Note: This has been updated December 27th, 2017.
First, let’s get this out of the way: gear is only a tool you use in order to tell the story in the most efficient way possible. The moment that you’re not creating or bogged down because of gear, then you know that gear is useless.
I’ve previously covered the principles on how to kickass in Facebook Live, now I’m going to cover the very basic gear you could use to tell great stories via live-streaming that can compete with any major media companies like I’ve done with Urbanist.
Ask yourself “how would this look like if it were easy?” The allure of high-quality production is powerful especially since we all like shiny things. But, before you buy a bunch of bulky gear that will only slow you down, let’s keep the following three points in mind through each item of gear you’re considering to use:
- If you look at the stats, by a huge margin most viewers are watching from mobile and listening to the sound with either the phone’s speakers or headphones.
- Will this piece of gear help you tell the story efficiently?
- Will the gear you use enhance or hinder your ability to interact with the commenters while broadcasting?
The Absolute Basic Gear That You’ll Need
Recommendation: the iPhone 7/8/X.
From my personal experience making live videos for major media companies and Urbanist and the experiences I’ve heard from my peers, Facebook Live on iOS is the smoothest experience compared to Android. Also, iPhone 7/8/X has the best camera stabilization in the phone market right now.
If you have any other phone recommendations when it comes to live streaming, let us know in the comments.
The GorillaPod is a great portable tripod where you can literally put it anywhere such as a table, the legs of a table, a chair, railings, on another tripod, a tree, on a helicopter, etc. Versatility is very important if you’re doing a lot of static live-streams.
Basic Gear When You’re On the Field
Battery Pack Case
Recommendation: Anker Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case
Let’s face it, most phone batteries suck. The battery issue worsens when you’re live-streaming so much that you’re battery looses half of its capacity. If you’re on the field, having a battery pack case will be a life-saver, especially since you barely have to think about it when you have it on at all times.
Recommendation: Anker 20100mAh PowerCore
Again, phone batteries really suck. On my Urbanist broadcasts that usually run between 1.5–2 hours, my phone battery and battery pack case are almost completely drained. I recommend having an external battery encase, especially if you want to ensure that all of your videos have time to upload to HD.
Recommendation: Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot — AC791L
If you’re based in the US, a mobile wifi is only needed when you’re on the field. Mobile Wifi has a few advantages over using data on your phone:
- It’s cheaper. Data on your phone can be very expensive and companies like Verizon tend to charge cheaper when you’re using a mobile wifi.
- It’s slight faster. Basically the built-in antenna has a higher capacity of data transfer. You can get into the nitty gritty by sleuthing through the internet on the subject.
- You save battery because your phone is working less in maintaining a steady signal. This is what I’ve noticed after months of doing live-stream.
Recommendation: Zhiyun Smooth 3
When I first used a gimbal, the smoothness of the footage blew my mind. Suddenly I don’t need to walk slowly or control my breathing in order to minimize shakiness. I can walk, run, look over, pan up and down, dance, and do many other interesting things with the camera smoothly without any hint of shakiness. If you intend on moving around during your broadcast, by all means use a gimbal and viewers will have their eyes glued to the screen.
First of all, people vastly underestimate the quality of the iPhone’s mic, especially considering that Facebook Live compress your audio anyway. Unless you’re broadcasting musical performance or in a windy environment, most viewers won’t be able to tell the difference between the iPhone mic and an external mic. But, if you’d like that audio quality edge to satisfy the audiophiles out there, the Sennheiser ClipMic is great if you’re talking on your own.
Open Broadcasting Software
This by far the best software to use if you want broadcast pre-recorded material, video chats with multiple people, podcasting sessions, and the possibilities are endless! While other companies would convince you that you need to shell out thousands of dollars for a full live-streaming production suite, OBS gives it to you completely free!
That’s all of the gear I use to tell great stories for Urbanist and the major media companies I’ve worked with. Of course, the specifics are up to you, and there’s hundreds of different ways to utilize Facebook Live. Just make sure that the gear you use is for enhancing the story and the interaction, as opposed to hindering it. Now go forth and make magic happen!
If you have any gear recommendations you’d like to share or have any questions, feel free to chime in the comments below!
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