Live streaming is now a staple for performing musicians. But to have an edge over everyone else, you shouldn’t approach live streams as a musician. You need to think like a TV producer. Consider shot angles, scene composition, lighting, graphics and other technicalities.
The key to getting this stuff right is planning. As a musician and artist, you know that your musical performance and delivery has to be polished, and so you will no doubt have practiced and honed that performance. But your new internal TV producer has to do a bit of planning, too. Here are six tips to ensure a smooth live stream.
You may have the most creative ideas for a live stream, but it will all be for naught without a strong internet connection.
Here’s how to ensure that your outgoing (i.e. upload/upstream) internet connection is robust and fast enough to transfer the video stream without becoming choked – no networking experience necessary.
- Check your connection speed using Speed Test, and compare the results to the video bitrate setting in your OBS software, as pictured below:
- The connection speed needs to be at least equal to the video stream’s bandwidth, preferably with a little bit to spare. For example, a video bandwidth of 2,500Kbps (or 2.5Mbps) will need a connection of at least 2,500Kbps, and preferably more like 3,000Kbps (3Mbps). This extra ‘headroom’ will avoid any other outgoing internet activity from choking your outgoing stream.
- If need be, reduce the video bandwidth value to fit within your connection speed. Note, however, that a lower bandwidth will reduce the picture quality of the stream.
- Don’t increase the video bandwidth just because you have a fast connection – a bandwidth of 2,500Kbps is absolutely fine for HD video (i.e. 1920 x 1080 pixel video dimensions).
- If your connection speed is only just sufficient to accommodate the video bandwidth, then adding a short delay to the stream can help smooth over any glitches – 10 to 20 seconds is sufficient. You can add this delay via these OBS settings:
It’s also a good idea to put together a small test stream if this is your first foray into live streaming or if you don’t have much headroom in your internet connection. Enlist a few friends to watch it – better still if you can wrangle together people with different devices and internet speeds – and ask them to provide feedback on the stream quality.
- Read More: How To Live Stream Music From Home
Setting the scene
The framing and composition of your shot have to look good. Pay attention to everything that’s in the frame, especially things that are in the background – a three-day-old coffee cup lurking on a table behind you isn’t a good look. And don’t just ask yourself if the setting is aesthetically pleasing. Be sure that everything in the scene serves a purpose – otherwise, reconsider leaving it in the frame.
Also, pay close attention to how you (and any other performers) are framed in the shot. Too close can feel uncomfortable for your audience, but too far apart from one another can leave viewers feeling disconnected.
If you have additional cameras, and your streaming computer has adequate connectivity, you can set up more than one camera. You can then either switch between cameras during your performance or use picture-in-picture techniques to show both angles.
For example, you could set up a head-and-shoulders shot of you presenting to the camera and insert this in an overhead shot of your synths, decks, or whatever gear you’re using.
Lighting is a vital component of a professional video stream. The typical ceiling or standing lamps tend to be too dull and flat and can leave an unpleasant tint on your video. You should consider investing in a set of videography lights – they needn’t be hugely expensive.
Be sure to read up on different lighting techniques that are used in TV and film, in particular the three-point lighting system. Briefly, the three ‘points’ are key, fill and back.
The key light is typically seen as the most important as it defines the subject’s form. It shines directly upon the subject, usually at a horizontal angle of 30º to 60º from the subject’s ‘front’, and at a vertical angle of 30º upwards. Ensure that the shadows cast do not obscure your lips and face – or, use a stronger fill light.
The purpose of a fill light is to reduce the contrast and shadows caused by the key light. It also shines directly upon the subject, but from a much lower vertical angle than the key light. It also tends to be ‘softer’ and less bright than the key light. Some videographers and photographers use a reflector – you can even use a white cardboard sheet – to bounce the key light back onto the subject as a fill light.
The back light, as its name suggests, shines at the back of the subject. It can be used to either give the subject a soft outline, separating them from the environment, or to produce the ‘halo effect’.
Make sure any graphic elements you plan to use are prepared and ready. These may be cutaways of album artwork or graphics that you will overlay on your stream.
If you’re being adventurous and using a green screen background that you’ll replace with graphics on the computer, make sure you test that your screen, lighting and keying are giving good results. If done well, green screening can look excellent, but even slight glitches in the effect will give things a very amateurish look.
If your performance or presentation involves props, then make sure these are within reach during the stream. Having some or all of these props visible in the frame can be a great way to preview what’s coming up in your show.
Plan for reruns
Not everybody who will be interested in your show will be able to watch it live. BandLab does not record or store your streams, so be sure to capture your shows using your OBS software so that you can post them to video sharing sites later. Be sure to include the links in your BandLab feed, of course!
At the end of your live stream, remind your viewers to subscribe to your channel. Post a small thank you photo or video after the stream so that your followers feel appreciated and seen. Ask for feedback and tips as well, and use these insights to improve your content for subsequent live streams.