For producers looking to reach a live video audience with their shows, Facebook Live should be high on the list of CDN's you are looking to work with. It offers a unique mix of quality delivery with rich social engagement tools. That - combined with the 'mobile first' focus Facebook is known for - can help you connect with the broadest range of audience demographics available from any single provider.
With a large segment of our client base using NewTek's TriCaster line to power their productions, we wanted to provide a step-by-step guide for setting up and running a Facebook Live event using a TriCaster.
While Facebook Live is an extremely powerful platform, there are a few limitations you should be aware of:
- You have a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 at 30 frames per second.
- You have a maximum bit rate of 2500Kbps
- The event you host cannot be longer than 90 minutes
- The event cannot contain advertisements
The first three of these limitations shouldn't impact most people, and are probably a fair tradeoff for the capabilities offered (especially considering the price - FREE!) The inability to display your own ads may be a dealbreaker for some folks. The key with using any of the free streaming options available is to figure out the best way to make them work for you. They offer just one of many social tools at your disposal.
To stream to Facebook Live, you should have a business page set up under your Facebook account that is designed around your event, production, or business.
1. Log in to Facebook account and select the page you want to stream to. In this case, I've selected our company page:
2. To set up a live stream, click on Publishing Tools on the top menu:
3. From there, go down to the Video Library option on the left side menu:
4. The Video Library section is where you can upload prerecorded videos and – most importantly for this overview – where you start a Facebook Live event.
To create the Live event, click on the ‘+Live’ button:
5. This will open the Create Live Video window with the details needed to set up the Facebook Live stream on your TriCaster – specifically the Server URL and Stream Key:
The Server URL is the location where the stream will be sent, and the Stream Key is the unique identifier for this particular stream. Note that this key is good for only 90 minutes, and you will need a new key every time you stream with Facebook Live.
6. With the stream key now in hand, it’s time to switch over to the TriCaster to get things set on that end. Click on the configuration gear next to the Stream control along the top:
This will drop down a menu with a range of streaming options:
For Facebook Live, you want to configure a FLASH stream with the information from the Create Live Video panel over on Facebook.NOTE: While this screen capture is from a TriCaster 8000 Advanced Edition 2 (which actually has a more direct way to set up Facebook Live), the steps outlined here should cover most TriCaster models/versions.
7. This will open the Flash configuration panel:
On this panel, you can set up everything you need to get the TriCaster talking with Facebook.
- Enter the Server Address – typically rtmp://rtmp-api.facebook.com:80/rtmp
- Enter the Stream ID – this will be unique for each Facebook Live session
- Enter your Facebook User ID and Password
Next, go to the Encoder Settings section and set the resolution and bit rate for the stream. Remember - this is limited to 1280x720 and 2500bps
8. With this all set, click OK and then start the stream to send video over to Facebook Live:
This will start the stream from the TriCaster to Facebook, but there are still a few more things to do on the Facebook side before you go live.
9. On the Facebook side, you now need to preview and check your live stream. To do this, click on the Preview button at the bottom of the Create Live Video panel:
10. If everything is set up correctly, you should now see a preview of the video coming in from the TriCaster:
This page will also let you fill in the title you want to use for this Facebook Live event and add any searchable tags to describe it. Make sure the title is descriptive and engaging (unlike "Facebook Video Test") - it is the only visible metadata viewers will see for this live event, so make it count.
11. If all looks good, click on the Go Live button, and you will start the show. The show will stream live directly into your Facebook timeline:
12. With the Facebook Live event streaming, open a new browser tab and go over to the timeline on your event page and verify that all looks good there. (You want to keep your Video Details page open while the event is live - hence the new tab). You should see the video you are streaming - delayed by around 15 seconds - with a red and white LIVE bug displayed in the upper left corner:
13. You will want to monitor the event directly on the Facebook Video Details page:
It will give you feedback on viewership and engagement that can help you tune the show. You can see comments - which can help make your event more interactive - along with the names of viewers, and other important details.
14. When the event is over, you can end it from this screen by clicking the End Live Video button:
Since the video stream your viewers see is slightly delayed, they will see everything finish playing out, and then will see a notice the event is over:
Congratulations - You've just run a Facebook Live event! Remember that this live event can continue paying dividends - it remains as a video-on-demand post that is now like any other content in your timeline. You can link to it in tweets, reference it in new facebooks posts, and include links to it in other collateral you create to promote your business or service.
In terms of engagement, there’s nothing as compelling, authentic, and genuine as a live video broadcast. It lets you connect with people with an immediacy that no other medium can provide. Facebook Live is another great option for this that we now have.
We'd love any feedback or questions you have on this post, and we'll update it to keep it current and correct.
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