5 Tech Tips for Graduation Live Streaming

It’s that wonderful time of year again!

 

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Students are graduating, and you’re wondering what’s the best way to live stream this commemorative event for friends and family who can’t attend. Luckily, streaming is easier and more accessible now than ever before, and

1. Pre-Broadcast Announcements

Unlike tuning in to cable or Netflix, graduation live streams have very specific times and audiences, which means potential viewers need to plan ahead to watch the broadcast. After all, if graduation is on a weekday, friends & families might have difficulty finding time to tune in. The earlier they’re informed of a live stream, the more time they have to prepare and watch.

Email announcements will be your best friend here, and ideally sent out a few weeks before graduation day. The email should include a link to the website or Facebook Page where the live stream will be hosted, and reminders can be sent out regularly via emails and social media. Additionally, your school can distribute links to the graduating students, which they can then circulate to their friends & family members.

2. Preparation Streaming

Testing may seem like an obvious recommendation, but is actually way more intricate than it seems on the surface. For example, is the commencement ceremony held outdoors? If so, having an Ethernet or WiFi connection to your streaming device might not be feasible. In that case, you’ll have to find an alternative way to connect to the Internet, such as incorporating a 4G LTE USB modem or using a 4G hotspot.

When test streaming, there are a couple of things that should be on every school broadcaster’s checklist:

● Stream Settings
● Live Platform Limits
● Upload Speed Testing

When it comes to stream settings, your resolution and bitrates have to be manageable, and that depends entirely upon how strong your Internet connection is. If your school has access to 10Mbps upload speeds, great! You can easily stream max resolution 1080p video at 6-7 Mbps and give your audience the best video quality possible.

But if your school’s Internet only provides 6 Mbps, you can only feasibly achieve a 720p live stream at 4 Mbps. This will be relative, and will require some testing at the location before the real broadcast. We recommend performing a connection test, which can be done for free on Speedtest.

Don’t forget about each platform’s resolution caps too. While Facebook is the most convenient option for reaching people, Facebook’s live platform only supports up to 720p quality - a step down from 1080p many are used to nowadays. Also, Facebook live streams are capped at 4 hours per session, and if the stream plays any copyrighted music, the stream gets chopped right away (they’re quite successful with this). If these will be issues for you, consider hosting the stream on YouTube insteam.

3. Add a Professional Touch

Ever tuned in to a live stream and had no idea what was going on? Many live streams just have a single camera filming with no info on the content, which makes for a pretty unengaging video!

Plain video streams are boring to sit through, and can cause a lot of confusion for viewers who weren’t tuned in from the beginning. Instead, many schools have been incorporating new elements to their live streams that resemble traditional TV broadcasts.

Corner Canyon High School in Phoenix, Arizona is one such school. For sports games, graduations and all special events that are live streamed, Athletic Director and Broadcast Teacher Daron Connelly likes to add live production elements that give his streams a bit more character. Using Teradek’s Live:Air Action app for iPads, he switches between 3 cameras located (equipped with Teradek VidiU Pros) around the venue, adds texts, scoreboards, graphics and rolls in per-recorded footage, all from his iPad Pro.

For graduation streaming, we recommend adding text like titles and lower-thirds for guest speakers and students (if possible). This would require knowing the commencement lineup & schedule beforehand, but would give viewers deeper insight into what’s going on and make for a more engaging experience. Also, throwing in photos and pre-recorded videos of the graduating class wouldn’t hurt either!

4. Capture Close-Ups & Wides

Commencement is a very special day for students, and as broadcasters, we want to capture every essence of the event. From the glorious entrance of the students to the moment they receive their diplomas, viewers want to experience as much of this historic day as the people in attendance do.

The best way to do this is by capturing as many different camera angles as possible for the stream. Having cameras around the entire ceremony area for live switching helps achieve this. Cameras can be pointed at the stage, students, audience and wides that cover the whole location, all connected to the same switcher for editing.

Teradek’s switcher app makes it very easy to do this. The Live:Air Action app for iPad allows users to bring in multiple camera feeds wirelessly via WiFi, as long as the cameras have a Teradek VidiU Pro connected to them. Once the VidiU Pros are connected to the same WiFi network as the iPad, Live:Air automatically picks up their feeds and allows you to switch/edit between them. The best part: all of this is wireless, so no need to lay out yards of cables throughout the area.

5. Set Up Your Own Personal WiFi Network

This can be a bit of a stretch, but it can mean the difference between a lossy stream and a smooth one. When many people are in attendance, public WiFi networks will be a latency nightmare for streaming. Even broadcasting on a private network can encounter issues if you have to suddenly share the bandwidth with other people who have access to it, thus jeopardizing the quality of the stream and risking a dropped connection. On this special day, it’s best to avoid any and all potential broadcasting problems.

Setting up your own WiFi network is a good solution to this. For his high school’s live streams, Teacher Daron Connelly of Corner Canyon High School brings his own router (Netgear Nighthawk X6) with a 4G LTE USB modem to provide his own personal Internet connection. This allows him to not only operate with his own WiFi, but also give his Live:Air Action setup a way to bring in multiple cameras and live switch.

Creating your own network ensures that congestion won’t be an issue, and that you’re delivering the best video possible to the students’ friends & families on this memorable day.

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