All About Live Streaming Encoding Software and Hardware Options

Live streaming video on the SproutVideo platform requires encoding software to convert your live video feed into a format that can be streamed online through our player. In certain circumstances, you may also choose to use a video capture device, which converts your camera feed(s) into a webcam signal that the encoding software can accept. In all likelihood, you will not need to use any extra hardware if your live streaming setup is based off a regular webcam. Here is an overview of these two different setups for encoding your live video feed.

Encoding Software

Encoding software takes a video feed from a camera and converts it into a digital format that can be streamed online. Once converted, the stream is fed into the SproutVideo player, and can then be shared online for your viewers’ enjoyment. Typically, all you have to do is connect your camera to your encoding software, enter the RTMP URL and streaming key provided within your account in your settings, and you’ll be ready to go live. The RTMP URL and streaming key allow you to securely connect the feed from your streaming software to the SproutVideo player, and should be safeguarded like a password.

Encoding Software Options

Prior to going live, you need to download and install encoding software. There are many options available online, and some of the most popular ones are free to use. Here is a brief list of some of your options:

  1. OBS Studio – Free and open-source software. See our guide to using OBS with SproutVideo.
  2. Streamlabs OBS – Free and open-source, packed with powerful features for streamers.
  3. vMix- Powerful Windows based encoder. Includes a free 60 day free trial.
  4. STAGE TEN – Live production studio and control room in a web-based application; requires a paid subscription plan for custom RTMP feed.
  5. Wirecast – Award-winning live streaming and production software; free demo available, $599+ to purchase.

Video Capture Devices

The most basic hardware for streaming is a video capture device. This is a small box that accepts a camera’s video feed and outputs it via USB as a webcam signal that encoding software can recognize. This allows you to use a professional camera rather than a webcam for streaming. For more than one camera input, you can use a switcher. This device accepts multiple camera feeds and allows you to switch between them, exporting the active signal as a webcam over USB to your encoding software. Some switchers handle other processing of your camera signal as well, like color grading or keying.

Device Options

There are a range of hardware options out there, and the right choice depends on the other gear you’re using (cameras, computer, etc) and the complexity of the event you’re trying to stream. Some popular options include:

  1. Blackmagic Ultrastudio Mini
  2. Atem by Blackmagic
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