True citizen journalism has been and will continue to be invaluable for protest movements and the struggle for progressive change more broadly. Live Streaming is a great way to start, and this tutorial will show you how to begin your own live streaming system so you can cover events happening in your own community and share it with the world.
All you really need to get started is a mobile phone with a (preferably unlimited) data connection and a decent built-in camera. On the phone you need to download one of the now numerous live streaming apps. Three we can recommend are:
Realistically, you’ll want to use a mobile hotspot to keep the quality of your stream higher and limit the use of your phones data plan. As of clear.com being bought by Sprint and shutting down, there are no truly unlimited mobile hotspot plans anymore, but here are a few we recommend:
AT&T Unite Pro ($199.99 or $49.99 with contract)
T-Mobile ZTE Falcon Z-917 ($79.99)
FOR GLOBAL STREAMING – XCom Global Internation MiFi Hotspot ($17.95 per day)
If you’re streaming on behalf of a protest or organization that has some funding available, it’s usually a good idea to have two or more hotspots. This allows one to be charging, or shared, while the other is is use. On the topic of charging…as you’ll learn in your citizen journalist adventures, the live streamers best friend is the…
External Battery Pack
We’ll say right off the bat that it’s a great idea to carry a few battery packs on you when streaming, or just attending a protest in general. Sometimes marches or events go longer than expected, stores may block you from charging, and it’s never a good feeling to have your phone die right when something needs to be covered. There are two types of batteries we’re going to recommend. A high capacity battery and solar charger. There are hundreds of options to choose from, and you’ll learn what works best for you and your team over time.
This is a great choice for a high capacity external battery. It includes USB type-C input and output, Qualcomm QuickCharge, and a bunch of other useful features. One of these should give you at least 5 charges for most current phones.
This is a great back-up battery with an integrated solar charger. You can clip it to the outside of a backpack to slowly refill it between charges.
Another piece of equipment that is helpful is a handheld monopod (AKA selfie-stick), it allows for some basic stabilization, as well as the ability to reach over crowds and get different angles on events. Now that we have the equipment covered for basic livestreaming, lets go over some technical aspects and best practices.
How to set up a LiveStream Channel
This is specific for livestream.com but the same procedures translate to doing it on Ustream/Bamuser but you will have a lot more ads.
Log in and got to the CHANNELS tab of your account
LAUNCH A NEW CHANNEL from the blue button right hand column
From MY CHANNELS
enter the STUDIO
CONFIGURE CHANNEL tab
brand your account using a channel logo etc in the configure channel area.
Be sure to add relevant links, like your donation page, wish list, associated websites
the corner bug is a small square logo like thing you can add to brand your stream
Test Cards could be use for variety of standard announcements (be right back, donate now, our channel rocks etc) these are good for cutting to quickly between cueing up transitions.
ADD PRODUCTION TEAM MEMBER
If you will be sharing the management of your channel This is where you add other livestream members to your online studio team. This will allow your team members to broadcast directly to your channel, mix cameras and manage production aspects of the live stream. Cell phone streamers will not need to be added to the production team unless they are also helping to Mix the feeds, only those streaming with webcams, cameras or re-streamers. The Camera Only setting will allow them to stream to your channel but not manage the channel.
Some Best Practices
Pan slowly…the latency/quality of the stream can be low sometimes and panning rapidly will blur the video
Be mindful that the police are watching at all times and the mute button should be used for all private conversations and planning huddles.
Never film anyone’s face without consent and don’t call anyone by name who wishes to keep their identity private. If someone asks not to be streamed at all do not stream them.
Announce a few minutes in advance if you’ll be taking the stream down, and estimate how long until it’s back up. If you’ll be offline for a while help promote other streams that are live.
Back-up/make sure you footage is saved regularly.
Thanks for reading this tutorial! We’ll update it frequently. If you have ideas, experiences, recommendations, or just want to chat feel free to comment below.