Thursday 26 December 2019

Live stream rig

I've been building up hardware and software so that one day I could live stream to the tens and tens of people out there who would want it! Moreso, it feels like a good skill, and I love to ramble on about all things guitar, even better if someone was live and asking questions!  I'm not playing out at the moment so I miss audience interaction.

The gear:
2x Logitech C920 webcam (one is actually a C922, I don't think there is much difference). These are the current (2019) cheapest decent webcams for a live rig the google tells me. A better solution is DSLR cameras piped via HDMI into a capture card, but the cards are quite expensive $500 or so, and I don't know if I'm going to even enjoy live streaming. Put the cameras on tripods and have one capture full frame and one up close for guitar.

My usual Zoom H1n can go into USB live stream mode. All good there.

Lighting - I've got a couple of fill lights but just one with only half the bulbs on lights me up so there aren't distracting shadows. I should have been recording videos when I was young and good looking, those lights just make me look old :-) (I don't feel old. Well, most of the time.)

Computer - my trusty old Dell Latitude E6530. She's dated and clunky, but has 8GB RAM and two dual i7 cores running at 2.9GHz, and enough USB3 ports to deal with the large bandwidth that HD webcams throw at it. I bought it at an online auction 5 years ago and haven't found a requirement to upgrade it yet.

The Software
Musescore. I'm not as fluent in it as I was the original Powertab, and the revised Powertab from a few years back didn't grab me, they changed it too much. Musescore frustrates me somewhat, but the scores it makes are beautiful, and it has _everything_ you could possibly need for scoring.  Since I also arrange these days for multiple instruments, which is does really well, Musescore is my go-to.

OBS Project. Apparently the gamers streamers choice, it's freeware and it's really good! You can tell it about your cameras and microphones and the application you are running, and arrange scenes. and hotkey between those scenes. It even let me put a live bandpass filter on my  microphone (I dislike prominent mid frequencies, I want a solid bass and high frequencies, it has that "professional" sound).

Windows 7. Yeah, I'm still living in the past, I use Windows 10 and all the variants of Windows Server at work, but you know what, I plug in the webcams and the mic as USB and Windows 7 instantly knew what they were, and it all just worked.

I ended up making 5 OBS Project scenes:
1 - one line of music, a small full frame thumbnail and the close up for the majority of the screen. I can kinda fit all this together so you get to see everything at once.
2 - mostly music and two thumbnails of the webcams. To talk about music.
3 - Small full frame thumbnail and close up filling the screen but no music. For when the music is getting in the way.
4 - just the close up
5 - just the full frame.

I hotkey'd this to 1,2,3,4,5 on the keyboard, so I can quickly click between the scenes. Musescore is running side by side with OBS Project so as I move around that you get to see it too.

The Delivery
So then it is up to me to make a compelling video! Got the tools, can I do anything with it? Ha ha, the more you do it the easier and better it becomes - well that's my thoughts. I am prone to waffle and I forget to mention important things, but being able to speak about a subject on the spot is a good skill to have. I recorded a test, up on youtube already at, let's see what the tens and tens of people who watch it say.