Where do I even start?
There are a lot of quick-start guides available that teach you how to create a Mixer channel and go live with your first stream. This course isn’t about that. This course will delve into how to improve your streaming setup and whether you are ready to invest in your channel.
Even if you hope to be the next Mixer megastar, you should first approach streaming as a hobby. And it can be a very expensive hobby. Explore it, have fun with it, and spend some time streaming (months even!) to make sure you love it before you invest too heavily.
Only a small percentage of streamers are able to make it their career. Most professional broadcasters invest thousands of their own dollars into upgrading equipment and attending conventions before they make a profit from their stream.
Before you dive into the deep end, make sure this is something you are truly passionate about.
The evolution of your rig
Be sure this is what you want to do then step out in confidence, ready to invest in your channel! Ask yourself if you love streaming enough to do it even if it never earns you a dollar. Just like any career as an entertainer, becoming a professional streamer requires a certain mixture of talent, hard work, and luck.
Once you’re ready to start upgrading things, you should know that everyone’s evolution will look different. As you plan your evolution, consider what you’re starting with, the types of content you want to make, and build a customized path of improvement that complements your content and community.
- Take it one step at a time.
- Set a budget.
- Decide what is realistic for you to purchase when you’re ready to take the next step.
If you’re a competitive FPS player, you may want to upgrade your controller or keyboard/mouse. If you’re an artist, you may want to get a higher-caliber tablet or invest in art software. No single path is right for everyone.
Out of all the different facets of your stream (audio, video, gameplay, console games versus PC, music versus makeup tutorials) only you can ultimately decide which facet to upgrade first.
Don’t upgrade everything at once. Create a roadmap for your ultimate vision. As GhostFromTexas said in the video, pick one aspect or area of improvement with your stream that you want to solve, and work on it until you are happy with it.
Some broadcasters start out using the Mixer Create App on their phone. Others start from the Windows Game bar. So sometimes the first step in upgrading is just to buy a stand microphone or a webcam. Other times people decide to go from Xbox native streaming to building a streaming PC, which is a big jump.
Wherever you are starting out, here are our best recommendations:
Audio quality is more important than video overall. The number one reason people click away from a broadcast is due to audio problems. If your mic cuts out, de-syncs, or is crackly, this can drive away even the most loyal viewers. It’s okay if your first microphone is a gaming headset but investing in a higher-quality mic should be one of your first steps.
Some microphones that are popular among streamers are the Blue Snowball at the more affordable end of the spectrum, and the Rode Podcaster at a higher tier. These are both USB mics. At a different level would be XLR microphones. The XLRs do not necessarily have a higher sound quality than USB microphones across the board, and they are more complicated and require additional equipment, like a mixer/amplifier.
Following an upgrade of your sound quality, look at your webcam and lighting. A myriad of problems can be solved just by setting up good lighting, so your camera isn’t struggling to pick up a dark image. Many broadcasters set up a ring light behind their monitor, but you could first start with just some strategically-placed lamps to ensure your face is well-lit. Try to use bulbs that produce white-hued light. This will typically look more natural than warm-toned bulbs.
There are some great high-res USB cameras out there (many broadcasters swear by the Logitech C920 or the Logitech Brio), and some creators even opt to set up a DSLR camera (used by professional photographers and many videographers) like a Canon D80 as their setup reaches peak professionality. Upgrading to a DSLR is a huge expense, and most viewers often cannot tell a difference between a DSLR and 4k webcam (like the Brio), so we recommend holding off on purchasing a DSLR for your streaming camera until everything else in your setup is upgraded to your ideal level.
There’s also the choice of greenscreen or no greenscreen. There are solid arguments for both:
- Greenscreen allows you to make yourself bigger in the frame, without taking up a huge square of screen real estate. This makes it easier for viewers to catch your facial expressions while performing.
- No greenscreen allows you to set up a highly personalized display behind you that highlights your favorite franchises or interests. You can showcase game paraphernalia, Mixer partner swag, or items from past cosplays. This environment can make your stream feel more personal and welcoming.
If you decide to set up a greenscreen there are lots of options. Both OBS and XSplit offer chroma key background removal. For the chroma key to work, you need an opaque, saturated, single-color background. Some streamers opt paint the wall behind them bright green or hang up a bright green piece of fabric (a bedsheet even?). You don’t even have to use green (bright blue is another color occasionally used) but green is the most common. For optimal convenience, Elgato offers a collapsible greenscreen that is easy to set up and take down before and after your stream.
Streaming games from your Xbox is easy. You can stream directly from the Xbox and use Lightstream if you want to customize the layout and make it look shiny. Lightstream is available to anyone with Mixer Pro.
If you, however, want to stream to Mixer from PlayStation or Switch you’ll need a capture card. This will capture/record the video and audio happening on your console and export it to your PC where you can incorporate it into your stream. Elgato, Razer, and other solid hardware brands offer capture cards in their lineup. This is a great opportunity to ask your community for their recommendations. Almost everyone has an opinion on hardware and asking your community for advice is a great way to perk up the interaction in chat.
There are tons of options for customization depending on your setup.
- Single PC: You will need to build a beast of a computer. It needs to have the processing and graphical power to simultaneously play your favorite games while capturing and broadcasting your stream. The exact specs for this will change depending on how GPU- and CPU-intensive your games and stream scenes are.
- Dual-PC: Each PC needs to be optimized for a different purpose. The PC you game on will need a good graphics card, while the streaming PC needs to be optimized for CPU and RAM.
Don’t do it alone
Even if you’re inexperienced when it comes to hardware, chances are, you have community members with the skills needed to help you successfully broadcast. Getting your community involved is great for engagement! You can even consider doing upgrades live on stream – like building a new PC while streaming from your old one or swapping out your GPU while you stream from the Mixer Create app. Let your community be involved!