While aerial photography and live streaming are not relatively new concepts, drone live streaming is somewhat of an innovation, with plenty of uses and applications. If you’re reading this, you’re perhaps already familiar with drones and how they work. If you don’t already have a drone ready and want to buy one for live streaming, keep in mind that the model you are going to buy needs to fulfil certain requirements, such as:
- It needs to be able to carry the full weight of the camera
- It needs to be able to sustain a relatively long flight time
- It should feature a good, stabilized camera for cinematic shots
- If possible, you should pick a model which offers a return-to-home function, just in case the link between the controller and your drone gets interrupted
- Models with visual obstacle avoidance are excellent for shooting scenes in cities
- The drone needs to feature a strong radio connection with the controller and video for real time monitoring
- The drone must offer a 4G-LTE network connection to broadcast video directly onto the internet
If your drone or the model you’re interested in buying doesn’t feature a built-in 4G-LTE network connection, you can simply buy a mobile internet stick which should set you back around $60. Just keep in mind that you have to buy one that is compatible with your product and it should be powerful enough to broadcast high quality live video.
DJI or Da-Jiang Innovations is a Chinese technology company specialized in the manufacturing of drones and quadcopters for aerial photography and videography. DJI is one of the biggest players in the drone market, accounting for over 70% of the industry and offering easy-to-use unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with excellent cameras, making them the perfect choice for a first purchase. DJI is also one of the largest producers of camera stabilizers, action cameras and camera gimbals. Here are a few drones produced by DJI which are excellent for aerial videography:
DJI Mavic Mini
As the name suggests, the Mavic Mini is a small drone, weighing in at just 1.1 pounds. Although it’s a rather compact model, measuring 9.2 x 3.3 x 7 inches, the Mavic is perfectly capable of capturing high quality video with its powerful camera – you can get 12MP aerial photographs and 2.7K Quad HD videos. The drone’s battery and light weight allows for up to 30 minutes of uninterrupted human-controlled flight or different preset motions via QuickShot modes. The different preset QuickShot modes allow for flying multiple drones in the same time without too much of a hassle – you can simply launch the drone or drones and let them shoot high quality video effortlessly with the 3-axis motorized gimbal camera.
The DJI Mavic Mini will set you back around $400, making it a reasonable choice for videographers.
The DJI Spark offers a two axis stabilized Gimbal camera which can take excellent 12MP photos, as well as high quality 1080P video. This quadcopter drone offers a top speed of 31 miles per hour but with a limited flight time of around 16 minutes. DJI Spark features a 3D obstacle detection system, as well as GPS and vision based navigation – all of which can be managed from the DJI Go App. The Spark model weighs in at just 1.6 pounds, making it a little bit heavier than the Mavic Mini model but with the DJI Go App you have a larger control range of 1.2 miles – and all this within a budget under $600.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is one of the more popular drones from the Phantom series, featuring several innovations and perks. This drone features a 3-axis 4k UHD video camera which is excellent for still shots as well as video. This drone is perfect for flying indoors as well as outdoors, due do its Vision Positioning system, which allows for precision flying even without a GPS signal. The Phantom’s navigation system includes automatic landings and automatic takeoffs, making it easier to fly. The drone has a battery autonomy of around 25 minutes and a max transmission distance of around 5 km, making it the excellent choice for videographers who need high quality 4k video. Weighing in at 9.2 pounds, the Phantom 3 Professional is heavier and more expensive than other models presented here, with a price tag of around $1000.
Drone Live Streaming Platform
Once you have all your equipment ready, including extra batteries and internet mobile sticks, if needed, you will have to pick a streaming platform for your live drone videos. You will want to pick a platform that’s easy to use, reliable and flexible enough for your needs. For example, you might want to monetize your drone live streams or you might want to save recordings of your drone videos on your website. WpStream is the perfect streaming platform for amateur as well as professional videographers since it’s feature-rich and accessible. Let’s take a closer look at what WpStream has to offer:
- Free WordPress Streaming Theme Available – You don’t need to stretch your budget by buying a premium theme for your streaming website; WpStream is available for free.
