Remote streaming from home: Gear, tips, and advice
There’s no denying that traditional work culture has been thrown for a loop. With travel restrictions in place and local governments instituting stay-at-home orders, working from home has become a necessity rather than a privilege or perk. For many businesses, especially those that have canceled in-person events, live video has become the next best alternative. This new reality presents live streaming producers and creators to now configuring a technical remote streaming setup from home — no small task.
Producing a polished, professional live stream is a big task in and of itself. But now, businesses are tasked with the added challenge of ensuring their team can create and configure a remote streaming studio setup at home, with possible spotty residential internet connections and little ones scampering around the house. We spoke with three very different businesses to learn how they’re adjusting their streaming workflows to remote setups.
ClayShare: Spinning up a virtual conference, fast
Husband-and-wife team Jessica Putnam-Phillips and Kevin Phillips are well-versed at live streaming from home, with weekly virtual ceramics lessons via their online pottery studio ClayShare. But when this year’s National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts (NCECA) was canceled, the couple decided on the fly to host their own five-day virtual conference, ClayShareCon, for the benefit of the ceramics community — and they did it in just 10 days flat.
“Canceling NCECA was a huge deal for the entire ceramic world,” Kevin says, adding that NCECA serves as the biggest marketing push of the year for many of the vendors. “Jess had the idea of, ‘Let’s do an online version to connect with those people and to keep them engaged.’ Our goal was to turn it into as much of an upside as we could, for as many people as we could.” What was once an in-person event would now be both virtual and remote, streaming content NCECA attendees online instead.
They already had the technical know-how and experience from doing their weekly live streams. But because they knew they’d have more eyes on their broadcasts and company sponsors, Kevin wanted to produce something that was more polished. He audited their current studio setup to find out what supplemental equipment they’d need.
Their typical weekly broadcasts are filmed using a single Sony RX100 Mark VII camera. For ClayShareCon, they used a dual camera setup to eliminate the need for manual panning — one camera faced Jessica head-on and one was positioned overhead so that viewers could see her hands-on demonstrations.
With the additional camera, Kevin also needed an extra Blackmagic box to convert the full 4K HDMI stream into something the computer could work with. He connected both cameras and a wireless mic into his MacBook Pro and encoded everything—including the graphic overlays, transitions and fades—through Vimeo’s Studio 6 software.
In the end, the five-day virtual event included 17 hours of live content, including two segments featuring a remote guest. ClayShareCon was streamed using Vimeo’s live streaming tools, embedded on their website, and simulcast to ClayShare’s Vimeo, Facebook, and YouTube channels.
ClayShareCon saw so much success that Jessica and Kevin are hosting another one in the fall. “Really, in a lot of ways, this is what we do with ClayShare every day, every week,” Kevin remarks. “We just paused the regular ClayShare cycle and accelerated ClayShareCon cycle.”
Plum Media: Pivoting to virtual broadcasts in record time
Chad D’Acquisto, a producer/director at Plum Media, never thought he’d be producing corporate live streams from his home. But that’s exactly what happened when stay-at-home orders came to his community in Milwaukee, WI.
Plum Media is in the business of creating video and live event productions for corporate clients. Seeing how social distancing measures were being implemented elsewhere, Chad had the foresight to plan for the possibility of pivoting from in-person broadcasts to virtual broadcasts, even before the official stay-at-home order came down from the governor’s office.
He took some equipment home and started setting up shop in his guest bedroom, which serves an additional purpose as an online learning center for his son, who is now attending online classes from home. Chad’s setup includes:
- An HD550
- AJA Ki Pro Recorder that he uses to capture recordings locally
- An extra monitor that doubles as a secondary screen for office work or to double-check a program feed
- Two additional laptops — a PC and a Mac —to host PowerPoint slides locally
- An external USB webcam to communicate directly with remote guests before and after the live stream
- Wireless remotes to keep him from having to reach over his computers during a production
- An iPod to play production music while sessions are on hold.
Chad has supported six clients with remote streaming from his home studio, ranging from leadership updates, to town halls streamed from Mexico, and even training seminars with multiple remote presenters.
