Spectacular Secrets from Story Crossroads Spectacular – Part 5 of 5

This is the fifth of five parts on tech skills needed to transform the live 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival into a virtual one called Story Crossroads Spectacular.

Secrets Revealed:

  • Part 1 – OBS…Software Worth the Struggle – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sound and Lighting – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Trial & Error – Test Runs – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Involving More Than One Language – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Multi-Streaming and “Scenes” – TODAY

Cords, cords, cords! And fun boxes and such to stick those cords into…thus the reason that multi-streaming with two or more cameras (in our case, three) that you hire amazing people to work this out.

Multi-streaming by itself is easy for me to do alone—only using my laptop with the built-in camera. “Easy” is relative but I purposely stream every Monday night from 9:00pm-9:45pm MDT on Twitch to practice AND share behind-the-scenes of running Story Crossroads. Even if no one tunes in, this keeps a nice record of takeaways or learning moments. If people do tune in, then there can be more of a conversation.

Anyway, I would go bonkers if I was multi-streaming AND running multiple cameras. Yet, I have seen it possible with the amazing in-home studio of Baba the Storyteller. Can I say–WOW! Check out his specific virtual storytelling page for an idea.

Though, the longer I see the streaming equipment, the more comfortable I become. Not to be head honcho over it…but more comfortable. Think of what it took for you to get used to a microphone as a performing artist. You were not a natural right away unless you constantly held toilet paper tubes to your mouth to practice.

You must have the right equipment. In part one, you learned that we had an intensity shuttle and splitter but did not accomplish all that we needed it to do with the number of camera feeds. In the collage picture above, you see an ATEM Pro that was lent to us by Joshua Halverston of Experience Event Center, Provo, UT. Joshua knew we wanted to get one for our inventory at some point (costs $1,000+ so looking for grant), and he recommended an ATEM Pro Mini instead of ATEM Pro. It’s more portable. Plus, even as technology changes, this would still be a great investment that would last 10 years+ if not longer.

To multi-stream for live-stream, you will want to open OBS or any other broadcasting software. OBS is free to download and runs beautifully. You will note above that the black screen with “Coming Saturday…” is the regular OBS part while the far left is my “Multistreaming” Dock. You must know that word: dock. I think of it as a fancy way to say “little box thingys” much like how you can have a chat box, control box, etc. But in the streaming world, think “dock.”

You have other “docks” if you go on the far top left of the OBS screen and click “View” then “Docks” then “Restream Channels.”

When new, start clicking around and find out what happens. Not every button. But I feel “safe” clicking things under “Docks.” If they are checkmarked, then they are already showing on your screen. You can click them off and on. I don’t like having all the docks on the screen. It gets crowded. Though, DON’T click “reset UI” or “lock UI” or “Custom Browser Docks…”. Be comfortable before you even delve there, if you would need it.

You will need a multi-stream service, and that will range in price depending on how many places you want to multi-stream. We chose to stream to: Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube. You could stream to 30+ platforms, but many are video game related and won’t make sense for storytelling. I LOVE how all the comments from these three places feeds into one chat box. There are even icons of those platforms so you can address that viewer in-the-moment or study further.

We narrowed down our multi-stream services to two companies: Restream and Streamyard. Either way, you are looking at about $40/month. If you search, you can usually find 20-30% off discount codes through Facebook or other ways for Restream. I consulted with our head videographer, Sterling Elliott, and both of us agreed that Restream was more “friendly” in our needs. Though, I know that Streamyard has been used by storyteller Simon Brooks. Go with your gut. Restream has a happy squid and Streamyard has a crazy duck…no, that was not what it came down to though–seriously, the squid is cuter. We loved that Restream had a specific listing of Zoom. Not that Streamyard cannot do Zoom multi-streaming, but Restream had a relationship with Zoom first.

When multi-streaming in Zoom, you need to be sure your settings are what they need to be. Jim Brule’ has a wonderful video on checking on your settings for Zoom. Of course, things are always changing, but this will give a wonderful visual checklist. Enabling to stream/multi-stream from Zoom is there. We commissioned him to do a 1-hour training with our Story Crossroads Board on Zoom as well as a 5-minute Zoom Basics video with our branding. So…highly recommend his expertise. Our attendees need as much training as the producers/hosts.

Now returning to OBS and live-streaming–let’s talk “scenes.” You will notice that the lower left side has possible places to upload scenes, which can be a picture or video that you click on either before, during, or at the end of a stream. There is also “sources,” which are possible images, text, your logos, music–many options–that feed into and/paint each scene. The “Coming Saturday…” is a text source in connection with my “Behind-the-Scenes Monday Night Streaming.” I can change and update that text and be as simple or as decadent as I wish.

We did not use any scenes in the middle because that was reserved for the main event–the performance! We did use a scene at the beginning to say the name of the session and who was performing. We used several scenes at the end to thank funders, thank American Sign Language interpreters, thank our videographers, etc. It is also smart to have a scene saying when you will stream next.

This was a SUPER IMPORTANT scene at the end of each stream–thanking our funders:

Note that this is a picture that fits the size of the streaming screen. You don’t have to keep to that size. You may want to have a small box to the side while streaming. For ideas on playing with scenes, check out this video by Tech Guides.

We “shut off” after a stream to give an actual break rather than leaving the cameras on with a sign saying “Break.” Certain platforms–like YouTube, Facebook, etc.–only allow a certain length of streaming. They vary from two hours to eight hours, but why not give everyone a break including the videographers? Be smart and courteous!

