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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

How to live stream: A survival guide

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Live streaming: where do I start?” Without having a basic understanding of how the USA tv live stream works, getting started can be intimidating.

If you want to:

start live streaming using something more than just your webcam or smartphone

Understand the fundamental components of online video broadcasting

Quickly learn the basics of live streaming

Then you’ve landed on the right page.

What you’ll need to start live streaming:

Video and audio source(s) – These are cameras, computer screens, and other image sources to be shown, as well as microphones, mixer feeds, and other sounds to be played in the stream.

A video encoder – This is the computer software or stand-alone hardware device that packages video in real time and sends it to the Internet.

A streaming destination – The place where your live video will be available online. The most popular include YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook Live.

A stable Internet connection – So that your stream doesn’t freeze, buffer, or drop completely.

1. Video and audio sources

A video data stream (from a camera, for example) for your live stream is called a video source. Respectively, a stream of audio data is an audio source. A simple stream may consist of only one video and audio source, while a more complex stream may have two or more audio and video sources involved. Different combinations of video and audio sources are referred to as “scenes” or “layouts” (think full screen, picture-in-picture, or side-by-side layouts).

The video source(s) for a live broadcast can come from a:

DSLR camera

Video camera

Computer screen


PTZ camera

Phone or tablet camera

For live streaming, you do not need a storage card in your camera.

Audio sources can come from a lapel, handheld or USB microphone, or an audio file. If you run the signal from your microphone through your camera, the audio will come embedded in your video source, meaning they will arrive together via a cable. This is a very common way to capture audio.

Always be mindful of background music in your live stream because online video platforms can monitor and flag copyrighted content. You may receive a copyright violation or even be banned from streaming.

Learn more about choosing a camera for live streaming:

How to capture audio and video sources

To start online streaming, you will need to capture the signal from your audio and video sources. Most video sources today use HDMI™ or SDI outs for external connection. Both HDMI™ and SDI cables are capable of carrying embedded audio along with video. If you are using a computer with a software encoder for streaming, then simply connecting a camera to a computer using an HDMI™ or SDI cable will not work. You will need an intermediary device called a capture card. A capture card (like AV.io HD, for example) connects to the camera on one side, and to the computer via USB on the other, capturing exactly what the camera “sees.” Most hardware encoders, on the other hand, come with internal capture cards, so you can connect video sources directly. We’ll talk more below about streaming software and hardware.

If you are using a USB camera or microphone, however, you can expect to capture these signals simply by plugging them directly into a computer.

2. Video encoder

What is a video encoder and why do I need one?

An encoder “translates” the video signal for the Internet. An encoder is a piece of software that compresses and converts the incoming audio-video signal into a digital, web-friendly format. You need an encoder because most video sources do not come ready for live streaming: camcorders are made to record large, bulky video files, not intended for real-time streaming.

Types of encoders

Essentially, today you have the choice of going live from three types of encoding devices: mobile phone/tablet, a computer with streaming software installed, or a dedicated hardware encoder. While a mobile phone may be an all-in-one video source and encoding device, the live production capabilities offered by a mobile device are extremely limited. Let’s focus on the encoding tools that are able to handle more professional live streams, with the ability to add multiple cameras and layouts.


Live streaming is a very broad topic, and each streaming case is different. This post was intended to be a very general look at how to go live. We do, however, hope we were able to provide some clarity about the fundamentals of going live and how to start live streaming. Understanding these basics along with some practice will help make your live streams outstanding.


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