The EventBuzz Podcast: Live Streaming Tips for Beginners and the Equipment Setup

The EventBuzz Podcast: Live Streaming Tips for Beginners and the Equipment Setup

Podcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh, Purplepass Marketing Director and Milad Imen, Co-founder and Community Organizer for The Afternoon Umbrella FriendsJump to links and video notes below. 

 

The EventBuzz podcast: The Afternoon Umbrella Friends

presented by Purplepass

Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + The Afternoon Umbrella Friends

 

Savannah (Purplepass):

Today we have Milad, the co founder and company organizer of The Afternoon Umbrella Friends. Joining us to talk about all the best practices for hosting a live streamed event. We've been receiving a lot of requests and inquiries from our promoters about virtual that planning, especially now with COVID-19, placing all in person events on pause for the time being. 

So thanks for joining us today. 

Why don't we start with just like a brief introduction of who you are, your company, the afternoon umbrella friends, the events you've been putting on specifically the virtual events you've been doing throughout COVID?

 

Milad (The Afternoon Umbrella Friends):

Yeah, totally. Um, so yeah, just introduce myself. My name is Milad. I'm one of the co founders of The Afternoon Umbrella Friends. If you don't know who we are, we're like this fun loving community in San Diego that we kind of double as an event production company. But we really just started out as a group of friends. And our last event was our music festival that we do called Umbrella Weekend, that actually took place the weekend, right before everything got shut down. 

So that was kind of crazy. At that point, we had never done a live stream before. And we were just kind of thrown into like this new world where, you know, we can't, we can't do parties anymore. 

So, it took us a while to really like, take it seriously, because we didn't we didn't know how long it was going to be like, I didn't know how much energy I wanted to invest in something I didn't know how long we'd be doing it for. But after a while, it became pretty clear. We'd be doing it for a while. So we've taken a lot of time, done a lot of experimentation to get our operation going pretty good when it comes to live streaming. And it's been really fun. It's been challenging, but yeah, a lot.

 

Savannah:

Cool. Okay, so I guess the next question I have that we also get a lot is just like, when you first start out what's like the basic equipment you would recommend, like what's necessary for hosting a live stream streamed event, or not so much necessary, but good to have for like a good quality stream?

 

Milad:

Totally. So if you're going to stream, there's like a minimum baseline of quality that you you absolutely need to achieve in order to make it so that your stream can be enjoyable for the viewer. 

Like if they show up and you're just using like your cell phone to stream like capturing the audio coming out of like the speakers with like a microphone and like using your phone video, I don't have an overlay, it's not gonna look very professional, and your viewers really aren't going to want to stick around just because there's so many options right now that are doing better checking all the like the boxes when it comes to quality. 

So the three main technical attributes that are used to measure the quality of the stream are the video quality, the sound quality, and then your internet connection. I have, I can talk about the equipment you need to make sure all those meet that like baseline. 

We do DJ events, others might be doing like live music, but provided you have all that equipment already that you usually have to like produce normal events. The stuff that you need to do a stream you can get for, you can get a pretty solid setup for relatively cheap which is which is nice. 

For video quality, first thing obviously is like your camera. Most computers they have a camera built in, but I don't recommend using it just because it makes it really hard to use your computer while you're streaming. But I know people who do it in the stream to like hundreds of people and they get away with it. So like you can do it. 

Like the MacBook. If you have a MacBook like the webcam actually is pretty good quality compared to like external cameras, but just because of the fact that it's like, on your computer, and you probably want to use your computer like while your streaming, I don't recommend it. You can also get like a USB webcam. Like get something that's HD, I would recommend something by a brand name like Logitech or someone and you can get a pretty decent picture. That's definitely good enough for like, a stream. 

But I think video quality is definitely the place where you could spend more money and get the best return on like increasing your quality. So my partner, Carlos, he has a DSLR camera. And he uses like that he just uses for photography. And we're able to take advantage of that by using HDMI capture device.

