News organizations across the country and around the world are experimenting with live video streaming, especially to Facebook, but YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram allow are popular options, too. NPR has been particularly aggressive about learning how to do Facebook Live well. It produced Facebook Live Guide to share with the public, and we’ve excerpted some of the best practices here:
Audio is still important
Best practices for radio also apply to video. While you’re thinking through the production, don’t forget about audio. Low-level, off-mic or distorted audio will cause your audience to turn away. We make best efforts to prevent audio problems before they happen and to match NPR’s audio standards in our video broadcasts.
Among the practices to keep in mind:
- Choose the right mic for the environment you’re in.
- Hold the mic close to the subject.
- Select the shot locations based on how it looks and how it sounds.
- Use a windscreen.
This is not TV
When possible, avoid a talking-head, broadcast model. Always look for ways to add interactivity or visual value.
Tag team when possible
You can shoot a Facebook Live video by yourself. When at all possible, though, it’s preferable to have someone else holding the camera and, ideally, another person fielding questions and providing context and links in the comments. If you’re on your own, we highly recommend using a selfie stick for better stabilization. You should also get an XLR-to-iPhone dongle for your mic.
Talk back to your audience
An essential feature of Facebook Live is that viewers can leave comments in real time. Respond to comments. You can read and curate them during a broadcast—and you really ought to. This is obviously easier if you’re not flying solo.
Check your connections
Connectivity is key. Test your connection before going live to be sure your broadcast does not cut out. Time permitting, go to the location, shoot a day or two early and test connectivity. Decide beforehand if you will use Wi-Fi or cell service. And make sure to have a backup plan, because going live depends on solid connectivity.
Choose the right camera
Mobile phones are best for “run-and-gun,” in-the-field moments. We’ve developed a workflow for HD cameras, but they sacrifice agility for higher video quality. If you have the luxury of choosing mobile versus HD cams, be strategic about what video quality is necessary to tell your story.
On the site, NPR also shares details about the equipment in its live kits and promises to keep the page updated as the news organization learns more about the genre.