Welcome back to Gaming Careers! In this video, we're talking about livestreaming away from your PC.
IRL and outdoor streaming has become very popular on Twitch over the last few years. Some streamers like
theRealShooKon3 travel around the world and share their experiences with their viewers.
There are some technical challenges involved with running an IRL or outdoor stream. You can't stream without a computer, power, or a stable internet connection.
This video will show you how to get started with your own IRL streaming kit - from using your phone to professional Gunrun Backpacks.
Why Should You IRL Stream?
The main reason to livestream IRL aspects of your life is to share more of the behind-the-scenes with your audience. The more they see of you in your real life, the more they're going to feel a real connection to you as a creator.
Sharing aspects of what goes on behind the curtain, behind the scenes with your audience builds a deeper connection with them.
If you look at any of the big creators on Twitch or on YouTube, they're often sharing aspects of their life with their audience and building that really tight-knit community. Also stay tuned towards the end of this video, as I will be sharing my plans for IRL streams over the next couple of months. Something that I don't think has been done before on Twitch.
How to IRL Live Stream for Free
By far the most basic way to get set up for IRL live streaming is to use your phone as the camera. Both Streamlabs and StreamElements have mobile apps for iOS and Android that allow you to stream to Twitch using the camera and microphone. They have made the setup process simple. I would suggest using a selfie stick or mini tripod to hold your phone and make streaming smoother and more stable. These can be picked up for a very low price on Amazon.
Disadvantages of Using Your Phone to IRL Stream
Now, the main disadvantage of using an app and your mobile phone to run an IRL stream is that you are only using one connection. So your mobile phone is paired with a network, in America the popular ones are Verizon, AT&T, and around the rest of Europe you have Vodafone and other carriers like that, but you have only had a connection to one carrier, which means that you probably won't be able to get the best data rates and stream the highest quality video. You also run into issues where, if you're moving around while streaming, you might not have great service from your provider in that location and then the stream could cut out, buffer for your viewers, or, worst case scenario, it could completely stop working and then you would have lost all the hard work of building up the audience.
In my opinion, it's really important to prioritize the stability of your IRL stream over the quality. So, I would recommend if you're going to be streaming from your mobile phone, to stream at no higher than 720P 30FPS, and then the bit rate somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 kilobits per second, just depending on what you can maintain and what is not going to cause any buffering issues for your stream. I know that doesn't sound like it's super high quality, but it's actually very watchable in terms of IRL content because you've got a lot of colors and contrast going on in the real world, so it doesn't need to be quite as high a bit rate as it does when you're playing video games and you have a much more stable connection. But, as I said at the beginning, I really think you need to prioritize the stability of your IRL stream over the quality, because if you have great quality, but it keeps cutting out and buffering for your viewers every minute or every two minutes, that isn't a great viewing experience.
The Gunrun/IRL Backpack for IRL Streaming
So let's say that you have run a few mobile IRL streams that have gone down really well with your audience, but you want to invest a little bit now to be able to up the quality and be a lot more stable.
Unfortunately, it's quite a big jump to get to what these professional IRL streamers are running. These IRL backpacks or Gunrun backpacks, as they're often referred to, are named after the person who started putting these kinds of kits together: Justin Gunrun Ignacio. He was the second ever employee at Twitch, joining all the way back in 2011. Although he no longer works at Twitch, he and his community are still dedicated to helping IRL streamers set up these awesome backpacks that they can run for hours with really high quality and super stable streaming.
Gunrun actually hosted a panel about IRL streaming at Twitch Con at the end of 2018, and it was a super interesting talk. I'll leave a link to the Vod and a link to his Discord, where all of this IRL live streaming community resides and they discuss new builds and things like that.
So, a quick disclaimer before we get into the gear in this backpack:
This kit is expensive, not only to purchase but also to maintain with the ongoing costs of subscribing to unlimited mobile data plans for streaming.
This is really for people who have tested out IRL content with their audience using a mobile stream, which is free, and are looking to invest in this as a content type for their livestreams. I would only recommend purchasing this kit if you are serious about making an investment for your channel and improving the quality and stability of your IRL streams.
