Gear Guide: What You Need to Go Live
As a mobile journalist, you need to be prepared to go live with the best equipment for the job. Below is a list of livestreaming gear that will boost your broadcasting.
Stabilizers and Mounts
Stabilizers and mounts will keep your video steady, and your audience from being unsettled by jarring motions.
1. Hand Grip
A good grip can mean the difference between shaky video and smooth motion. If you’re constantly trying to maneuver your phone, the quality of your video will suffer. The last thing you want is for your audience to be disoriented as you try to cover a story.
Equipment: Any hand grip will increase the quality of your video. By having a hand grip your hands will be less shaky, you can maneuver the phone easier, and you free up and extra hand without worrying about dropping your phone. The Shoulderpod S1 Handle Grip for smartphones is highly rated and only costs $33.
- Includes Tripod Mount
- Traveler Stand Filmmaker Grip
- Adjustable Thumbscrew Grip
- 1/4"-20 brass threaded insert for tripod
- Grip extension
- Wide Rubber Grip Pad
How to use it: This grip has a strong handle that uses pressure screws and V-Shaped foam pads to secure any smartphone in its grip. With a cord that wraps around your wrist, you can feel secure knowing you won’t drop your phone while livestreaming.
2. Broadcast Mount
A hand grip won’t cut it for advanced livestreaming. A broadcast mount can provide extra support, stability, and will hold multiple accessories.
Equipment: The iKlip A/V Smartphone Mount is lightweight and will hold any smartphone. It costs $180 and is worth every penny. The best aspect of a mount like this is that it has a built in preamp and XLR port, so you will have no problem using your normal XLR mics, and you won’t need to buy new smartphone specific ones.
- 1.6 Pounds
- Tripod and Camera Mount Treads
- 0Hz to 20kHz +/- 1.5dB
- Maximum output level: 2 Vrms
- Phantom Max Current: 6mA
How to use it: Put your phone into the adjustable grips and screw it into place so it won’t fall out. Plug the wire from the mount into the headphone jack. You can then plug your XLR microphone cable into the XLR port. Then you can hold the mount with one hand and the microphone with another. A dial under the XLR port enables you to control the gain.
3. Two Handed Broadcast Mount with Multiple Accessories
Professional livestreams may require a lot of accessories, and you will want a rig that can hold them all.
Equipment: The Beastgrip Pro Universal Lens Adapter and Rig System is a camera rig made for smartphones. With a cost of only $140, it is hard to beat. Not only will it provide two-handed stabilization for better motion, but it also includes a universal lens mount that will turn you phone into a DSLR. Plus, you can attach an external lens onto the lens thread and slide it over the camera. The Beastgrip Pro has five different mounts where you can attach other accessories, such as an external mic or LED lights, as well.
- Universal phone grip
- 37mm threaded lens/filter mount
- Cold shoe mount for LED lights
- Five ¼” 20 threaded mounts
How to use it: Below is a fantastic video that will help you set up all the pieces of this mount.
4. High Quality Gimbal
For professional streams, a lightweight broadcast mount isn’t enough. You need to focus more on your story and less on keeping your hands steady.
Equipment: The Osmo mount will keep your video smooth. Connecting to your bluetooth, the OSMO can be controlled by it’s own app. It has a price tag of $300 and will be a tool you use often. Using activetrack technology, it follows you as you walk and when you turn, the camera turns with you, so you no longer have to think about your movements. The OSMO also absorbs the shake.
- 1.1 Pounds
- 1 Lithium Battery
- Angular Vibration Range ±0.03°
- Controllable Range, Pan: ±150°, Roll：±25°, Tilt：-125° to +35°
- Mechanical Range: Pan：±165° ,Roll：-50° to +90°, Tilt：-140° to +50°
- Max Controllable Speed: 120°/s
- Mobile Phone Width Range: 2.31–3.34 inch (58.6–84.8 mm)
How to use It: The video below will show you how to set up the OSMO. It has multiple steps that you may want to pay close attention to.
For advanced picture quality, you will want a lens that offers new views to your audience.
1. Lens Kits
If you want to shoot a unique livestream, adding attachable lenses onto your phone will enable you to show viewers a new angle of your story.
Equipment: Get multiple lenses for varied shots. The DOFLY Universal lens kit costs $23 and comes with a wide angle lens, fish-eye lens, and macro lens. This kit is just one of many examples of lens kits that you can be using. You can find a smartphone equivalent lens for virtually every DSLR lens you have.
- Wide Angle Lens — 0.65X Magnification, 25mm Tip Diameter, 17mm Thread Diameter
- 230 Degree Fish Eye Lens — 25mm Tip Diameter, 17mm Thread Diameter
- 15X Macro Lens — 25mm Tip Diameter, 17mm Thread Diameter, 15X Magnification with 10–25mm minimum object distance
How to Use It: Simply clip the lens of your choice onto your phone over the camera.
