If you’ve made attempts at live video, chances are you have a story about weak WiFi, no WiFi, limited cellular bandwidth, or other transmission headaches.
Yes, you might worry about how many viewers will watch, or stress out thinking your voice might crack and not recover, but imagine being ready to shine for the camera and deliver your best, only to be betrayed by uncooperative tech. As the saying goes: If it’s not one thing, it’s another!
In rocket science, it’s called takeoff. In the live video world, it’s known as the “first mile.” First mile issues can be notoriously frustrating, and not just technical ones. The first mile is when you ideally establish an audience bond before you lose their attention. To get a pristine first mile, big brands turn to reputable experts who specialize in live video. Small businesses can save time by shortlisting those B2B winners — but equally important is knowing which brands are buying what tech.
Ben Ratner is a multimedia content creator with nearly 10 years working in live television, media production, social media and live streaming production. He’s the video producer for “StarTalk Radio” with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Cellular Bonding for Live Video
Ratner always seems to have the timely skinny on the specific live video solutions favored by various brands. He also recently provided Small Business Trends with insight on an advanced technology that’s so helpful, it almost seems like magic: Cellular bonding.
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Small Business Trends: I’ve heard you say you think TriCaster is great. But now LiveU is your new favorite? Am I misunderstanding?
Ben Ratner: They are two completely different tools! TriCaster is an excellent multi-camera production system, and LiveU is a bonded cellular broadcasting service. The two can work together. A recent example of that is when I had to do a last minute Facebook Live stream for GirlStarter on TLC from a parking lot near Atlanta. I had power, but no hard-wire or wireless internet. I used the Tricaster to switch my cameras, run audio and add graphic elements, and I sent the output to a LiveU Solo. The one-touch broadcasting from the Solo was really convenient.
Small Business Trends: What makes LiveU user-friendly? Is cellular bonding a game-changer? At first blush, cellular bonding sounds too good to be true.
Ben Ratner: I think the most user-friendly tool from LiveU is the LiveU Solo. I’ve been able to go into locations and have my live broadcast up and running in less than a minute — which would have been quite hard without the LiveU. Because it comes with cellular cards, you don’t need to rely on a location’s internet. Turn it on, plug in your camera, tell it where to stream, hit start, and you’re on the air.
Cellular bonding is a game-changer for a few reasons. For starters, you don’t need to rely on local internet access. You need certain minimum bandwidth allocations to stream HD video, so even if a location has internet, it may not be strong enough. By design, LiveU units (and other bonded cellular solutions) have enough cell phone cards to give you enough service to do the job. Also, with multiple cellular cards (and optional WiFi and Ethernet connections), if you lose one card, the rest continue to seamlessly broadcast. LiveU units come with multiple cards from multiple service providers, so if one service is having a hard time, the other ones pick up the slack.
Small Business Trends: So there are fewer than two dozen TriCaster-certified operators in this region (NY-NJ-CT), you being one of them. How has that worked out?
Ratner: Being a Tricaster Certified Operator has certainly been helpful! It puts me on the Newtek directory of certified operators, so people know to come to people like me first when they are looking for operators. It’s helped clients like Vevo, All Mobile Video and Major League Soccer have more trust in me.
Small Business Trends: What other live video tips can businesses act on right now? And what’s the best way to reach you?
Ben Ratner: Vidpresso is the software I’m most excited about right now. It lets you add dynamic and social graphics to live streams. It also lets you bring on multiple video sources from remote computers. It’s a really solid way to spice up your broadcasts. BuzzFeed and NBC News are two sites that use it extensively, among others. Check it out! Best way to get in contact with me is via Twitter @BenMakesTV.
Images: Ben Ratner
This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.
More in: Livestreamed Livelihoods
One of the first things that comes to my mind when livestreaming is the topic is the equipment. Do you need some specialized equipment in order to livestream?
For adding lower thirds and other visual enhancements, yes
So more than offline tools, you also need online tools? Can’t you just do a livecast straight from the social medium like Facebook or Youtube?
Those types of broadcasts are fine but occasionally you’ll desire a higher production value and as such you’ll want hardware and software that the big brands like – for example if you’re a foodie and you know in advance that you’re going to interview Guy Fieri or Cat Cora, you’d want to up that game beyond the “push a button and voila” strategy. The cellular bonding equipment seems to reduce mental anxiety too. When you’ve had connectivity issues in the past, it’s not uncommon to be mentally scarred. Big brands don’t care for stress either– a remedy is to be aware of what big brands are using to get rid of stress.
Livestreaming is pretty young. So I think that it will still grow in the years to come.