Okay, so I have all the pieces of kit here around me that you need to build one of these Gunrun or IRL backpacks. I'm going to go through each piece of the kit, explain exactly what it does and why it is needed to be able to run a successful and stable live stream outdoors, completely remote from any internet connection. So, let's get going!
So, first up we have the LiveU Solo. This is the brains behind the whole operation; it does all the smart stuff. This small box allows you to plug in an HDMI source (i.e. your camera) and it can take four internet connections: two via USB modem, one Ethernet, and one Wi-Fi. Then it combines all this bandwidth to send a strong and stable stream up into the Cloud.
So this box does all of the encodings as well as the actual streaming, sending that video data across to the Cloud so that you can stream to platforms like Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, any platform that has an RTMP service. So to understand why this is so essential, first of all think about what happens when you’re just streaming with your mobile phone, you have a 4G or LT connection to your carrier which helps you connect to the internet but you're not getting a super stable 5,000 kilobits per second stream there, it’s going to vary depending on how many other people are on the network, what the surrounding environment looks like, and your signal strength. One of the clever things that the LiveU Solo does is that it constantly analyzes how much available bandwidth there is across all the different connections. Remember you can have four different internet connections connected to this and the reason that you want that is because if you go into a location where one provider doesn't have a particularly strong signal you don't want your stream to die, the LiveU will constantly analyze that and send the video data across the other three or a combination of the other three connections so that your stream quality doesn't dip or the stream doesn't die altogether.**
This smart thing constantly analyzes the four connections plugged into it to ensure maximum stability and highest quality streaming while IRL streaming. It has roughly two hours of battery life, but you can plug it in for extra power. It comes with a pouch for attaching modems and a belt clip for making it convenient if you're not using a backpack.
Modems and Mobile Connections
So as I mentioned before, the LiveU Solo can take four different internet connections:
- two via USB
- one via Ethernet
- one via Wi-Fi
This means that for the USB connections, you can get small USB modems that take a SIM card and connect to the network via LTE or 4G, depending on your location. The Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections are a bit more complex.
If you're in an area with good Wi-Fi, you can connect to it using the Solo and use that bandwidth to stream. However, if you're out and about, and there is not reliable Wi-Fi, you can pick up small mobile routers that are powered by USB or their own battery and connect to the Wi-Fi from that for the LiveU Solo. You could also get routers that have an Ethernet connection, which plug into the Solo.
So, if you want to use all four connections, you would need to use two USB, one Ethernet, and one Wi-Fi. However, there's no requirement to use all four - I'd probably recommend just getting started with two, and seeing how that works for your bandwidth around the area where you'll be streaming.
Live Streaming Cameras
Okay, so you have the LiveU Solo, you have the data plans to be able to live stream — the only other thing you really need to run an IRL stream, one of these Gunrun style backpacks, is a camera and, of course, the LiveU Solo takes any camera input over HDMI, but there is one that is preferred in the community, and that is the Sony AS300 — a sort of bullet-action cam, really.
It's kind of like a GoPro, but it has a lot of benefits over the GoPro. You can see I've got a little mini dead cat over the microphone on mine, and that's one of the reasons this camera is so widely approved — the audio is really good, for an action cam. It does have an external mic input, if you would like to use one, but compared to the GoPro, this has much, much better sound — both for you, if you're wearing the camera, as well as people that you’re talking to in front of the camera.
The other thing that is awesome about this Sony camera is the image stabilization. So most people who are live streaming usually have this attached to some sort of mini tripod, or selfie stick that they're holding, or they wear it attached to their bag, or attach it to their head or something like that. And the image stabilization inside this is really good; it makes it a lot less jerky to watch if you're watching someone walk around with this attached to their body. But, as I mentioned, you can use any camera with the LiveU Solo.
