Live streaming on a budget

I was asked to stream an event for work the other day on a limited budget. We had different entrepreneurs pitching their ideas for a live audience and had some people joining remotely. I have no experience in audio or video streaming but given the COVID-19 pandemic, I suppose others will have the same questions. These were our requirements:

We dabbled a bit with Facebook Live a few years ago, simple streaming from a mobile phone, but the sound was atrocious and slides unreadable.

Distribution

Opted for YouTube Live since we have some experience with YouTube and didn’t need the online Q&A. I would have liked to build our own solution (Wowza maybe) but played safe here. Maybe we’ll add Facebook Live next time, Twitch is not a good fit for our audience.

On the software side, I went for OBS Studio. Its “scenes” feature takes the professionalism up a notch: a coming soon scene, slides with presenter overlays, etc.

Audio

The presentations took place in a noisy auditorium of a co-working space. Some speakers are not used to present so any additional tech, like a microphone, was a potential for failure.

ATR2100x-USB microphone box
ATR2100x-USB microphone

Marco Arment’s Podcasting Microphones Mega-Review pointed me to the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB microphone (around €100). It’s a cheap and highly praised mic that’s less sensitive to background noise, ideal for our noisy auditorium.

Video

My old DSLR camera doesn’t support live clean video output. A webcam with a tripod mount, like the Logitech C922 HD Pro (around €100), could be an acceptable budget solution. My colleague picked up an iPhone 11 Pro the other day. That camera is probably way better quality so how do we capture its output?

OBS Studio on macOS can see the iPhone as a video capture device when connected via USB. The input can be cropped in OBS to hide the camera UI. One problem though: the camera will show a yellow square while focussing and we don’t want that in our stream. I found the Shoot iOS app which simply shows the camera without UI.

Adding a tripod as well, with phone mount, to have some control over the frame (and prevent nose shots and fumbling while streaming).

Bill of Materials

Tripod with phone mount€63
ATR2100x-USB microphone€102
Microphone pop filter€9
USB extension cord€6
Shoot€3.49
OBS Studio€0
YouTube Live€0
iPhone 11 Pro-
Total€134.49

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