For those looking for live stream software that has features robust enough to enable you to produce TV-level productions, Wirecast might be your best option.
Wirecast is a video capture software that allows you to pull video feeds from your desktop, iPhone, and DSLR among other things into your computer and stream them live on Facebook.
Using the image below as an example, you could create a scene that includes a video of yourself, placeholder A could be a slidedeck and placeholder B could be a social feed. Or, Placeholder A and B could be video feeds of two speakers.
To pull your guest's videos into Wirecast, they first need to be using video conferencing software like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
Then, you can use Wirecast Rendezvous to connect your guests' video and audio into Wirecast to manipulate as needed (limit seven remote guests).
What’s unique about this software is that you can edit and enhance your video on the fly by utilizing transitions, text and lower-thirds, countdown timers, title screens, scoreboards, audio mixing, etc. like they would for any live TV broadcast.
Due to the complexity of the software, I would not recommend Wirecast for live streaming beginners, or those looking for quick and easy solutions.
The software is somewhat intimidating and requires you to either have background video production knowledge, or an overall willingness to sit down and watch some tutorial videos to learn the software.
Many of us are now familiar with Zoom Meetings and chat in light of social distancing.
In addition to their meeting software, however, the company also offers Zoom Webinar which enables you to create a conference room, invite participants, and stream live to Facebook or even YouTube.
Before hosting your webinar, you first need to schedule one within your Zoom portal.
The link can then be sent out to your participants ahead of time and scheduled on your respective calendars.
Once you and your participants have the software downloaded to your computer, you can each enter through the webinar link. From here, check to make sure all participants are promoted to Panelists.
If they are, you are ready to go live! You can do this by selecting the ‘more’ button at the bottom of your Zoom window and clicking “Live on Facebook.”
Once this is activated, you will be streaming live! There is no preview mode before people can start seeing the stream, but you should see a little red recording button in the top left hand of your Zoom window indicating the connection to Facebook is active.
Zoom does not allow you to brand or stylize your stream, which could be great for those looking for very bare-bones software, but this does mean your live stream won’t have a visual identity for those to recognize you with.
This wouldn’t be ideal if you live stream a regularly scheduled show that would benefit from simple static graphics.
The Zoom Webinar package starts at $54.99 at 100 attendees if attendees are being invited to watch within Zoom. There is no limit on how many people watching through Facebook Live.
BlueJeans is another multi-party video platform that grants users the ability to create video conferences with multiple uses that can be streamed easily to Facebook Live.
What’s interesting about BlueJeans is both its meeting software and events software give you the ability to stream live.
So if you find yourself in a position where you need to live stream a one-time large scale virtual conference, BlueJeans might be a good option to consider.
For specifically those looking to live stream using BlueJeans Meetings, the tool functions very similarly to Zoom Webinars live stream option.
Before even setting up a room, you need to enable the Facebook Livestream integration (which you can do by following these directions).
After that's squared away, you would start a meeting room and invite the necessary participants.
Once in there, you select the ‘Apps’ icon in the top right corner, Facebook Live should be one of the options.
The tool will prompt you to select what Facebook page you want the live stream to broadcast to followed up by a window that will allow you to preview your video feed and enter your video title and description.
If everything looks right, you can press the “Go Live” button to start the broadcast.
Like Zoom, you also have the option to share your screen and change the layout of the videos, but you won't have the option to customize certain branding elements unless you are using BlueJeans Events.
StageTen is a live streaming platform ideal for those looking to not only stream but incorporate templated scenes you can easily create and manage.
StageTen’s “scenes” are layouts that allow you to pull in media such as video feeds, screen shares, lower thirds, and screen overlays.
These pieces of media are all gathered within StageTen a couple of steps before you create your scene.
The first step has you add in your video feeds, this could mean sharing your webcam, your screen, or inviting remote guests to join using your URL.
The second step has you pull in whatever visual assets you need to show within your scene, this could be photos, videos, audio, or even custom-built lower thirds that you can build within the tool.
Once you've used your assets to generate your scene, you can connect yourself to Facebook live using the on-screen instructions.
During your broadcast, you’ll have the chance to switch up your scenes as you please to create a more dynamic experience for your viewers.
You can get started free, but a watermark will be added to your live stream unless you upgrade to a paid account. Their consumer options are either $22/mo or $92/mo depending on what options work best for you.
Unlike many of the other options mentioned, OpenBroadcaster is not a meeting software. Rather it allows you to select a specific video source (such as your desktop or webcam) that can be manipulated in the software and streamed through Facebook Live.
The software will need to be combined with a conference room tool (such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Skype, etc) which you can have as the active screen when you set your video source to share your desktop.
Despite this, what’s nice about Open Broadcaster is you can seamlessly switch to other screens as your streaming, whether that be pre-recorded video resources, a DSLR camera, mic only, or otherwise.
StreamYard is very similar to BeLive or StageTen in that you have a setup that allows you to create different scenes using available feeds while incorporating different graphics.
StreamYard allows you to invite up to six participants, which as a free option, is quite generous.
In terms of branding your stream, you can add banners and opt for a specific brand color that all names and comments will appear with, but you will, unfortunately, have the StreamYard logo added to your stream which can be removed in upgrading to a paid plan.
You’ll also be able to have all stream comments pulled into the software so you don’t need to go back and forth between the software and Facebook.
If you're curious about incorporating overlays and backgrounds, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid plan.
A final note on the free plan is you’re limited to 20 hours per month of streaming. For many small businesses, this will be more than enough, but if you ever choose to upgrade to the paid plan, it's $25/mo (or $20 annually) you can unlock that time limit among other features.
Last, but not least, BeLive is an easy-to-use free alternative that enables you to go live with a single guest immediately or on a later date.
Like Zoom, the software allows you to control the layout of you and your guest's video with the click of a button.
Then, if your stream has a specific agenda you want to showcase to your viewers, the software allows you to write on-screen updates that will show to the Facebook stream.
Another neat feature BeLive has is its ability to pull all Facebook comments on the live video into the BeLive software. This way, you aren't going back and forth between the Facebook page and the video chat to monitor comments.
As mentioned, the software only enables one other user to join you which can be problematic if you require a larger group of panelists.
We’ll do it live!
I’m sure there are many of us that are intimidated to even try exploring new virtual tools, especially when we have so many other things to adjust to during this pandemic.
My recommendation is to pick two that you think might be the best fit for what you’re trying to solve for. Read further into them, whether that be looking at reviews, tutorial videos, etc. then, start to slowly experiment with them and have patience.
Soon, you’ll find yourself a live streaming expert in the platform of your choice.
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