So there are plenty examples of people using really professional grade cameras - one of my favorite streamers, the Kerbal Space Academy, goes to rocket launches and live streams the launches on Twitch using the LiveU Solo alongside a professional grade camera so that they can zoom all the way in from their safe viewing zone.
So the few things you need to consider when choosing a camera for this kit are:
- Can it output clean HDMI without any overlays?
- Is the output over HDMI also high-quality and 1080p, 60fps?
- Finally, if you'll be doing long streams, can the camera charge over USB while still outputting over HDMI?
The Sony AS300 outputs clean HDMI, 1080p, 60fps, and can be charged via micro-USB, making it a popular choice among IRL streamers on Twitch. Its image stabilization and microphone quality set it apart from the competition.
How to Extend Your IRL Stream to 9 Hours
As I mentioned, the LiveU Solo has roughly two hours of streaming battery life, and this camera has approximately 90 minutes of internal battery if you start with a full charge. So, you can go out and stream for an hour and a half with your new kit, but if you want to run a stream for longer, you'll need an external battery pack. The POWEROAK 50,000 milli-amp-hour battery is the most commonly recommended in the Gunrun and IRL streaming packs. It's heavy and big, but it's probably one of the best options for a long live stream, especially when using a backpack. Place it in the backpack and you should be good to go.
The main features you need are a 12 volt output to power the LiveU Solo, and USB power to keep your camera and any ethernet or Wi-Fi modems charged. You can use smaller, lighter, and less expensive batteries, but you will get less time for live streaming. This 50,000 milli-amp-hour battery will give you roughly 7-9 hours of live streaming.
How to Mount Your IRL Stream Camera
So we are nearly done I promise there's just a couple more things that you need to think about. The backpack and secondly the way that you want to actually mount the camera or hold the camera. So if we start with that you need to think about what your IRL live streams really going to look like. A lot of people mount the camera to a sort of selfie stick that way they can have their mobile phone attached to the selfie stick as well and be able to read chat, monitor chat and things like that. You can also very easily turn the camera around if you have it mounted on a selfie stick. The other popular option is to actually mount it to the backpack itself on the shoulder strap using something like this, this is the Stuntman Action Camera Mount for backpacks, this just sits on top of your shoulder strap, it attaches with some Velcro and then you can have the camera attached on top of that. So completely up to you how you want to mount it.
You could also go with a Gimble if you wanted some really really smooth footage, you could attach the camera to a Gimble but you have to think and bear in mind that you have two cables coming out of the back of this camera which is probably going to upset the balance of a Gimble a little bit, so that might be a bit more of a tricky option.
Which Backpack to Use?
The final thing to think about is the actual backpack that you want to use. Obviously if you're going to be using one of the big external battery packs as well as the LiveU Solo then you probably want something fairly comfortable to be wearing especially if you're going to be wearing it for seven, eight, nine hours.
So LiveU actually do sell the backpack themselves, if you open it up you can see there's plenty of ventilation as well as a big compartment inside to put the Solo as well as a battery pack. There’s also loads of different holes to be able to route wires and things like that.But you can absolutely just use a standard backpack, the one I've been using is a North Face Surge one, just a backpack that I already had, has a few different compartments, fairly well ventilated, and super comfortable to wear.
How the IRL Backpack Connects Together
So just to explain everything now that I have the kit all lying out on the table here, you have the battery pack which has a connection going to the LiveU Solo to keep that powered, that’s DC 12-volt power and you also have a USB connection to the camera to keep that powered. Then if you move across to the Solo, the Solo has two USB modems connected to itso that USB ports on either sides well as an HTMI input which is coming from the camera.
How to Stream to Twitch with the LiveU Solo
So in terms of actually choosing where you're going to stream to from your LiveU Solo, you know, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch is probably the one that most of you are wanting to stream to. That setup takes about five minutes, and you only need to do it once when you first receive your LiveU Solo.
Once that's actually setup you can then go live from the Solo with just one button press whenever you want to. So this configuration only takes about five minutes, you need to do it first time on setup, and if you ever need to change anything you can actually access the dashboard and control everything from a mobile phone as well. So it's really been built with the idea that people are going to be out and about when they want to start their live streams.