2. Anamorphic Mobile Lens
The right high-quality anamorphic lens can turn your phone into a widescreen camera. Currently, only one company makes an anamorphic lens worth using and it has not been replicated. However, it only works with iPhones.
Equipment: The anamorphic lens allows you to get a longer, horizontal view, capturing 33% more while keeping pixel quality. Starting as a Kickstarter campaign, this lens is higher quality than a clip-on lens and is made from glass and aluminum. The hit Sundance movie Tangerine was shot completely on an iPhone, and they credit the anamorphic lens for their ability to make the movie happen. The lens costs $175.
- 1:33x Ratio
- Anodized aluminum and glass
How to use it: Slide the lens adapter over your phone. Push down the friction latch to keep the lens attached.
There are plenty of different recording options for any scenario you may find yourself in. Here are a few you should consider.
1. Lavalier Mic
A viewer might forgive shaky video if the action is interesting enough, but bad sound quality is a quick way to lose an audience. No one wants to hear static and fuzz while trying to understand what’s happening. A basic mic is a necessity for quality mobile journalism.
Equipment: You will need a basic clip-on microphone to capture your voice if you’re streaming from inside a crowd or other noisy atmosphere. The RØDE Smartlav Mic costs $79 and will be a massive upgrade from your smartphone’s internal mic. It’s compatible with iOS and select Android phones, though you may need an adapter for the iPhone 7.
- 0.3 ounces
- 4.5mm microphone
- Omni-directional condenser capsule
- Frequency range between 20Hz- 20kHz
How to use it: The Smartlav Mic plugs into your headphone jack and can be easily attached to your shirt collar. Download the Rode app for iOS if you want to use real time audio monitoring.
2. Interviewing Microphones
A lavalier mic is great for your recording your own audio, but when you’re covering an event, you may not have time to clip the mic onto someone else. You want a mic that enhances the audio from your phone, without slowing you down.
Equipment: For an iPhone, check out the Shure Motiv MV88. The MV88 is a digital stereo condenser microphone that plugs into the port at the bottom of your iPhone. At a cost of $149 it’s a worthwhile investment.
Specs: MV88 Spec Sheet
How to use it: The microphone easily plugs directly into the lightning connector on your phone. Once it is plugged in, you can make adjustments using the Motive App, or you can set a preset mode ahead of your recording.
If you already own certain mics, you can still use them for livestreaming. Use an XLR to 3.5mm wire to connect any of your various microphones to your phone. There are many variations of these, so be sure to pick one that would work best with your equipment and budget.
Batteries and Lights
There are plenty of other accessories that will help make your livestreaming experience go much smoother. Below are a couple accessories that are a worthwhile investment.
1. Battery Chargers
The last thing you want when on a live shoot is to find your battery blinking red half-way through. Small technical details in your broadcast can be worked out, but a dead battery means it’s all over.
Equipment: The Anker Pack Battery Charger is a portable charger that is the length of your credit card. It costs only $23.99, making it one of the cheapest ones you’ll find.
- 6.4 Ounces
- Provides 3 ½ charges for iPhone & 2 ½ Samsung
- High speed charging
- USB cable included
- Output: 5V 2.4A
- Max Input: 2A
How to use it: Charge the battery pack at home and then simply plug one end of the USB into the battery charger and the other end into your phone. Check out the video below for more information:
2. LED Light Mount
If you want to focus on your story rather than be inhibited by poor lighting, a LED light mount will make all the difference.
Equipment: A good LED light mount is the Manfrotto KLYP SMT light with tripod mount for $38.88. If you want more variation though, you’ll need to find a mobile light with multiple filters, such as the XUMA Mobile Daylight Balanced LED Light for $29.99. With this light, you can add warming filters to lower the light from 5600K to 3200K. The XUMA features 46 LED lights, compared to the 3 on the Manfrotto. Because of this, a light like the Manfrotto will be better for situations where you need extremely bright lighting, while the XUMA will create more natural light. However, the Manfrotto KLYP SMT light will only work with iOS and requires a phone case that is not included in the package.
Manfrotto KLYP SMT Light:
- Built in Tripod Mount with Universal ¼” Thread
- 225 Lumens
- 3 Different Intensity levels
XUMA Mobile Daylight Balanced LED Light:
- 48 Ultra Bright LED Lights
- 46 Lumens
- Integrated Rechargeable Battery
- 4 Hour Battery Life
- USB charger
- Several mounting options
How to use it:
Manfrotto KLYP SMT Light: Hold down the power button and the lights will turn on. Find the grooves under the light and slide it onto the specially designed Manfrotto light case.
XUMA Mobile Daylight Balanced LED Light: The light comes with several mounting options so you are covered for whatever type of shoot you are on. You can plug the light into the headphone jack, clip it to the top of the phone, or mount it on a tripod.
What’s your favorite equipment for livestreaming? Tell us in the comments below!
By Josh Futtersak, Writer at Storyhunter