So what that the HDMI capture device. So what it does is it lets you take the output of the camera and turn it into a digital signal that you can use in your live streams, most cameras don't have that built in. So if you got an HDMI capture device, the brand that we use is called Cam Link. There's a bunch of other ones that you could look up but without something like a Cam Link, we wouldn't be like that camera wouldn't be compatible with like the computer like to just directly wire in the video output. 

So if you have access to a nice camera, I highly recommend getting a Cam Link or something like that, that you can. 

 

Savannah:

Okay. 

 

Milad:

Or you can make it so you can live stream your camera footage into your live stream. Um, yeah, regardless of what type of camera using the lighting is really important. Just make sure that your subject is well-lit, we we mounted our lights onto the roof somewhere high up so it doesn't blind the subject.

You can get crazy with it, you can do colors you can do white light, depends on what kind of aesthetic you're going for. But just lighting is important.

Savannah:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, lighting is really important.

 

Milad:

Yeah, the next step is the audio quality. Last thing you want to do, this is the biggest mistake I see people do is when you log on to their stream, it just doesn't sound doesn't sound right. Because a lot of times they're just using the camera to record what's coming out of their speakers and putting that into the stream.

You do not want to do that, what you want to do is get an audio interface. So that's like this, pretty much the same thing as the HDMI capture device. But for audio, so it takes the output of your mixer or whatever, whatever instrument you're using and converts it to a digital signal. So then when the when the viewer hears it, it sounds exactly the same as when you're playing it. Like it's the pure, unfiltered audio. 

So you have to have absolutely must do it like that. Otherwise, people like me are just gonna tune in be like, nope.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. I mean, especially for like music and DJ events like, audio. That’s necessary. 

 

Milad:

Absolutely. And so if you have that, then that opens up like say you want to use a microphone, we just plugged the microphone into our mixer, because everything coming out of our mixer is coming in a perfect quality. 

So I'm not super, I’m not super well versed in like microphones, myself, but we just use a standard one for talking. And for if we wanted to record live instruments, that's like a whole other thing. But yeah. 

And then last thing is the internet connection. So if you don't have good quality internet connection, it's like kind of a waste, like all your hard work is just going to waste because it'll just end up choppy and inconsistent. That just affects everybody. Like I personally have a the highest speed that I can get in my area and I still wish I could get a faster one. So if you're in that situation, you need to make sure you get every single last like bit of every mile you can get out of your connection. So that means don't use Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is just slower than if you had a direct cable from your computer to your modem. 

 

Savannah:

Oh, I wouldn’t even think about that. 

 

Milad:

Yeah, so when you go over Wi-Fi, it's just it's not like I don't know what percentage differences but there is a percentage that you're losing just by not having it direct wired. So if your computer doesn't have a Ethernet input built in, they have USB to Ethernet converters for super cheap on Amazon or any, any electronic store. So make sure you do that.

You can only you can only do so much if you don't have, if you don't have a fast internet connection, like at your house, but that's one thing that you can do to help with that.

 

Savannah:

Okay, cool. I mean, I feel like that kind of answered my next question. Like, if there's any extra like little items that you might want to have on you. Not as like big as the equipment and audio, but like, extra batteries or cables or cords? 

 

Milad:

Yeah. Um, I mean, we have at least two of everything. But more important than having extra stuff that I want to stress the importance of like, testing things out ahead of time.

 

Savannah:

Yeah.

 

Milad:

You got to get your whole setup.

If you're not doing it super often, like get your whole setup tested the day before. So in case anything goes wrong, you have like a whole day to debug and figure out whatever additional like gear you might need. Say one of your cables isn't working, you need a replacement. The worst thing is realizing you can’t stream to the best of your ability because you just weren't prepared and like you know what you need, but it's time to go and you don't have it like right at that moment.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, how often, or how many tests you guys do before like a big show? Probably a ton.

 

Milad:

Um, well, so we're like, I've gotten to the point where our setup is now It never gets unplugged. We will test it. We don't go not as extensively as we did before. We used to like test it the night before. Ours is like at this point, it's like pretty battle tested.

