In this 2 part video series, we’re teaming up with Ballast Media to discuss 5 ways to make your live stream video look great. While having good equipment will help there are other ways to improve the image quality for your lighting and video.
One of the ways to improve the image quality is making sure that your focus is sharp. When your video is ran through the streaming it does soften the image.
Using Auto Focus
It’s highly recommend to not use the auto focus function on your camera. The reason why is at times the focus will get confused as to where or who it is suppose to focus on.
This is where lighting may be a factor if the stage is bright in certain areas, this will cause the focus to shift.
How to Manually Set the Focus
You can manually set the focus by zooming in all the way on your subject to get it focused.
Another trick to setting the focus is using an external monitor so that you can tune in the focus better.
The next step to making your live stream looks great is making sure your camera is set to represent the colors in your environment accurately.
If your video seems to look more orange or blue this is because the white balance has not been set properly.
A way to address this issue is setting up a wash light to maintain the correct color temperature throughout the stage.
In an ideal world using the same type of lights and bulbs for your front lights will definitely help keep a consistent color temperature for your stage.
Setting Up a White Balance
To set up the white balance you’ll want to have a white card that you set up in front of your wash light. With your camera zoom all the way in till the card fills up the screen and then set the white balance on your camera.
Creating an Even Wash on Your Stage
It’s important to keep an even wash on your stage for your color temperature but as well as the brightness level overall.
Generally, the way we do this is with what we call 3 Point Lighting. This is where you use your primary front light comes up 45 degrees and out 45 degrees from where the presenter is. With the backlight as long as it is set on the presenter it will work just fine.
Most likely you won’t be able to set up 2 lights to cover every part of the stage. This is when you want to create zones or acting areas for your stage. These zones are normally 8 to 10 feet of where 2 lights are set to cover that zone of the stage.
When you comes to the edge of the zone you want to use a soft light source or a diffusion gel to transition between two zones.
Noise is the result of your camera not having enough light. When it doesn’t have enough light you have to use the gain. When you turn up gain to get the proper exposure that brings noise into your image.
Ideally, if your using a more modern camera and your running your lights on full or close to full you should have enough light.
At times with working with an audience and a stage your lights over the audience may be to dark so you want to find a good balance of keeping the audience and the presenters happy.
When working with exposure on your camera you don’t want to use the auto exposure because your camera isn’t always the best when it’s set to do things automatically. It tends to just go towards the brightest thing in front of it. So setting the exposure manually will be your best option.
When working with video dynamic range is the range of brightness to darkness that your camera accurately represents. If your lighting is outside of that then you will be either under exposed or over exposed.
Keeping Your Lighting within Dynamic Range
The best trick to doing this working with those that work with the lighting and setting up a monitor to review the stage on video.
This way you can adjust the lights accordingly that will look great in person as well as on video. One of the pieces of doing this is keeping an even wash on your stage. If something or someone is too dark then you may want to use a backlight to help bring them into the light. Or if something is to bright try bringing down the intensity of the lights.
So, now that you have everything set up and it looks great is person and on camera you don’t want to ruin all of that by setting the wrong compression.
Something to remember is that your video when live streaming is going to go through an encoder that compresses it. The most important setting to pay attention to is your bit rate.
The bit rate is the amount of data per second that your encoder is going to use to send that video out.
The bests analogy for bit rate is that the resolutions is a paint canvas and the bit rate is the amount of paint you can use on that canvas. With a higher bit rate the image looks better.
The general rule of thumb for setting your bit rate is finding out what your upload bandwidth is and starting at half of that. This is the bare minimum just to getting a reliable stream set up.
Then you can start bumping up the bit rate to find out what your internet connection can actually handle.