Streaming is coming of age and will be an important part of the business long into the future. If you’re a photographer or filmmaker looking to get involved, it’s time to talk to an expert.
THESE ARE THE days when you need to be open-minded and innovative, and capable of seeing and grasping the next opportunity before your competitors beat you to it. Streaming falls firmly into this category, and if you’ve not already taken a long, hard look at the potential revenue streams currently opening up in this area then you could be seriously missing out.
You’ve very possibly got a camera and lenses on board already that could double as a streaming device, especially with manufacturers such as Panasonic, Olympus and Nikon recently releasing firmware updates that make a selection of their mirrorless models suitable for this purpose. You’re also likely to have lighting and a tripod in your locker as well, and if you’re shooting video then you’re doubtless covered on the audio front, so you’re already well on the way to having a streaming kit that can get you started.
If you’ve not streamed before, what you probably won’t have, however, is some idea of where to start, what to add to the gear you might already possess and a grasp of the technicalities required to enable you to actually move to a streaming setup that’s simple to work with and yet reliable enough to offer as a service to your clients. You might also appreciate a few pointers regarding the kinds of uses that streaming can be put to, and so it makes sense to catch up with an expert provider who understands the market inside out.
This is where a specialist retailer such as CVP comes in, since the synergy streaming has with film production meant that there was a logical overlap and streaming was a natural area for the company to service, right from the earliest days. Take a visit to the website and you’ll quickly see what a big presence streaming now has on there, which reflects its growing importance and the surging level of interest creatives are taking in this whole area.
Reassuringly, however, there is also a clear understanding that many of those looking to get involved are unsure about what might be required, and so there are no assumptions made regarding the level of expertise that someone enquiring about kit might happen to have. Indeed, to make things as simple as possible, a number of suggested kits are on offer, tailored for areas as diverse as church services through to education, sports, mobile and live events, and there’s even an outfit that’s considered ideal for those looking to get involved with the likes of YouTube and Twitch.
“The streaming solutions section on our website is there to show customers potential bundles that could work for a given shooting scenario, ” explains CVP’s technical marketing manager Jake Ratcliffe. “It might not always be the case that what’s being suggested is the best solution, but the outfits will give you a solid idea of what kit you might need to acquire to achieve a certain level of production.
Luckily, we’ve got an experienced technical team here to help tailor bespoke solutions for clients, no matter what level they’re at.
“Since Covid started to reshape productions more towards live streaming, we’ve seen a huge increase in streaming kit and solution enquiries, particularly from those who are already involved in filmmaking. If you’ve got some background in this area then learning the basics of how to live stream shouldn’t be too difficult. However, as with any skill, mastering the more challenging aspects of live production can take some time.”
Taking on board that it can be something of a voyage of discovery for many of those taking a first serious look at streaming and that it won’t necessarily be for everyone, Jake advocates a measured approach before any decision is finally made on whether to dive in and to invest in the kit required to offer the service.
“Before getting too involved, I would suggest experimenting with the principles of streaming using your smartphone and a computer. It’s straightforward to do this using just these two devices, and there are some amazing resources online to learn from if you’re new to this area.
“Moving on from there, you could then look at setting up a two-camera stream from a location that features a solid internet connection, perhaps a scenario such as a chef working in a kitchen. If you already own two cameras that can output a clean video feed, and are planning on streaming from a computer, you can pick up a Blackmagic Atem Mini (CVP price £274.80) and use that as a capture device and switcher, or grab a capture device for each of your camera feeds and either switch in OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) manually or else pick up an Elgato Stream Deck (CVP price £139.99) to make life a little simpler.
“Of course, recommending gear without knowing the exact production you happen to be working on is not easy for any retailer. It helps to know, for example, whether you’ll be operating out of a studio or on location, since that will change the kit requirements massively. However, the key point to take away is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth to acquire the equipment that will have you working at a decent level, and our job here will be to recommend the right kit for your requirements that will also suit your budget.”
