Live Streaming and Recording of Events

A lot has been talked about recently about the ability to live stream and record events. This has been something a lot of groups have been looking into.

Spectrum has been working on a paper on how we set it up at the Lone Star regional this year, but I know there are different ways of doing it at different events.

Here is the current draft of the paper. It still needs a lot of work before the paper is polished but I think the system is pretty good for the cost. We spent a little over $500 total on our setup excluding the laptop (we just used my personal laptop). The original setup was conceived by Clinton Bolinger and the EngiNERDs and they use a system similar to this to do many of the MSC recordings and streams. At Lone Star we had a very poor audio input and we were also streaming over a 4G modem because there wasn’t a very good internet connection at the event.

Current features of this setup

  • Full field view
  • score overlay
  • easily add splash screens and graphics
  • able to record portions of the stream directly so clipping matches is easy. If you have a fast enough internet connection you can upload archived matches while streaming.
  • a lot of control over the streaming bit rate, so streaming on a slow internet connection is possible.

There are still a lot of issues to work out.

What is the best streaming site? I really liked youtube but our stream was taken down pretty quickly. I have heard of other teams/groups getting around the copyright take downs but I’m not sure how this has been done.

What is the best way to get HQ audio at every event into the stream? Is there an easy way to get the MC and announcer mics separate from the music? Are the streams more enjoyable with the music; is it important to keep it?

How do we make the streams more enjoyable for the average fan, parent, or grandparent?

As a COD and Battlefield streamer I love twitch tv bandwidth is a non issue and the stream lag is acceptable (sometimes 5-10 seconds) I heard they implemented a system that increased this delay but have not tested myself.

I suspect internet bandwidth might be part of the problem with the low quality streams. I have had success with a blue snowball ($60) on a tripod for audio. Set up by the stands it gets a very nice mix of music and MC along with being very difficult to clip. Another problem is frame rate as 720p 10 fps is not acceptable any year where things fly through the air.

An idea to make things more interesting would be to cut out the constant FIRST sponsor adds and replace it with event standings, upcoming match info or even a shot the teams walking off the field.

Thank you for writing this. FIRST needs better webcasts if we are to ever “Make it Loud.”

Any good audio mixer should have multiple outputs in addition to the main mix, and be able to assign different channels to each. You would need to work with whoever is running the audio to set it up, but it shouldn’t be to difficult.
I personally could live without the music on the streams, but it does make the event seem more exciting.

At the Great Lakes Bay Region District event we were lucky enough to have our primary sponsor, Dow, bring in their AV team and equipment to manage the entire livestream and video system.

That said, even with the great crew we had, it was a huge problem trying to get the stream to stay up without it getting pulled by YouTubes hyper-sensitive Copyright system (it was literally flagging music coming through the speakers mics, as the music system was isolated from the rest of the audio for the stream input).

I’m curious what other events have done to deal with this and if anyone has gotten any official guidance from FIRST on streaming and dealing with copyright (Multiple calls we made to FIRST HQ on the topic went unreturned)? Using a stream service that doesn’t check for copyright is of course an option, but it doesn’t solve the legal limbo that FIRST livestreams are currently in.

Great work! I love the paper. One small thing to improve on the setup, is that in District Fields, FIRST does not supply the full CRT monitor, instead only providing a separate flat screen, and the video ports on the scorpion (33) are all that is available to be used. It would be awesome if you could include a section for Districts that just mentions this difference.

I’ll need to know what the differences are, we are doing this only from what we set up at a single event. Anyone know what outputs are available out of the scorpion case? Even better if there is a picture. I’ll get more pictures during the off-season as we continue to test this setup.

This is the best picture of the back of the scorpion case I can find. I can snag a better one in a couple weeks at an offseason event, if it would help.

Our team just started live streaming events this past year (FLL, FTC, AZ) and have been looking into upgrading our setup to be in HD, so this was definitely a great read.

YouTube Live has great features for being free, including automatic encoding of lower resolution streams, DVR playback, and instant archiving. Of course the only downside is their music content ID system. For our FLL and FTC streams we were in charge of the music as well, so on our high school’s sound board, we found a button to “ground out” the music input allowing just the mic audio to be sent to the streaming laptop. This worked well enough that we did not get flagged by YouTube, but did make some parts of the broadcast a bit dull.