At the end of the day, “The clients appreciate the hoops that we’ve been jumping through, and now especially appreciate that we’ve been taking all of these additional measures to still try to service their needs, stay open in business and do it at a very healthy approach,” Chad says.
“It is important for us to get ahead of that curve to be ready,” he says. “There is no one size fits all solution. It’s just listening to your clients, determining what their needs are and then developing the solution that works best for them.”
Vimeo: From boots on the ground to staying put at home
Greg Palmer, a senior producer on Vimeo’s live production team, is used to having his “boots on the ground” for clients that Vimeo works with, many of which include Fortune 500 companies that are producing big conferences, concerts and fashion shows.
Just as the pandemic was gaining more traction in the U.S., Greg was tasked with producing an event for a major company. While the client chose not to cancel, he remembers thinking that things were going to change quickly — and that they’d soon need to make the pivot to virtual.
In preparation, he brought home some equipment to start testing a remote streaming setup if needed. During a typical on-the-ground production, the team usually uses a six-foot table with dedicated power and internet, and then whatever feeds the team is using for that show. Now, Greg is trying to emulate that setup in his Brooklyn apartment.
“Luckily, I moved into a new apartment right before this pandemic actually happened, so I have a little bit more space,” he says. “I don’t actually have an office space, but we have a raised bar area in our kitchen, so I’ve just been using that. I have two encoders at my apartment, one that I actually own myself, and one from the office.”
He’s using his home fiber internet connection, and has a Mevo camera to demo when consulting with certain clients. “I’m more using the Mevo as a way of showing different workflows that they can utilize during this time if they had a Mevo camera available to them,” he says, adding that he does have a Sony A7S II DSLR if he needs it. His home setup isn’t as robust as the one he has at the office, but it’s working for Vimeo’s internal live streams and testing out workflows for customers.
“I think some people were thinking you need to reinvent the wheel when we began to all work from home. To me, it’s more about what can we do remotely, and how can we do it?” he says. “If you’re thinking about live broadcasting — it’s meant to be one to all. You’re already doing that, whether you have boots on the ground at a live event, or are creating a live production from home.”
A lot of people are already using the kinds of applications that have the ability to conduct virtual events, he adds. “They just need to open up the door of that software, and see, ‘Oh, we actually can do this with the tools we already have.’”
Still, if your company needs assistance with remote setups and doing live workflow reviews for work-from-home, the Vimeo live production team can help — whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop shop.
“If you’re on Vimeo Enterprise, you have a great solutions team at Vimeo,” Greg says. “We are creators first, we are about creators’ success. So, reach out.”
Pro tips for navigating the new normal
We asked what advice these producers have for readers looking to configure a remote streaming setup. Here’s what they had to say.
Kevin Phillips: “The second day [we brought in a remote guest] we ran out of bandwidth. That’s life in Vermont with two kids who are in the house and online at the same time when you’re trying to ingest a 1080 stream, pipe it through your computer, and then send it back out.” Before their next conference in the fall, he plans to add a second internet line dedicated solely to the studio.
Chad D’Acquisto: “Another ISP was just in our neighborhood last year dropping fiber lines. I kind of wish that I had access to that at this point, but of course I didn’t anticipate this change of events.” That said, he did increase the bandwidth for his residential cable broadband service, is also using cellular data for backup bonded streaming. His family has been really understanding about not using the internet when he’s doing important client streams at home, too.
Greg Palmer: “I would certainly do some initial testing if they’re having issues and seeing internet drops. There are ways of working around that as well with our Studio software and Vimeo Enterprise. If your internet is not very good, you’re definitely going to have to up the capability of it.”
Greg also advises people to take small steps to determine how much you can actually do. “Start slow and see what you can manage on your own before you get to the point of even streaming. And failing is okay — it’s a learning experience, too.”
Ready to produce your own virtual event?
Check out Vimeo’s virtual events webinar, “How to plan a virtual event: Expert insights from the Vimeo team,” for more help in navigating these changes successfully under tight deadlines.