Welcome to the second post in the Livestream troubleshooting series. In the first post we addressed bandwith, buffering and download speed, in this post we'll talk about some of the reasons you may not be seeing video or hearing audio in your playback.
Step one in this process is to diagram your equipment. This is helpful when checking connections, and while more simple set-ups don't necessarily need a diagram (livestreaming from a laptop using the webcam and the onboard mic is, for example, is a short diagram) but as the complexity increases, so does the chance of something simple going wrong.
People get exasperated when IT's first question is "have you checked to see if it's plugged in?" But more often than not, this is exactly the problem when things randomly don't work right.
Draw a simple diagram of how your each component in your equipment interacts with each other component. Include every point of contact, especially power cords. Going down the check list item by item, making sure that every connection is solid isn't just a good idea, it's also a great calming exercise when you're starting to get flustered with malfunctioning equipment. Think of it as a technology-assisted meditation.
Below is a sample diagram based on my personal livestreaming set-up.
If everything is plugged in, and it still doesn't work, go to the Control Panel, or System Preferences if you're on a Mac, and make sure that your audio and video preferences are set to use the equipment you're working with. Frequently computers will keep their built in camera and microphone as the default until you set up a different input.
Then go to the encoding and broadcasting software you're using and ensure that they are also set to receive audio and video from your equipment.
Adobe Encoder users: Some set-ups will give the encoder multiple input options (1080p, 780p NTSC, etc) but encoder will only output one of them. For some reason, Encoder will reset these preferences every. single. time you load a new broadcast connection. Once you get your video and audio coming through the encoder, WRITE THESE SETTINGS DOWN! I've been through this with Adobe Encoder. If you're familiar with Adobe, it makes sense most of the time, but for some reason this glitch is one of the easiest to overlook.
Blackmagic users: Your Blackmagic will have come with a program called the Blackmagic Speed Test. This isn't bloatware, it's really, amazingly helpful and will tell you the exact limitations of your video and audio streaming quality given your network and equipment. Use the Speed Test, trust the Speed Test. Speed Test is law.
If, after all this, your video still isn't coming through, it's time to go back to the diagram. One item at a time, perform every necessary test to determine whether or not the component is working. Plug it into some other system you know is working; check all requisite lights, dials, and other indicators.
And if it still doesn't work, call me. 310-876-8538.