In the immortal words of our generation’s Shakespeare, Jay-Z once wrote “I have 99 problems and live stream errors are at least 5 of them”. Coronavirus and the logistical nightmares for video production has seen an arms race for livestream capabilities amongst both video marketers and producers alike. The rush for content has seen a rise in requests for troubleshooting common errors, with technological ineptitude of newcomers likened to Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson encountering a computer for the first time in Zoolander.
To assist, we’ve listed the five most common livestream problems we’ve experienced during production. As part of our growing series on broadcast production, you can read more about creative applications for broadcast video as well as a starter guide for marketers with live streaming.
1. Internet Dropouts
Problem: Internet connections during live streams drop faster than Stormtroopers in a hallway. During one of our broadcast productions we had both a server and router explode mid-set. We believe this may have been the cause for the internet drop out, however we’re still awaiting definitive results from the coroner.
Solution: The feasibility in moving your production to Taiwan or Singapore for the speed of their internet connection is unlikely, even before the global pandemic shut down airports. While Australia may have botched the rollout of the NBN worse than a backyard plastic surgeon, Australia does have reasonably fast and reliable mobile internet speeds. Purchasing two wireless routers and two sim cards with high data allowance can get you access to high-speed internet in addition to a redundancy if one fails.
Even better than this, if you’re technologically competent you can use a bonded connection, which diffuses the connection across multiple carriers to reduce likelihood of dropouts.
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2. Copyright Claims
Problem: While Facebook is ambivalent about genocide-inducing political propaganda on their platform, they will rigorously enforce copyright music claims. During a livestream electronic event we produced for Mycelium Studios, in April 2020, audio during a DJ set was muted and the video was blocked by Facebook. The reason, according to the automated email received by the platform, was that it “may contain 37 seconds of music” and was therefore claimed on behalf of Warner Music Group.
Solution: Run your livestream feed to multiple platforms. Just as having a redundancy for routers is desirable, so too is having a second streaming platform as a backup. While marketers may abhor the idea of fragmenting audiences for a single event (affecting engagement metrics that would see the video rise in recommended videos on the platform), it’s preferable to losing your entire audience as a result of absent audio. During Untitled’s Virtual Day Party, the event was simulcast to Youtube, Facebook and Vimeo.
3. Platform Dropouts
Problem: Some platforms like Facebook and Instagram will automatically end a livestream if the connection is lost for more than 10 seconds.
Solution: Simulcasting not only lessens the likelihood of copyright claims killing your feed, but also from your feed dropping out altogether. Sharing a Youtube, Vimeo or Zoom URL for every livestream in advance enables the audience to return to a reliable source when required. A great way to do this is via a dedicated landing page with a countdown timer.
4. Dropped Frames
Problem: Dropped frames are as enjoyable as Hollywood’s repeated reboots of Godzilla. Caused by either an unstable server connection or an inability to meet the required bitrate, visual and audio frames are lost from the stream in order to compensate. We had the honour of experiencing this during our national, 360 Live Stream Event for Eventbrite when our bitrate fell from 50mbs to 5mbs as peak hour traffic overloaded the cell tower an hour before the event started.
Solution: While there’s no faster way to lose an audience than the revival of a long-dead film franchise, you can resolve errors relating to dropped frames. Cloud technology firms and Technical Guides on Dropped Frames advise continually monitoring the target bitrate and using Adaptive Bit-rate Streaming where possible.
5. Repeated Audio
Problem: Live stream audio repeats like the plot in Fast & The Furious films.
Solution: Embarking on a broadcast without an audio mixer is asking for poor quality or repeated audio tracks. Streaming audio through your computer will mean that any sound entering your computer will be heard by your audience. While it’s a great way to rickroll an audience of 100,000 people, it’s not a great business decision; you’ll be back doing corporate video production before you know it.
Live streaming is a great way to connect with audiences, but there are technical barriers to entry. If you’re a video production company and feel like you’ve already mastered the format, why not try your hand at streaming and stitching 8K footage to a live audience in stereoscopic 360? It’ll keep you up at night.
Searching for “video production Melbourne”? Enamoured Iris is a creative agency producing online content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.