It’s 2020 and while it seems like everyone and their dog(literally) are streaming on Twitch or YouTube, that hasn’t always been the case. In days gone, to be a professional streamer often meant you were posting videos of the adult nature from your bedroom webcam. Thank God the gaming nerds took over and now, with folks like Ninja, Shroud, Dr. Disrespect earning millions of dollars and being veritable celebrities, streaming is cool now.
So cool that it’s diverged far and wide from just video games—with people streaming everything from cooking shows to dog grooming to home reno DIY. Everything it would seem, can be streamed. The allure of fame, finances, and freedom have drawn so many to the industry seeking their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Add on the absolute dogs poo of a year that 2020 has been for so many, and forced isolation has drawn even more to streaming as a way to connect, pass the time or try to make a difference. And while COVID19 has certainly stoked the fires, it’s possibly the ease of entry into streaming that has turned most people.
If you’ve been on the fence about getting into the streaming game but were hesitant because of the cost of equipment or even the know-how, then you’re in the right place. It’s not hyperbole when we say that it’s literally never been easier to get into streaming than right now. Of course, you will need a couple of things to get streaming but you’d be surprised how much you already have.
There’s three main things streamers need; a PC or laptop, a camera, and a microphone. Now, if you have a good laptop, then you’ve already got these basics covered in a single, convenient package. All you need is to install a streaming software like OBS Studio, XSplit Gamecaster, or Nvidia Shadowplay, all of which are totally free to download and powerful in use.
But if you are really serious about streaming, you’ll want to step it up a notch, because the quality of media you get out of a laptop camera and speaker is less than stellar. The first thing you’ll need is a decent PC with enough power to run your games as well as stream them to a live audience at the same time. No matter your budget, you can buy or build a capable PC. You can check out our handy gaming PC build guides for reference.
Once you have a ready PC, the next two things on your list are a good streaming camera and a decent microphone. While many professional streamers use high end Sony camera gear, you don’t need all that. A decent camera with great lighting will go a long way. You can get a stream cam for as little as $50 on Amazon and some even come with a ring light to boost illumination, such as the Razer Kiyo.
But you don’t even need to spend any extra for a stream cam because you likely have an exceptional camera already—your smartphone. Be it an iPhone or Samsung, you have a shooter capable of high quality 1080p 60FPS video that’s more than enough for great stream video. iPhone owners get a sweet deal with the new Elgato EpocCam (just picked up by the ever acquisitive Corsair) that allows you to use your phone as a webcam. You can use it for free but paying $8 unlocks many useful features, such as full 1080p video, wireless connection to your PC, and more.
As we mentioned, good lighting will be critical and no, you can’t use the torch on your smartphone. There are a number of affordable LED lights, which produce bright light but can also be adjusted for color temperature.
A favorite among the streaming communities are Ring lights which can be had for as little as $20. These donut shaped LED lights enshrine your camera or smartphone and bathe your face with even light that looks good and is inexpensive.
The last critical thing you need is a good microphone. People will forgive bad video sooner than bad audio so this is important. If you are a gamer, chances are you already have a mic on your headset that should do a decent job. However, for as little as $50, you can get a broadcast quality budget microphone from the likes of Jlab, HyperX, or Razer. This will give you a marked boost in audio quality so you can engage with your viewers.
Now that you have the three critical pieces of equipment, you are all ready to stream. Like most of us, you’ll likely be streaming from your bedroom and want to hide the unmade beds. For this, you’ll want to invest in a green screen. Elgato has a handy one that rolls up for easy setup and storage. But thanks again to the power of machine learning and AI, you don’t need one if you can’t afford it. The Nvidia Broadcast app will cut you out using software wizardry and the best part is it’s free. Though you will need an Nvidia RTX 20-series card or higher to take advantage of those particular AI smarts.
So there you have it; no more excuses to start your illustrious streaming career. Whatever your story and station, streaming is easy to do and won’t cost you a lot, if at all. With a bit of research, creativity and innovation, you can be up and running for a lot less cash and effort than you think.
All that’s left is for you to bring your sparkling personality, but we can't help you with that.
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