Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up a computer for Facebook Live, part of Delivering Video to Facebook Live.
- In this case we're gonna explore using Facebook Live from a desktop computer. And I'm gonna share with you some strategies that anyone can use, whether you're in a cubicle or on a location or streaming from home. Now there are several things to check with the computer to make sure that it's properly configured. Let's start with one of the easiest ones, which is screen resolution. What we're looking for here is ideally you should set your computer screen to 16:9. This is a 1.77:1 aspect ratio.
The reason why I recommend this is that oftentimes even with Facebook Live you're gonna start sharing content from the screen. Maybe this is gonna be slides or the actually screen itself and you want that screen to be a 16:9 aspect ratio, because all of the video players that are in use on Facebook and other websites are 16:9. Do keep in mind though that this is not how most laptops or computers are configured. Most of them are configured 16:10. So you're going to need to use either the software control panel that comes with your operating system or potentially a third-party one.
For example, on my Mac here I can go under System Preferences and if I choose Display because I've plugged in an external display, that is a video monitor, it shows up with the 1080p or 720p resolution, which means the 16:9 aspect ratio. However, if I didn't have a computer plugged in I don't get those controls built into my actual display. What you'll see instead are just simple options that are smaller and larger.
However, I do have the ability here, using a third-party tool, like SwitchResX, to actually define a custom resolution or Current Resolutions and target something there, like 1080p directly. The controls on the Windows platform are very similar. You will find these under the System Preferences and what you're looking for is the monitor settings and you wanna adjust the custom resolution. You can also often access this by just right-clicking on the desktop and choosing to customize the screen.
Now you might consider 4K resolution and a lot of folks are very interested in 4K in the monitors, these are obviously gaining popularity, but there's something to keep in mind. There's two different types of 4K. Usually the one that you'll see used in web video is the ultra high definition, which has the exact same aspect ratio of 1.77:1, it just has double the width and double the height, or four times the resolution. Now this might sound good and great and you wanna use 4K. Just keep in mind that Facebook Live is really a 720p platform, so going 4K is just gonna cause a lot of scaling on your screen.
So I would suggest setting your screen to 1920 by 1080, so when you record you can make a backup recording at 1080p and stream at 720p. This is all something that you'll have to play with, but 4K really is overkill. Now a couple of other things to keep in mind. You're going to want to minimize the data transfer on your computer. This means you turn off any syncing software, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, Creative Cloud, you name it. All of these things are going to suck bandwidth and if bandwidth is an issue is going to affect the performance.
And even if your network can handle it, your computer might get bogged down with a lot of data transfer. So what you're gonna wanna do, and it's gonna depend upon your system, is you might have options up here in the task bar. So what I can do, for example, is say under Dropbox to Pause Syncing. And I've got similar options here. I can Quit my Backblaze backup and tell it that I wanna close that down and not actually have it currently running. Or I can turn that off.
So I would go to Preferences here, for example, and let's just pause that for right now. Says I'm currently backed up, so that's good. But under Settings I can pause or turn that off if I want. Or just quit it all together. And you'll see other options, for example, that have similar backups. You'd be surprised at how many different backups you can be running concurrently. So I would suggest turning those off to minimize the data transfer. Cloud storage, photo streams, all of these have backup, so make sure you turn that syncing off and if anybody else is working on your network make sure no large copies are going or big uploads over the server, 'cause this can slow down your network.
Now other things to look for is look for other activity. And you might wanna consider a dedicated line. Now it's very tempting when going onto Facebook Live to just open up the laptop and go. And a lot of times you can get away with just using a Wi-Fi connection. But if you're doing this and it's critical that you have the best experience for your viewers having a dedicated line or minimizing the traffic on your network is really important. So try to reduce the overall number of connected devices. For example, in my household, between two kids, a wife, an Amazon Alexa, an Apple TV, several other devices, it's not uncommon to have 20 different devices pinging the Wi-Fi network.
