Mobile Live Streaming App

Looking for a mobile live streaming app to do one-to-many broadcasts? Maybe create a live stream to engage an audience, educate colleagues or give a glimpse of an event to coworkers?

IBM Watson Media released a new mobile application for iOS and Android that allows users to broadcast from their device to an IBM Video Streaming channel. This is done through, as noted in the white paper Live Video Delivery System Built for Scalability, a multi-CDN infrastructure that allows for immense scale, having been utilized to support concurrent viewership of over a million, while also bolstering reliability as well.

Read on to learn more about using this app, advantages, use cases and tips for producing better looking video with it.

Starting the mobile app

There are just a few steps needed to start broadcasting from the IBM Video Streaming app. The first is, of course, to download the app. This can be done through the Google Play Store or via the Apple App Store.

Once starting up the app, you’ll be asked to login to an IBM Video Streaming or IBM Enterprise Video Streaming account. The application is integrated with the IBM Enterprise Video Streaming platform, and uses the very same authentication layer as the platform itself, providing enterprise-level security. Each administrator with broadcasting rights can log in to the app with their IBM ID. After logging in, you’ll be asked in the app to authorize the ability to broadcast to these channels.

Afterwards you’ll either choose an account, if you are part of an organization, or choose a channel if you only have access to one account. With that, you can now start to broadcast.

Live streaming with your phone

Once you’ve selected a channel, you are ready to begin. 

You’ll find a big red button on the screen that will be used to initiate the stream. Click this at any time that you want the broadcast to start on the selected channel. When finished you can click this area again to stop.

In addition to starting the stream, the interface offers a couple of different options. These are optional, meaning you don’t have to select them before starting your broadcast. They include:

  • Camera: Let’s you choose the source that will be used for the live stream. This is most often going to allow you to choose between a front and rear facing camera, allowing you to either present directly into the camera or capture what’s around you.
  • Flash: Clicking this will engage the built-in flash features of your phone for the rear facing camera.
  • Mute: If you want to do a broadcast without audio, this option will mute the audio channel.
  • Quality: You can control the quality level of the broadcast as well. The most common options are to choose between 720p and 1080p, both of which are high definition.

In terms of the quality, many modern mobile phones come with an advanced camera that can produce high video quality. In respects to the app, the standard quality what we offer with the platform is 1080p with 30 frames per second, this averages out to about a 3 megabits/second bitrate. 

As a side note, please keep in mind that once you start your broadcast certain settings can’t be changed while the stream is live. This includes the quality setting and also changing the camera source on certain devices, although changing the camera has been tested to work on iOS devices.

Advantages of the mobile live streaming app

Ease of use is the ultimate benefit of the app, empowering enterprise employees who often have to use multiple tools in their work day. The app was designed to satisfy the need for one-to-many live video broadcasting to support the live-to-VOD workflows and use-cases of the enterprise. Employees can use the IBM Video Streaming mobile app to create a live broadcast, which is processed by the IBM platform. 

Benefits of this approach include that the ingested video is transcoded into multiple bitrates for adaptive bitrate streaming. Similarly, live broadcasts are stored in the cloud by default as recorded videos. This allows end-users to make some edits on the recorded video through the platform, clipping unwanted moments at the start or end. In addition, things can be added to the archived version such as defining a title, description or adding custom metadata. IBM Watson also goes to work analyzing the content, generating closed captions automatically while also powering deep search capabilities, allowing users to type in keywords and search inside of a video based on what was said.

Users can configure the viewer access controls and distribute the video content via sharing the URL of the recorded video or embedding the IBM player into their post-event landing page. Finally, the content creator can periodically visit the web-dashboard to check how the content was received, what are the viewership numbers, engagement of specific users with the content, etc. 

App SDKs

For those who have their own enterprise-grade content distribution systems and mobile solutions, IBM can also provide the IBM Video Streaming app SDKs for iOS, Android and macOS. These SDKs were built in a very generic, modular, scalable and customizable manner, with the purpose to enable enterprises building their own custom solutions, if they don’t want to use the out of the box IBM Video Streaming apps. This enables organizations to integrate live video streaming capabilities into their own applications and fully customize the end-user experience. In fact, the IBM Video Streaming app for content creators is using the very same SDKs what we distribute for our customers and its secondary objective is to demonstrate the capabilities of the SDKs.

Use cases

With the IBM Video Streaming app, IBM is reducing the barrier of entry for producing live video content for the enterprise. The use cases for this are many, and include:

  • C-level executives can easily create authentic, personal one-to-many live broadcasts and to address large audiences easily, without the need of a professional video production crew. 
  • Salespeople can broadcast to their teams from remote locations to quickly share mission-critical information, to create awareness and shared understanding about the opportunity they have, so they can close a great opportunity faster.
  • HR professionals can communicate local and regional changes in legislation and company policies or can easily broadcast training or educational videos for large audiences on remote locations.
  • Technology and solutions evangelists can easily live broadcast their events, meetups, and tech-talks to engage peers, create a shared understanding and drive adoption of best practices. 
  • Using the underlying Broadcaster SDKs of the IBM Video Streaming app, a company that builds, operates and maintains large infrastructures, can create a custom software solution for drones, that can live broadcast video to their monitoring platforms. Using the drones with the custom broadcaster software, the company could assess the condition of a bridge that is hard to approach or could monitor highways to identify incidents and to react quicker, while reducing the cost of operations. 

Tips: steadiness with a tripod or gimbal

Now that we have walked through the process, use cases and benefits, we’ll cover a couple of different tips to produce video content that looks a bit more professional. First off is the steadiness of the image, avoiding something that’s overly shaky. One approach to achieve this can be through a tripod. This can be a full length tripod, or a little one that is placed onto a table. Going this approach can be relatively cheap, which has the advantage of being easier to equip a whole team with the gear needed to execute a live stream. That said, a tripod is not mobility friendly. If you need something a bit more aigle this is where a gimbal comes into play.

Recording video using a gimbal with the Mobile Live Streaming App

If a gimbal is an unfamiliar term, it’s essentially a stabilizer for a device to aid in creating steady video content. This type of technique has been a stable in movie production for ages, but has drifted into mainstream with the advent of consumer mobile devices. 

For how it works, a gimbal contains a three axis system, with digital sensors and motors that help the stabilizes the tilt, pan, and roll of the phone. As a result, if you move side to side, or up and down, or back and forth, the gimbal stabilizes the video, removing the shakes that are almost inevitable with video shot with the camera in your hands. 

Tips: stable connection and testing

A strong network connection is required for live video broadcasting, especially on higher bitrates and resolutions. We recommend broadcasting under a 4G or WiFi network connection. It’s also recommended to test at the broadcast location first. This can give a sense of how strong the connection actually is there, while also letting you validate and correct for conditions. Is it too dark? Too light? A quick test can allow you to correct some of these with enough time, bringing in additional lighting for example or slightly changing the angle.

Tips: consider audio accessories

It can be all too easy to focus on the video, but the audio quality is also a key component. Even the best cell phones can be the victim of picking up outside noises too much. To help correct this, a lavalier microphone made specifically for use with mobile devices can be utilized. These can be clipped onto the presenter’s collar and will allow for their voice to be picked up more clearly.  Furthermore, lavaliers can come in both wired or wireless form.

Summary

As technology progresses, we find ourselves living in an era in which every company has to operate as a media company to successfully engage with not just clients clients but with the large internal employee-base. The IBM Video Streaming app, together with the IBM Enterprise Video Streaming platform is making this approach more accessible to every walk of the enterprise, empowering more people inside companies to be proactive in the video content being developed there.

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