Will Streaming Kill the TV Star?
New Technology for New Content Development
Few people probably thought that 2020 would be the year of working from home, ZOOM, and having more time than needed to catch up on our Netflix, Hulu, and Prime watch lists. Netflix, in particular, saw an increase in viewers by more than 100% in March of this year. People are unsurprisingly becoming bored with the traditional streaming services and are looking for alternatives. Media viewers have moved to and become much savvier about watching streaming content on YouTube, Twitch, and on Facebook Watch and its recently launched Twitch competitor Facebook Games. This current trend may make it a good time to consider creating online content for your existing or new business.
This blog will not go so much into the process of making content nor on the necessary, instead we will be learning about how you only need to download a couple of pieces of free (or cheap) software to get started. If anybody is interested in learning about hardware or content creation, I would be happy to do another post on the subject. Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now back to the task at hand.
The first thing that you will need is the software that allows creators to set up, organize, record, and/or streaming their content. Most streamer from new to pro use some iterations of Open Broadcast Software (OBS). One of the primary reasons for its popularity is that the code is open source and typically free to use. The other reason is that the software is just great at what it does.
Two of my favorite flavors of OBS are OBS Studio and StreamLabs OBS. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with either but there are differences between the two. Where OBS Studio gives you the complete software package for free, StreamLabs does offer a premium membership that adds a few additional bells and whistles. StreamLabs also works really well with Twitch (an online streaming service primarily focused on gaming and, recently, music); on the other hand, StreamLabs is the only software that allows you to stream simultaneously to two different services for free. If you are not interested in Twitch or simultaneously streaming, I would stick with OBS Studio as I find that it is a little more solid and I have experienced a lot less issues with using it. While most OBS software look about the same, here we see a picture of the interface for OBS Studio.
Audio Software (Optional)
The reason why I am making this and the following sectional ‘optional’ is because, believe it or not, downloading one of the previously mention applications if enough to get you streaming content. OcenAudio gives you so much more functionality and control when it comes to your audio that it is worth your time to get to know. The first thing to know is that the developer of the software provides it for free though they do accept donations. Secondly, it is a very powerful audio recorder/editor that is surprisingly easy to use.
Voicemeeter Banana turns your computer into a virtual mixing board. It also offers several other unique functions like creating multiple “virtual inputs” allowing you to have several audio sources coming in and mixing simultaneously. It is worth nothing, however, that while the software is donationware, additional plugins that improve functionality will cost you money, though not much. This software can be used either to premix audio going to software like OBS Studio or independently as its own audio recorder.
If you have not been paying much attention to the market for USB cameras for computers, you might be unaware that they have been very difficult to find since March. In many cases when you do find one for sale their price is often inflated 100, 200, or 300% above retail. It is not too surprising when you consider how many people have been working from home for the first time. While most laptops include a camera, many people either do not have a desktop computer or the laptop that they have may have difficulty handling streaming or it may have a bad camera. Luckily, there is a free software called DroidCam that allows you to turn your phone or tablet (Android or Apple) into a wireless web cam for your computer. The developer does offer a “Pro” option that will allow you to shoot video at 720p (hardware permitting) and giver you a few other bells and whistles for about the price of a large latte.
If creating online content is something that either fits with your business or is a business you are thinking of starting, there is surprising very little software expenditures needed to begin. While streaming media is certainly popular at the moment, it is always important to weigh the risks and rewards for your particular situation.
Below are links to the software discussed:
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or just if you would like to explore this topic in more depth.