Your televisions, your smart phones, your Apple Watch, all of these things could be connected. You can also look at the Activity Monitor on a Mac or the Resource Monitor on a PC to get a good overview of what's happening with your network and your computer. Another thing to think about on your computer is remove distractions. There are things that will get in the way, particularly if you're going to be screen sharing. So this on the computer itself can include hiding the desktop clock, cleaning up the desktop, so you don't see a bunch of files, minimizing the desktop pattern, and hiding the dock or taskbar.
For example, on my machine here there's a couple of things that I use. I'm running a utility called Desktop Curtain. If I hide this you see my desktop, while not totally sloppy, isn't that organized. But by just putting a Curtain on top of it it looks perfectly clean and there's no distractions. I also use something here to hide the clock. So I'm using a utility here, this one is called Bartender, that allows me to minimize all of those little icons that appear up top here. Things like the clock and other options, so they're hidden.
And that just helps keep a cleaner desktop. Other things to think about include making sure that the web browser doesn't have a bunch of tabs open, clear out the history, remove the cache, you don't wanna share everything you're looking at. Hide unused tabs, hide the favorites and bookmarks, just keep things focused on what's actually happening in your Facebook Live stream. And in the physical location make sure there's no distractions. Get rid of anything that's on the back wall that might stand out or objects on the desk.
Consider a pop-up privacy screen. These are often simple paper screens or folding things that can be used in an environment or sometimes you'll see these labeled as privacy screens or changing screens. And ideally, simplify your wardrobe. Also, make sure that others know that you're going to be broadcasting. I've seen many an instance, myself included, where a child enters the room, because they wanna go ahead and participate, or they hear you talking, so they come in to see what's happening. Or you're recording at home and doing a live stream and no one realizes it and all of a sudden people start doing tons of activity around you and it gets very, very noisy.
It's important that if you're going to be doing a Facebook Live event you try to minimize the noise and the distractions. Last thing to think about is going to be the internet connection options. And there's a couple things here that really matter. Ethernet is the clear winner, so check your speed. This is generally gonna be the fastest connection type available and gives you better quality. It's less prone to interference, and it will work well. Wi-Fi is a good backup, but does have some potential issues. And cellular is generally not going to be fast enough.
This should be seen as your backup connection or worst case scenario, an on the go connection type. Now in order to check this there are a lot of great utilities. I like to use Speedtest. And this is a simple way to check your network connection speed. Let's just fire that open here. They do offer a dedicated app or you could take a look at their website. And I'll click Go. It's connecting to check my network speed.
And while download is interesting, it's really the upload speed that I'm most concerned about. So we've got a good 90 to 100 down, but what we're concerned about is the up. We really need 10 megabits per second up for a good experience, and fortunately we have that. Although you see a little bit of oscillation there. That's pretty normal to see that on a connection here. So hopefully that back and forth will not be a persistent problem. Now in this particular case I was using a Wi-Fi connection and it's prone to fluctuation.
I've now plugged in a ethernet cable using my ethernet adapter and you see that that's the primary connection type. Let's check the speed now. Well, better speed on download, which is a good change. But what we're really gonna be interested on is does the upload speed remain more consistent with less bouncing? And that's a dramatic change. You see the connection with the ethernet is giving me synchronous upload and download speed.
I didn't see any of the bouncing that we previously saw with the Wi-Fi connection where it was good and then bad and good and bad. Now that's not to say that a Wi-Fi network is always gonna give you problems, but if you're streaming because you need to be doing a Facebook Live event with some professional repercussions, don't count on Wi-Fi. As you saw there illustrated quite clearly, the trouble of plugging in an ethernet cable is well worth it.
- What's Facebook Live?
- Different ways to go live
- Scheduling a Facebook Live event
- Boosting an event with sponsored posts
- Using Facebook Live from a phone or tablet
- Using Facebook Live with a web browser and computer
- Advanced desktop workflows for Facebook Live
- Using multiple cameras with Facebook Live
- Using graphics in an event
- Strategies for after the event