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How to Choose the Perfect Live Video Tool

There are a variety of Live Tools that you can use to go live. I know it can get tricky, so I’ve put this episode together to help give you an idea of where to start.

I want to introduce Content10x to you – our new sponsor for my Confident Live Marketing Podcast. They help live streamers to repurpose their live content into a plethora of social media content for all the different platforms to help them to promote the original content.

In this episode, I also shared that I was going to speak at my friend Janet Murray’s “Build Your Audience Live” event in London. You can find out all about this annual event here. It is focussed completely on how to build your audience (online mainly). I highly recommend booking on the next one – so make sure you check it out.

Let’s get going…

A quick word of warning before you read this or listen to the podcast:

Remember that things change constantly in the technology and social media space, so the information in the podcast and these show notes is up to date as at publication date. Some of the limitations or concerns I raise may well disappear over time – so it’s a good idea to just check if the information is up to date (when you are reading this).

Live Tools Categories

Listen at 08:00mins

#1 Smartphone based

Ian Live Video

The easiest method is to broadcast live from your smartphone using a native app. For example using the main Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope or YouTube app on your smartphone.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Ability to monitor comments
  • Great for impromptu live videos

Cons

  • You can't schedule a Facebook Live broadcast from your phone
  • No ability to save high quality video
  • No ability to highlight comments
  • You can't share your screen
  • You can't broadcast to LinkedIn Live from your smartphone currently
  • No ability to add pre-recorded videos
  • No ability to create and change scenes

#2 Web Apps (runs within your browser)

Listen at 13:00mins

BeLive

One of the most well-known and easy-to-use web app-based live streaming tools out there. Since this runs through your web browser, it works on both Macs and PCs. You can bring in guests really easily through the web too.

BeLive

Pros

  • Streaming to Facebook and Twitch
  • Free and paid versions
  • You can bring in a guest really easily (you just give your guest a link to join you)
  • Modes: you can go it alone (“solo”), have you and another person (“interview”), or multiple people (“Talk show”).
  • You can monitor your comments easily and highlight them on to the broadcast (with the commenter's image). Great for engagement!
  • Easily bring in guests on to the show - up to 4 participants.
  • You can add titles to your broadcast
  • You can add branding, colours and a logo and change the layout and look and feel

Cons

  • No recording facility.
    It doesn’t give you the ability to download a high-quality version of the video once you’ve finished. You have to go to Facebook and then download the video there. In my experience, the quality isn’t as good though – so makes it harder when you are trying to repurpose your content.
  • Screensharing requires a paid plan
  • Currently no ability to stream to Periscope or YouTube (although YouTube is coming)
  • No ability to stream via RTMP
  • No ability to add pre-recorded videos
  • No ability to create and change scenes

StreamYard

Listen at 15:50mins

Very similar to BeLive.tv, but with some extras. It is becoming a tool that I would recommend to people starting out on going Live. They have a free plan as well as paid options.

StreamYard-screenshot

Pros

  • Cross platform - works on PCs and Macs
  • It has screen sharing (even on the free plan)
  • Streaming to Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, Restream.io and pretty much any platform out there.
  • Easy to use (like BeLive.tv)
  • You can add video to your stream (you can add in as an overlay)
  • You can monitor your comments easily and highlight them on to the broadcast (with the commenter's image). Great for engagement!
  • Easily bring in guests on to the show - up to 6 participants.
  • You can add titles to your broadcast
  • You can add branding, colours and a logo and change the layout and look and feel
  • Can add up to 30 seconds of pre-recorded video

Cons

  • No recording facility.
    It doesn’t give you the ability to download a high-quality version of the video once you’ve finished. You have to go to Facebook and then download the video there. In my experience, the quality isn’t as good though – so makes it harder when you are trying to repurpose your content.
  • No ability to create and change scenes

#3 Webinar / Video conferencing tool

Listen at 17:00mins

With these tools, you can record your webinar and then can go live at the same time.

They are  ‘hybrid’ tools – not solely created to be Live tools… it isn’t their main purpose, but they have the ability to stream live as well.

Zoom.us

I love this tool – I use it a lot for online meetings and mastermind meetings. It has lots of great features like the ability to record and download a video of your meeting. It is very much like Skype, but much more stable.

Zoom Screenshot

Pros

  • Streaming to Facebook on the PRO plan
  • Inexpensive
  • You can bring in a guest really easily (you just give your guest a link to join you)
  • Modes: you can go it alone (“solo”), have you and another person (“interview”), or multiple people (“Talk show”).

Cons

  • Adds Zoom logo on tthe screen
    The “Zoom” is plastered on your live stream
  • No ability to add your logo, styles etc
    There isn’t any opportunity to add any of your own branding. I wouldn’t recommend it, if you are wanting to build your brand.

There are others out there that do allow you to stream, but they tend to be quite expensive.

Crowdcast

Crowdcast

Facebook & YouTube Live streaming is only available on the $139/month Business Plan. Check out the pricing page for more details.

WebinarJam

WebinarJam Screenshot

Facebook & YouTube Live on all plans, starting from $479 per year. Beware of the popups and auto-playing video on the landing page.

#4 Third-Party Mobile Apps

Listen at 19:23mins

This is a dedicated app that allows you to stream to multiple platforms and create a mobile live studio. This is really just about Switcher Studio – which really sits in a category on its own.

Switcher Studio (iOS only)

This is basically an app that helps you to create a mobile studio with your Apple devices. So you can create multiple camera angles and use multiple devices. You could, for example, have an iPad which you control everything on, then set-up multiple iPhone’s around the room (on tripods or handheld) and then easily flick between them in your stream.