And we've gotten most of the most of the kinks, like ironed out. That's not to say like things never go wrong. But we, if we have a really big one and then we'll fire it up like an hour or two before. It's good.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, you guys have a pretty neat setup. I mean, I streamed into your guys last event and it was pretty cool.

 

Milad:

Thank you.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, it was cool. So um, the other common question we get is what software should they be using for live streamed events and I know you kind of like, I mean, you went over like the cameras and stuff, but is there a specific software that you guys use?

 

Milad:

Yeah, there's, there's definitely a couple different things we use in combination with each other.

So first, is the platform you stream on. We we use Twitch as like our main platform. It was originally intended for gaming, but the music category on there has taken a life of its own. Twitch is just like really fun. They kind of designed it as if it was a video game. There's like all these little features that keep your community engaged, like all these little points they give you and like emotes and. And like, they, they kind of make it a game in terms of like, donating and stuff. 

So it gives us like this, this fun atmosphere that like encourages people to contribute to whatever cause you're raising money for. We really like Twitch. There's other ones. You can stream on Facebook and stream on YouTube.

 

Savannah:
They have a bunch.

 

Milad:

Yeah, there's tons. But we use touch Twitch. It’s awesome. Yeah, and then broadcasting software, that’s like the next layer down.

So the standard is OBS Live. That's completely free software. It's actually really amazing that they offer that for free. It's, I don't think, it pretty much has opened up the ability to run a TV show like from just just for free. Like this type of software used to be really expensive. Since live stream is live streaming has gotten so big recently, they made this like super accessible one. So what it does is it gives you everything you need to collect your video, audio inputs.

It’ll let you put an overlay on. If you don't know what the overlay is, it's like it's just any words or graphics that go on top of the stream. Like say you're on like NBC or CNN you see their logo at the bottom like that's their overlay. So we do the same thing for our live streams. We put our logo, we put the DJ name, we put the name of the event. And then with OBS Live you can stream to any platform you desire, Twitch, Facebook, YouTube.

Yeah, so it's a very robust software. So highly recommend you use that. There’s some alternative OBS software. Like there's like Streamlabs OBS.

That one, it has a bunch of like cool extra features, but I've noticed that the performance is not as good. And most of that functionality you can get from Streamlabs, I'm going to talk about that right after this. You can get that in OBS Live with like these extendable widgets. So I recommend stick to OBS Live because it's free, and it performs better than the other free alternatives. 

 

Savannah:

Okay, cool. 

 

Milad:

And then speaking of Streamlabs, that I just brought up, so even though I don't think you should use their OBS software, I recommend you use the other things that they offer. 

So what it is, it integrates with Twitch, Facebook, and I think YouTube. So if you sign in with your Twitch account, they give you all this like cool functionality, like they let, they have this page where you can for every account, they'll give you a page where you can collect donations. So we just put the link in our stream. And we say like we're raising money, last weekend, we raised money for the wildfires.

So we said like donate to the wildfires at this link and then they'll give you like a little widget like a little bar that shows you how much donations you've received.

They have other ones that show you how many followers and subscribers you have, they'll give you little alerts that you can, like say someone donates a little pop up on your stream, and they have just all these like, all these little widgets that make and give your stream like another level of interactivity. Really fun, because the best thing about the streams is like that you're interacting with them, it’s not just something that it's not like a TV show where you're just broadcasting and they're watching the good streams, you interact with your users and like give them a chance to affect what's going on. 

 

Savannah:

And be engaged. Yeah, that's super important. 

 

Milad:

Yeah. 

 

Savannah:

I feel like a lot of people forget about that. Because they're streaming now. So it's, they focus on that, but they forget like, okay, it's still an event. So they have to remember like, how can we get them involved more? 

 

Milad:

Yeah, absolutely. 

 

Savannah:

Well, I mean, since we're talking about, like, getting people involved, how do you guys like, speaking of like, the promotional side of things, marketing? How, what's your go to way to market the event? Or? Or since it's like a live stream? How do you guys kind of prepare people for that?

Or, like, introduce them? Or do you have to give them instructions on like, where to go? Or like, what's the best practices for that, especially for, audiences that aren't used to like, live events and this is their first time?

