“Live streaming is at the forefront of change. New technology is constantly being released that pushes the boundaries of what was achievable before. In many cases, it’s now easier to reach more people through live streaming than traditional TV broadcast. It’s an industry that’s only growing and full of opportunities.” - Aubrey Russell, Head of Production for Live X.
You’ve seen live videos on your social media before. There’s the small-scale individual streaming done from someone’s smartphone, which is typically low resolution. Then there’s the large-scale, professionally produced live streams for major events like Election Night coverage or the NASA Solar Eclipse, which not only have high video quality but also have fewer latency issues.
How are these large-scale videos made? This week we’re chatting with Live X, a live production company based in Manhattan and one of the biggest players in the live streaming space. They are the webcast team for The Official Times Square New Years Eve Ball Drop, DJI’s worldwide product launches, and much more. They share their broadcasting setup and how they achieve the highest production value possible for their clients.
A New Way to Broadcast
“Live X is a group of people who are just passionate about live. We handle the whole range of a live production, from our experiential team who is dedicated to creating awesome environments for live events, to our development team who has launched our own collaborative scripting software. Everything is done in house.”
“We recently streamed the Global Climate Action Summit, a huge event put on by different environmentalists, political influencers, and other groups focused on sustainability. The 2-day conference brought in climate change leaders like Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Nancy Pelosi, Dave Matthews, and Al Gore. We encoded using the Teradek T-Rax to Core, where we pushed it out to 5 YouTube Pages and 1 Facebook Page.”
“Events like the Summit wouldn’t normally be broadcast due to the time and money behind TV productions. With live streaming, it’s now possible to share the event in a way that has a low barrier to entry. Brands and companies are realizing how powerful social media and live streaming can be.”
An Enterprise Setup
“Our main studio in Hudson Yard is completely decked out with Blackmagic. This is a full 4K build, which we’re seeing more demand for every year. We use Blackmagic Ursa Mini Cameras with Fujinon lenses. The Blackmagic ATEM switcher and 3 40x40 routers make up the bulk of our engineering.”
“We have different encoders for different projects. For live events in the studio, we can use the T-Rax with our an enterprise Internet connection. In the field, when hardlined internet is not available, we use Bonds for the cellular redundancy. The Bonds combine multiple cellular data sources so we’ll have a better connection for streaming throughout the entire event we’re working on.”
“When we have roaming cameras, we’ll also add a Bolt into the workflow. A few weeks ago, we had a roaming Ursa Mini with a Bolt 500 for a K-pop event at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square. The Bolt sent video to a receiver backstage, and allowed us to include beautiful steadicam shots.”
“When we’re not using a Blackmagic switcher, we rely on Production Bot. It’s an all-in-one switcher and encoder, powered by V-Mix software. Obviously, for anyone just starting up we recommend doing proper research and seeing what’s the best solution is for your setup, but for most live streams with a 3 camera setup in a high school basketball gym, the Production Bot is the best way to go.”
“We live streamed the official DJI Mavic 2 launch in August, which they wanted on YouTube, several Chinese platforms, and DJI’s own website. We used Ursa Broadcasts, which all went into a Smartvideo Hub router and on to 6 different Production Bots for encoding. They all had to be separate because each stream had a different audio translation, and most of the platforms have different resolution limits. From the Production Bots, the videos went through our T-Rax, which allowed us to use Core for streaming to multiple destinations.”
The Future of Live Streaming
“As the technology behind streaming matures and the cost difference between 4K and HD gets narrower, companies and organizations are going to start requesting it more. Some clients have already asked us for it, and even though not many expect 4K yet, Live X is already prepared with the infrastructure to deliver. It also gives more flexibility in post.”
“Live X is now a member of the SRT Alliance. Low latency is important for making live content feel more immersive and interactive, which is part of what makes live so special.”
“It’s not always about the new and shiny. We want solutions that are reliable, robust and deliver the highest quality we can to our clients. So make sure to always do research to find solutions that fit your needs.”
Live X hosts a weekly live show called Ready Take Live which discusses the latest in broadcasting tech and use cases. Check out their work on their Facebook Page here.