Wedding season is upon us! Whether you are a wedding photographer, videographer, or the one getting married, the question of livestreaming the event has probably come up. Keeping in touch with distant relatives via video calls is now much easier and sometimes you want to invite people to the big day who just can’t make the trip. If you want to learn how to livestream a wedding using Sony cameras, follow along for a few different options, ranging from simple to professional.
The Core Accessories
Before we get started, we are assuming you want to create a stream that is a step up from your nephew holding a smartphone in the front row. You are going to need a real camera for that. The extra control and quality you get from something like the Sony a7 IV or ZV-E10 will make everyone look good and give remote guests a better view.
You will then want to make sure you are keeping the camera powered up for the entirety of the ceremony. Risking it with stock battery packs is not advised and even a battery grip isn’t a perfect solution. Fortunately, there are a few options that will keep your camera running for much longer:
Easiest & Cheapest: USB Power Pack
Big and Reliable: V-Mount Pack with Dummy Battery
If You Can Plug In: AC Adapter
USB packs plug into most modern Sony cameras and will keep the battery juiced up (if both the camera and pack support USB Power Delivery). Bigger V-mount batteries with dummy batteries will give you exceptional run times when far from any plug-in power. And an AC adapter is always the best bet if you can run the cable to an outlet.
You will want to make sure everyone can clearly understand what is happening. There are two options I would recommend that will get the job done quickly and effectively:
Both choices will get you better audio. The shoe-mounted option is the simplest and is reliable given its wired connection; however, the quality will deteriorate as the camera moves farther from its subjects. The wireless option solves that, although there is the potential for interference or dropouts in busy venues. Wireless will likely perform better since putting the mic(s) on the groom, bride, and/or officiant will produce the clearest results.
The last major piece of the puzzle is a solid support system. The camera will need to be positioned for a long time without being disturbed and a tripod is the answer. You don’t have to go crazy, but make sure your chosen tripod can withstand wind and perhaps the occasional light kick by an inattentive guest.
You’ll need a solid connection to the Internet if you want to pull off a stream. The best solution is to run an Ethernet cable to your chosen streaming device. A stable Wi-Fi connection where you can be close to a router or hub is also ideal. If you are on your own in the venue, you may have to go with your own cellular hot spot. If you are a professional, make sure you have some sort of cellular option since the venue may not be able to help you get connected.
Setup #1: Simple
This setup is the easiest, so if you aren’t the photographer but have been given the task of getting the livestream working, this is totally manageable.
What it takes:
AC Power (A couple of outlets)
You’ll need a more current Sony camera for this to work, but it’ll be the best for those who aren’t very tech savvy. Start by finding a safe place to set your laptop and position your camera within USB cable range. Pick up longer USB cables if you need, though there will be a limit to how far you can go safely.
With your camera and the laptop set up (and connected to the Internet), you can plug everything into power. Now, connect the camera and laptop over USB. Install the Imaging Edge Webcam app from Sony and you should get the video feed from your camera into your computer and have it function just like a webcam.
This app allows you to treat your Sony camera as a webcam that works directly with the most common video conferencing software (i.e., Zoom, Facebook Live, etc.). If you power your computer and camera well, they should be able to run any streaming software that you need.
This is a great option for more casual setups when you only want to provide a virtual version for guests who couldn’t make it in person.
Setup #2: Advanced
If you aren’t the unfortunate member of the bridal party tasked with figuring out livestreaming because you have a nice camera, then you likely are a professional who wants to add livestreaming to your list of services. It’s a valuable skill and you’ll need to get the best possible quality stream to show off your abilities.
What it takes:
HDMI Streaming Device
One thing you may have noticed about the simple option is that while it works well and quickly, the image quality isn’t quite up to the standards a pro shooter is accustomed to achieving. In this case, you should make use of the HDMI outputs of modern Sony systems.
You have two options when it comes to choosing a streaming device: an encoder that sends the signal out as you need or a streaming device with extra functionality, such as monitoring.
Let’s look at a few examples.
The first is a standard network encoder, the Teradek VidiU X. It accepts a Full HD feed and can be configured to work with most streaming services using Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or an optional cellular modem.
The major advantage of these systems is their networking reliability. Bonding is usually an option on some models and allows you to ensure that even if one connection becomes unstable, you will not lose the feed.
The second option is to rely on a device like the Atomos SHOGUN CONNECT. This will use the full-quality HDMI output from your Sony camera. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections (you’ll need to supply Internet via a wire, Wi-Fi, or a cellular hot spot). You can set up direct livestreams to Facebook Live, YouTube, and Twitch with the incoming footage from the Atomos.
Setup #3: Fully Mobile
The last option on this list is an alternative take on a professional setup that is fully mobile with the addition of a 5G creator-focused Sony smartphone. It is a very streamlined solution.
What it takes:
This one I find the most interesting. It relies heavily on the latest Sony Xperia smartphones and their ability to accept a video input. These smartphones have 5G connectivity and therefore don’t need to rely on what could be finicky venue Wi-Fi. The phones have direct access to helpful streaming software and can obviously run any Android apps you need to send the stream to various services. These are a camera’s usual limitations, so being able to use the phone as both a monitor and 5G-connected streaming device is huge.
Of your options, the Xperia PRO is the best choice since it has a true micro-HDMI input that accepts a direct video feed from practically any camera with an HDMI output. The Xperia 1 IV is also great, although you will need to use the USB-C port along with an HDMI-to-USB adapter with UVC (webcam) functionality since it only accepts that specific format. Connecting via HDMI from your camera to either of these smartphones allows you to get the feed out right away.
Compared to the streaming devices mentioned in the advanced setup, this version is fully mobile, which may appeal to some video makers. And if you already have a Sony phone, its available to you today.
Have you tried livestreaming a wedding? Anything you need to know? Check out the items above and if you have more questions, feel free to ask us in the Comments section, below, or contact our knowledgeable sales team.