Hardware and software considerations for a live stream event production

by | Jan 26, 2021

A utility article from TicketCo Media Services on how to get started with digital pay-per-view events

On January 6, Wise Children’s Technical Director and Digital Producer Simon Baker scooped the prestigious Achievement in Technical Theatre accolade at The Stage Awards for his resourceful and inspirational approach to live broadcasting theatre productions.

The award followed Wise Children’s critically acclaimed performances of Romantics Anonymous at The Old Vic in Bristol. Theatregoers tuned in in their thousands via TicketCo Media Services’ HD quality pay-per-view live streaming platform.

As part of TicketCo Media Services Welcome Pack to clients, Simon has kindly shared his expert advice on hardware and software for companies to consider before broadcasting a show.

Expert insight

Deciding to broadcast your show using either in-house expertise or hiring a professional team should be your first consideration – equipment and your use of it follows.

Essential kit to successfully deliver a live stream via TicketCo Media Services includes a camera, appropriate lenses, a tripod, hard drives and a HDMI cable.

“The capabilities of live streaming are unquestionable, myself and my Wise Children colleagues cannot speak highly enough of it,” said Simon. “My ‘how to’ guide regarding hardware and software is written with the small to middle-scale event in mind.

“Ultimately, we provide insight into the equipment and the thought processes behind turning your live event through a camera and microphone onto TicketCo Media Service’s servers and into viewers’ homes via their digital devices.”

Choosing suitable equipment

Simon’s guide to hardware and software equipment includes details of the challenges he faced in delivering a HD quality picture via a BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Pro 4K camera.

He outlines the capabilities and limitations of HDMI signals and how directors can successfully expand signal capacity via a serial digital interface input.

“These technical terms can be quite daunting to the novice broadcaster, but they needn’t be,” added Simon.

“Step-by-step, we guide TicketCo Media Services users through our recommendations for different pieces of equipment.

“We also discuss accessories, where best to purchase your equipment, and how your broadcast can still retain its quality but without breaking the bank via the use of DSLR’s, Go Pros, or PTZ cameras.”

Capturing audio

Once you are happy with your live pictures, you must next choose how you are going to capture sound.
Sound makes up 50% of your viewers’ live streaming experience, so it is particularly important to spend time in this area that is perhaps easy to neglect.

Simon said: “Audio was huge for Wise Children and our production of Romantics Anonymous. We considered two things: sound from the subject we were recording and sound that you hear naturally – these are known as close and ambient mic-ing.

“It’s important to understand LUFS – a loudness measurement – too. In the Welcome Pack, we breakdown this terminology and thoroughly explain areas like sound to new users so their viewers can enjoy the best live streaming experience.”

Raw to real-life

So how do you successfully transfer raw camera footage and sound recordings to the final mixed stream which TicketCo Media Services can stream into viewers’ homes via the internet?

“Switches can be used to stream directly to the internet, and some software can act as switches,” said Simon. “But we found using a capture card as the simplest solution to convert our HDMI signal into something we could plug into a computer.

“We then used a basic piece of software named OBS Studio that the capture card could feed to ensure our pictures could be live streamed.”

Finishing touches

Simon has advised anyone yet to explore the capabilities of TicketCo Media Services integrated live streaming and ticketing facilities to get involved and seek support.

He explains: “My advice is to take time to get to grips with your equipment before going live. There is a lot of kit to consider and new technology to get your head around.

“We are continually adapting our live streaming capabilities through new knowledge and confidence. By listening to others and working together, the theatre sector can look forward to a bright, hybrid, future.”

To access our full step-by-step how-to-guide to hardware and software for streaming productions please click this link.

If you are a Spektrix client and want to learn more about the frictionless and fully automated integration between Spektrix and TicketCo Media Services, please read more here.

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Written by Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

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