Live Video Streaming

This page provides a non-technical overview of how to stream your event.

In a hurry? Try our simple webcam broadcast page, advanced broadcast page, or advanced desktop streaming page.

Live video streaming has emerged as a critical component to face-to-face gatherings, particularly international events for which travel is expensive and environmentally destructive. With live video streaming, events that were previously exclusive to people who could afford to travel can be made significantly more inclusive.

Since early 2010, May First/People Link has answered multiple calls to provide support for audio and video streaming for social movement events such as the World and US Social Forums and the Cochabamba Climate Conference. We've learned many of the ins and outs of video streaming in vastly different circumstances all over the world. From Bolivia to Senegal, Palestine to Mexico, we have provided some form of virtual interactivity through broadcasting. No two situations have ever been the same and we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn't; and all using Free and Open Source Software.

As a movement, it's critically important that we continue developing this technology, using free and open source technology.

The problem with how streaming is currently done

There is an intense political battle being waged over the standards and protocols used for live video streaming. The left gained a huge victory with the defeat of the previous, proprietary and insecure protocol called flash and also with the adoption of the html5 standard for streaming video directly in web browsers. However, unfortunately the new standard for streaming in web browsers did not include the requirement to stream using a free video streaming codec, so this struggle continues.

Free software and protocols

Fortunately, free software (both cost-free and free of intellectual property constraints on sharing) provides technologically superior options for streaming. May First/People Link has both a simple way for anyone to stream from their web browser as well as a collection of tools for more advanced users. We recommend that any member interested in live streaming an event read below for important advice on how to proceed.

How does streaming work?

There are several components to video streaming:

  • Planning. The first step is to assemlbe your team. You'll need people to handle the onsite work and the server work. Recruit well in advance to ensure you will have the labor you need.
  • Audience: While debate rages about the mythical tree falling in the forest, a video stream that nobody watches is not very useful. People won't know about your video stream unless you tell them. Be sure to do outreach about your stream well in advance.
  • On site:
    • Internet connectivity: You will need some kind of broadband Internet connectivity. Cell phone data plans are a great backup, but not good enough to plan on as the primary Internet connection.
    • Audio: You cannot live video stream an event that is not amplified unless you only have one speaker and will have no questions from the audience. The audio system should allow for an audio out cable that can be made available for the live video stream.
    • Video camera: you can stream with the built-in camera on your laptop or even from your cell phone, but your options will be great limited (no zoom and it's really awkward to point your laptop at someone (especially since you won't be able to see the screen at the same time). You will be much better off getting a real camera with HDMI output and then purchasing a device that will convert HDMI into a signal that can plug into the USB port on your computer.
  • Server side:
    • A server running software that can stream video (May First/People Link maintains two Iceast servers for this purpose)

A live stream starts with the video camera and audio input. The video signal travels over the Internet to the server running streaming software.

Meanwhile, viewers visit either the web site of the streaming server or a web site with a tag that embeds the video stream. Every viewer sees the video as it is happening, live (there's a delay about 30 seconds to a minute).

For more technical details, see Free Video Streaming Technology

How can we make this happen for my event?

May First/People Link wants to make it a priority to partner with organizations that are committed to opening participation to their events with live streaming with the use of Free and Open Source Software. Especially, we encourage our members to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about FOSS alternatives to live streaming video.

May First/People is available for remote assistance, onsite support, and multi-day workshops.

If you are interested, please contact us at or open a ticket.

Last modified 3 years ago Last modified on Nov 15, 2018, 9:02:43 AM