All these elements, all of them with an essential importance for the success of any initiative of live video production via streaming, justify a detailed pre-production that guarantees its success.
Juan Pablo Morales Sarmiento *
The concept of Live Streaming is very basic. It always consists in carrying a generated video and audio signal, either from a user's own mobile device or from a professional television production, to a computer that encodes the video signal, converting it into data, and then drifting via Internet to a CDN or content distribution network.
There are four additional axes in the industry that are added to the technical production, the coding and the distribution network. These are connectivity, narrative conceptualization and storytelling, the quest to maximize the impact on the user experience and the strategic importance of the metrics offered by the digital via the Internet.
Now, to find the most appropriate technique to perform a live streaming, the first thing to ask in the background is the strategic reason to want to do it live, if there is a reason that leads the audience to connect with the content and if within of the message that is going to be transmitted there are emotional and / or rational factors that motivate the users. What is the purpose of each event and its format? This will give an idea of both the convenience, the type of production required, as well as its complexity.
If the content needs some kind of interaction, if it saves costs of travel and venues, if it has a sense of urgency for the audience, if it is fresh news, if it is as a rule with the stakeholders or if it is a sports competition or a product launch expected by many, of course it is convenient to do it live. Otherwise I consider it important to evaluate options such as false direct or the use of content on demand.
Currently we talk about Webcast, Videoconference, Webinar and other terms to refer to live streaming. Although in the background the process has many similarities, it is important to understand the structural differences between them, because each one has a purpose, a technique and a particular and different way of communicating.
While a Webinar has an academic and interactive objective, similar to that of a classroom where there is an auditorium, a teacher, a presentation and a mechanics of exchange of opinions and questions, a videoconference has a smaller scope and generally uses collaborative tools to share screens through technologies such as Zoom or Skype. A Webcast, on the other hand, usually requires a professional production technique, cameras, composition and a specialized staff.
Once the format and the appropriate production technique for the event have been resolved, connectivity can be the Achilles heel for any activity. The greater and more stable the internet connection, as well as the encoder processing capacity and the lower CDN efficiency will be buffering and video latency. It is advisable to always have a dedicated and symmetric internet connection, which arrives via physical ethernet to the encoder.
As for the CDN, the alternatives currently are impossible to enumerate. From services such as Adobe Connect and Webex for webinars, those previously mentioned for conferences and social media options that offer services for consumers such as Facebook Live, Youtube, Periscope and Instagram, such as Facebook Workplace for professionals; all of them, mass content distribution services and most of them, public. For the most part, these services offer live recording or DVR, automatic OnDemand and transcoding on the server, which means the ability of the servers to recode the data to different bitrates or renders, sizes and codecs, so that finally the user, Regardless of your device and connectivity, experience the lowest latency and the highest possible quality.
In the case of CDNs of a private nature, without advertising and greater autonomy related to the player and communication by the issuer, it is advisable to ensure that your provider has the ability to offer these features to ensure the success of any activity and the better user experience.
All these elements, all of them with an essential importance for the success of any initiative of live video production via streaming, justify, adding the investment they require, a detailed preproduction that guarantees their success. There is only one opportunity to do it well. As it is recorded, it remains for posterity.
Always consider a technical checklist with at least the following elements:
• Connectivity, speed, latency. Both upload and playback for cases such as corporate events over shared internet connections.
• Audio and microfonería (energy, mix, simultaneous translations, audio channels, wireless connections and cables).
• Video (energy, mixer, cameras, connections to computers for slides and videos, credits, wipes, wireless connections and cables).
• Publication: Player, publication URLs, interaction elements such as social networks, chat, surveys or video calls; privacy tools such as access passwords or entry forms, as well as integration with consumer and traffic analytics systems.
• CDN. Publication points and metrics.
Planning is fundamental. A detailed preproduction will always be a determining success factor for any event.
Controlling everything technical, it is time for the essential. History and communication
Human beings communicate more and better with stories. Whether it's an educational, corporate or commercial event, the more connection between the message and the audience, the more interaction between the parties, the more emotions the content awakens, the more engagement it will have during and after each initiative.
The message I want to convey with this is not limited to dramatized productions or academic events with specialized scripts. In essence, each event must become a challenge to be as prepared as possible from your narrative. If a chairman during a shareholders' meeting is aware that he has an external audience, and if there are interactive elements that allow questions to be asked and opinions, surely there will be more attention and the return on investment can be maximized.
Finally, it is important to communicate. Having so many content offerings everywhere and on all devices, it is key to use online and offline tools to bring audiences to where we want them to go.
The use of user notification tools, mailing lists, digital advertising, outbound calls are part of the communication strategy.
The return of effort, risk and investment required for live streaming, whatever the complexity, directly depend on the effect on your audience. The more audience there are, the more conversions there are, the more sales you represent, the more return you will have. We must guarantee the greatest diffusion or participation of the event if its objective is public. Otherwise you will be losing your investment in content that nobody is watching.
* Juan Pablo Morales Sarmiento is Media Consultant and CEO of NuevosMedios Entertainment. You can contact him through his Twitter account @JuanPMoralesS