to the laptop. My MacBook uses the newer USB-C format (the small, thin connection that doesn’t care whether it’s upwards or downwards when you plug it in) as does my camera. Odds are, your camera won’t have the old, larger USB-A, but USB-C as well. Check your laptop. (Or get a USB-C to USB-A cord, if your laptop takes the older cable.)
Buy a longer, rather than shorter cord. My six foot didn’t extend very far between the laptop and camera, and at one of the events, the cord was knocked out, and thus, the livestream was knocked out as well. A 10 foot cord will cost you just $15.
Now we have internet, so let’s plug in. I use Sony cameras, which connect directly to your favorite streaming platform, whether that be Zoom, Facebook Live or YouTube Live,, via the USB-C to USB-C cable. (You will need to set it for streaming first, however, in the menu. Here’s how.)
In earlier times, an accessory was needed, the Elgato CamLink, which used a traditional HDMI slot to connect to the micro HDMI slot on the camera. It worked nicely, but who has an HDMI to HDMI micro cable lying around? And who needs the extra accessory when a USB-C to USB-C cable is so easy to grab onto?
Canon cameras connect via a software download, the EOS Webcam utility, that let you use your Canon DSLR or mirrorless cameras on Zoom and elsewhere. You can even bring it to the church for livestreams. Nikon also has a webcam utility.
You’ll also need a tripod to mount the camera.
If you’re covering a political debate, like I have been doing, sure you can just use the natural sound coming from the weak, poor internal microphone on your camera, but it will pick up every sound in the room along with the speakers. Mira Costa let me tap into their sound system, via a cable that goes from their XLR to the 3.5 inch jack on the camera. (Sorry for the geek talk, but that’s what they’re called.) Again, get at least a 10 foot cable. The longer the better.
The alternative is to bring microphones. At one of my events at the high school, the sound went haywire, and I saved the day by placing a wireless microphone by the stage and loudspeaker, which connected wirelessly to my camera. The Rode Wireless Go microphones are my favorite that I have ever used. They can plug into smartphones or cameras, and have helped me immensely so many times. They cost $200 for a pair, or $300 for the Go II combo which gives you two mics and one receiver. They’re incredible for interviews.
You can go live from YouTube (recommended, as you don’t have to be a member to watch, and it’s easy to put YouTube links all over the Web) or Facebook, directly from your phone or computer webcam, or from other platforms like Twitter and Twitch.
Facebook will also let you connect a camera directly to go live, but YouTube requires that you use third party software for the connection. Which brings us to a host of streaming apps, which also let you actually connect to multiple destinations at once. As in, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
I have been using Streamyard, which costs $20 monthly. A free version puts Streamyard branding into the production. For $20, I could slap in the Easy Reader logo across the screen and all other sorts of things.
You start the production in the software by connecting the camera and audio, and selecting which outlets you want to stream to. Then you put the camera feed into the “studio” and then click “Go Live.” It’s that easy.
Other options include ECAMM Live, which is $16 monthly, and it also lets you do remote interviews. Restream.io, same price, has a free version that like Streamyard has a free version with branding.
Speaking of free, the granddaddy of this genre is OBS, a very techy, non-easy software program. If you do use one these programs, one last piece of tech guidance, I have to give you.
So again kids, it’s laptop, cables, tripod, camera, microphone and software, and you’ve got a killer livestream.
And that’s how to live stream for dummies. I wrote this for all of you and Easy Reader publisher Kevin Cody, to encourage him to learn how to do it, so he could handle it without me. Kev, you ready?
Speaking of cables
My latest PhotowalksTV episodes brings us back to San Francisco, for the best photo view in town: the Hyde/Beach cable car line. In case you missed it from yesterday’s post, here’s a chance to catch up!
Thank you Mylio!
Today’s newsletter is sponsored by our friends at Mylio Photos. Mylio is an app that lets you put all of your photos into one central home. You know, the ones spread across phones, tablets, desktops and laptop’s?
You could do that with Apple’s iCloud or Google Photos, but you’d run out of room quickly, and get constantly nagged to upgrade and spend more money. Mylio is a new twist to cloud backup, because it marries a classic home hard drive with online access. I’ll be back at you with a full-length deep dive on the program in the coming weeks, but for now, do me a favor and go check it out. Mylio has a free, 30-day trial at Mylio.com
We had a big hometown fair in Manhattan Beach Saturday. I don’t know why these people dressed up as bees, but they did, and naturally, I asked them to smile for the camera.
Like my grandfather Dave always said, "Smile while you’re sleeping and laugh while you’re awake.”
On that note, thanks for reading, watching and listening and good luck with your livestreams. Questions? I’m all yours. Just click reply to the e-mail.