Trying This LIVE Streaming Thing on YouTube

About a month ago I decided to take the plunge and did my first ever live-stream on YouTube. It was nerve-wrecking, I was moving so far out of my comfort zone. The first stream went quite well, until the end after 2 hours mark, my video and audio feed both got disconnected while the stream went on and people can still continue to leave comments on the live stream. I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what went wrong and troubleshooting to no avail, so I decided to end the stream. Fast forward a month later, which was last evening at 9pm, I did my second live stream, and this time, it went on without technical hiccup. 

Why do live stream? Well, this was one of the many ways to connect to the audience, made myself available, and I can answer questions in real time. As much as I prefer making pre-recorded and thoroughly edited videos, I acknowledge the importance of being raw, unfiltered, and just be present and speak directly to my audience. After all, without the audience watching my channel, Robin Wong does not exist. 

I did my live stream from the comfort of my bedroom. I am currently renting only one room, and I do not foresee myself getting an entire apartment any time soon. Having limited space is a huge challenge, hence I made most of my YouTube videos outdoor, where I can move freely and choose whatever background I want to film myself in. Now doing live, I need my computer with me, so you get to see a glimpse of where I work and sleep all at the same place. 

I know most live stream YouTubers would have elaborate setup, with crazy flashy disco lights dancing in the background, with more colors you can find on a rainbow. They have "professional, clean" looking background, as if the studio environment was created just for live streaming purposes. Maybe one day I will create such a setup, maybe not, but there are some I just cringe so hard seeing them trying too hard to impress people. Here is a thought, people want to see you, and interact with you live, not your colorful lights or crazy looking setup in the background. You don't need thousands and thousands worth of equipment and gear, just press that live button and start speaking to your audience! 

For me, I treasure the simplicity of things. That is my main ideology behind all my videos, keep it as easy, simple and plain as possible, and let the content and delivery shine. You don't need to look fancy or do anything flashy to get attention or make people to like you. You just have to be you, and to get people to like you, maybe you should be the better version of yourself? Be a better person, and everything else will get better around you. Minus the microphone that costs hundreds of dollars, minus the audio mixer/live-casting equipment that made you look like a radio DJ (admit it, you are not) and take away all the unnecessarily distracting LED lights. Show yourself. 

Well, who am I to speak, this was my second time going live. 

A few tips I can share. Connect the USB-C cable with power delivery into the camera, and you will not have to worry about the camera running out of battery or having to swap batteries in mid-stream. A simple hack, but it mitigates the constant looking at the battery level to ensure it has enough juice left. 

I also opened two windows, one for the stream, and a separate one just to monitor the comments, so that I could navigate around the comments a lot more efficiently. One thing about having about 100 people viewing you live at once, you get influx of comments and managing them can be quite a chore. I made a mistake of lingering too long on some questions that it took me more than half an hour to respond to a question in my first, previous stream, and I made sure I did not make the same mistake this time. 

While the setup was simple, I did have LED lights on me, to somewhat look a little bit more presentable. I am a photographer after all, so lighting is critical. I did have the main keylight from a large LED softbox from my left, and a small LED kicker light to balance some harsh shadows on my right. 

My speech and delivery were not perfect, I made too many mistakes which I wish I could just undo or start over, but I was reminded by a friend that going live means you have to go with some mistakes that are unavoidable, and that is perfectly fine. Definitely room for improvement, but speaking to a large audience is not easy, and I guess this will get better over time. 

Just like my usual video production, I practice minimalism. 

Everything is made to be simple, and stripped down. I don't use OBS software or any cool fancy apps, the more things to tinker around, the more chances of error and things going wrong. I piped my video feed into YouTube straight from the camera's HDMI output. I used a USB microphone to simplify things further, no need to worry about power, just plug and play and I was using a cheap microphone. Audio was not "professional grade" but it was clear, and my speech was perfectly audible, and I think the background noise was quite well managed at the same time. I used a single monitor screen (everyone asked me to use two or multiple monitor setup), like, guys, you only have TWO eyes. How many places do you want your eyes to roam around at the same time? My stream was setup for me to answer questions from start to finish, so my eyes were glued to the comments panel at all times! 

I have seen many people trying too hard, going the extra mile, making things super complicated that when something went wrong they don't know where to pin-point the problem. And something always goes wrong. I am just making things easy for myself to manage, because I am a one man crew, the less to think and worry about, the better. Instead, I'd concentrate my focus and energy into my delivery, and interaction with my precious audience. 

I was extremely nervous doing this live stream and that only proved one thing - I was outside my comfort zone. This was a good thing, I am exploring unfamiliar territories and I am learning new things. 

Will I do this stream again? Perhaps, but not too often. Now, I'd like to do maybe once a month, or once in two months, we shall see how things go. 

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