 

Milad:

Yeah, that's a good question. Um, so I can tell you how we do it, I don't know if…so our approach goes back to when we threw our club events. Which is we primarily use Facebook and Instagram, as our promotional tools, we have a good following on both platforms. 

Every event that we do, that we did before was on Facebook events. And we do the same thing for our live streams. We don't do like a regular event, like every single one we do is like a unique experience with like different curation, different artists. So we treat them as if it was like a normal event. We promote on Facebook, and Instagram just and that allows our community to know what we're up to because we built the following there. 

But when I look at my Twitches’ metrics, they have a, they have a page where they go really into depth about like where your viewers are coming from, whether they're coming like from inside of twitch or from external websites. And I actually see that the majority of people navigate to our stream directly through the Twitch app. And so for that reason, it's really important that you build up a follower base on whatever platform you're using, because when you go live on Twitch, for example, your followers will get notified. And so I think it's more of like a conversion. Like it's initially we needed to convert our original follower base into Twitch users. But now that people are on Twitch, the majority of people are like finding us now through Twitch, which is pretty cool. It was unexpected.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, that's super nice. Yeah, cool. And then going back to your live events, like when I saw the last one you put on you guys had pretty cool, like decorations and backgrounds. So I wanted to ask if like, are there any like cool, like green screens or features that people should try or that you guys use for your backgrounds and events? Or like any advice for stage decorations?

 

Milad:

Yeah, um, so yeah, you're totally right. Going back to our events like, that's, that's one of the things that always set us apart was that we have a really talented team. Our, event designers, my friend, Megan, she's like the mastermind behind just making our events look beautiful. 

And so, our team, we have a lot of people who can craft really gorgeous sets for our bigger live stream productions. So I'm not an expert of that myself, but I like know, I fully understand like, having a beautiful set just makes such a difference and cannot be understated. So if you find someone with that skill set, like you should, you should try and find someone with that skill set, set up your camera so they can see the frame. And like set it up exactly how it's going to be, try to get your lighting, maybe even get your overlay and then you can design your set to maximize that little space that you have. So like your fabrics, getting props in the mix and then how it interacts with the lighting. All of that is like, of prime importance.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, because it’s gonna like I mean, it's another way for people to engage, if you think about it, like instead of just looking at like, a plain wall, they have something to look at, you know, and get in the mood. And I felt like it represented your guys's event really well, it tied it together. It was great branding. Yeah, I would say just don't do a plain backdrop.

 

Milad:

Don’t do a plain wall. I’ve been to a stream that had just a plain wall and it’s not enough effort for me.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. So that was really cool. I just remember like, that was one thing where I was like, that’s a cool set. It definitely helps with engagement.

 

Milad:

We livestream so much though, that I can't always get someone to come set up every time. And in that situation, the green screen is an extremely useful tool. So you got to get one that's bigger than the size you think you need. We have already bought a second one because the first one I realized just slightly too big. Yeah.

We can only set up the camera on a single shot. You just don’t want to be restricted in your camera angle. Yeah, figure out how big you need, and then just go the next size up. Just to be safe.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, you can get that on Amazon. They have a bunch of green screens, I think?

 

Milad:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. And then when you use the green screen, you need to use ample amounts of white light, in order to brighten it up. If you don't, you're going to get these weird, like little ripples and dark patches in the video that won't look too great.

And will break, will kind of break the immersion. Say you're like, like you're showing like drone footage of like, the ocean and then all of a sudden, you see like these little weird lines popping in, it's like, Ah, so the green screen, they're not actually flying in the sky right now. 

The way that it works, the green screen is the you, you can put a filter on the video on your video layer inside of OBS, and the filter is called a Chroma key. And so what a Chroma key does is allows you to select the color that it will take that color and turn everything that is like close to that color into just transparent.

So you can actually do other colors other than green, but I think green is just the standard because it might be like, I'm not 100% sure why green is the standard. I feel like maybe it's because maybe people don't use green as much as the other colors.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I know what you're talking about. I've actually used that for a video before and I've done it with a blue one and that one worked, but green is typically the standard.

