If you’re attending an event where you will be required to broadcast your live routine from your facility to Cheercast’s production studio, this article will guide you through the technology and requirements we have to ensure this is a simple, seamless process for you and your program.
From a technology standpoint, you won’t be required to buy or rent any equipment in order to compete in an event that requires you to compete live. We’ve based our systems for these types of events on using high quality smartphone cameras and the available internet you have at your facility or mobile broadband (4G), with a backup system in place that will allow us to still get a high quality copy of your routine in the event of any issues with your network or connection.
This article is split up into three sections, Equipment, Setting Up & The Broadcast Process. While this article aims to cover most of the information you will need to know for the day of the competition, specific details like URLs and access links will be provided to each individual program a week prior to the event. For all Virtual Events where programs are streaming live from their facility, we will run a 20 minute technical rehearsal with each program in the week prior to the event.
We want to make the process of streaming your routines to us should be as easy as possible, and we understand the need to strike a balance between getting good quality footage (which makes it easy for the judges to do their jobs) and using equipment and technology that is accessible to most programs
In addition to the primary device you will use to stream your routine from your facility to us, we request that you have a second device (this can be an additional smartphone or even a DSLR/Go Pro) recording your routine as a backup in the event of any technical or network issues.
Use an iPhone or similar smartphone as your camera
Our first suggestion is to use a modern smartphone (iPhone preferred, but other models are included below). Modern smartphones generally have excellent sensors that often rival low cost video cameras or DSLRs. The only downside to using a smartphone is getting the positioning right, so you’ll need to get creative to get your device level and positioned at the correct height.
Recommended minimum specification smartphones are as follows (newer models will have much better quality cameras, so where possible, use the newest device you have access to):
iPhone 6s/6s Plus and newer
Google Pixel 2/2 XL and newer
Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer
These specifications are based on image and camera quality only. Due to the varying differences in the Andriod operating system and its many iterations, we cannot guarantee our system will work with all devices running Android. Please reach out to our support team 2 weeks prior to any event to arrange a technical rehearsal with your device to confim it works.
IMPORTANT: Due to limitations imposed by Apple, our system is not able to access any other iPhone camera or lense except the main one (i.e our system won’t be able to see the different camera lenses of the iPhone 11 Pro).
Using an app like Camo ($40 per year, cancel anytime) will allow you to use your iPhone as a webcam and will allow the use of different lenses,
Using a laptop and external webcam
Using any standard laptop (either PC or Mac) and an external Full HD webcam is a stable and easy to use option for streaming your routines. Using an external webcam will mean you can position it perfectly and that a team member can sit/stand at the laptop to monitor the stream. While you could potentially use a DSLR or Video Camera and a capture card connected to your computer, you should only use this option if you know what you’re doing or have someone to help you, as we can’t provide instructions for this complex topic.
If you’re going to go down this route, we ask that you do use an external webcam (i.e. one that connects via USB cable), as the quality of inbuilt webcams isn’t good enough for streaming your routines and would require you to position the laptop differently.
Some good external webcams that we have tested:
Microsoft LifeCam Studio
Any webcam that can capture at 1080p and 30fps
Internet & network connection
While our system will adapt to the quality of your internet, you will need to have an internet connection that can handle at least a 2Mbps upload speed. For best quality, we recommend 5Mbps upload. You can test your internet speed by clicking here and clicking the ‘Test Upload’ button, which will give you a result in Mbps.
If you’re using your facility’s WiFi or general network connection, you should aim to place your wireless router as close as possible to the device you’re streaming from, with as few obstacles between them (walls, equipment etc) as possible. Note that you should request no one else in the facility use your WiFi network while you are broadcasting your routines, to maximise the available bandwidth.
If your facility doesn’t have its own internet connection, you will need to use a mobile broadband based network, either your devices normal 4G network, or by using a pre-paid data sim in a mobile broadband device. We recommend running a speed test on the device you plan on using, positioned exactly where you will have it on the day and at around the same time you will be performing on the day, to get a good idea of your expected speeds. Be aware that if you plan on having hundreds of spectators at your program on the day of the event, this will impact the 4G speeds at your facility.
As long as you position your speakers correctly in your facility (see ‘Setting Up’), you won’t need to use any converters or adapters to get the routine audio into the camera. If you do want to use an audio adapter or converter, please ensure you test this prior to the event as we don’t provide support for these adapters and many might not work with our remote streaming system.
