The Tech Setup For Our Facebook Live Podcast

This past week we celebrated our 100th episode of Gratcast with a move to facebook live.

After a few weeks of planning and researching, we pulled off our first facebook live episode of Gratcast.  The first thing I did was hunt down a few quotes from local freelancers and businesses to run our stream, the rates I was given ranged from $500-$2500 for a 2-hour, simple 2-shot, 3 mic podcast. Luckily I knew enough to know we could acquire our own equipment for less than those rates. I searched for a simple basic overview of what kind of setup we could use, but I never really found a single source of answers. Ultimately, I created a collage of answers from different sources to build our setup and I putting it all here as the single source I wish I found.

Overall the execution went very well, but there were definitely a few things we learned that will help us improve the quality of our next show. Specifically, the audio could have been cleaner, and it was in our tech test, also the multi-camera setup needed more time to iron out.
Working from the mics to the viewer/listener here is an overview of our setup.

 

3 – ZingYou ZY-801 Condenser Microphones

Purchased from Amazon for $34.98 each.  Overall these mics are fine and do the job. We ran 25 ft XLR cables (also purchased from Amazon $9.99 each) to our audio board positioned well out of frame.

Yamaha MG10 Audio Mixing Console

Purchased used from Amazon for $129.99.  Here is where I would suggest you improve upon our setup.  I was unfamiliar with audio mixers going in and I simply bought the version suggested in a podcast blog I read. It works fine, but it’s strictly analog. Mixer to audio headphone jack is the only way to connect to a Mac. The newer model MG10XU is slightly more expensive at $199.99, but it offers USB connectivity.

1 – RCA to Headphone Aux Cord – 6ft

Purchased from Fry’s for $7.99. For an audio only podcast we sent all three mics into our Mac through the headphone/mic jack into Garageband. For video we simply plugged the audio cable into the SlingStudio hub.

 

1 – PC Laptop.

Using headphone jack to RCA’s we connected a laptop to our mixer to use as a sound effects board. This website provides  thousands of sound effects with great big buttons to activate them. The only thing it’s missing is the ability to build your own page of selected sound effects. If you know a website that offers that, let me know!

 

Video Setup

1 – SlingStudio

5-day rental shipped from LensRentals for $150.  This was the centerpiece of our production. We did have a hiccup with the 2 camera setup, but this product was so reliable right out of the box, I purchased a new one the day after our event. SlingStudio has a great deal where you can try it with a rental and if you decide to purchase, your rental price will go toward your purchase. Well worth it, but in the end I went with this package through Amazon that was too good to pass up.

The Slingstudio turns any current generation cell phone into a wireless camera source. The small hub connects to your internet (hardwired or wifi – we used standard wifi with 5MB upload speed) and wirelessly connects to each camera/phone. The video and audio are encoded within the hub and easily streamed in 1080 (30) to facebook, Youtube or any custom stream key.

 

I had concerns about the wireless connectivity of the whole ecosystem. We’ve tried livestreams in the past and internet strength has always created unreliable streams that vary in resolution from clear to incoherent with usually a handful of dropped connections mixed in. The connectivity was flawless and the stream clarity never fluctuated. Check it out for yourself in the video from our Gratcast100 embedded at the end of this post.

 

Multi-Camera Issue:  We did have one hiccup with the SlingStudio.  When we setup a Galaxy S9 and an iPad as our 2 camera setup, the audio from our mixer never matched up with the lips on the iPad feed. It proved to be an unusable second angle that limited our shoot to one wide shot that would have been tighter had we expected to only have one camera. Check out the first 5 minutes of our show below where we attempted to switch to the second camera. I contacted SlingStudio about the issue and they representative blamed it on Apple products, saying there is a known delay with iPhones and iPads used as camera sources. The rep didn’t understand why that information should be included under device compatibility. Apparently if you’re using all Apple cameras (no Android) you can adjust the delay in the mixer audio to match the Apple video sources. However, marrying realtime audio and video is a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

 

1 – Apple iPad

Purchased from Best Buy for $329.  Unless you have a 2013 or newer Mac (ours is 2011) you will need a current generation iPad to run the SlingStudio Stream.  The interface for managing your entire presentation is quite impressive. You can create your project with your pre-loaded graphics, overlays, ad rolls and video clips. You can even create them in app to some extent. If you created a scheduled live event on facebook or Youtube prior to your setup, you can access it simply by logging into either platform in the SlingStudio app. If not, you can create a new post and go live right in app with a few clicks. The app will even show you how many viewers you have, the only thing it does not have is the ability to monitor or engage with the chat.

Everything Mentioned Above


The Full Video From The Gratcast100 Facebook Live

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