How To Video Stream - Specifications

How To Video Stream - Specifications

Video streaming has become front and center as the public struggles to adapt to staying at home and to smaller gatherings. Teaching, workshops, small group meetings, and even Web series, can easily be done through video streaming. The question is, how do we do it? Following is what I think I know. Although things change so quickly that I spend hours to days putting together a system on paper.

You don't need a course in video production unless you want to do a lot of editing. This usually isn't required. You don't need expensive telephone wire connections (ISDN) like you did 25 years ago.

The following requirements are covered in this article:

  • Internet
  • Computer
  • Audience size and connection speed
  • Streaming Platforms
  • Streaming Software
  • Camera type
  • Microphones
  • Technical specifications


You do need a high speed (bandwidth) Internet connection with a 6Mbps or higher upload speed. Video requires tremendous bandwidth. Systems offering this bandwidth are usually above 30Mbps services. The Internet isn't perfect so sometimes connections get lost, and quality suffers when Internet bandwidth gets too crowded.

I recommend a wired Ethernet connection (Internet feed) to your computer because WIFI usually isn't stable and reliable enough, especially if there are distance and walls involved.


A streaming computer is just a computer. Don't let anyone kid you. People stream with their cell phones, laptops, and PCs. But if you're using cameras, and you stream for over half an hour, you need processing power. If you are going to do video editing you need a lot of processing power. (Some video editing can be done on a cell phone with apps.)

Devices that do streaming of high bandwidth video for over half an hour typically have a heat buildup limitation. This makes them unsuitable for streaming. I used Panasonic laptops for years for low bandwidth streaming. But for high bandwidth, they can overheat. When editing, they don't have the processing speed, making them incredibly slow, and editing creates even more heat. So I recommend a computer like a tower PC.

Most PCs do have video processors on their main boards, which use the computer CPU, but they aren't up to the task of video streaming and editing. So I recommend a video card with its own processors and dual fans. NVIDIA has the better video processor for video editing. Many video card brands use NVIDIA processors.

Processor speed and amount of RAM memory are important factors. A minimum of an Intel i5 CPU, 3Ghz, or equivalent, is recommended for video editing, and at least 8Gb of RAM. CPU Benchmark lists CPUs by type, speed, and cost. If only streaming, a slightly slower system will work. The processor and RAM will have a major impact on the length of time you have to spend editing. A system with an AMD Ryzen 7, 3700 Mhz, with 16Ghz of RAM, offers an affordable system with excellent speed. Gaming systems are usually very good for this.

Audience size and connection speed

If you are streaming to a small group, then the major system you put in an auditorium or sanctuary isn't suitable. Usually laptop computers with cameras and audio, using an application like Zoom, will work great for this. But the audience must have a high speed connection. Zoom, like many services, will downsize the stream bandwidth for slower connections. But they work best with a 4Mbps download speed. AT&T offers DSL download speed, as do many other services at 750Kbps to 2Mbps, which may work, with loss of video quality. (AT&T may offer high speed fiber in some areas.)

Satellite Internet Providers may provide high speed for a short period of time, but then will either throttle the service (reduce the bandwidth and video quality), or charge the person more, or shut them off.

The device your audience uses to view the video varies considerably. While Facebook and YouTube usually are viewed on a computer monitor or cell phone, YouTube can be viewed on a wide screen television, and Chromecast or another device can be used to send a cell phone video screen to a wide screen television.

On most computer monitors and TVs, which are 1920 x 1080p resolution, a 720p video will be reduced in size to a small picture. For many this will be fine, but lacks the quality available through the device. It may be difficult for some to see. Living room and TVs are usually arranged for optimal viewing, and smaller TV pictures may not be acceptable.

Streaming Platforms

If you tried to stream to all of your potential audience from your streaming computer, it would require 4Mbps for every person connected. An audience of 25 would max out a 100Mbps connection. So you are typically going to stream to a streaming service, which will distribute your video live.

Facebook (Facebook Live), YouTube, and other platforms (like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and probably 50 others) provide streaming services. You stream to them, and they distribute the stream to others. They also record your video for later viewing. Live gets a lot of interaction on social media, but not everyone is available to view at a set time. YouTube, at this writing, offers a limited amount of editing capability which lets you delete unwanted sections of your recorded video. HootSuite will enable you to schedule to several platforms at once.

I worked with a video conferencing service that streamed through a commercial streaming service. I streamed STL Comedy, which I produced, on the ABC-Disney streaming servers. I work with a church and their congregation engages in 30% attendance, 60% Facebook streaming, and 30% YouTube streaming. People vary considerably in where they get their streaming.

YouTube and Facebook are free. ABC-Disney, and other commercial servers, will cost you.

Streaming and editing Software

You will need software on your computer to do streaming. There are several commercial vendors who would be happy to sell you software for streaming. Perhaps you might need them. Perhaps not.