I also second the recommendation for Open Broadcaster Software. It is pretty easy to use and outputs a very high quality and reliable stream, especially for being free!

Looks good. I’ve posted some of what we’re working on at We haven’t yet tested the setup with the new, much cheaper equipment, but plan to do so at the Minnesota State Championship in 3 weeks. If the quality turns out, we’re excited that we might be able to bring the equipment down to <$50.

We had not tried any of the replay stuff you mentioned in the writeup, so we’ll have to check that out. It’d be interesting to hear from 2337 and 1678 as well about overlays, camera quality, streaming hosts, etc.

For roboshow we have a pretty great setup (and Full HD) but its not nearly as inexpensive as you are looking for. But here are some things that will translate to what your looking for.

First the audio, pretty much every mixing board has an AUX send, you can pick which channels, and how they are mixed, and sent out of these ports. We used this at Robocon once YouTube took down our stream for copyright (you live you learn) and it worked well other times we did it. On smaller boards I have seen them labeled as Monitor out.

For encoding we use a Mac mini and two devices to get full HD.
We use a BlackMagic Ultra Studio Mini

Its supposed to take embedded audio but there are some serious driver issues with that and losing sync, so we use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

What great about this device is it can use XLR or 1/4" inputs, with individual gain controls and monitoring on the device, so if we have to make a long run for the audio cables its not a problem finding long XLRs and the lights around the knobs blink to the audio so we can see we are getting signal.

As i said before we have used YouTube, but also uStream and LiveStream. Nothing really to say about any of them that hasn’t been said. Unfortunately for free there aren’t many options.

With that said we had a streaming partner Stream Monkey that gave us super awesome streaming service for the Orlando regional.

Had a few more thoughts after looking through the thread.

Instead of lugging around a big heavy concrete filled bucket or umbrella stand, I would get a lightweight aluminum speaker or lighting stand. I have seen where people modify shorter speaker stands with a long pole for the last segment to get extra height, the stands are designed to keep 50lb speakers up, so making it tall and putting a few pounds is safe.

We used a GoPro for wide angle shots pretty effectively, we also have used a HD security camera to get some other interesting shots.

I’ve heard stories of Twitch banning for not streaming gaming-related content, so I wouldn’t count on being able to stream there. has always been great for streaming IRL content in my experience. Their system is a little closed and I haven’t used it to stream in a while, but their services are great.

Allen I love the paper so far, A question I assume this currently requires someone to be sitting at the streaming table hitting start stop at the end of each match to split the match footage? It there anyway to automate this and not require an addition person at the event?

Secondly a more general question is there someone at FIRST that we can get in touch with and work with to get a universal set up?

It does require a person, but I don’t really see this a problem. Literally anyone can do this plus they get a pretty good view of the matches. I had two students switching out during the event and it was never an issue. If you want to do some of the nicer things, like instant match uploads or match replays you will need a person anyway. We also had alliance selection results to the side of the screen and were able to quickly make gone to lunch or other graphics as needed. All of this needs to have a person working the laptop.

I’m sure there is someone to talk to, but I’m not sure who. I know Clinton and I have both spoken to Frank about it, not really sure what the progress is.

Citrus Circuits also plans on having a whitepaper out on the streaming system we used at Inland Empire and Sacramento. Also look for further developments in Northern California.

KC was streaming on Twitch yesterday (With music/mc/video), and they got BANNED for copyright music apparently! Today they’re on UStream and only streaming video.
I’m working on an email to FIRST HQ giving them my comments on this topic and suggestions on improving it in the future (including getting comments from those who have streamed events in the past) and including a link to this topic.
I’m surprised with how much they work with Show Ready Events to ensure the same feel of events in person, that they have never set a standard for themselves when it comes to virtual viewers of events, who will be watching long after the event ends.

This would be unusual, can anyone confirm?

How did this camera and setup work out for you guys? I am looking into putting together some higher quality streams for St. Louis going forward and this is a great price point. I went ahead and purchased the camera just to play around with it and see what we could do.

I’ve been out of the country for most of our events, but I’ll send some of our webcast people over here.

I don’t think we ever used the cheap camera for an actual broadcast. We’re using the GoPro again this year because we wanted to use that widescreen webcam on our robot instead.