Friday, February 24, 2012

Holy Crap! I Wanna Live Stream Too!


Hey everybody. It's your friendly neighborhood Holynub here. Just letting you all know that... I'm so ronery sometimes. Who else wants to stream videos of your raids/pvp/rated BG's/Video game exploits or just you being awesome? There have been more than a few times where something badass has just happened and you were like, "Damn, I wish the world knew." And now they can! Let the Holy, help you, get streaming! It's super simple and a lot of fun! I have been live streaming inconsistently for a while. My first exploits were back during ICC in Wrath. And since the live stream scene has exploded into a massive online community(Thank you Starcraft 2), there are more options and simpler solutions to getting your voice online.



Step 1: Where do I stream?

There are many different sites that host streaming content. The one you choose is mainly preference. And I hope I can help illustrate some of the different sites in this section. All these sites are free for all.

twitch.tv - Probably one of the most popular streaming sites dedicated to Video games. It is also a part of Justin.tv, which is a more general live stream service.(This is what I use [twitch.tv/holynub])

own3d.tv - Haven't used this one before. But it appears to be very similar to twitch.tv. Primarily hosting game streams.

For a simple thread on which to pick, check out this thread on the Team Liquid forums.

xfire.com - An older streaming service. This one used to be the go-to game streaming site. But the client had it's limitations and it REQUIRES you to use the XFire client. The client allows you to chat with people watching your stream in-game without the need to have an additional browser open. The client integrates with the game source to create an overlay. I guess it would be similar to the interface Steam provides with games launched with Steam. While it used to be popular, the flexibility of newer streaming services has made it not nearly as attractive anymore. The XFire client was only compatible with a select number of games. Users weren't able to modify the video stream with logos or video effects such as picture in picture. I used to stream here back during wrath.


UStream.tv and Justin.tv - These are more general live stream sites. They are not genre specific. UStream tends to lean towards more commercialized streaming. They have many different packages for different folks. If you check out their site, there really are a ton of streams for everything. Justin.tv has sort of been overtaken by the popularity of Twitch.tv. There's still a few streams dedicated to non-gaming stuff. But really, not many.

Step 2: Alright. I have an account. Now how do I stream?

Here is the nitty gritty of streaming. You will need some kind of program to capture your game/desktop in order for you to stream. There are a number of programs out there to do this. My personal experience has been with the XFire Client and XSplit. There are other streaming clients that are available, but I unfortunately have no experience with them. I won't be of much help to you there.


XFire client - This client will basically handle everything for you. All you do is install, and login to your xfire account. Xfire will scan your HDD for games that are compatible and display them in a launcher for you. By launching your games through the XFire client, you perform all controls directly through the client. The client will pretty much handle everything for you. So very little to explain.


XSplit - This is a "new" program that's currently in beta. At the time of writing this(2/16/12) XSplit is currently free for beta. However, XSplit will be a subscription based platform once it transitions out of beta. You will need to sign-up on their website for an account to login to use their client. I really like XSplit allows you to capture from your desktop. Basically anything that can be run from a windowed mode, can be captured and streamed. If you have pre-ordered XSplit or have a purchased subscription, there are extra features that provide more options and flexibility to customize your stream.

Setting up XSplit is a relatively simple process. The following is taken directly from TheGunrun's streaming 101 tutorial(Original article link) :
----------XSplit GUIDE START----------
Basic XSplit Setup

This is a very basic and general guide to setting up XSplit.
You can download and register for XSplit here.

1. Adding your stream channel
Go to Broadcast > Edit Channels

On the right side click Add Justin/TwitchTV


Enter your TwitchTV username and password at the top
- On the TwitchTV Website, be sure to have visited your broadcaster dashboard at least once!

Quality - Set to 8

Preset - Keep it at “XSplit Default.” Iif you have a very powerful CPU (inluding the recommended ones) you can try “faster” or “fast.”

Max Bitrate - Keep this 500-600kbps below your max upload rate. (Going above 3000kbps may cause issues for viewers who do not have a sufficient Internet connection)

VBV Buffer - The default 1:1 ratio is usually the best (same value for VBV buffer and bitrate).

Resolution - Keep this at its default “Default Mixer Resolution.”

Audio Encoding - 44.100 KHz Stereo with AAC LC as the codec (an audio bitrate around 96,000 is fine)

Automatically Record Broadcast - Only to be enabled if you want XSplit to save recordings of your broadcasts locally.


2. Run location testing (very important before going live)

Change the “Location” from “Default” to which ever is the closest region to where you are broadcasting from.

Select “Test bandwidth” and let the test run

If you’re green, you’re good to go! If not, modify your VBV Bitrate and/or Location until it is.

Getting a red from this test may result in HEAVY LAG. Getting a yellow means things will run smooth overall, but some occasional hiccups might occur.

3. Click “Apply” to save settings.

4. Capture Settings -
This is still very general, computers that do not have a powerful enough processor will have issues with these settings.

Resolution
View > Resolution > 1280 x 720 (16:3) - HDTV (video)

Frame Rate
View > Frame Rate > 30.00 fps

XSplit Window Size
View > Scale viewpoint > 50%

Capturing Your Desktop (this method does not support games in fullscreen only mode)
(Also to be used with USB 2.0 Capture Devices)
Add (Bottom Left of XSplit) > Screen Region
Select part of the screen, click and drag the frame to capture the desired area to be streamed.

You may also click on your taskbar to capture the entire monitor.