OBS Studio (Open Broadcast Software) is a well maintained and free application used by professionals and others for streaming. It connects automatically with Facebook and YouTube, and will stream to both simultaneously if you have the bandwidth. It's versatile and allows you to make many adjustments to color, bitrate, and other things. It also can record your video to your computer.

Editing: If you want to do substantial editing on your video, I recommend the free program HitFilm Express. It will do basic editing functions, and is comparable in function to Adobe Premiere Pro, without the expense. If you want to do special effects and other more advanced functions, you can also purchase those for a one-time fee.

Sound editing: Often you will find hum and other repetitive noise in your audio. I recommend Goldwave ($45.00 one time fee at this writing). You export the audio from your video, remove the hum using Goldwave, then import the audio back into your video editor. Be careful not to change the playback time or you will have nightmares re-syncing the sound with the video.

To reduce the bandwidth of a video, but retain the 1080p, 30fps structure, Any Video Converter Free works well for that. Keep in mind that reducing bitrate usually means reducing quality.

To fix a video, the free program Wondershare Video Repair, does well.

Any program you use needs to be able to export h.264, 1080p, 30fps, in an MP4 wrapper for YouTube, and 720p for Facebook. You may have 4k or 8k inhouse, but you won't find many services that currently stream those.

Camera type

People stream with their cell phones. But your existing camera may not do. The technical standard for streaming is 1080p (1920 x 1080), 30 frames per second (fps). The Facebook standard bitrate is 4 mbps, but streams at 720p. So your camera must be capable of doing these standards. A so called “HD” camera that records or streams at 720p, or 720i, may not be sufficient for most streaming. (Some software programs will boost the frame rate to 1080p, but can't change the aspect ratio (screen size)).

Another qualification for streaming is battery life and camera heating. We tried a new model Sony mirrorless camera, and found out after reading the manual that it overheats after 30 minutes of streaming. That may work for a lot of movie video shoots, but not for an hour long church service or continuous Webcam streaming.

Most cameras will run out of battery at around 30 minutes of streaming. The way around this common 30 minute battery limit is to get a battery replacement device that runs on AC. These are made for most cameras. Some cameras can get part of their power from their USB connection. The Canon Rebel T7 (2000d in Europe), can operate for over an hour with the battery charged and a USB connection.

In the past, Canon cameras generally would stream, but had a problem of a forced 30 minute limit, and the menu would show up in the streaming picture. To resolve this, Canon created the EOS Webcam software for your computer, which works for most Canon cameras. However, if you have other Canon software installed on your computer, you may have to disable them because some might interfere. Test first. You may also need to upgrade your camera firmware.

Camera selection depends on your budget, the equipment you already have, and your purpose.

On a movie set, I use three cameras, and follow the 180 degree rule so viewers stay oriented. You may want to use the 30 degree rule for successive shots, but this means moving the camera and a lot of interference with the actors. I usually don't do that, except to have them repeat the scenes and get the cameras close and other actors off the set out of the way. It's more efficient to simply do three takes, then get close shots if needed. I know others who use a single camera and ask the actors to do endless takes.

I try to use the same type of camera so I don't get major color differences and an editing nightmare. A church may require one or more cameras depending on what needs to be recorded, and whether you need a lot of close shots. A single camera may be more than enough for most church services. A single camera may be enough for creating a Web series.

I highly prefer a tripod that can achieve 8' height so that you can shoot over a crowd, and is very stable so it doesn't shake when you adjust the camera or someone walks by. This way people don't become seasick. I've had writers and producers become seasick from rapidly changing shots from one person to another, depending on who was speaking. You can also shoot from a platform or balcony for height. Generally, unless your close to the subject, a desktop tripod won't get what you want.

Budget. The church I just set up had a $2000.00 budget for streaming, and already had their own analog audio console. Several wireless mikes already fed the audio console. I got them a Canon 5d Mark II, used, for their weekly service. It's a great, full frame camera used by many professionals for making movies, but not high end. I also got the Canon Rebel T7 for a backup, and to use in the field since it is much less expensive. I got one zoom lens, Canon EF 75-300 mm for zooming in from 75' away. The other expensive item was a gaming computer with the AMD Ryzen 7, 3700 Mhz, with 16Ghz of RAM.

For simplicity of operation the camera should have Auto Focus and Auto White Balance. (You still have to zoom in manually and adjust the focus, but the camera recognizes faces and will maintain focus.)

Microphones and sound

More important than the video for most streaming is the sound quality. Poor sound quality ruins viewing.

The camera microphone shouldn't be used for people who are more than a few feet away.

If at all possible, use wireless lavalier microphones with noise canceling technology that attach to clothing. Avoid pinning these on skin. Echos create very low quality, and make it difficult for those with hearing problems to actually hear. Once there, echos are nearly impossible to remove.

