Basic Live Streaming

Basic live streams can be run directly through any college social media account with little to no direct involvement from College Communications.

If you are considering undertaking a live stream for your program or event, College Communications is happy to meet with faculty and staff and provide training and the skills and knowledge needed to execute a basic live stream on your own.

Anatomy of a Basic Live Stream

Basic live streams are up close, personal, and high action. These types of streams are ideal for up close and personal live videos taken just feet away from the action.

Low-tech, Lower Quality, Minimal Staffing

  • Because these streams follow the action very closely, these basic live streams are typically taken by one user with a mobile device or smartphone.
  • Typically, these live streams depend solely on a mobile data plan or wireless internet connection.
  • A minimum upload speed of 3-8 mbps is necessary to complete a basic live stream to sites like Facebook Live, Twitter/Periscope, Instagram, or YouTube Live.
Lower Quality does not mean poor quality and/or unplanned production
  • A few basic preparations and tools can transform shaky and unprofessional “in the moment” streams into well planned and high quality live videos while maintaining the “in the moment” social media feel.

Best Practices for Basic Live Streams

Typically, when recording or going live via a smartphone, it is ideal to use the same best practices used for professional videography. You can find some best practices, tips, and tricks on the Davidson website, including in the College Communications Marketing Toolbox.

Smartphone Orientation

Always record video in landscape or horizontal view. Never shoot video in vertical view unless you are shooting for a specific platform that calls for it, e.g., Instagram Stories, Snapchat.

Steady the Camera

Use a tripod or monopod whenever possible or brace the camera against your body or another object (three points of contact) to stabilize the video you are shooting.

Use Manual Settings

Try to control your video settings when possible verses shooting in full auto mode—focus, exposure, shutter speed, ISO, audio levels, etc. The Filmic Pro app, available for iOS and Android, is a great tool for gaining control over your smartphone video and audio settings. 

Use an External Mic

Use an external microphone whenever possible. Although the microphone on the iPhone will capture audio, it also captures a lot of ambient noise, which can be distracting to viewers. An external shotgun or lavaliere mic will narrow the focus of the recorded audio to that of your subject matter.

If an external mic is not available try to record your video’s audio as close to your subject as possible—within 3-4 feet is ideal. Follow this same best practice when using an external shotgun or lavaliere mic—the closer the mic is to the subject, the better the audio quality). Here are some additional audio recording tips.


Try to find a relatively quiet location free from distractions, air conditioners, mowers, blowers, buzzing from fluorescent lights or electronic equipment.

To ensure good quality audio, it is always best to monitor the audio recording with headphones during your video shoot. If continuous audio monitoring is not possible, be sure to test your audio by recording some video before you go live and then listening back with headphones to ensure good audio quality.

People may watch a poorly captured video, but if the video’s audio is poor, hard to hear, or distracting, people are less likely to stay tuned into your video very long.


Choose a well-lit location for you video shoot—one that is not too bright or dark, in direct sun, or filmed directly toward a bright window

Equipment to Consider Purchasing

Provided below is a list of inexpensive equipment that can be used to capture significantly improved video and audio when using your smartphone.

B&H Photo is typically a good source for equipment, but you can also look to Amazon, Adorama, and other sites. Depending on what you order from the list below it can run you around $150 not including tax or shipping. Depending on cost of your order, B&H typically offers free two-day shipping and if you are an Amazon Prime member, you also get two-day free shipping.

  1. Filmic Pro for iOS or Android ($15 or $10) – used to manually control video and audio settings on smartphones, including focus, exposure, white balance, audio gain. Multiple Filmic Pro training tutorials are available through their website. Filmic Pro is for use with recording video for later editing. It is not used for live video.
  2. Smartphone Mount / Holder ($5) – a smartphone mount/holder is necessary to affix your smartphone to a flash/camera bracket. You can often find this same mount at a dollar store, Walmart, Target, or other stores as part of a selfie stick. Look for a mount that offers a 1/4” screw at the both so you can mount it to the 1/4” screw on the flash/camera bracket.
  3. Flash/Camera Bracket ($15) – a flash or camera bracket provides a platform for mounting a smartphone, external microphone, external light source, and other video accessories on a tripod or monopod.
  4. Rode VideoMicro ($59) – the Rode VideoMicro is a small, inexpensive external shotgun microphone that offers a substantial improvement over the audio captured by smartphones. The mic mounts on the flash/camera bracket shoe mount detailed above.
  5. TRS to TRRS cable ($15) – a TRS to TRRS Rode cable is a necessary accessory allowing you to capture the audio from the Rode VideoMicro with smartphone headphone jack. A TRS port shows two black bands on the metal input, whereas the TRRS input shows three black bands. The gray side of the cable plugs into your iPhone headphone jack (iPhone 5, 6, or SE) or iPhone adapter (iPhone 7/7s), the red end plugs into the external mic.
  6. iPhone 7/7S Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter ($9) – the iPhone 7/7s lightning adapter is only necessary for newer iPhone models without an iPhone jack. This adapter should have been provided to you with your iPhone 7/7s purchase.
  7. Tripod ($24) or Monopod ($15) – an inexpensive tripod or monopod can be used to stabilize the video footage that you capture for recorded or live video interviews. Since you are only mounting a smartphone, weight is less of a factor. If you want to have smooth video movements you’ll want to upgrade to a video tripod/monopod and video head.