Live Streaming

What does one need to stream live game play or podcasts?

Steve Smith talks about live streaming for podcasts, and game play, and the cost of entry into the latest craze of content creation online.

Episode #5-45 released on July 26, 2015

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If you're a gamer, or you are interested in a live broadcast then finding out what you need to start may be an interesting issue. After all, there is a big barrier to entry to flawless live streaming, compared to edited video. Editing video or broadcasting live can be interesting for computers because both require the use of codecs, but compressing on the fly is harder than allowing a computer to render to a save file, especially if we are talking about applications like Adobe Premiere.

So, how do game streamers and live shows stream online in real-time?

There are a few methods live streamers use to get their gameplay online. For anyone who has a modern console, the features tend to be built in. For PC gamers and live broadcasters, there are a few more options, depending on your configuration you may want to consider, but the minimum specifications may be an issue for older computers, so this is why this episode exists.

The best configuration for streaming is a multi-screen, multi-computer broadcast. If it is at all possible, the gaming computer should not be the computer broadcasting the feed, this makes it easier to produce higher quality gameplay with higher frames per second, but this is asking a lot of most people.

If you have a computer tower, and a laptop, or tablet, you can try a different method, but it will require a little more work to make your stream flawless. First, of all, the laptop or tablet, can be used to manage your live streams online, and interact with your followers. Since you may not have the time to specifically type in your response, you can always just reply over the microphone, depending on the type of gameplay.

That basically deals with the preview and chat window, but the stream computer in this case, is also, the game computer. Tweaking with be required to game, and encode, and transmit at the same time. Tweaking your game quality settings, and the resolution and quality of the stream are important to maintain a playable, and viewable stream that other users will enjoy.

My best suggestion is to be more dependent on your graphics card to encode the stream because it will be faster. Like a gaming computer, a streaming computer using a graphics card to stream will be faster, than the same computer using the CPU, regardless of the CPU. The better the graphics card, the better the stream can be, as well. Especially, if you tune the stream to use that graphics card as the stream processor to compress the video before it is published to places like Twitch or YouTube.

When deciding on which program you should get or use, determine which features you actually need first. The majority of you with dedicated graphics cards are more than likely using an NVidia Graphics Card. NVidia's ShadowPlay technology can be used by anyone with a support NVidia graphics card, to stream directly to a few places online, or record locally. It can, also, include webcam and microphone inputs. It is part of the NVidia GeForce Experience application, therefore this solution is free.

Then you have OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software, which is free, and open source. For those who like open source and free applications, this is for you. It is, however, in beta. It has many features and more are always being added, however, even if it is cross platform, open source, and free does mean a lot of features you currently need may not be available, or your hardware configuration may not be compatible. The site, also, lacks a lot of useful graphical information that would make preparing the software useful for new users.

Now, if you want a more reliable solution for your live shows, and live game play streams, I suggest that you use, XSplit, a program that even I use on my own account, and my friends. You have XSplit Broadcaster and Gamecaster. You have a free option for both, which does provide you with a few options. You are, also, provided with a Personal and Premium version of XSplit which allows you to do a lot more with XSplit. The premium version, made for those who wish to use XSplit for commercial ends costs roughly 9 dollars a month, but comes out closer to 60 dollars per year, if you buy on a per year basis.

Whether you end up using XSplit's Gamecaster, or Broadcaster, premium software you will notice that you have a lot of control on how the system responds to each of the settings you setup. This software solution can take advantage of capture cards, graphics cards, web cameras, even show portions of your screen if you want.

Now, OBS and XSplit while both technically allow you to stream your own live podcasts, the ShadowPlay technology from NVidia is not made for that. When determining your solution you do have to analyze your budget, and the features you want, as well. While, this kind of show is a thing, and it is relatively easy to create content for, it has a high barrier of entry for anyone expecting 60 FPS flawless shows with zero frames dropped, especially of gaming where your computer is taxed by the game, the stream software, and compressing the video into a stream. Please refer to each application web-site for the requirements from your system, and keep in mind, minimum specifications are for functionality only, for best results your computer you choose to stream with should be higher in specifications than suggested specifications by the application developer.

And, lastly, remember to have fun!

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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