Regardless of where you are streaming from, what equipment you're using, or your upload speed, test early, test often, and do at least one rehearsal. This will allow you time to make any necessary adjustments, technical or otherwise.
Here are some tips to ensure your webinar goes off without a hitch:
1. Encoder machines should only have encoder software installed, with a browser with access to webmail in order to obtain the RTMP links. You should only run one stream per encoder. Ideally each room would have 3 to 4 laptops:
- A primary encoding laptop
- A secondary encoding laptop
- A laptop to push slides
- Additionally, an additional laptop if the producer wants to check the stream.
2. Continued monitoring of laptop CPU, with only encoder software running is advised.
3. Only run one instance of your encoder software. Do not run multiple instances of your encoder software on the source laptop as this could create CPU issues.
4. Do not run multiple video cards. This could use too much computing power and memory.
5. Ensure your laptop operating system is up to date, along with all related patches for your encoder software. Once updated, test thoroughly.
6. Make sure you are connecting via Ethernet and using a network dedicated to your stream (i.e. not a network shared with other devices).
7. Most encoders have the ability to record your stream to your computer's hard drive. If you're unable to do this (i.e. your have limited hard drive space), then at the very least you should record to a camera locally. The last thing you want is for a network outage to occur and you don't have any footage of your event saved.
8. Important! Test encoders, then restart the encoder and the laptops 15 to 20 minutes prior to the event, ensuring all other apps are closed other than encoder software.
You should ideally be streaming over an Ethernet connection on a dedicated (unshared) network. Network speeds fluctuate constantly depending on numerous factors, so be sure to test your upload speed frequently.
In terms of your encoder's outgoing bitrate, you should set it to much lower than your available upload speed in order to allow for network fluctuations. Keep in mind there are other factors that come into play when producing a stable stream such as firewalls and network congestion.
2000kbps can produce a 720p stream whereas 5000kbps is the maximum bitrate we recommend for a 1080p stream. If you are streaming with a bitrate significantly less than 2000kbps, your webinar may appear pixelated or experience lag.
Regardless of your network strength, you should make sure to always record your stream locally. Many software encoders offer this feature, or you can record directly onto a camera.
Suggested Wirecast Settings
1. Encoder = x264
2. Strict constant bit rate enabled.
3. Average bitrate should be set to 1,000 kbits
4. Audio bitrate = 96
Presenter Console Preview
As mentioned above, a primary encoding laptop should be used for your encoder software, one for Presenter Console, and one for monitoring the webinar via the Audience URL. If you need to consolidate down to one of two laptops and your stream gets interrupted, follow these steps to get the Audience Preview Latency back to real-time.
1. Stop the Stream
2. Log out from Presenter Console AND close the tab
3. Clear browser cache
4. Open the Presenter Console in a new tab
5. Start the stream again
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