Tackling Broadcast Delays, Audio & Syncing Issues from Streaming

Tackling Broadcast Delays, Audio & Syncing Issues from Streaming

Looking for some tips to combat broadcast delays caused from streaming? Plagued by audio and syncing issues and need some help? Buffering got you down?

Join us as one of our Customer Success reps focuses on how to tackle some of the most common issues our broadcasters face.  The advice is broken into four parts, each focused toward tackling top issues related to live video streaming. Use the navigation below to jump to a particular issue, including tackling the general equipment workflow. If you are looking for more in-depth studio setups, though, please reference our Video Studio Recommendations white paper.

Broadcast delays from shooting to stream

3, 2, 1, Start Broadcast! Now what?

With any broadcast, especially in television, there is always a delay! When you broadcast live and notice a 30+ second delay there are multiple hops that are involved to make your broadcast hit the player on Ustream. To have a better understanding, the chart below helps to explain the process required to make your broadcast happen on Ustream’s platform.

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Now let’s go into the workflow of this process, and each element required.

Production equipment workflow

IBM Cloud Video, and its Ustream solution, is a powerful platform to broadcast live – it’s as simple as setting up your account, connecting your camera and encoder, and pushing the “GO LIVE” button. Sometimes, however, broadcasters can hit a bump in the road before, during, or after their broadcast. We know at times it can be frustrating figuring out why your audio is out of sync or why your equipment is not working. Perhaps you are experiencing excessive buffering or your broadcast just isn’t showing up on mobile. Don’t worry, broadcasters: we can help!

Before your broadcast, do some research. IBM Cloud Video offers knowledge base articles on their support page at support.ustream.tv. See what software is recommended for streaming from your device(s). It is always important to first research the right software before purchasing expensive equipment that might not work.

Here are key items you will need in order to broadcast:

  • Camera
  • Microphone / Audio
  • Capture device
  • Encoder
  • Internet

Camera

There are a couple of cameras out there that are recommended for high-quality streaming. You can either use your built-in camera from your computer, USB connection camera (Logitech C920 or newer model), or a camera with an HDMI or SDI output.

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Microphone/Audio

Audio is the feature that makes your stream come alive and captures the perfect sound for your broadcast. You can capture your audio either from your built-in computer microphone, camera, mobile device, or an external microphone that runs through an audio mixer into your computer. Here are a few cable examples:

XLR cables:

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RCA cables:

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For more information on XLR and RCA cables Click Here

Capture Device

Using a capture device is important to have especially when you use a camera that has an HDMI or SDI output. With a camera that has an HDMI or SDI output, plug that into your capture device and your computer using a thunderbolt cable. For PC users, Blackmagic offers capture device cards. However, if you are using a USB camera [Logitech C920, for example] you do not need a capture device, just plug it straight into your computer. For more information on PC computers, Click Here

Blackmagic Intensity Extreme (Capture device recommended):

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Encoder

There are multiple encoders out there you can use to broadcast: Ustream Producer, Wirecast, Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE), or the “GO LIVE” button. These encoders are downloadable. Make sure your computer is up-to-date on its flash, in order to support the encoder you have chosen. First, connect your camera to the capture device into the computer and then launch the encoder. The encoder allows you to control what you want to be broadcasted to your channel. Download an encoder for free and familiarize yourself with its different features and the way in which it works.

Internet

When broadcasters have slow Internet connections, they experience choppiness and buffering during their stream. Before every broadcast make sure you run a speed test on the computer you are broadcasting from (speedtest) and see where your upload and download speed ranges. Your target number should be 2.5 mbps and above. Once you reach this mbps range (or above), set the broadcast setting to match your bandwidth. Click here for more information on bandwidth requirements. Hardline is recommended rather than wireless for quality streaming- make sure it has a good connection and that you are the dominant user.

Battling with bandwidth

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When it comes to broadcasting to your channel page, the most important thing you should always have is a reliable Internet connection.

When you are watching your broadcast and experience buffering, choppiness and at times a blue spinning wheel, don’t panic! Here are key items you should follow before every broadcast.

BEFORE every broadcast, we strongly recommend the following:

  • Hardline Internet connection is recommended when it comes to reliable bandwidth during your broadcast. If wireless is the only available option, make sure you are the dominant user.

  • Run a speedtest from the computer you are broadcasting from. Please visit www.speakeasy.net/speedtest and select the San Francisco server to check your upload speed. The most important part of this test is the upload speed.  If your goal is to broadcast in HD, you must have at least 2.5 mbps and above for your upload speed level. If you experience lower than 2.5 mbps then SD is your only option.

  • When you are encoding your broadcast settings, make sure to match it with your bandwidth level. For example, if your upload speed is at 1 mbps then the highest bitrate should encode at is 500 kbps, because the bitrate level will fluctuate during the broadcast. If you exceed your available bandwidth the stream will buffer and die.  Please review the chart below for appropriate bandwidth and broadcast settings. Very helpful!

Recommended Encoding Settings

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  • If buffering still occurs throughout your broadcast (test as early and as long as possible), try lowering the bitrate on your encoder to match with the available upload speed

  • Ustream Producer offers a great feature! During your broadcast, keep an eye out on the frames per second (located above preview and live display box). It should stay between the numbers 29-30 fps.

Check out our helpful knowledge base articles about bandwidth! Encoding Specs and Stream Settings, Recommended Broadcast Settings in Producer, Streaming to Ustream from the Newtek Tricaster.

To help with delivery, IBM Cloud Video and Ustream also utilize a combination of quality of service (QoS) and adaptive streaming in the player. This is setup to give the end viewer a more ideal experience. To read more about this technology and how it works, check out our Adaptive Bitrate Streaming white paper.

Audio and syncing issues

Hello Audio, Are You There?

Audio can be a bit tricky sometimes, but it is the feature that makes your stream come alive and captures the perfect sound for your broadcast. You can capture your audio either from your built-in computer microphone, camera, mobile device, or an external microphone that runs through an audio mixer into your computer. But, when you notice something strange going on with your audio not matching up with the image, take a step back.

In the production equipment workflow area above, I highly recommend that for every broadcast there should be a test. Make sure your broadcast settings match up with your audio and camera. Record your test and play back to see if your audio is in sync or out of sync. When the audio is connected into the computer make sure you see levels moving up and down from your mixer and encoder (i.e., Ustream Producer, FMLE, and/or Wirecast).  Questions to ask yourself; broadcast settings match up? Is your encoder settings selected at H.264? Do you see levels coming from the audio mixer and encoder? For more information on the correct settings, check out our knowledge base article – Please use H.264 Encoding Instead of x.264 in Wirecast and Producer 5

Set up an audio sync delay for your broadcast. This allows for you to set up in milliseconds of how much delay you want to add to the audio signal. Ustream Producer offers this feature that is built into the encoder. Check out our Audio knowledge base article – Audio. This article shows you how to set up your audio sync delay and other important audio feature to be aware of.

Summary

If I could instill one nugget of knowledge from this article, it would be the following:

Test, test, test, before every broadcast! We don’t want you to run into any problems during your broadcast 🙂

Hope this article was helpful and gives you the edge in improving your broadcasting technique. Not already on IBM Cloud Video or Ustream? Get started for free.

Have fun and happy streaming!

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