How to Set Up an RTMP Encoder for Live Video Streaming
For many B2C broadcasters, just about any software encoder will suffice. However, as a professional broadcaster, it’s important to consider updating to an encoder that supports RTMP streaming. RTMP stands for “real-time messaging protocol” and is a standard that makes high -quality live streaming possible.
In this article, we’re going to get into the technical details of RTMP encoding.
First, we’ll discuss how to configure an RTMP encoder and connect it to a live streaming platform. Mslive is an authority on this particular protocol and has helped countless individuals and businesses stream live video using RTMP as well as other encoding standards.
After that, we’ll also review some of the top video streaming protocols and the most popular RTMP encoding software on the market. It might seem complicated, and it is, but Mslive drastically simplifies the process. Keep reading to see how Mslive offers superior service and expertise in this field.
This post has been updated to reflect the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding new features of each RTMP encoder’s latest versions released as of September 2022.
Configuring Your RTMP Encoder in 6 Steps
So you’ve decided on which RTMP encoder to use and are ready to start live-streaming. To prepare for a smooth live stream, you have to make sure all of your RTMP settings are properly configured. Whether you’ve decided on a software encoder or a hardware encoder, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a 6-step walkthrough for configuring your RTMP-enabled encoder.
1. Connect Your Video Sources
Setting up your video capturing equipment is an important step in broadcasting.
The first step is to connect your video sources. The method that you use to do this varies depending on whether you’re using RTMP encoder hardware or a software encoder.
If you’re using RTMP encoder hardware, the method is simple. Generally, hardware encoders have dedicated cable inputs for video cameras. These may include SDI inputs as well as HDMI.
Using an HDMI to RTMP encoder, for example, is generally a matter of plug and play. You typically just need to take the cord from your video camera, and plug it into the physical RTMP device. Additionally, some encoders support cameras via Wi-Fi. In that case, you need to sync the Wi-Fi signal of your device with the RTMP hardware.
A capture card is a physical device that you plug into your computer, generally with a USB or HDMI connection. Then, you plug your camera into the capture card. Some capture cards allow you to capture images on your screen.
The method for connecting cameras to software encoders may be a little more complex. Generally, this involves installing a “capture card” on a desktop computer. Laptops and other devices can use external capture cards that often attach via USB.
Once your camera is physically connected to the encoder, it should be auto-detected. You can typically select it from a dropdown menu of “inputs.”
2. Create a New Live Channel and Connect Your OVP
The next step is to create a new live channel. This is done via your OVP (online video platform).
To complete this step with Mslive, follow these steps:
1. Log into your account.
2. Click “Live Channels” in the left-hand sidebar.
3. Click the orange “Create” button in the upper right.
4. Enter a title for your new live channel, then click “Add New.”
5. Click the “Encoder Setup” tab in the top-center of the screen
6. This tab shows three simple setup steps. The first step involves selecting a publishing point (optional) and selecting a bitrate, resolution, and aspect ratio (also optional). The settings you select in your encoder will override these settings.
7. The second step allows you to select an encoder. Select the option that matches the encoder you’re using, or select “other RTMP encoder.”
8. Finally, on the right side of the window, a dialogue box will appear with a stream URL, a login, and a password. Leave this window open.
After your new live channel is created, you’ll need to link your encoder to Mslive. This involves navigating your encoder settings, usually labeled something like “Broadcast Settings” or “Output.” Enter your Mslive stream URL, username, and password here. Your encoder is now connected to your online video platform.
3. Select Video and Audio Encoding Options
The next step is to select your video and audio settings. First, select a resolution, such as 1920 x 1080 (full HD) or 720 x 480 (standard definition). In this step, you’ll also select a bitrate and a codec. It’s extremely common to use H.264 video compression, or advanced video coding (AVC) for video, and AAC for audio.
For more on setting up your encoder and choosing the best settings, check out our walkthrough guide. To skip ahead and access the live encoder configuration settings, check out our recommended live encoder settings.
4. Get an Embed Code
At this point, we recommend that you carry out a brief test stream. A test stream begins with embedding a video player on your website. Since this is just a test, you may wish to use a private webpage.
The exact method for embedding live streaming video to your website depends on the online video platform you’re using. If you’re using Mslive, we provide simple embed codes that can be pasted into any website to display your video.
5. Conduct a Test Stream
Now, you’re ready to begin a test stream. Head to the Mslive back office and hit the toggle switch to turn your live channel “On.” Then simply turn on your cameras and start recording. Since this is a test, it doesn’t matter what you’re streaming. Begin your live stream from the RTMP-enabled encoder you’re using to stream.
