Image: Paul Sableman [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The promise of increased engagement and a more authentic connection with customers has already enticed many companies to embrace live video.
Larger brands sometimes invest in lavish productions that resemble live television, with elaborate sets, prominent celebrities, and other bells and whistles; but the beauty of social media has always been that you can create content quickly and cheaply.
If you don’t have a massive budget but are aiming to produce something a cut above the shaky-cam experiments of your competitors, there are a number of tools that can help you add that extra touch of professionalism to your live videos—and, you don’t have to blow your whole social media budget to do it.
Cost: From $695 (one-time fee)
Platforms: Mac and Windows
If you’re looking to go all the way with your livestreams and basically want the capabilities of a professional TV studio, then Wirecast will do the job. And, even better, it can all be operated via a single computer.
First off, it gives you unlimited input sources, meaning you can hook in as many phones, cameras, and other devices as you require (iPhones and iPads can connect wirelessly via a handy app). You can then mix these inputs via transitions with canned footage, live titles, animations, and lower thirds.
Other handy features include chromakey, audio mixing, and a range of social plugins that let you display comments, likes, and other forms of engagement live on the screen. One drawback with Wirecast is that it is a professional tool (and priced as such) so if you have no knowledge of livestreaming or video production, you may need to spend some time with the app to get the hang of it.
Wirecast plugs in to all major livestreaming platforms easily, including Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, and Twitch.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, and Linux
If you’re new to livestreaming and not sure you want to invest in software just yet, then Open Broadcaster Software is a free, open source option that has plenty of features.
OBS works by allowing you to create “scenes” from a range of inputs, including live video, still images, text, browser windows, capture cards, and more. You can create unlimited scenes (e.g. preset titles or split screen setups) within the program in advance, and then easily transition between them while broadcasting.
Although a little more basic than something like Wirecast, OBS does allow you to drastically increase the quality and possibilities of your live broadcasts at zero cost. Like Wirecast, some of the features are complicated, and it may take a while to learn how to use the program effectively.
OBS also supports major livestreaming platforms live Twitch and YouTube.
Cost: $79 (one-time fee)
If you’ve used Ecamm’s Call Recorder (I use it almost every day!) then you’ll be familiar with the quality of their products.
Out of the options mentioned here, Ecamm Live is probably the easiest to use, with a super-simple interface that requires almost no knowledge of video production.
Ecamm Live allows you to add text, picture-in-picture effects, graphics, and animations quickly and simply, and even add pre-recorded video by dragging and dropping files while you are broadcasting.
Like Wirecast and OBS, it also allows you to mix between multiple cameras, and even add Skype guests via the aforementioned Call Recorder plugin.
Ecamm supports all the major livestreaming services, including Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, and Twitch. If you’re new to livestreaming and don’t have a lot of experience with video production, then Ecamm Live is an ideal option.
As users become more familiar with the livestreaming format, they will grow to expect a certain level professionalism from brands. Investing time and energy in producing higher-quality live content will certainly pay off in the future.
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