To send an RTMP stream to UpStage, you need to use a streaming application on your computer or mobile phone. There are many applications you can use; the only requirement is that it can send a stream in the RTMP format (RTMP = real time messaging protocol). If you’re looking for information about streaming using Jitsi, please see the Meeting tool chapter.
This manual provides instructions for the desktop application OBS and the mobile app Larix Broadcaster:
- OBS: https://obsproject.com/
- Larix Broadcaster: https://softvelum.com/larix/
Once you’ve installed the streaming application of your choice, you need to:
- create a Stream media item in UpStage, then
- configure your streaming application, and
- optimise your stream settings.
Then you’re ready to get your stream on stage!
Create a stream media item
Creating a stream media item on UpStage generates a unique key to enter into your streaming app, and allows you to assign your stream to the stage or stages where you want to use it.
- From Backstage, go to the Studio and hover over the three dots to the right of the “+ New” button (do not click the button).
- A dropdown menu appears with the option “RTMP Stream” – select this.
- In the edit interface that appears, give the stream a name. You can also enter a unique key, which can be the same as the stream name, or leave this blank and the key will be automatically generated.
- Assign the stream to the stage or stages where you want to use it.
- Click “Save”, and the edit interface closes. You should see your new stream at the top of the media list, with a QR code as its preview.
- If you’re using Larix Broadcaster on a mobile device, you can scan this code to directly import the settings.
- If you’re using OBS, click on the QR code and a pop-up window opens with the configuration instructions, along with screenshots of the OBS settings. Click the red buttons to copy the URL and key, and paste them into your OBS settings.
Configure your streaming application
If you haven’t already got the settings, you can scan the QR code from any of these places: the media list in Studio; the stream’s edit interface; and the Streaming toolbar overlay on a stage that you’ve assigned the stream to. Scan this code with a QR reader app, then click to import your unique key and the UpStage streaming URL into the Larix settings. Depending on the QR reader app you’re using, you may need to click “Visit URL”, “Browse website”, “Click to access” or something similar.
Then open Larix Broadcaser and click on the cog icon to access the settings:
- In “Connections”, you’ll see a new stream with the UpStage streaming URL and your unique key.
- Tap the key to activate it.
- Go back to the UpStage Settings menu and make any changes that you want, such as selecting “Audio only” in the audio settings if you only want to send audio. In the video settings you can select landscape or portrait orientation. Other adjustments to optimise your stream are explained below.
- Go out of the Settings menu and start your stream by tapping the red circle on the Larix camera interface. Next to this circle is a mute button to mute and unmute the audio stream.
Access the OBS configuration instructions by clicking on the stream’s QR code in UpStage’s Studio media list, or in the Streaming toolbar overlay on the live stage. A window opens with step-by-step instructions and screenshots for configuring OBS.
Click on the red icon at the end of the streaming URL and key to copy and paste this information to OBS.
The Output, Audio and Video settings can be configured to optimise your stream. Some suggestions are below, and there are many online tutorials and discussions about optimal settings for streaming from OBS.
Optimise your stream settings
Before you start sending an RTMP stream to UpStage, make sure that you’re not sending more data than necessary and have adjusted the settings to make the stream as good as possible for everyone in your audience. If you send a large high resolution stream, some people may have problems receiving it.
There are no universal optimal settings, as what’s best will depend on technical variables such as your audience’s bandwidth and devices, as well as artistic choices. You’ll need to experiment and try out different adjustments to find what is right for your technical conditions and for the specific performance.
When you’re testing different settings, make sure you always have others on the stage who can give feedback about how they’re experiencing the stream.
Resolution is the dimensions (height and width) of your video in pixels. To change the resolution go to “Video” in the settings menu of OBS or Larix.
The appropriate resolution will depend on how big you want your video to be on the stage – if you want it to fill most of the stage then you’ll need a higher resolution than if your stream is quite small. If you’ve chosen a lower resolution and then increase the size of the stream on the stage, it may become pixelated.
Tip: start with a resolution of 640×480, or 800×600 and see how this looks on the stage. If it looks great, try a lower resolution as it may give better speed. If it looks pixelated and you don’t want that, you’ll need to increase it.
The resolution also determines the shape – for example, 600×600 will give you a square stream, while 800×600 will be a rectangle. In UpStage you can use a frame to make your stream round (right-click on the stream on stage to access this option). If your stream is square then this frame will make it round, whereas a rectangular stream will become oval.
The bit rate is the size of the file per second of data, in kilobits or megabits per second. Lowering this will reduce the file size, and also the quality of your stream. The default bit rate in applications such as OBS and Larix is 2500. This can usually be reduced without significant loss in quality.
Tip: reduce the bit rate to 1000 Kbps and test the stream on stage. If the quality is dropping below what’s acceptable for your performance, increase it to 1500 or 2000 and test again.
If you think it’s likely that many in your audience may be on unstable connections or with older devices, you can choose to use a lower bit rate and accept a loss of quality in exchange for more of your audience being able to receive the stream.
The default frame rate 30 fps (frames per second). Reducing the frame rate will decrease the size of your stream, however the stream may also become choppy or there may be other noticeable loss of quality such as loss of lip-sync.
In OBS, you may have the option to change the encoder (this depends on the version of OBS that you have). Using the software encoder H.264 may improve the speed of your stream as this uses less of your computer’s CPU.
Both Larix Broadcaster and OBS have many other settings that you can play around with, and there are many online articles offering advice about how to optimise these and other applications for streaming. This manual is only a starting point.