Visit the web page that you embedded your video player on and take a look at how the stream is working. Test it out with both a desktop computer and a mobile device.
If you’re having problems here, you’ll probably need to do some live stream troubleshooting. Troubleshooting can be frustrating, so try to be as systematic as possible. Check every link in the system. Ensure that cables are connected and that settings are correct. If you need more help, consider contacting Mslive technical support.
6. Start Streaming
You are now ready to begin your live-stream.
What is RTMP Streaming?
RTMP streaming is a method of streaming that differs from its predecessors in the sense that it maintains constant contact between the RTMP video player and the RTMP server. This constant connection makes an RTMP live-stream very robust and reliable. RTMP has been essential for live-streaming over the years.
It’s also possible to live-stream on mobile devices via RTMP ingestion to HLS. RTMP ingest is the technology that transmits the video files from the encoder to the online video platform. It ensures that your video files are able to stream.
For many years, Adobe Flash Player and RTMP worked hand-in-hand to produce ultra-low latency live streams.
Many consider RTMP streaming to be outdated since it was so closely intertwined with Adobe Flash Player technology, which has become deprecated for OTT streaming. However, RTMP live-stream technology lives on via RTMP-enabled encoders. The RTMP standard helps encoders transmit video files.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an RTMP Encoder
The right RTMP encoder for you will depend on your needs and goals. When choosing the best RTMP encoder for live video streaming, here are a few things to consider:
- Pricing: There are powerful software encoder options that are free, like OBS Studio. And there are hardware encoder options that can get very costly. If you have the budget and are responsible for bigger productions with complex requirements, you may find value in the software encoders or hardware encoders with higher price points.
- Technical knowledge: Software encoders are generally easier to set up than hardware encoders. In the same way, some software encoders are more intuitive than other software encoders. Some RTMP encoders offer a lot of plugins that make it very easy to implement cool things into your broadcast, while other RTMP encoders have a more significant learning curve than others. Also, consider the activity level of the community behind each encoder or their level of customer service. If you’re not super technical, having a community or support team to ask questions along the way will prove very helpful.
- Portability: Most hardware encoders are quite bulky. Teradek is one of the few exceptions. So, if you’ll constantly be on the go when broadcasting, you’ll likely prefer a software encoder or a lightweight hardware encoder like Teradek.
- System requirements: Some software encoders support all major operating systems while some don’t. Also, some software encoders require higher powered CPU and GPU hardware than others. For example, OBS Studio has less demanding CPU and GPU requirements compared with Wirecast.
- Complexity of your production needs: If you’re running a production for a really large organization and feel you may have complex needs, there may be benefits in choosing one of the more costly hardware encoder options as long as you have the budget. However, depending on your specific needs, OBS may still be a powerful and free choice that’s capable of supporting large-scale productions.
The Future of RTMP
As mentioned earlier, RTMP lives on largely due to RTMP ingest. In other words, RTMP is still very commonly used for transporting video files from an encoder to an online video platform. In fact, RTMP is currently the most commonly used protocol for ingesting video content.
As a quick refresher, when opting for HLS ingest, you’ll need an HLS-compatible encoder in the same way that you need an RTMP-enabled encoder for RTMP ingest.
RTMP encoders are far more popular than HLS-compatible encoders right now. But, keep in mind that there’s a good chance this can change in the future.
A major reason there aren’t as many HLS-compatible encoders to choose from yet is that the use of HLS ingest is relatively new compared to RTMP ingest. For that reason, streamers trying to use HLS ingest have a higher chance of running into compatibility issues compared with those who are using RTMP ingest.
And although HLS is currently popular as a streaming protocol, it has a major shortcoming compared to RTMP—latency issues. So, in addition to compatibility, this is another reason HLS ingest is’t as popular as RTMP ingest yet. But keep in mind that Apple has been working on improving HLS latency.
Despite all of this, HLS has proven its power as a streaming protocol, so HLS ingest and HLS-compatible encoders have a hopeful future. As a protocol developed by Apple, you can bet on it getting better quickly.
So, to sum it up, RTMP encoders are far more popular than HLS-compatible encoders at the moment for various reasons such as compatibility. But as more streamers and organizations start to use HLS ingest, adoption of this protocol is something to keep an eye on.
Configuring an RTMP encoder requires many steps, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be confusing or complicated. While it can be overwhelming if it’s your first time streaming, the process becomes pretty simple with the proper tools and a little bit of direction.
Luckily, there are so many wonderful encoding tools on the market, so finding one with the features that best suit your streaming needs shouldn’t be too big of an issue. Once you have the right tools, you can focus on creating quality live broadcasts that your audience will enjoy.