How to Record a Kick-Ass Facebook Live Video

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 Paul Edmondson / Getty Images

You've probably seen it on your feed already: Facebook Live lets you broadcast realtime video to your Facebook friends from anywhere that your phone has a reliable Internet connection. Your Facebook friends can tune in from around the world, write messages to you during the stream, and send you likes and hearts throughout the broadcast. Wow, 2016 is one hell of a year. Sure, it's not quite as cool as your edited GoPro footage from your mountain bike trip last weekend, but it's easy to show your friends what you're doing right then and there. And whether you acknowledge it or not, your phone is a pocket-sized video production studio. Now get started.

The Basics

Step 1. Open the Facebook app on your phone, and tap the button to write a new status update.
This is the pencil-inside-a-square icon that appears near the top of every time line, news feed, or page. 

Step 2. Tap the livestream icon.
It’s a picture of a genderless person with two circles around his or her head, double-halo style. Push this button to go into livestream mode. 
Then you’ll write a short description of what the viewer will see upon joining or seeing your video in their feed. A possible UFO sighting? Your cousin’s track meet? Give people some sense of what to expect when they opt in to watch your broadcast. This is the description that people read when they decide to tune in.

Step 3. Tap “Go Live.”
You’re now sending out a live video feed of whatever you point your smartphone at. You’ll see the names of people watching as they join, and your phone becomes their eyes and ears. You have the option of later saving the video to your Facebook timeline, but it is optional; your live videos only stick around if you want them to. 
All done? End the stream when you’re finished. Congratulations — you did it.

Above and Beyond

Sure, the camera on your smartphone records quality video, but this footage is compressed by Facebook’s servers in order to more efficiently deliver it to the people who tune in. By reducing video quality just enough, Facebook eases the burden of pumping your broadcast out to the world. 

1. Use accessories like a tripod or drone.
It’s on you to work with such limitations to make sure your video looks and sounds as good as possible. This means holding the camera very steady — or better yet, using a stand or tripod like the PakPod or something similar. You might even have a drone like the DJI Phantom series you want to play with — treat your followers to some live aerial shots. That’s a live video experience that’s sure to win you some fans.

2. Try a mic.
Using a quality external microphone, whether it's Shure or another manufacturer, will make a big difference in how your video sounds. Find one what works well with your phone so that the important stuff comes through loud and clear, rather than use your phone’s internal mic, which will pick up a little bit of everything.

3. Maximize your lighting.
The latest mass-market phones today are able to take generally great images in low-light situations, but if you can brighten up your scene somehow, do it. Turn on the lights in a room, use the sun to your advantage, and maybe even invest some money in a set of production lights, depending on what you're recording.