Before you go on site, you’ll want to get in touch with the IT person responsible for the network at your venue and get a conversation started. Let them know you need a dedicated wired internet connection of 10 mbps up and down with Ports 1935, 80, and 443 open. Also, share a little bit about the event and let them know your crew’s schedule for the setup as well as when you’ll go live. Even if you think you know what you need — ask their advice. You need them on your side and supporting you. Don’t forget to ask for their cell phone number (and for the person who fills in for them) so that if things go sideways, you can get help when you need it, which invariably seems to fall outside normal support hours!
A common rookie mistake is to set up cameras and switching equipment before worrying about internet connectivity and your encoder. DON’T DO THIS! You (or your streaming provider) should test the internet connection as soon as possible. If things aren’t working, contact the onsite IT person immediately and set up your video gear while you’re waiting on them.
In order to send out your video stream, you will need to make sure there isn’t a firewall on your network blocking any ports. There are three ports that you want to focus on: 1935, 80, and 443.
Port 1935 – If you are streaming to Twitch or any private CDNs such as Livestream, UStream, Wowza, DaCast, and others, then you will need Port 1935 to be open.
Port 80 – If you are streaming to YouTube or Facebook, then you will need Port 80 to be open. Port 80 is the same port as is used to surf the web (aka http://).
Port 443 – Another port to be aware of and to check is Port 443. It is used to securely surf the web, do banking (aka https://) as well as to securely transmit other kinds of data, including streaming video and related information.
There are many free port checking tools available online, but our favorite is this one from TheRealTimeWeb. When you click the link – and press the test button – you should get “success” on the ports you need. Frequently Port 1935 is closed – and that can be a show stopper. Don’t blindly trust what you’re told, do check for yourself. (if you’re remote – always ask the onsite folks to send a screenshot showing “SUCCESS.”)
When streaming, you should always use a wired ethernet connection that’s dedicated to your use. By plugging an ethernet cable directly into your encoder you remove the risk of running into any issues with your WiFi network and, by setting up a network that only you have access to, you ensure that your bandwidth won’t be compromised by other users.
To test your internet connection, start by using a free web based tool like dslreports.com’s speedtest to find out your download and upload speed. You’ll want a speed of at least 5mbps up and down (for 720p video) but we always recommend to have a connection that’s 10 mbps up and down or more; especially if you are streaming in 1080p. Remember, you are sending content out to the internet so upload speed is more important that download speed.
Once you’ve verified a solid internet connection, you’ll want to send a test stream from your encoder to your Content Delivery Network (CDN). An encoder is hardware or software that compresses your video signal and uploads it in real time. A CDN is a cloud based service that receives your stream and delivers it to an online audience. Some examples of encoders are Telestream’s Wirecast, Livestream Studio, and Teradek’s VidiU. Examples of CDNs are Facebook Live, YouTube Live, UStream, Akamai, & Amazon.
Many people focus on perfecting the setup and placement of their cameras and they forget to run an audio test before going live, which is a huge risk. Nothing will lose your viewers faster than unintelligible audio, so you want to make audio a priority before dialing in your cameras. Whether your crew is running the audio board, or your patching into the board run by a third party audio tech, check that the program mix is being sent to your production (whether you’re taking it in through your camera, or into your switcher) and test all the microphones and audio sources to ensure everything is coming through.
Any modern content delivery network supports all devices – not just web browsers. We still (rarely) see streams that are Flash or Windows Media based – and that means no mobile device support. Bad choices! What you want to look for is HTML5 compliance – this means standards based encoding and streaming without plugins needed. Here’s a page you can use to see if a page uses Flash.