 

Milad:

Yeah. 

 

Savannah:

I don’t know why either. 

 

Milad:

Yeah I'm curious. There must be some, they must have figured out what color work because then if you wear like a green, like, you wear like a green shirt then like your shirt will become transparent. My friend Kale, she has green hair so the tips of her hair just like disappear. But yeah, so the Chroma key and then after you make that transparent, then you can put anything behind it. You can put crazy videos, you can put just like colors, you can put visuals. And there's so many possibilities. It's really fun to play around with.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. I mean, why not? It's super easy. They're not that expensive.

 

Milad:

Yeah, for sure.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. Um, okay, this one is really important. This question, we also get this one a bunch. Jumping from different performers. I think, though, for yours, do you guys actually have people on set? 

 

Milad:

We do, we do both. So yeah, we had an event, not last weekend, but two weekends ago where we had almost about 30 performers over two days, I think it was maybe like 36 performers over two days, which is crazy.

And about half of them were at my house, throughout and the other half were from, I think six other places.

And that used to be something we didn't know how to do. But we've managed to figure it out. The first step is you need to communicate all of your expectations to your off site performers with regards to the all the things we discussed earlier, like the audio, video and internet quality, as well as like making sure it's well decorated. Because that that is one reason, like a lot of people prefer to just keep everything in one place is because you can't control the quality as much. So that's really important. But we don't want to just like, restrict it to be only one place like we want to open it up. But that makes it really important to communicate that, all that stuff ahead of time. And test out, you know, you can run tests with them. After a while, like, once I know someone can do it I'm like, okay, I know, you know how this works now, so we're good, but it took a while to build up to like, have…

 

Savannah:

that trust?

 

Milad:

Yeah, to have that trust with people. If it's like a first time thing, we try and test it out ahead of time. Sometimes we don't and then that'll lead to like, once someone was videotaping their speakers and like recording it with the microphone. And then like, Ah, man. Yeah, so we go through the checklist real quickly with everyone make sure they, they're getting all the boxes. 

Yeah, so once you have that figured out, then what we tell them is like, you just stream, we tell them to stream to a Twitch channel, like a new Twitch channel that no one is watching. Like has no followers. And just do it with no overlay. No, nothing just audio, video, start it like 15 minutes before your set and like, get it going, start practicing, play some tracks. And then we handle everything else from there. 

So what we do is we have an external monitor and we pull up their channel on that monitor. And then when the time comes, we do a display capture, OBS, so what that does is it takes the whole image of that monitor and we capture the video and we broadcast that through OBS like we're literally taking their stream and then reputting it into our OBS and restreaming it again.

And so there's like slight loss and quality when you do that, but it's unavoidable. If you're going to do it live. So that's how we do that. And then that's for the video then for the audio. 

It's different if you're on Mac or Windows. Windows has this feature built in where you can just set up, in OBS you can pick the desktop audio, which means any any audio that's playing out of your computer, you can capture it and put it and broadcast that. So you just like turn the volume up on Twitch and your computer will literally be making the sound and then you can put it into your stream.

For Mac it’s not built in. So you have to download something. It's called iShowU Audio Capture, spelled i.s.h.o.w.u, like the letter U, iShowU Audio Capture. I won't go too much in detail of how that works. But you will need that software or something similar. I don't know about the alternatives. And there's tons of tutorials online. 

But I can send you the name of that so you can include that. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I'm gonna be linking a bunch of stuff, because you've provided so much, which is awesome.

 

Milad:

Yeah. So that'll be necessary on MacBooks or on any kind of Mac computer. And make sure whenever you do this, you need to make sure you can mute your computer's notifications. Otherwise, your viewers will be hearing little like face sounds from your Facebook, like that happens sometimes, like, I hear Facebook noises and then they're like, oh shit, I forgot to, forgot to mute it. Like, it's kind of funny. 

