Live Streaming Basics

Streaming a live event requires three main components:

  • Audio/video equipment — includes one or more cameras and one or more microphones. Other events might have multiple cameras and multiple microphones, all managed by professional video switching gear. In either case, the camera or switcher must have the ability to output the combined audio/video signal, usually via an HDMI or HD-SDI connector.
  • Encoder — a computer or stand-alone device that takes the output from the camera or video switcher and converts it to a format that can be streamed on the internet. During the setup of the event, the encoder is configured to send the encoded stream to the streaming service via an internet connection.
  • Streaming service — receives the encoded stream from the encoder, and in turn, makes the stream available to viewers on the internet. Contemporary streaming services are cloud-based and typically can serve an unlimited number of simultaneous viewers. The streaming service makes it possible for you to embed a video window on any web page (including at your website) so that your users can view it.

Video Producers

On the U-M campus, Michigan Media is often used as a video producer. They can provide camera operators and all the equipment necessary to capture video of an event and make arrangements for livestreaming as requested. Campus units are free to use other local video providers or to use their own equipment.

Encoder Options & Network Connections

The simplest solution for a live event is for the video producer to provide an encoder. In that case ITS's video staff will work with the producer to settle on the configurations to be used. If you are providing your own video equipment, you'll need to arrange for an encoder. This can be your own or ITS can provide an onsite staff member to provide and manage an encoder.

Encoders must have a reliable internet connection to stream, ideally a wired Ethernet connection for consistency. A WiFi connection may be possible depending on the capabilities of the encoder and the quality of the WiFi signal at your event location.

Streaming Options

There are several streaming services currently available for live events, including YouTube, which allows free livestreaming. In some cases, Google Meet or Zoom can be adapted for broadcasting simple events with basic equipment like a webcam. In that case, the service is all-in-one and you can avoid considerations like encoding and which streaming service to use. Note: The number of simultaneous viewers may be limited.

For livestreaming with Zoom, see additional information under the question: “Is it possible to livestream my meeting or webinar on Facebook Live, YouTube, or another third-party service?” on the Zoom FAQ page.