CREATING AN OUTFIT
So, what might you be looking at investing in should you want to get started in streaming? Along with switching devices such as the aforementioned Blackmagic Atem Mini and Elgato Stream Deck, it will also be useful to have a capture device for your HDMI sources, such as theElgato Cam Link 4K (CVP price £119.99) or the Blackmagic Mini Converter (CVP price £150).
Alternatively, you could look at using an on-camera wireless streaming solution, such as the Z Cam Ipman S (CVP price £136.99) or the Teradek VidiU series (CVP price for the Go Deluxe Kit is £2,591.65) to stream to your PC or directly to live-stream platforms. “I also think it’s worth learning the basics around computer networking and live streaming, ” says Jake, “especially with OBS, since there are some great resources online for this now.”
Beyond here, it’s something of a blank canvas, meaning that there are lots of options and it’s down to the individual how they might want to work. This is where the kit approach can cut through some of the confusion, by laying out in a straightforward fashion the line-up of components that could offer a particular solution. The Canon EOS M50 MkII Premium Live Stream Kit, for example (CVP price £949.95), features the reliable video conferencing-capable M50 plus 15-45mm lens at its heart, and also includes a Joby GorillaPod 1000 flexible tripod, an HDMIHDMI Micro Ethernet HDADMM 2M cable, an HDMI Converter Atomos Connect Atom, Rode Microphone, Camera DC Coupler DRE12 and a power adapter. Instead of having to source each of the individual components, everything is supplied and it’s good to go, out of the box.
Further up the food chain, the CVP Business Expert Bundle costs £7,839 and comes with three Blackmagic PCC 4K cameras, two Olympus 12-40mm and one 12-200mm lens, Libec tripods, a Rode Link filmmaker’s kit, and a Blackmagic Atem Mini and 7in Video Assist monitor. It’s an impressive bundle that can do a comprehensive job for the professional, but it can obviously be refined and made to fit the precise requirements of anyone with a specific streaming job to undertake.
The Premium Live Stream Kit, costing below £1,000 from CVP, provides the basis for a highly usable outfit.
It’s clear that there are any number of streaming solutions to fit all kinds of budgets, and it doesn’t necessarily need to cost a fortune to get involved. However, is it still going to be such a vibrant growth area, given that Covid restrictions are thankfully lifting and there’s potentially going to be less need in the future for virtual meetings and remote events?
“It’s fair to say that the intensity of the demand for live streaming has dropped back a little since the first lockdown, when everybody was after a HDMI capture device and setups in their homes to continue their work, ” says Jake. “However, things have changed and there is now a steady demand from people looking to catch up with events online that, for whatever reason, they might not be able to attend in person.
“The nature of streaming has also moved on in recent times. Live streaming from home was the solution that people wanted last year, but now, as things open up a little more, there’s more of a move towards live-production work. Another part of the business that CVP is increasingly providing solutions for is off-set monitoring. It might not be an area that people consider technically to be a live stream, but it’s a live feed being fed out onto the internet to be viewed remotely by whoever needs to be seeing it for that particular production, so it’s a really useful facility for professionals to have.”
It’s clear that streaming is now mainstream and isn’t going to be disappearing anytime soon, even as the pandemic starts to ease off. Pros need to be curious about every possibility and even if streaming doesn’t ultimately turn out to be an area that you want to pursue, it does at least make sense to check out what it has to offer and to get some feedback regarding what the opportunities are.
This is where retailers such as CVP can really become a valuable partner, because they have been here before, have a solid understanding about what you might genuinely need and if you want to simply dip a toe into the water before diving in, they’ll sort you out an outfit to get you going that won’t break the bank.
These are indeed exciting times for creatives across a variety of genres and all kinds of possibilities are currently opening up. Make sure you don’t get left behind and be prepared to move out of your comfort zone if necessary to develop what could be crucial and highly profitable new income streams for your business.
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