So, this is the “end scene” of this 5-part Blog Series, though more posts will be made in the future of tips as well as celebrating people who use storytelling. Until we tell again!

Want to discover more secrets beyond this 5-part Blog Series? Rachel Hedman will represent Story Crossroads at the National Storytelling Network’s CONNECTED Virtual Storytelling Conference & Festival on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 3:00pm-4:30pm CDT (2:00pm-3:30pm MDT). You can register for this session only or a conference package. There will be pay-per-view options of the recording afterwards.

Check out the the next adventure on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT from your computer- The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities.

See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Spectacular Secrets from Story Crossroads Spectacular – Part 1 of 5

This is the first of five parts on tech skills needed to transform the live 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival into a virtual one called Story Crossroads Spectacular.

Secrets to be Revealed:

  • Part 1 – OBS…Software Worth the Struggle
  • Part 2 – Sound and Lighting
  • Part 3 – Trial & Error – Test Runs
  • Part 4 – Involving More Than One Language
  • Part 5 – Multi-Streaming and “Scenes”

OBS…Software Worth the Struggle

I never heard of “OBS” until we needed to live-stream our storytelling festival. I only knew we had to stream this festival somehow. Facebook Live and YouTube were popular, though the thought of being confined to one platform or another did not sit well. Besides, I needed to look into Twitch due to what I learned from Julie Barnson, Executive Committee Member and a teacher with the Jordan School District. That school district banned Facebook and was not supportive of YouTube. Twitch was allowed for virtual field trips.

So not only did we need to stream a festival, but we needed to multi-stream. Though…shhhh…that is part five of this blog series. Let me tell you about OBS now so we can eventually get to that part five.

Story Crossroads got a free account on Twitch, which is famous for video gamers in showing themselves playing while simultaneously displaying their screens so you can follow along. I used to watch my brother play video games and actually enjoyed it. I never had to play it. His video game character was the hero in the story, and I was always rooting for a “happily ever after.” Nowadays, people stream these experiences. Instead of seeing someone’s back–like I did when my brother played–you can see facial expressions.

I was delighted to find that Twitch expanded to be a platform with thousands of performing artists, mainly musicians. Not many storytellers are on Twitch, though I hope to see that change. To stream on Twitch, I needed some kind of broadcasting software. OBS is not the only choice, but many people choose OBS because, well…it’s free. OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software.

I decided to download OBS onto the laptop as my laptop was newer than my desktop AND it had a built-in camera. There were many videos on how to download OBS. Yet, some people sometimes mentioned “capture card” or “scenes” or “studio mode.” Those phrases, besides “OBS,” were new. I may be decent with technology, but I do not consider myself technologically-inclined.

If I was going to understand this, I needed to call someone. An expert. A neighbor kid.

This same neighbor kid would babysit our kids – back before COVID-19 – and he is so smart that he could hack into any computer or software. Now, he has this knowledge but does not do anything with ill intentions. He simply is a curious person.

Anyway, I needed his advice.

When I attempted to download OBS, it would not happen. This neighbor kid emailed me different software to upload first so that OBS would be smooth. Nothing. He wondered what was going on, too. I went to the start-up menu of my screen, clicked the Windows symbol on the lower left, clicked on PC Settings then to “System” and finally to “About.” I rattled off that my laptop had Windows 10, 64-bit, up to 8 GB, etc. Although listed in the “About,” it was really the sticker underneath the keyboard that caught my attention. “And,” I continued, “I have intel CORE 17 inside.” I looked at the “About” stuff again and saw that intel was listed there so I could be more specific: Intel (R) Core (TM) i7-6400HQ CPU @ 2.60Hz. My neighbor was impressed with that and knew that my laptop was compatible for OBS.

Then he asked the important question, “Are your drivers updated on your intel?” Instead of responding with, “What?!? Huh?” I calmly stated, “That is a good question.” I did not know what a driver was though I told him that I get updates automatically. He searched around, did his magic, and emailed me a direct link to update. I discovered I had 4 drivers that needed updating. When that was done…THEN I could download OBS. Yes, I did pay my neighbor kid at a higher rate than when he babysits my three kids.

The first time you open OBS, it can be a little scary. Prepare yourself. Here is an image to help get acquainted:

Normally, it is all black in the center and not the split screen and, of course, not with the Story Crossroads logo. I then had to click on “Settings” under “Controls” towards the bottom right. Please learn some important ways to do this at this video. Keep in mind that the video is a couple years old so things will be similar but could vary slightly in how things look.

You will be tempted to touch the “Start Streaming” or the “Start Recording” buttons under “Controls.” Recording is less scary than streaming. When working out OBS, I accidentally recorded myself but thankfully did not stream as my hair was crazy, I had on no make-up, and you could only see my forehead and eyes because…well, I didn’t realize the button was pushed and I was a little overwhelmed by the buttons and settings. I ended up deleting that recording, but now I kind-of miss it. That could have been great when Story Crossroads has a documentary of how we started.

I am not kidding about the documentary. We have videotaped and interviewed people every year during the Festival. This year was different as we live-streamed and recorded.

I will return to OBS in the fifth part of this blog series. Plenty of adventures await me–and you–on these spectacular secrets.

Want to discover more secrets beyond this 5-part Blog Series? Rachel Hedman will represent Story Crossroads at the National Storytelling Network’s CONNECTED Virtual Storytelling Conference & Festival on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 3:00pm-4:30pm CDT (2:00pm-3:30pm MDT). You can register for this session only or a conference package.

Check out the the next adventure on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT from your computer- The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities.

See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.