Yeah, it's definitely hard to do that and manage multiples locations. But it's really important to make sure your event goes smoothly, and it’s like a consistent experience. Because like, because we manage everything on our end, that means we can also control the overlay, we change the DJ name that’s in the front, we have the same overlay going the whole time. So even though the video is changing, the stream still has a consistent feel. 

Some people will just like literally turn their stream off and have the other person stream from their end. And that like makes like a little break in time. And also, like the experience is just different. They'll never have it set up exactly the same way. And it kind of breaks the immersion a little bit. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, and if someone's just tuning in too and they happen to tune in once you guys switching like your branding is not there. I would be confused.

 

Milad:

Yeah. So it's a lot of work, but there's a lot of benefit. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, for sure. Especially since, I mean, we can't go out or do anything. So I'm sure everyone really looks forward to it.

 

Milad:

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Savannah:

Um, cool. And then my last question, pretty basic, just if you have, I mean, you've covered a so much. So if you had any, like other like random tips to tell people live streaming event for the first time, but I mean, you covered everything.

 

Milad:

Yeah, I have like another tip. Or like advice, I guess. It definitely sucks that we can't throw events right now. It's really hard for everyone in the events industry to just have to stay home during these times. But it's also like opportunity.

This opportunity to figure out new ways to interact with our community's, we've had the opportunity to connect with so many of our friends through these live streams and we've actually made a lot of new connections as well, like, we're building up, second following almost, that we didn't have before.

And like nothing will ever be the same as like hanging out in person. But I'm realizing the same can be said about doing a live stream. It's been really challenging, but also like a fun and unique experience running all these events from my living room. And when the time comes to go back to doing live events, I'll probably, I’ll probably miss doing live streams a little bit.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, and what’s cool is like, you're reaching an audience that you wouldn't have been able to reach before in different states or like out of the country and so really expanding, which I mean it’s cool. Yeah, I mean, it did give us, made us relearn how to connect with other people and get really creative when doing it. So.

 

Milad:

Yeah, absolutely. And it's important to just stay active during these times, like, I kind of think about it as like staying in shape. You know, like, if you're just not doing anything right now I think it'll be hard to get going again. Once we can throw, those in person events. It’s kind of like staying in shape as an event production company. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, exactly. Well you guys are doing awesome job. Do you have any upcoming events? I’m sure you have a bunch. 

 

Milad:

Yeah, we are settling in on an every Saturday schedule. This weekend we are doing Nocturne, it’s a local, techno, collective. We’re doing a techno night. Then the week after that we’re doing like a fresh faces type thing, we’re going to do like all new talent we’ve never booked before. And just every Saturday. We are going to do something big on Halloween.

We are going to do like our Spooky Soiree, that’s is our yearly Halloween event, it’s going to be a live stream this year. Yeah, so every Saturday on our channel. We are The Afternoon Umbrella Friends, but our Twitch channel is Umbrella Friends TV.

 

Savannah:

And I’ll definitely link that too so everyone knows where to find all this information about you guys and your events and how to tune in. But, yeah, thanks for sitting down and doing that. I really appreciate it and I know our promoters are defiantly going to appreciate it and all the information because I mean we’re new to it too and you guys are definitely more experienced than we are in this. 

 

Milad:

Absolutely, glad I could help. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, so thanks so much! 

 

Milad:

Yeah no problem. 

 



Video notes and links

The Afternoon Umbrella Friends: 

Facebook: facebook.com/theafternoonumbrellafriends
Instagram: instagram.com/theafternoonumbrellafriends
Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/theafternoonumbrellafriends
Twitch: twitch.tv/UmbrellaFriendsTV

 

Equipment and software: 

Logitech webcams and streaming 

HDMI capture device - Cam Link

Audio interface

 

Lighting equipment

Microphones

USB to Ethernet converters

 

Streaming services: 

Twitch

Facebook live

YouTube live

 

Broadcasting software: 

OBS Live

Streamlabs OBS

iShowU Audio Capture

 

Decoration/backdrops: 

Green screens

Blue screen 

Get started on PurplePass

Find the solution that's right for you so you can boost sales, grow your business, and start selling in minutes.

FIND OUR MORE