Pressing “1” on your keyboard after selecting the Screen Region (or any object in XSplit) will maximize the size to fit the edges.

5. Going LiveBroadcast > Justin/TwitchTV - *Insert Your TwitchTV ID Here*
6. Going OfflineBroadcast > Justin/TwitchTV - *Insert Your TwitchTV ID Here*Note: This only works when you’re online, if you are offline you are actually Going Live

---------- XSplit GUIDE END----------

Once again, mega huge thanks to TheGunrun for making this guide. It's super helpful, and helped get me setup. Now, not all systems run the same way, so please tweak and adjust where needed. A lot of trying to get these things up and running is constant tinkering. Be diligent and you will be successful. I am extremely biased towards XSplit because it has worked so well for me so far, and I am constantly finding newer and cooler tweaks that I can implement into my stream. I also use XSplit to perform local recordings to create Let's Play videos or things I'd like to upload to Youtube. Can I plug this product more? You bet your ass I can. But I think you get my point. I really like it(So far).


Flash Media Encoder - I have very limited knowledge on how to use the media encoder. I do know it's a very robust and allows you to stream almost any source. On non-Windows systems, it appears to be a very popular streaming tool. I will be looking into how to setup using FME. I think there's someone in my guild (Satellite- US Dragonblight) that uses it. Stay tuned for more.

I have been a little biased in my streaming tool preferences, XSplit and XFire are specific to Windows. I have found a pretty cool article by Mike Chambers that goes over how to stream your Desktop on Mac OS X. Article link here: Streaming your Desktop on Mac OS X.

There are a number of other casting software that I have yet to discover and try out. But I'm pretty complacent right now. If you have any suggestions for other stream casting software that you feel is a lot better, please leave a comment below. I'm always looking for cool software to try out!

Step 3: ??????????

Alright. So now you should have an active working stream. So now what? Well, from here on out, it is entirely up to you. This stream is representative of what YOU want to show the world! What? Was that too corny? Aww come on. I'm trying to keep it real here. You are in charge of your stream. The content of the stream is from you. Its like youtube, but with less editing. Its you in the raw.


What do you mean that's still a kill joy? Goddamnit. Fine. Here's a few ideas of what you can stream:
  • Raids or Dungeons or Flashpoints or Operations or Instances (Team effort portions in MMOs)
  • Player Versus Player
  • Let's Play (You play a single player game and keep a running commentary on it)
  • Local Gaming Tournaments and Events
  • General video game play
  • Webcams of puppies
Please, don't use this list as any sort of definitive list of WHAT YOU CAN STREAM AS SAID BY HOLYNUB. Because its not. There's a ton of different things. 

Step 4: PROFIT!

Promotions! Promotions! Everyone start your promotions! Don't be shy. Streaming means you are capable of being viewed by the public. How much you want to promote yourself is entirely up to you. How much do you want to be seen? Is this mainly for friends and family? Are you looking for your 15 minutes of fame? Or are you looking to maybe start a career as a professional web caster? These are questions I cannot answer for you, but you must answer for yourself while you are streaming. But start getting the w0rd out. Let people know who you are and what you are doing. Here's a few basic tools for helping you get your stream promoted:
  • Start some social media accounts 
    • Things like Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways to inform people that you are streaming or what you're up to. Use that to your advantage. You are really trying to tap into the large user base that Twitter and Facebook support. Most people don't know much about live streams, but they do know a little bit about Twitter and Facebook. Think of it as a gateway for getting people to your stream.
  • Network with fellow streamers 
    • Get to know people. Chat with them, watch their streams. What goes around comes around. Give them a little bump, they give you a little bump. Give and take. Find someone with similar interests or streams things that are similar to yours. What I'm trying to say is, MAKE SOME FRIENDS (Real or internet. Wait is there a difference anymore?).
  • Start a blog 
    • Maybe you do more than stream. Maybe you have some crazy thoughts and dreams you'd like to put out there along with your stream. Plus, not everyone can always view video content on the web. Articles or short quips are a great way to add content that people can read while doing jumping jacks or eating pecan flavored frozen yogurt.
  • Keep a Consistent Gaming Schedule
    • Television programs are able to draw an audience by having a consistent broadcasting time. People operate by schedules. They get home from work at a certain time. They live in a particular time zone. You probably follow a schedule yourself. Try to follow a gaming schedule. Television gets those nice TV Guides and stuff like that to let everyone know what will be on and when. Unfortunately, you do not have that luxury. So try to set a time and make it known to your audience. Help them out, give them a heads up. Your friends and viewers can't read your mind. Yes, you can stream during off-times too. But try to keep a consistent block that people know they can visit and see what you're up to.
  • Customize your Stream's page 
    • Default is nice, but it doesn't stand out. You gotta make your stream unique and recognizable. Add some style and make it personal.

Alright. So now you got a successful stream with thousands of viewers at any given time (Like Destiny). You can then monetize your stream. Now, that's something that's outside my zone of expertise. I'm really not looking to actively make a living from doing streams and blogging(Though it would be awesome). Granted, there are a lot of people that actually DO that for a living. I am just not one of those people. I only know what I have heard from others and what I read about in blogs. Sorry guys, just haven't made that final step. Hey, if it were easy, we'd all be doing it.

Good Luck! Happy Streaming!


Well, I hope this helps. If there's anything you'd like me to elaborate in this "guide." feel free to post a comment, send a tweet, or drop by the stream during our Satellite guild raid times(9pm-12pm PST every Tues, Wed, Thurs). Have fun out there and keep the content coming.

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