Having the opportunity to live stream WordCamp Fayetteville was awesome! I had so much fun doing this event, despite some technical challenges that nearly ruined the entire thing!
But these challenges also proved to be very educational! I learned so much from this experience that will allow me to do a much better job at the next WordCamp we live stream! I would like to share these lessons with you so that if you choose to do a live streamed event one day, you can hopefully avoid the mistakes I made.
Lesson One: Bring your own internet
The University of Arkansas WIFI network was very fast and reliable. Unfortunately, their firewall also blocked us from streaming to YouTube Live. Ironically, we were able to stream to Facebook Live without issue. While every WordCamp i have ever been to tends to have access to a great WIFI network, the moral of this story is not to rely on the ability to live stream from the venue’s network. Things like firewalls configuration, bandwidth limitations, etc may shut you down before you ever get started.
WP Top Hat has now purchased a dual sim mobile hotspot with 4g LTE capability for future live streams. So we will be able to connect using our own high-speed network, no matter where we are. If our home carrier does not provide coverage, we can use a sim from another carrier, that does provide local coverage. Having our own dedicated network should almost certainly ensure a smooth and capable connection.
Lesson 2: When Roaming, Have A Backup
One fact I did not know until this event was that my cellular carrier slows down my bandwidth by more than half when I am in roaming mode. If I am outside of my carriers network, I get speeds that are way to slow to support live streaming. A call to my carriers customer service educated me on this sad reality. So the lesson here? Have a backup cell network available in case you are outside of your main carrier’s network
Lesson 3: Record Always
While live streaming is the obvious goal, you may experience interrupted connections, periodic slow speeds, or an inability to connect at all. So when you are live streaming an event, make sure that you are also recording. We used OBS during our live stream, and it was great because even when the stream was failing, a smooth high-quality recording was being created. We collected roughly 6 hours of video, although we only posted the good stuff!
Lesson 4: Equipment
It is no secret, our live stream was low budget in terms of equipment. But that does not mean we skimped. We did not have a $1,000+ camera, expensive lighting, or thousands of dollars of audio mixing equipment. The overall value of our equipment, not including my laptop, was under $300. Here is what we had:
- Dell 7000 Gaming Laptop: $1200
- Blue Yeti USB Mics: $100
- Logitech C920 Pro webcam: $45
- Cyberlink PowerDirector (Video editing software): $59
- OBS (Live Streaming Software) $0
So when you take away the laptop, the total cost is $204. Not bad. Now true, you will not get Hollywood quality with low-end equipment like this, but the quality is more than sufficient. Plus, with an event like this, where the ability to move around is a must, I think the qulaity we achieved is outstanding, and we avoided the risk of heavy loss if something expensive got dropped.
The point here is that is you can afford to invest in professional grade equipment, by all means, do so. BUT do not let the inability to obtain such high-performance equipment stop you from live streaming!
Lesson 5: HAVE FUN!
Above all else, have fun! Live streaming WordCamp Fayetteville was a blast! I can hardly wait to stream another WordCamp! Knowing that we were able to share this event with those who could not attend made this one of the best experiences I could imagine. If you have a WordCamp event in your area, I strongly recommend asking if you can live stream the event! We were granted the honor of being the first media sponsor WordCamp Fayetteville ever had, and we would not change it for anything!