by Patrick Villanueva, Media Lab Assistant
Real-time services are all the rage these days and have taken off during the quarantine. With the world turned upside down and everyone stuck at home, it's only pushed us to rely on technology and the internet more than ever before. There's no denying how important video chat is these days, as we use it for gatherings of all sorts, whether it's recreational, educational or professional. It's certainly taken on a life of its own, but there's a real-time service that's captivated me. I'm talking about live streaming.
|Facebook Live Notification|
Before Covid, I must admit that I didn't see what the big deal was. I'd see a notification that someone was live on social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or even LinkedIn. The examples I've primarily noticed are more like video blogging, called vlogging, but done in real-time. They would barely get my attention (sorry, friends), and I questioned the need to go live when it could be recorded for a later post.
This all changed when going down the rabbit hole known as Twitch, a social media network of live streamers that broadcast a variety of content, and something I became more familiar with over the quarantine. It's not just another video network like YouTube, nor is it what others know it for - a network of hardcore video gamers wanting to showcase their skills online. More on Twitch in a bit.
When realizing that live streaming was a form of broadcasting, it's another field that technology has disrupted. As I got more into it, I could see streaming not just for vlogging/blogging, but see it as a form of podcasting, film, audio, design and interactive multimedia all wrapped into one. It is certainly a playground for content creators, digital media artists and a dream for technologists with the number of electronic gadgets it can use.
Anyone can run their very own television or radio show, or even more mind-boggling, your own television network or radio station from the comforts of your own home. Technology has become more accessible these days, and there are several ways you can cut corners if necessary. And to quote some of my industry friends in the past, that's just insane.
Live Streaming and Tribes
Seth Godin, the well-known marketer, likes to describe a loyal audience as your tribe. These are the people who value your words, who back you and those who defend you. They're your superfans, your groupies, the die-hard fans or fanboys/fangirls. Know that once this group has grown, you're on your way to carving a niche on the internet, influencer status or even internet celebrity. In business, the tribe is integral to success and longevity.
Blogging, vlogging and podcasting are ways to express yourself and more importantly, pursue things you're truly passionate about. And these are amongst the more natural ways of developing a tribe online, in a much more subdued kind of way. Blogging and vlogging begin to develop tribes through comment exchanges, while podcast subscribers develop a connection with your personality and story. Should you create a community that forms strong bonds amongst active members, this opens the door to leverage them. And to ignore the opportunity would be a waste these days.
Live Streaming follows a similar path to blogging/vlogging and podcasting thru live chat, that develops a connection between presenter and audience in real-time. And there’s this whole other thing called Discord, a complementary app to Twitch, with corresponding channels that encourage further connection outside of the stream or show. And again, once you have an interactive community with strong bonds to each other, you've developed a tribe.
The Twitch Advantage
Twitch is the most popular of the live streaming platforms and has the features for content creators to capitalize monetarily. They have gameified their network to make the path towards earning much more straightforward than other content creating platforms online. Upon reaching the status level of Affiliate, there are live chat features that make it easier for donations. It also adds to a great experience on Twitch, some of which can feel like an actual party. Live streams on Twitch, with their dedicated Discord channels, have helped bridge those gaps created by social distancing. It’s not as applicable to other live streaming services through YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
With blogging/vlogging or podcasting, there's uncertainty with advertising or sponsorships. As a content creator looking to make something for their contributions, live streaming on Twitch is the platform to heavily consider.
Leveling Up on Live Streaming
A basic live stream consists of using your mobile device or computer's webcam with the internet to access one of the aforementioned services to broadcast. But to add value to your stream is to use live streaming software. They improve presentation, enable you to add interesting things to your screen, help engage your audience and ultimately add production value. In addition to your own webcam, you can add titles, statistics, other camera angles, friend's cameras, different mic sources, videos, backgrounds images, graphics, configurations, transitions, animations, ambient sounds, active applications, anything on your computer's desktop - the list goes on and on. As you watch other streamers, it will make more sense. As anything creative, you are in complete control and can make it how you want it to be.
There are several live streaming applications to explore including OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, Wirecast Studio, vMix, Be.Live, StreamYard and Lightstream. The one I'm most familiar with is OBS Studio, whose basics I'll be addressing in my next virtual class. "Leveling Up on Live Streaming" will be on Saturday, September 19th. If you're interested, please sign up soon. I'm happy to present more info for our patrons here at Lake Forest.
It occurred to me that live streaming could be all hype or just be a trend. But I also know that it's been some time that companies, products and services have dedicated their work to the space. Still in its infancy, I'd say live streaming is a worthwhile activity to explore. Streamers continue to learn as they go, including myself. Mentioning products, I also wanted to add that many items from our Takeout Tech can be used for future live streaming projects.
If you have any questions, you can reach me or the Media Lab by emailing, MediaLab@lakeforestlibrary.org. And please feel free to make an appointment by visiting our webpage, lakeforestlibrary.org/medialab.
I hope to see some of you on the 19th. And until next time, please stay healthy and safe!