Why is My Live Stream Buffering?

Live video production is complicated, especially when you use tools that need adjustments. When you live stream from the Instagram App on your phone the result is a perfect stream. Why? Because the IG mobile App was designed to work with presets, tested on cellular networks, and delivers to Instagram the correct settings it expects.


In comparison, you download OBS or another software tool, start using a hardware encoder you just purchased, and suddenly when you connect to Videolinq the stream looks so bad! We don't want you to blame Videolinq and this is why we will share with you few tips how to fine-tune a broadcast and create a beautiful crispy clear stream.


Blog Post: Why is My Live Stream Buffering?


Source, Source, Source

In the video industry we use the term "garbage in, garbage out" - meaning bad video we receive is the same bad video we will send out to a player or to a social media platform. To avoid that take in consideration the following guidelines -


Camera and Lights:

Use a high-definition camera, placed on a tripod. If you use a smartphone hold it horizontally not vertically, and keep movements to minimum. Shaky vertical view will produce poor results. Be conscious of light settings. The subject you shoot must be visible, avoid "burning" the face, and give the background proper light to help show the entire environment.


Clothes and Patterns:

A camera captures average of 25-50 MBps bitrate when a live stream is broadcasted at 1 - 4 MBps. The natural compression of the stream is done by the "encoding" process of your smartphone or encoder. To help the encoder deliver the best result avoid using busy patterns in clothing or backgrounds. For example: a pock dot shirt will focus the encoder on the little dots and make the presenter face blurry. Showing trees in the background will focus the encoder on the moving leaves instead of the person taking to the camera.


Aspect Ratio:

Use the 16:9 aspect ratio instead of any alternative. Using other options will show black bars on top, below, or in both sides of the video in the player.


Resolution and Bitrate:

Plan to broadcast at least a 720p resolution (1280x720 pix) video, encoded with the H.264/AAC codecs at 4 MBps. Lower resolution or bitrate may not look good in the eyes of an average viewer.


Use Keyframes:

This article by IBM explains the importance of keyframes. Using keyframes in video is extremely important for the quality of the stream. To keep it simple, we recommend sending encoded video with 1 or 2 keyframes per second. These extra frames will help lost frames in transit and improve video delivery and playback of video we send to players or to other streaming services and social media platforms.


Files as Source:

We wrote a detailed article explaining how to prepare files and use them as source for live broadcast. Follow the steps we recommend to prepare recorded files, and you will see a difference in performance.


No Busy Encoder Please:

You paid attention to all items and made sure to prepare your production by the book, but when you finally begin the broadcast, your computer runs hot, the fan kicks in, and your live video is now a slide-show! Customers often think their computer can make magic. Truth is that it can't. To stream live HD video an Intel i7 CPU with 16 GB RAM is a minimum requirement. Close all programs and monitor your computer performance. A over heated or resource intense computer will produce poor live streams.


Network Connectivity

Live streaming to the internet (and to Videolinq) requires high capacity upload speed. Most internet service providers give plenty of "download" speed for multiple people in the same house to watch Netflix, but the "upload" speed is often limited. Many companies block output video from their corporate network for security reasons. A good way to find your location real output capacity is to run a speed test. Speed test services use the HTTP protocol. When you stream to Videolinq you use the RTMP protocol. To be safe, take the "upload" speed test result, divide in 4, and compare it to the RTMP bitrate you plan to use. If the "upload" result was 10 MBps - you can stream up to 2.5 MBps. Last, connect to an Ethernet cable, not to a Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connections are not stable and may drop your connection and reconnect during the broadcast. Avoid shared public networks such as a McDonalds or public-library Wi-fi. Live broadcasting requires dedicated lines when possible.



Regional Entry Points

To avoid many "computer hops" between your computer or media encoder to Videolinq network we operate multiple-entry points in various regions. When preparing a channel video source look for the dropdown menu and select the nearest point to your location. Selecting a closed-by regional entry point to Videolinq will help reduce computer hops and further connectivity to 3rd party streaming services or social media platforms.



Troubleshooting

The tips listed in this article helped produce better quality live streams for 95% of customers we spoke to. Despite all efforts our customers make, sometimes a live stream will have technical challenges. To help us help you, if you followed all the steps we recommend and still have a problem - submit a support ticket through the help desk including screenshots and as many details as possible.




#livestreaming #tipsandtricks #troubleshoot #badstream

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