It's best to run the lavalier wireless microphones and wired microphones into a sound console, where they can be mixed, and then into your computer. A combination sound and video mixer can also be used.

Microphones and audio consoles are analog devices. I don't recommend using the computer main board sound mic and line in – they seem to require a higher input level than most sound devices put out. Analog devices don't create the digital signal required for a computer. So this requires some kind of analog to digital converter to plug them into a USB port – usually just one microphone or mixer.

Very inexpensive microphones often have sound quality like very expensive mics. That doesn't necessarily make them right for any particular application.

If you have room echo, you should either use a very directional microphone, or one with noise cancelling. Mono- or uni-directional mics will pick up your voice and minimize room echo. Cardioid pattern mics have a V shaped pickup pattern and will pick up more room echo. Other omnidirectional mics will pick up echo from all directions.

If you're in a noisy area, definitely use a directional mic or one with noise cancelling.

Microphone sensitivity is also an issue. The better they pick up sound, the less noise you will get. Less sensitive mics have to be amplified more, and there is a lower signal to noise ratio. When less sensitive mics are amplified, you hear a lot more noise.

Phantom Power mics are better at providing higher signals with less noise than others. Or use a mic preamp. (I recently recorded with a cardioid mic to a computer because that's what I had available. I posted the video before checking. It had an irritating click every ten seconds from the hard drive. Signal was just too low.)

If you are going to be getting loud sounds, the mic may distort as it mechanically can't handle the louder sound. If so, use an instrument mic. They are made for louder sounds.

One way to minimize noise on set is to use a wireless lavalier mic. This eliminates the need for a boom mic. But this only works when you are able to hide the mic on the upper chest, and the clothes don't rub against it creating noise.

Also consider how the microphone is hooked up. XLR connectors are rugged and rarely come apart. Even a microphone at a radio station board is going to get some movement. 1/4" phone plugs, and RCA connectors can get pulled out or work loose over time. Most connectors corrode in humid areas. Corrosion causes intermittent sound, or no sound. To avoid this, put a little vaseline on the contacts. It won't hurt the signal or components, but it stops corrosion by sealing out the humid air. 1/8" and 3.5mm connectors that are common on computers and cameras definitely have a tendency to come out.

Recording audiophiles often prefer microphones that give a certain type of sound, such as mellow, which is fine but it's actually a type of distortion, not a true representation. Most microphones today give a 20hz to 20 khz, flat response curve. It's rare that people can hear above 16khz (I could hear 18khz clearly when I was young). But as people age, their high range sensitivity fails. Some audiophiles feel the higher range is important to sound quality. Usually studio recordings demand this kind of sensitivity, but most streaming doesn't.

Volume level: Keep in mind that sound volume is critically important. Many people have hearing problems, and as people age, most of them do. Movies are recorded at around -16db, and in theaters the sound is thunderous. Everyone can hear. But TVs, computers, and other devices can't boost sound enough for many people - many can't hear movies well enough on TV. So you should keep the volume level set at -6db (bouncing up to -6db). Sound that bounces over 0db distorts.

Also important in reducing noise is the mount and filters. Pop and hiss filters wrap the microphone to eliminate some of the mouth noises produced when speaking. There should be no metal to metal contact unless it's snug, because you will get rattle. To avoid this, wrap the mic in vinyl. If mics are mounted on desk or countertops, you will get noise from them.

Many audio editing programs will remove noise from audio, such as hiss, hum, and other recurring noise, but they always introduce some level of distortion. I've used Goldwave for decades. It works well. I always adjust low and high volume areas so people can hear (snide remark: unlike sound editors for many movies). Adobe also has an editor, and it will even remove a certain amount of echo.

Technical specifications

Some streaming services may permit deviations from the following. But its safest to stay with the very compatible standard specifications.

No: SD resolution (720 x 480, 4:3 screen ratio) isn't suitable for streaming. Most devices won't stream it. It generally can't be up converted to a higher resolution due to the screen ratio.

No: SD resolution (1280 x 720, 9:16 screen ratio) isn't suitable for streaming. Most devices won't stream it. It sometimes can be up converted to 1920 x 1080p.

No: Interlaced camera output (scans one set of horizontal lines for the first frame, then the second set of lines), as in 1080i, isn't suitable for streaming. Most devices won't stream it. It sometimes can be converted to progressive 1920 x 1080p.

Yes: Video: 1080p, 30 fps, 16:9 aspect ration, 4 Mbps, h.264 encoding in an MP4 wrapper. (Facebook is 1280 x 720p, displayed in a small window) Some services may accept h.264 in other wrappers, such as .avi, .flv, . wmv, mp4, mpeg2 and .mov. Before making a decision, check.

Audio: 96 Kbps or 128 Kbps, AAC encoding. Note that AAC provides higher sound quality than MP3, and is generally part of MPEG specifications.

Current YouTube specifications


Canon new mirrorless R5 overheating at 4K and 8K.

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