Facebook Live Blues? YouTube Live stuttering? If your live streaming video quality isn't dreamy, this may be why.
Just about the time I moved to Todos Santos, Mexico for the summer, I started experimenting with Live Video. In Mexico City, my internet had been great, so I hadn’t even thought about the requirements for Live Video.
It turns out my internet connection here is less than optimal. The Universe likes to keep us on our toes, right?
Did I decide to give up and deal with it this fall? NO! I did not give up on Live video!
I investigated some co-working spaces with super fast connections, and I met some nice people through that process. I also brushed up on my knowledge of the technical requirements for a good Facebook Live session.
First of all, there is a difference between Wifi and your Internet connection. Your wifi is your local wireless connection within your house or office that seems like magic.
The wifi box (router) receives the info from your device through wireless transmission and sends it to the internet via the cable that plugs into the wall.
If you share wifi, or are far away from the wifi box, you may end up with a weak wifi connection and stream your video poorly, even if you have a great Internet connection.
First thing to figure out, though, is your Internet connection:
Here is what is going on in that benign little cable that connects you to the Internet. I also go over this in the above video I did for our YouTube Channel. (not live, by the way).
Your internet connection consists of two pieces. Let's think of it like two pipelines in the wire.
Pipeline U is the one that sends information UP to the server. When you start a session on Facebook Live you are sending the video information UP to Facebook's servers, (or YouTube or whoever is hosting your live video.)
Pipeline D is the download pipeline where you receive information - download documents, files, photos, and yes, streaming video.
The service you have from your internet provider determines the size of the pipelines, so to speak.
Now you might imagine that video files are fatter than other info. This is because of the level of detail in video versus just uploading a picture or a document. It’s like the difference between sending someone a recipe, a picture of a cake, or the whole cake. Which would take up more space?
You also don't have control over your local internet connection options. If you live in an urban area with fiber optic you likely already have an internet connection with a good Pipeline U and a great Pipeline D. If you don’t, you might be able to upgrade.
Or, you may still have a connection that gives you great a nice big Pipeline D but a small Pipeline U. That is the case for me in Todos Santos. No fiber optic on our street (although I do think they have it downtown).
Here is the bad news. Not only is a small Pipeline U not great for Live video, it will slow you down when you upload the smartphone videos you create with your phone.
First thing - check your download and upload speed at http://www.speedtest.net/
Check with your internet provider about your options. Ideally you want at least 2 megabytes per second (Mbps) upload speed for LIve video.
Right now my Pipeline U is under 1 Mbps.
This caused me some angst when I first got here. But I've experimented with it to learn about it, to be able to pass on to you, and so it all worked out.
What I learned is it is possible to stream Facebook live with less than 1 Megabyte per second.
For live viewers the visual is a little fuzzy and there's a bit of a lag at times.
Should you let this stop you if it's the case for your connection, too?
In my opinion, no. It depends on your goals. In general I say Go For It, because even if it's not perfect, you will learn something from it.
The other thing that I learned is that the video file improves after Facebook upload it and processes it. So you are not stuck with the quality of the initial stream in the final video.
This is because all the video information that was trying to crowd its way into the tiny Pipeline U finally arrives at home base and organizes into a higher quality video.
Finally, your viewers also have their own download Pipeline Ds, so their experience is determined by that, too. You could have a huge Pipeline U for sharing your streaming video, but if your viewer has a puny Pipeline D, it will affect their viewing.
You have no control over the connection that your viewers have, so you can take that off of your Worry List.
What happens if you check your Pipelines, you have a decent size Pipeline U, but your Live Video quality is still suffering? It might be your wifi.
Try moving closer to the wifi box, and think about who else might be online in the house. Ask your partner who is watching cat videos on YouTube while streaming music on their iPhone to log off for a minute. If you have a video gamer in the house, ask them to stop for a bit. Then see if your streaming video improves.
Last tidbit: Live video and "live stream" video are the same thing. However, a video that is not live can still be streamed - like when you watch a movie on Netflix.
Bottom line - have patience with the process. You are learning new things. It might be a little messy and annoying at times, but it’s like riding a bike - once you learn, it seems easy. Plus, it is empowering to be able to diagnose your problems. Let us know if you have more questions!
Kala is the Founder and Executive Producer of the Ultimate System for Fab Videos, Finally Done