Prices for the IRL Backpack
So, we’ve covered a lot of the gear that goes into this streaming backpack. As I said in the beginning, it’s an investment—it’s expensive, but it’s the only real way to get the reliability and quality needed for someone who wants to take their IRL streams more seriously than a single mobile phone setup.
I'm going to break down the cost of the four main components of the setup:
- LiveU Solo
- Data/modems/internet connection
The other components are customizable, so I won't break down their cost. As I said at the beginning, I have links to everything in the description of this video, so you can check the prices at your local store by clicking those links.
So firstly the LiveU Solo, this cost around $1,000 depending on whereabouts in the world you are, but LiveU have distributors and resellers all over the world so make sure you go through their website if you want to find somewhere where you can source it locally. It is expensive but this is really the only piece of the kit that exists on the market nowadays that does exactly what it needs to do, which is combining all of that data, getting that reliability, getting that quality and it is a really smart and clever piece of kit. Absolutely an investment, but it's essentially your computer - it’s doing all of the encoding as well as the transmitting across the internet.
So $1,000 for the LiveU Solo. The camera I think you can get right now for just under $300. The Sony AS300, there are more expensive models that do 4K and things like that, but this one is so popular with streamers as I mentioned for the stabilization and the excellent audio quality.
The battery that I was mentioning earlier, the 50,000 milli-amp-hour version that can power your stream for seven to nine hours, retails for around $130 in the US. As I mentioned before, you can certainly get smaller ones and it's kind of a sliding scale; the bigger capacity battery, the more you’re going to be spending.
Finally, mobile data—probably the most annoying and certainly the ongoing cost of IRL streaming—is really difficult to get. I would recommend Unlimited IRL, as pretty much all of the big streamers use them. They have contracts with big providers all over the world—AT&T, Verizion, Vodefone—to provide truly unlimited data so that you can stream no matter where you are in the world, or within the United States. You can rent the modems from UnlimitedIRL; the cost for the modem as well as the data is roughly $140 per month. This is especially expensive if you're going to be stacking up to three or four of these modems.
They do have kits for people that want to do all four modems, I think they're around $600 a month. But you can certainly see why this is an expensive hobby, and one that you should really believe in and have trialed out before investing. I realize that this video is probably pretty long by now, there is still more to cover on this topic, how to get cool overlays and alerts and some of the things you're used to having in a normal OBS install when you're streaming from your computer, there are ways of doing that but I'm going to have to save them for a separate video because this video's just gone on so long.
Both LiveU and other external providers offer the ability to add overlays and cool graphics to your stream.
What am I Using the IRL Backpack For?
Now, at the beginning of this video, I said that I was going to reveal what I have got all of this kit for and what I will be streaming from an IRL perspective. A lot of people have said that my idea is crazy, but I'm committing to it in this video: I'm going to run a marathon in the UK in a couple of months' time and live stream it! I'll be running with a backpack, with a camera attached to me, so that I can interact with Twitch chat as I run. I'll also be raising money for charity, with donation alerts, text-to-speech, etc. It might be a silly idea, running with a big battery and a camera, but I think it would be an interesting technical challenge, as well as the physical challenge of running 26 miles (or 42 kilometers).
I'm not in the best shape for fitness, but I'm live streaming both my training and the marathon. If you would like to watch, support me, and chat to me during my long runs, please follow me on Twitch pagetwitch.tv/gamingcareers. It would be great if people come to encourage me or just chat while I'm out on these 3-4+ hour runs.
Outro and Thanks
Speaking of thanking people, I'd like to thank my patrons this month. These people have helped me run the Gaming Careers YouTube channel by pledging some small support to me on Patreon. This helps me run this full time and keep creating tutorials for you guys. So, thank you very much to you all.
If you're interested in becoming a patron, please check out my Patreon page.
I'll see some of you in one of my live streams, so please come by and chat with me. I'd really appreciate that. Subscribers, I'll see you in the next video. Peace!