Monday, 17 August 2015

Thing 10: Live Streaming

Welcome to Thing 10 which is all about live streaming. Today's module and last week's are possibly two of the most technical modules that we are going to cover on this course. Once you have grasped the basics however, there are endless ways to incorporate them into your work. Whether its to promote events in your library, to broadcast a short happening or to collaborate with colleagues from across the seas.

In the interests of balance we will show you two methods of live streaming : The easy way and the slightly more technical, although still relatively easy way.

What is Live Streaming?


Essentially, live streaming is a method of broadcasting yourself to a wider audience. Usually the term refers to video broadcasting, rather than live tweeting at a conference, or podcasting.

If you have ever used Skype, or perhaps more recently Google Hangouts, then you have already live streamed. In those cases, however, your "audience" was probably small in number (perhaps even just one other person). With live streaming, your audience could be thousands of viewers.

Why live stream?


As with many of the Things, the reason(s) for using any of the tools you are learning about can vary depending on what you are trying to achieve. Some examples of why users choose to live stream include:

  • To allow people to view a conference that they cannot attend in person. 
  • To showcase or demonstrate a new product or service - a tour of a new library department for example. 
  • To allow customers to interact with the broadcaster such as in an 'Ask a Librarian' session. 
  • To make an event visible to a wider audience.
  • To collaborate with peers.
  • To educate.
  • For fun!
The last point has become easier to achieve in recent months, as new technology allows us to live stream from a mobile device. More about that later.

What tools do you need to live stream?



This comes down to two pieces of hardware, and one piece of specialised software. The good news is that the hardware is a webcam and a microphone, and the software is an "app". In other words, your desktop computer or smartphone can do the job! 

Streaming From a Desktop or Laptop PC

In Thing 4: Google we briefly looked at  Google Hangouts and Google Hangouts on Air. We will be using both of these apps today to demonstrate how to live stream from your desktop PC.

If you have already used Google Hangouts to host a video chat then you are well on your way to live streaming. If you have not gotten around to it yet,  now might be a good time to try.You may need to install a plug-in for your computer first depending on what browser you choose.

Hangouts On Air (HOA) works in pretty much the same way as a video Hangout except that it is broadcast live to the public.

If you have the time, take a look at Google's own guide to Hangouts On Air in more depth here.
To use Hangouts On Air, log in to your Google Plus account, click on 'Home',  then go to "Hangouts" and scroll down until you find Hangouts On Air. There is no real way to experience this other than to try it out for yourself. You can view existing Hangout On Air broadcasts from other Google users or start your own HOA broadcast simply by clicking on 'create a hangout'.

You will be prompted to add some details about your hangout like a title and content, invite people from your circles and then you begin your hangout. Once you click on 'start broadcast' your hangout on air will be broadcast live and publicly on Google+ and also your YouTube channel if you have it connected and verified. More on that later. 

And that's all there is to it.

If you would like your broadcast recorded so that your viewers can watch it later (and not just "live"), then you can link your Hangouts On Air to your YouTube Channel. I will walk you through this process in the following section.

Linking Hangouts-On-Air to YouTube


 There are two advantages to linking your Hangout-On-Air to your YouTube channel:
  • All your Hangout's will be recorded and view-able for those who wish to see them. 
  • Your viewers have the option of watching your HOA through YouTube rather than Google+ or the Hangouts app.
The following steps show you how to set up a HOA through YouTube.

Step 1: Sign into your Google account and go to YouTube. Click on your profile picture, then select "Creator Studio" from the drop down menu. 

When you have selected the Creator Studio, go into the option to "Create a channel", and follow the instructions on-screen to finish making your channel. You may already have one set up, in which case, you can use that without making a new one.

Step 2: Enable Live Streaming Go back into Creator Studio, and on the menu bar down the left hand side of the page, in the "video manager" section, click on Live Events, then click on the blue "Enable live streaming" button.

Step 3: Verify your YouTube account. This is a security function that Google has in place to ensure that you are in fact a real person! I have chosen to verify my account by selecting the "Call me with an automated voice message" option. You just type in your phone number, click on "Submit", and a robot calls you back almost instantly with a 6-digit number. You then type the security number into the box provided, and you are ready for the next step.

Step 4: Schedule a New Event. If you are not automatically re-directed back into the Live Events section, simply select that option under the Video Manager menu on the left had side menu bar. Then select the "Schedule a new event" button.

This will bring you to the screen shown below. You can enter basic information like the name of the broadcast, a time that it is going to happen, and a description of it in the various fields, as shown. A good tip here is to make sure you have the "Type" set to "Quick", as shown. This is a good basic way to get going, without getting bogged down in technical detail. When you are happy with the date/time/description (all of which can be edited later if needed), click on the "Create event" button.

Step 5: Invite people to the broadcast. The best way to let people know about your upcoming event is to send them a link to your YouTube channel and tell them to tune in at the specified date and time. The stream will be visible on your channel just like any other video, except of course that the viewers will be watching you live! 

This is where it gets interesting.

Not only can you stream a live broadcast using Hangouts-on-Air, you can also invite people to actively participate in the broadcast. To do this you will be using Hangouts-on-Air and Hangouts simultaneously. Confused?

