Best practices, tips and tricks, and third-party solutions for enhancing your sports and live games productions using SlingStudio
General Tips & Tricks
For optimal wireless signal performance, try mounting your SlingStudio unit on a tripod that is at least six feet off the ground, even if you are already in an elevated position such as in the stands or in a press box. Also keep in mind that most press boxes are solid metal construction and may severely obstruct wireless signals to/from the SlingStudio unit. We recommend placing your SlingStudio unit as close as possible to the front-facing window.
While SlingStudio CameraLink devices have a wireless range of up to 300 feet, smartphones being used as video sources using the SlingStudio Capture app may only be able to sustain a high quality video stream at a range of 50 feet or less. For that reason, smartphones running the SlingStudio Capture app are not recommended for shots across a field or court, in the outfield, and so on.
While the video that you see in the SlingStudio Console app can have 1-2 seconds of lag behind the real-time action happening out in the field, you can use this to your advantage to anticipate a big play and change the camera to an angle that best captures the action.
By default, the SlingStudio Console app is set to AFV ("Audio Follows Video") meaning that the current audio source being used is that of the currently-active camera. But you can alternatively set the SlingStudio Console app's Audio Mixer to use audio solely from a specific camera (change the option for that source from AFV to ON). If you're not using an external mixer board, think ahead to what camera will provide the best audio.
If your broadcast includes live commentators, a good approach is using an external hardware mixer to manage the audio sources and feed audio into the SlingStudio unit using the 1/8" stereo audio-in jack.
You may choose to use the Custom Scoreboards feature offered by the SlingStudio Console app; another popular approach is pointing a camera at the venue's scoreboard and overlaying it over your program feed in the small PIP (picture-in-picture) window. You could also consider a third-party software product that offers overlay solutions.
Another SlingStudio Console feature that you might find really useful is the Auto-Switch feature. It puts SlingStudio Console in "auto pilot" so that you can leave it unattended as you do other things. You can set up SlingStudio Console to auto-switch between your video sources either randomly, or sequentially in whatever order you select. With either random or sequential auto-switching, you can set the duration (in seconds, or in minutes/seconds) that each of your video sources remains in Program. And you can choose a main camera that SlingStudio Console switches back to in-between each of the other shots. There's even a voice-activated option that auto-switches into Program whichever video source is receiving audio. If more than one video source is receiving audio (or if none are) you can specify a safety camera to switch to instead. For more information on this feature, see the article linked below.
Many school and corporate networks have security configurations and firewalls that may not allow "unknown" devices to connect. Always test your connection ahead of time, or contact the institution's IT administrators. In many cases, these administrators may need to "white list" the MAC ID of your SlingStudio unit's Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable connections.
You can find MAC ID info in the SlingStudio Console for iPad app by tapping the Settings icon (it looks like a gear) in the upper-left corner. Then tap About to see the MAC ID information.
For SlingStudio Console for Mac, choose About from the SlingStudio Console menu. Then click the MAC ID tab. The MAC ID info is listed there.
In both cases, the Wi-Fi MAC ID is listed as Mac ID (Internet) while the cable Ethernet MAC ID is listed as Mac ID (Ethernet). (While the MAC ID for the SlingStudio unit's hotspot is provided, it may not be needed by IT staff.)
Third-Party Solutions & Accessories
DISCLAIMER: The following third-party products are being provided for reference only. We have used these products in the course of using SlingStudio for live sports broadcasts, but we cannot provide support nor ensure compatibility with your specific configuration and workflow. Sling Media will not accept any liability for any loss or damage arising from your use of these third-party products.
The LiveU Solo provides a bonded cellular connection for live-streaming ... without relying on a local Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet connection. This allows you to stream from virtually anywhere using the cellular network providers available in your region.
This solution is vital when your broadcast site can't access a local network (as might happen on a soccer or baseball field). It's also useful when your network upload speeds are not reliable or sufficient.
The SlingStudio unit can connect to the LiveU Solo via an HDMI cable.
LiveU Solo units start at $995 and require additional subscription fees. Learn more at https://gosolo.tv/
*Note: LiveU is a SlingStudio partner.
The Ubiquiti Litebeam is a set of directional antennas used as Wi-Fi extenders over very long distances (up to several thousand feet).
This solution is useful when you don't have Wi-Fi at your site, but you do have access to an Ethernet connection nearby.
For example, you may want to broadcast from a soccer field that is a couple hundred yards away from the main school building. In this case, you would connect the Ubiquiti Litebeam to an Ethernet port in the school building and point its antenna out a window towards the field. Next, you would direct the antenna that's on the field towards the building, and then connect the SlingStudio hub to the field antenna using an Ethernet cable and the optional SlingStudio USB-C Expander device. Note, both antennas need AC power; to use Ubiquiti Litebeam antennas in an area such as a sports field you would also need to have a generator or an auxiliary battery pack with AC outlets.
We have successfully tested the Ubiquiti Litebeam at a range of 1500ft, although it is rated for much greater distances.
The iOgrapher series of iPad and iPhone cases provide very convenient grips when using the devices on the go. They're quite helpful when using the SlingStudio Console app along the sidelines of a game or if mounting the device on a tripod in a press box.
The SlingStudio team has used these cases at more than a couple dozen productions.
This app is the software alternative to two-way radios. Individuals can use their mobile devices to replicate the push-to-talk functionality of walkie-talkies easily.
The free version of the app (iPhone/Android) is sufficient for most situations. Learn more: https://zello.com/
CHAFON Portable Battery with AC Outlets
Depending on the specific brand and model, large rechargeable battery packs like those from CHAFON can provide many hours of portable power for your devices, including those needing AC outlets (like the Ubiquiti LiteBeam antennas, above).
We have used these on totally wireless productions that have lasted more than several hours.