Facebook Live Studio – How to build your own

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Is Facebook about to change the way we consume video content? This WSJ article seems to be the first step for the social network to take over TV content and not only live streaming occasional videos.
A while ago, Facebook added a Snapchat-like features to their Live Videos. While private users and influencers will surely overjoy with the new Snapchat filters, powered by Facebook’s latest acquisition, MSQRD, for brands, the most important new feature is the ability to schedule live broadcasts and gather viewers and engagement before the live stream actually starts. Brands have struggled so far: Placing a “Starting Soon” slide resulted in the slide staying in the video, while the other option- collecting viewers after the live stream started resulted in people seeing an ‘out of context’ video or missing the first few minutes- a crucial time when you broadcast live video.
With Facebook’s latest API updates, it’s now easier than ever to broadcast over the world wide social network using professional equipment and leaving aside the cellular phones, aiming for a much classier stream with more than one camera, professional microphones for better sound quality and even graphic overlay for videos.
You might have already seen brands using their studio for streaming on Facebook. In the next few months you will definitely see more and more do so, thus making the audience not settle for unprofessional cellular phone broadcasts.

This is why I decided to ask for a special budget to build our own in-house Facebook Live Studio inside the Microsoft R&D Center, it was a long shot, but lucky enough i have a very innovative boss that secured just the budget we needed for this adventure.
This studio is for brands that wish to create their own content and ad agencies that want to give their clients the extra mile.

Here is my first broadcast from the new studio

So how does one build its own Facebook Live studio with a reasonable budget?

First Step: Identify your needs

Look around for a good location for your studio, the one i built is mobile and can be moved around the different floors, but this kind of mobility has it’s down side- it’s longer to deploy it every time you want to air. The location needs to be big enough for a table with a few people sitting, tripods with cameras, lighting and a desktop computer, as a minimum requirement. Look for a room with good background: either a TV you can use or a transparent wall that shows your business activity behind you, just make sure nothing embarrassing is happening so it won’t steal viewer’s attention.
After that, figure out the needs you want from your studio, what kind of content are you looking to create? This will help you identify the equipment needed for your videos and will help you get to a budget to work with. You don’t have to buy everything, we had 2 cameras, 1 HD video camcorder and 1 Canon DSLR that shoots video as well, so we saved a few Dollars on cameras.
Make sure to consult with a pro, don’t go on a shopping spree buying cameras and expensive equipment without even checking it will all work together.

Second Step: Buying equipment

In order to handle a demanding stream like Facebook requires, you will need to purchase a computer dedicated to the studio. Most laptops will not be enough as the studio requires high CPU usage and minimal requirements: Intel I7-6700 processor, 8MB RAM, NVIDIA 4MB graphics card, 256SSD storage (or equivalent), this one is a good high-end example.
Adding 2 (or more) units of graphic (video) cards for high end encoding to the bundle, so you can connect a video/ DSLR camera, topping that with a pro editing card to capture the stream and a good audio interface mixer.
After you are done with all the computer hardware it’s time to add the peripheral equipment to support such a studio:
DSLR/ Video camera with HD capabilities and a tripod that can hold it. For the time being Facebook only streams videos in 720p so you don’t need to buy the latest 4K video camera,
Wireless Microphone– 1 or more, depends on how many people are in the video (make sure you have enough Mixer inputs).
Professional lighting- at least 2 1200 LED
Recommended software: Wirecast Pro 6 or higher

Let’s review the items list:
A very strong desktop computer
Graphic Card (depends on how many cameras you want live)
Wireless Microphones (depends on how many people will talk live simultaneously)
Sound Mixer (with as many inputs as Mics you bought)
Camera (the more, the merrier)
Lighting, Cables, Tripods etc.
Wirecast Pro 6 +
*- The above equipment package was assembled by our Live Streaming vendor and it is highly recommended to use a professional when assembling the package.

This is how I roll

This is how I roll

Third Step: Streaming software

While there are a few options to choose from, we chose to use Wirecast 6, the basic edition. Wirecast puts you in the director seat and connects you audio and visual inputs into one place so you can manage what people actually see and hear while you get the full picture from all sources. Using Wirecast also allows you to add different sources like presentations, movies, photos, a computer screen (for webinars and tutorials) and much more, and of course adding titles and your own graphic.

Wirecast has a free version so you can test it locally, but it has an annoying watermark so you cant really use it for broadcasting. It takes a while to learn how to use it, so either get someone who knows his way with the software to guide you, or leave enough time to learn before you go on air for the first time. I learned a lot during my first pilot, and actually did something that took me off air, so don’t follow my mistakes.

Fourth Step: Content

Start creating regular content, now that you have self-production capabilities, build a community around your live Facebook streams and create anticipation like any other TV show, with scheduled shows, Webinars etc.
We even allowed outside people to use the studio when it’s not occupied to give some benefit to the tech ecosystem in Israel and those who can’t afford it.
Don’t rush to going live over any idea that comes in mind, use your studio wisely and listen to your audience and what content is the most engaging, if it works, keep doing it.
Find a strong person that can host a talk show with content relevant to your content, make your brand take ownership as a thought leader in your field of expertise.

If Facebook Live is still new to you, make sure to read my guide with all the tips and tricks for a better video.
Make sure to follow the Facebook Live API guidelines and don’t include ads of any kind during the stream or violate copyrights, as you risk being taken off the air by Facebook.

If you have any questions about building a studio for your business, feel free to contact me.


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