Thoughts on Managing a Live Stream

Thoughts on Managing a Live Stream


We can all thank COVID for introducing live-streaming terms into the everyday lexicon. Gone are the days when “to Zoom” just meant moving quickly. As we all love to hate the conveniences live streaming has brought to our lives it has also brought an unparalleled level of anxiety to those charged with managing live events. You know who you are.

This article is for anyone who has a live stream in their future. Anyone who has assumed,(or been unwillingly given), the responsibility of ensuring the smooth and successful management of a live stream event.

10 Tips to Managing a Live Stream

1. Meditate on the 6 P’s

“Proper Preparation Prevents a Piss Poor Performance”. Measure twice and cut once. You can’t control the future but with enough dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s you can put a leash on it. Have a lineup and step through it. Be sure to click every slide and playback every video. If possible do this with the cast and crew. Dress rehearsals are like xanax to the stress of a live event.

2. Simplify as much as possible

Things with fewer moving parts tend to break less often. Look for ways to set up your livestream that eliminate moving parts.

  • Wireless microphones can phase in and out causing the audio to crack. The more wireless signals in a space the more likely this is to happen. Hardwire your mic sources unless you absolutely have to go wireless. If you have to use a wireless mic, handhelds are better, price does matter and there is no substitute for a solid, long and obnoxious mic check.
  • Your attention will be at a premium when things are live so, make media easy to locate, (like a down arrow key away). Do this by adding a numbering system to your file names for things like slides, graphics, videos and photography. That way all your media will be in order when time codes to play it back.
  • Assign specific roles to support staff and divide responsibilities as much as possible. If you’re got one person responsible for more than three things, get more people.
  • If you plan to use more than one camera for your live stream make sure on air talent knows what camera to look at. Tally lights, (those red lights on the front of a camera that indicate which camera is hot), are the industry standard. You can guarantee the same effect by putting the director in the ear of a behind-the-camera operator who knows how to point at a lens. Both methods get the job done.
  • Hardwire your streaming device to an ethernet cable where possible.
  • Have a backup option for internet service. Bonded bandwidth is the standard. Look into a product like the LiveU Solo if budgets allow.
  • Record a real time, pre-broadcast backup of your Live Stream. If the internet does crash at least you’ll be able to publish the full live stream right when the broadcast ends. One less thing to stress about.
  • Think of all the ways your host(s) could mess up and prepare ways to cover their mistakes in real time. If the host freezes up what will you do? I find looping bed music and a relevant fullscreen graphic provides an acceptable safety net when things get confused on set. I can’t tell you how many times a host has regained their thoughts only to find we’re already in a commercial break.
  • Hot potato! I like to think of live production events in terms of who’s holding the hot potato. When we start, the hot potato is in the hands of the playback controller.When we go live the hot potato gets passed to the host(s). Whoever is holding the hot potato, (and whatever hardware makes possible their role), is a point of failure.Thinking in this way allows you to focus on only things that are actually potential concerns at that moment. When that moment passes you get to put those concerns down and focus on the next small set of potential problems. Much easier to manage, (without the need for xanax).
  • If your production crew is in the same physician space as your talent, come up with visual cues everyone understands should you need to communicate while on air, (time cues being the most obvious).
  • Have someone monitor your final output, (ie: watching the live stream)
  • Relax. If you go into a live stream production event anxious you didn’t prepare enough.
In Conclusion

Live Streaming events have lots of moving parts but you don’t have to worry about everything all the time. With a healthy dose of paranoia inspired preparation ahead of time you can eliminate many of those moving parts. By the time you start the live stream your focus can be on a smaller set of temporary concerns that come up and pass as time marches you down the lineup. That sounds like a definition for, “Rolling with it”.