Remember that there are technically two things going on here: first and foremost, it is a Hangout, meaning that up to ten people will be active in the discussion, and secondly, that Hangout is broadcasting live through YouTube, enabling other people to view the discussion but not interact with it. 

To add active participants click on the "invite" icon. You will see a list of options as shown in the next screenshot. Here, you can type in email addresses, names or circles (remember this is linked to Google Plus still). 

When you have filled in these details, click on the invite button, and those people will get a notification about your upcoming event.

Step 6: Control Your Hangout-On-Air. Before you start your HOA, go to the settings menu (the icon looks like a gear), and make sure that your microphone, speakers and camera are all set up correctly.

In the next screen shot, I have highlighted two further settings that you should consider (there are more settings and controls, which you can explore for yourself). The first is the "CameraMan" settings: this allows you to control what happens when a new guest logs in to view your broadcast. For example, do you want their microphone to be muted, or their camera not immediately visible to others? Think carefully about this, as once the Hangout begins, you will not be able to change these settings. The second setting is "ControlRoom". This is allows you to control how your viewers can interact with the the broadcast while it is live.

When you have had a look at these and the other settings, you are ready to broadcast. If you have scheduled the HOA to start later on, then simply log back in at that time, invite your active participants, make sure you can see and hear them (and vice versa) and click on the green "Start broadcast" button, as seen below.

You can interact with active participants as soon as they join the Hangout before pressing the "Start broadcast" button. This is a useful feature, as it allows you to make sure that all the microphones and cameras are working before you go live.

When you are finished your broadcast, simply press the red "Stop broadcast" button. The Hangout will continue, so you can still chat with your active participants (until you press the red "hang-up" button at the top of the screen), but your discussion will not be broadcast.

A recording of your broadcast will now be ready in the "videos" section of the "video manager" menu of your YouTube channel. You can make edits to that video (as described in Thing 9), and you can share it or embed it as required.


That was a lot of information to absorb in one sitting. If you're still not sure but would like to see what Hangouts is all about then tune into the Rudai 23 Hangout. 

Rudai23 will be hosting a Hangout-On-Air on 23rd August. We will let you know more about how to take part in the next few days. Until then subscribe to our YouTube channel


For now, take a look at a simpler method of streaming using a mobile device. 

Streaming From a Tablet or Mobile Device


Hangouts On Air will work on your smartphone/tablet just as well as on your computer.

However, there is a relatively new application owned by Twitter,  that is making live streaming even more accessible called Periscope.  Periscope is freely available for both Android and iOS devices.

When you download the app, it will ask you to register using your Twitter account- you must have  a twitter account in order to use Periscope.  The process of using Periscope is very straightforward once you have registered. The following images will show you the basics.

One word of caution: anything that you broadcast on Periscope will be globally available for anyone to view while you are live.
After you log in, you should see the screen above. The top half of the screen shows any current broadcasts from the people you follow. The button that looks like a camera is the one you need to press to start your own broadcast. 

The next image shows me preparing to broadcast a view of my computer keyboard. 
Before you go 'live' add a description to your broadcast and make sure the little Twitter icon is lit up so that your Twitter followers will get a notification that your broadcast has begun. When you are ready to start, press on the "Start Broadcast" button. Your screen will now look like this:
This is the live broadcasting screen. You will get notifications when new viewers join and the total number of viewers. Viewers can type comments or questions which appear not only on your screen, but on all the viewers' screens. 

The video and audio in Periscope is a one-way broadcast: your video and voice are the only things that you can broadcast. You cannot let others actively take part. You can use the front or rear camera for your broadcast. When you end the broadcast, you will be brought back to the following screen: 
Here you will see a list of your broadcasts with a facility to watch them again.

Periscope is a relatively new app, and it is being constantly refined. At the moment periscope broadcasts are only view-able for 24 hours after they were originally recorded. The notification that goes out on your Twitter feed will have a link to your broadcast while it is live, but also anyone clicking on the link within 24 hours will be able to see a recording of the broadcast. These features are worth keeping in mind, but they may change as the app develops.

Attending a Live- Stream Event

Another definition of live-streaming is where you are not the broadcaster, but the receiver of the "stream". Many conferences are live-streamed and this can be a good way to attend a conference that you can't get to in person.

Rudai 23 will be hosting a Hangout-On-Air on the 23rd of August, so if you tune into that, you will see what it is like to be in the audience. 



 Your Tasks for This Thing Are:

  • Take part (either as an active participant or as a viewer) in the upcoming Rudai23 Hangout-On-Air. The topic for discussion will be published soon.
  • Set up your own Hangout-On-Air. 
  • Explore Periscope. You can watch a few broadcasts from other people or have a go at broadcasting yourself. The content of your broadcast is not important (although if you have a library context, all the better), as it is more about you exploring the tool than producing the next Oscar winner.

Write a blog post about your thoughts on streaming live events from the library. Can you think of moments in your work when you said to yourself 'I wish I could share this with the world'? Or do you feel inspired to take things further and try your hand at an online conference like Liboncon?

Take a look at our Pinterest Page for examples of live streaming in libraries including TEDx events.

Images from:
Authors computer and iPhone


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