- Streaming Plugin Available – If you already have a website you can turn it into a streaming website with WpStream in just a few minutes.
- Stunning Demo Content – WpStream offers two different ready-to-import demos for all your needs: Hollywood & GoLive.
- Customize Your Broadcasts – WpStream supports professional streaming software such as DaCast and OBS Studio; these apps offer customization in the form of logos and other graphics.
- User Friendly – Both the theme and the plugin were built with user friendliness in mind.
- Monetize It – You can easily monetize your live broadcasts by adding WooCommerce functionality to your website.
- Excellent Privacy – Live streams are encrypted by WpStream and safe from prying eyes.
- More Options – Save, record and download your live broadcasts with just one click
- Build Stunning Pages – Create your own personalized streaming pages with WpStream & WpBakery in just minutes.
If you’re thinking it’s not worthwhile to invest in a professional streaming platform since there are plenty of free ones available, you need to take some things into consideration. Free streaming platforms can include YouTube and Facebook, for example – but these were not necessarily designed as primarily streaming platforms. YouTube is a video sharing website which allows live streaming and Facebook is a social media website. With these platforms, you won’t be able to monetize your content freely, apart from ads on YouTube. You also don’t have control over where and how your videos are stored – meaning they can be deleted if your account gets closed. Another drawback for these platforms is the fact that you don’t have privacy or control of whoever gets to see your live broadcast, nor any control over the ads being displayed for the duration of the stream. All in all, these websites do not have much to offer for videographers simply because they were not designed with this goal in mind, but on the other hand you can definitely use them to promote your own website and reap all the benefits yourself.
Creating an Account on WpStream
To create an account, simply visit WpStream.Net and click on “My Account” or “Try It For Free”.
You will then be redirected to the register/login page, where you will have to fill in your details.
Once you created an account, you will be redirected to the pricing page. At this stage, you don’t have to worry about credit card details or being charged – you can simply create a trial account to test the platform.
Different streaming packages offer different advantages and features, including more bandwidth and viewing hours.
The free trial account, for example, offers 500 MB streaming bandwidth and 100 MB recording storage, which is more than enough for testing purposes.
Once your account is up and running, it’s time to connect your website to the WpStream platform. You can do this by going to your WordPress dashboard and then clicking on the WpStream Plugin Options. Here you will have to add the same details used to open your account. Once you have successfully connected your website to WpStream, a confirmation message will appear.
This page will also display other details related to your account, such as available media storage and available streaming bandwidth.
After creating an account on WpStream and connecting it to your WordPress website, it’s time to create a channel to which we will stream. You can do this by going to your WordPress dashboard and clicking Free Live Channels / Free Videos, then Add New. Here you will have to add a name for your channel, then hit publish.
After hitting publish, the channel page will be created on your website. Each channel has its own separate page. You can click “View Channel” to see the page of this newly created channel. If you want to keep a copy of the live stream on your website, you can simply tick the “Record?” box.
Once you are satisfied with your options, simply click “Broadcast to Channel” and wait until it is done loading.
After the loading time is over, click on “Broadcast with 3rd Party Software” to get your URL and Stream Key. You will later have to use these in your DJI GO app.
DJI GO App
The first step is starting the drone, as well as the controller. Then, attach your Android or iOS mobile device to the controller and open the DJI GO app. In your DJI GO app, go into Camera Mode and open the Settings in the app which are marked by “…”. Within the interface scroll down to “Select Live Broadcast Platform”. Here you will have to select “RTMP: Custom”. Open the “Create Custom Live Broadcast” option and enter the RTMP URL by combining your Stream URL and Stream Key, as outlined below:
URL + / + Stream Key
For Example: rtmp://xx.xx.xx.xx/wpstream/[streamkey]
After adding your URL and stream key, click on Next and then Start. The live stream will start in around three seconds, with an indicator appearing in the top left corner – this indicator will allow you to stop and start the live broadcast independently of other drone controls. You will be able to start and stop the stream while in the air or on the ground – you can use this feature to exclude the takeoff of your drone from the live stream itself.