Switcher Studioo Screenshot

Pros

  • You can bring in guests from your Mac (just have to download some extra software for this)
  • Add lower 3rd graphics and animations on the fly while you are out
  • It is one of the only apps that broadcasts to LinkedIn (at the moment)
  • Ability to save high quality recording of video
  • Highlight and monitor Facebook Live comments on screen

Cons

  • On iPhones and iPads only - on later versions of iOS only (doesn't work on Android)
  • It's expensive – but it is amazing for what you get!
  • You can only use an iPhone or iPad to control the App (not a computer)

The standard plan ($39/month or $348/year) isn't suitable for commercial use. The professional plan ($79/month or $588/year) also has the ability to highlight Facebook comments, bring in guests and do Facebook Live cross-posting.

#5 Downloadable Desktop App

Listen at 21:31mins

A standalone app that will stream to a platform like LinkedIn or Facebook. I highly recommend if you want to take things to the next level.

Ecamm Live (Mac only)

Ecamm Live is my top desktop streaming recommendation for Mac users. It offers that amazing sweet spot between ease of use and power.

ecammlive screenshot

Pros

  • It allows you to bring in guests (but only through Skype at the moment) – the integration is very easy
  • Can highlight comments on screen from any of the platforms (Facebook, Twitch, etc)
  • Can add text and videos into your stream
  • Can add multiple cameras (just plug direct into your Mac and it easily recognises them)
  • You can also add multiple microphones
  • You can have a green screen (to change your background)
  • You can save your video in full HD (for repurposing later)
  • Advanced features such as NDI, virtual webcams and more

Cons

  • Only available on Mac

There are two pricing plans – standard ($12/month) and pro ($20/month) – but you pretty much get everything you need in the standard plan.

OBS Studio (Mac and PC)

This is where I started! Three years ago, this was the tool I used to go live. Unlike Ecamm Live – you can use it for PC (and even Linux). It is a really robust tool, is opensource and free and does allow you to save your video in full HD and does pretty much what Ecamm Live allows you to do…with some downsides:

OBS Studio

Pros

  • Works with both Mac and PC

Cons

  • Hard to bring guests into the stream (there is a way to do it, but it takes some geek effort)
  • There is no built-in feature for highlighting comments (you would have to find some other way or another tool to help you do that)

StreamLabs OBS Studio (PC only)

This one has been recommended to me by my friend Mark Orr, so I haven’t had a play with it yet. Basically, they have taken OBS and added some extra features – and you can even download a mobile app for it (to work similar to Switcher Studio – but for PCs).

Streamlabs OBS Screenshot

Wirecast (Mac and PC)

A much more professional tool and is what I use to go Live on LinkedIn – as its one of the only approved LinkedIn Live tools at the moment. It’s a very robust tool but has quite a steep learning curve to it.

I have produced some training for this one – so have a look at my products page to see courses on OBS and Wirecast.

Wirecast Screenshot

Pros

  • Works with both Mac and PC

Cons

  • It doesn’t allow you to bring in guests and highlight comments on the Lite version (unless you integrate other apps first)
  • The Wirecast One version (entry level) starts at $249 (which is significantly better that what the software used to be before) – but you still would have to integrate a bunch of different apps in order to do some of things you can easily do with Ecamm Live or BeLive.tv (although Wirecast is much more robust)
  • Significant learning curve – it isn’t as straight forward as Ecamm Live and the others, but it is getting better

vMix (PC only)

It is robust and many professional live studios out there use this tool. They have a free version, but there is a steep learning curve to it. It does have some great features though like integrated comments and does have a facility to bring in guests.

vMix

Live Tools and Kit

Listen at 30:12mins

Here are a few tools and devices you can use for your Live Streaming:

Mobile Connectivity - The LiveU Solo

This is for when you go out and about, and you find that your network (4G) coverage is not very good. Basically - it bonds multiple 4G networks together to give you a really strong network connection for your livestream. It’s quite expensive though (around $1,000) and really is more for professional live streamers who really want to take it to the next level.

liveusolo

Integrated Camera - Mevo

This is basically a 4K camera that you control from your mobile phone (iOS or Android) and gives you the ability to change camera angles, and broadcast directly to multiple platforms. They work very well at events – or a place where you can’t necessarily want to install lots of computers around the room/location.

Encoder: Epiphan Webcaster X2

This is an encoder device that allows you to broadcast to multiple platforms (one at a time). You connect your devices (monitor, webcam, etc) direct to it and then does the work!

Epiphan_Webcaster_X2

Multicasting Apps

Listen at 30:32mins

These are Apps that allow you to simultaneously broadcast to multiple platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc). Basically – you stream to the service, then it re-streams it to the different platforms.

While this sounds like a good idea in theory – practically, it gets really hard to manage the different audiences on different platforms.

Downsides to these in my view are:

  • trying to manage multiple audiences and keep track of comments across multiple platforms
  • some of them don’t allow you to schedule the Live (like restream.io) through the App
  • some don’t allow you to type a description to the Live – just the title
  • also – they stream using their branding (unless you pay extra)

Some multicasting apps to look at:

What next?

Start simply – if you are new to Livestreaming, start with your smartphone. If you want to step it up – then move to your Desktop and use a browser-based Web App. Once you are more comfortable – look at the more robust downloadable apps. But if you are really invested and want to level your Livestreaming up – then yes, by all means, look at investing some of the other tools and equipment I’ve suggested above.

Are there any other tools that you would be interested in hearing more about? Let me know!

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How to Choose the Perfect Live Video Tool