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Quick Guide How To Setup Your Own Live Stream

Quick Guide How To Setup Your Own Live Stream

The New Years Eve Times Square webcam was a USTREAM live stream setup for a couple of hours. What used to be an expensive effort, is now an easy and affordable process. Here are couple of best practices, if you decide to setup your own live stream.


The Webcam

Although you can find webcams included in almost every laptop and mobile phone, the quality of the camera is normally mediocre under low light conditions.

If you don’t have a more expensive HD firewire camera available, an upgrade to a higher webcam is a great move to improve the quality. A good model is the Logitech C910 with excellent reviews, Carl Zeiss optics and full 1080p recording. The quality difference is literally night and day compared to the MacBook Pro webcam.

One advice would be not to mimic my setup on the right though, it was experimental at best, and certainly adds a certain level of stress.


The Live Streaming

If you don’t have a budget to pay for your own CDN, services like USTREAM and Livestream provide the full infrastructure to deliver video content to your viewers. And more importantly, if ads are acceptable, they offer the basic service for free.

Both Livestream and USTREAM have comparable offers, it depends on the individual requirements. For this setup I selected USTREAM.


The Encoder

USTREAM offers a browser based encoding service, but the quality is relatively basic. Fortunately USTREAM has support to stream from higher quality third party encoders. A popular encoder is the Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder, which is easy to setup and free. Even better, USTREAM provides a downloadable XML configuration file, which the encoder can simply load, and you are ready to stream.

The last challenge is the quality, obviously HD quality would be nice, and is not supposed to be part of the basic package. USTREAM, maybe unintentionally, allows to modify the encoder profile, upgrade the bitrate to 800kbps, and the screen resolution to 720p. Although 800kbps is not sufficient for regular HD content, it’s perfect for a simple webcam stream.

Last but not least, make sure the encoder uses a robust internet connection with sufficient bandwidth, at least twice as much as the actual bit rate.


The Event 

To generate enough traffic, e.g via a weblog, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an absolute must. Google can be very powerful, and every tweak to the search engine metadata matters. As example if you use WordPress for your blog, install a SEO plug-in like the All in One SEO Pack and use optimized keywords and tags.

In addition, mobile devices are important. Thankfully USTREAM provides this for free, and uses Flash to deliver to the desktop and devices with Flash support, and a mobile optimized version to iOS.



A couple of years ago it was almost an art to stream a live event, but with increasingly better infrastructure and providers like Livestream and USTREAM offering free basic packages, it becomes increasingly easy to broadcast your own content.

Obviously professional needs are different, and events like the World Cup have different requirements, but as TechCrunch reported, Livestream provided the offical live broadcast for Times Square NYE. It could indicate a slow shift from traditional live streaming models to more integrated offerings.


  • sonu4367

    It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had fun writing this article.Excellent entry! I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Macroclick

    Hi Jens,
    Any info on whether it’s possible to build a flex mobile app to access/play ustream live video?  I know they have a viewer, but I’d like to limit the customize the experience and only show my own channels/content.  I realize it will have the ustream watermark and commercials…
    Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    • Jens Loeffler

       @Macroclick I’m not familiar enough with their player APIs to answer this, but I would try to ask this question in the forum: Technically you could load just a SWF into AIR via NetLoader, but it highly depends on their player if this works.

      • Macroclick

         @Jens Loeffler Ok, thanks for the feedback, I’ll check over there. 

  • Sanjayshenoy

    Hey Jens,

    Thanks for the post but I would like to know if there is anyway that we could set up live stream using a handy cam. How would you do that? Much appreciated!

    • Jens Loeffler

      Sanjayshenoy If you can connect your handycam to your PC/Mac, and it recognizes it as live video device, it should work as well. Instead of a webcam, you can select your handy cam as source. For more professional setups, you need a capture card with e.g. SDI input.


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