In order to ensure judges have the best possible view of your routine and all of your athletes, we ask that you position your camera so that is has a view of the entire floor surface, from as close to centre as possible, and at a height between 1.5m and 1.8m from the ground. We understand that in some circumstances, it might be difficult for programs to fulfill all three of these requirements given the space available at your facility.
With this in mind, the most important requirement is showing the full performance surface and so if you have to position the camera slightly off centre or at a different height to capture the full performance surface that’s fine.
If you’re using a smartphone, unless you have a tripod and an attachment (like this one by Manfrotto) to connect the two you’ll likely need to get creative to get the phone at the right height and to ensure it’s level. Note that the device will need to be accessible, as our team will communicate with you directly via the device that you’re streaming from.
As an example, you can use furniture to get the right height and then use a smaller smartphone tripod (Gorilla-type tripods like this one are great) to keep your phone level and stable. You can also use tripods like the Gorilla one to securely attach them to objects, just make sure it doesn’t move and is as level as possible! Also make sure you’re using the rear camera on your device, NOT the front facing camera.
If you aren’t using a tripod, ensure the smartphone is positioned in a way that it won’t be knocked over by someone, we recommend setting up a desk or similar area that allows your dedicated person to sit with the camera/s and keep others away from that area.
Unless you’re using a splitter or interface that inputs your audio into your video device (see ‘Equipment’), you’ll want to position the speakers in your facility so that you can get the best quality audio into your smartphone or webcam.
We recommend placing your speaker/s as close as possible to the device you’re streaming from and ensuring the speaker is directed at the device’s microphone (i.e. on iPhones, this is at the bottom of the device). Most smartphones will always prioritise spoken word audio, so we recommend keeping shouting or cheering athletes away from the microphone wherever possible to prevent the device from trying to remove the routine music (which it perceives as background music) and amplify the person speaking or cheering.
During the technical rehearsals and the actual event, our team will monitor the audio levels and let you know if you are overloading the mic (which will cause distortion).
The Broadcast Process
In the lead up to your event, you will receive an email with specific instructions for the EP that you are competing with, but the following are generic instructions that will apply to most competitions.
- You will connect to our production studio via your browser (we recommend Google Chrome for best results) via a link that is provided by our team closer to the date. Once you open this link, you will be directed to a page which asks you to enter your name and your email, please enter your Program name in the name field, not your personal name. This page may ask you for other information, which you can ignore.
- Once you’ve connected, you will connect with our team who will check your settings and make sure your connection is stable. Our system allows us to control some of your settings (which camera to use, audio settings etc) so we can help you get this working correctly. On the page, you will see a clock with the current time and the name of the current performing team. If at any time you lose connection, the screen goes black or you aren’t able to hear our team for 10 seconds or more, please refresh your page.
- Our team will remain in contact with you and will let you know if there is any change to your performance time (i.e. if we’re running behind) but otherwise, the screen will go green once your team is cleared to enter the floor and begin their routine. Note that other teams will also be connected to our system at the same time as you, so only once we are at your performance time and you see both your team name and a green background should you instruct your team to enter the floor and begin their routine. Make sure you also start the recording on your backup device.
- After you’ve completed your routine, the screen will go red and the team name will change to the next routine, this will be your prompt to know that you are no longer ‘live’ and can either disconnect from the system or remain connected if you have another routine coming up within the next 15-20 minutes.
- If you have another routine but not until later in the day, we will disconnect you so we can make room for other teams to join the system. This will return you to the “You are in the queue” page. You can always access the waiting room by visiting the same link and waiting for our team to connect you. We generally won’t connect you to the system until about 10 minutes before your next scheduled routine.
If at any time we experience technical difficulties or lose connection with your facility, we will request that you upload the backup copy of your routine to our team via a form on our website. You will need to log in to your program’s Cheercast account to access this form for security and verification purposes.
For more information about recording a backup, you can view our article on recording your routines for a virtual event – don’t be too worried about getting this backup video perfect, as it will only be used if absolutely necessary.
Throughout the day, you will always be able to chat with our technical team via audio when you’re connected to the production system or via our dedicated Whatsapp group at all other times. We recommend having a single person at your facility who is our contact and who is responsible for connecting to our system and liaising with us.