How to Broadcast Video From Your Phone

Back in the day, equipment for producing high quality video would have cost you a pretty penny. Equipment that weighed hundreds of pounds cost thousands of dollars. But it’s 2017, and you possess the power to produce and broadcast a feature film at the palm of your hands if you so wish—you can also just live stream your pet doing something cute and hope it goes viral. Mobile phone broadcasting isn’t new or necessarily even exciting news. Consider the news itself. Reporters using their phones live shutterstock_450162028on the scene to broadcast to an audience watching online is pretty common. Any internet-enabled, H.264 compatible mobile device with a camera can broadcast video, but some ways of doing it can produce a better end result than others.

Prep

Some phones (ahem, particularly mine) are notoriously bad in regards to battery life. Do you have enough juice? Did all those mirror selfies use up your storage space? Are all your dating apps running in the background and eating up CPU and otherwise slowing down your processor? These factors are imperative to ensuring that you have a smooth broadcast. Close open apps and charge up. Obviously, there are certain features you might want to consider first in the kind of mobile phone you choose to use for recording, like camera quality.

Rock steady, ready

There is a lot of equipment out there which can make your broadcast look professionally done. Tripods, and stabilizers, for example, will eliminate shakiness by keeping your device completely still as you shoot. You can, however, just try resting the phone in question on an even, stable surface such as a stack of books or a bookend. Basically, shooting in a library would be ideal for still shots, but if you have late fees on your library card from ten years ago, anything steady and level which can support your phone will do. The possibilities are endless, so be a real director and don’t be afraid to get creative with your shots. At the same time, if it’s within your budget, a few accessories might make sense if you’re not spending on big dough on big clunky cameras and hardware encoders.

Lighting

Another quality control aspect to watch out for is lighting. Assessing and correcting lighting on a mobile phone can be iffy, indoors and out. If possible, aim for natural light. Be aware of the lighting conditions where you plan to shoot, and position your subjects and yourself so that shadows aren’t getting in the way. Ideally, your phone’s camera should have a touch focus feature so that your lens automatically centers on what you choose.

Orientation

While we should be accepting of all orientations in other contexts, avoid vertical video at all costs. Not only can portrait orientation be inaccessible to some screens, it is just plain annoying to watch on the majority of social media platforms, where the sharing happens. Bottom line: just shoot in landscape mode. Oh, and don’t zoom—move closer to the subject to get a close-up. Utilizing your phone camera’s zoom feature sacrifices quality. It just looks bad.

Can you hear me now? Good

Unless you’re shooting in the style of The Artist and have a cute enough jack shepherd to excuse it, you shouldn’t generally expect people to stick around for a video with poor audio quality. But there’s a quick fix for that, even with a phone mic—get as up close and personal as you can with the apple of your phone camera’s eye. Sometimes this doesn’t account for disruptive background noises, such as wind or traffic. If your video stream is live, ensure that your location is free of ambient noise in excess. A more complete solution would be an external mic, which can easily be hooked up to any audio jack. Also consider whether your phone case effects the quality of your mic. In most cases, you’re likely better off without the extra baggage.

There’s an app for that

You don’t need to be an editing mogul to add professional-looking effects such as overlay banners, transitions, color correction, and more to your stream. There are a number of third-party apps available which offer easy-to-use editing features to add oomph to your video content. Just because you’re on a phone doesn’t mean you should limit yourself!

Regardless of whether you’re using an iPhone 7 or a classic Nokia (good luck with that), make sure your video content can hold its own. After all, content is king.

How to broadcast on a mobile device with Primcast and Wowza:

  1. Launch the Wowza GoCoder app on your iOS device. An instructional overlay image is displayed on top of the application after it launches.
  2. The overlay provides a brief description of each of the app’s buttons. To dismiss it, tap anywhere on the screen. To dismiss the overlay image permanently, tap the Xcharacter.
  3. Note: For devices that don’t have an LED flash for the rear-facing (iSight) camera, only the Switch camera button is available in the upper-left corner of the app. The camera button isn’t displayed on iPhone (3GS and later) devices, which have only a front-facing (FaceTime) camera. Specify the Wowza server information. Tap the Server button in the upper-right corner of the app to display the Server page.
  4. Tap Host, enter Server and Port information, and then tap Back.
  5. In Server, enter the Wowza server IP address or hostname. In Port, enter the port used for streaming. By default, a Wowza server binds to TCP port 1935 for all forms of streaming. Tap Application, enter Application and Stream Name information, and then tap Back.
  6. Tap Publisher Login, enter Publisher Name and Password information, and then tap Done
  7. Specify encoding settings for video and audio. Tap the Options button in the upper-right corner of the app to display the Options page.
  8. Video For video streams, do the following: Tap Stream, tap either Video + Audio or Video Only, and then tap Back.
  9. Tap Video Settings, specify the Frame Rate, Key Frame Interval (number of frames between key frames), and Transport protocol, and then tapBack.
  10. Tap Video Size, select a video size, and then tap Back.
  11. To apply a filter to the video output, select one of the following video filters at the bottom of the Options page: No Filter, B/W (black-and-white), Blur,B/W Blur. Then tap Done.
  12. Audio For audio-only streams, do the following: Tap Stream, tap Audio Only, and then tap Back.
  13. This setting removes any video that’s present from the encoded stream, meaning that only the audio portion is delivered to the Wowza server. If everything is configured correctly, you’ll see the following message displayed in the app: Audio-only To specify the transport protocol for the audio-only stream, tap Video Settings, tap either TCP or UDP, and then tap Done.
  14. Auto Restart To specify that the GoCoder app should start streaming to the Wowza server after the connection is lost and then re-established, slide the Auto Restart button to ON.
  15. Specify the encoded bitrate for the stream. Tap the bitrate button in the lower-left corner of the app to show the available bitrates.
  16. In the bitrate bar, select the highest bitrate value that you want to stream.
  17. To broadcast to the Wowza server, tap the Encode button.
  18. You’re done.

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