Does A Live Video Stream Need A Continuity Presenter?

by | Dec 14, 2012

Does an event live video stream need an “anchor person” to provide continuity announcements? Find out how we got on when we tried this at a recent event.

 

As live video streaming from events has become more popular and easier, we have been looking for ways to add value by creating a professional, polished live stream that meets the needs of both the remote audience and the event organisers more effectively.

At our most recent event, we explored a new role for an event amplifier at a live streamed event: that of continuity presenter.
 

Context

 
At the recent AHRC Digital Transformations Moot, we were asked to use live video streaming to bring the whole event to life for the remote audience as part of a wider event amplification strategy.

In addition to the traditional presentations and panel discussions that are the staple part of most events, the Digital Transformations Moot featured a large exhibition area loosely divided into Hack, Yack and Making spaces. A wide range of interactive stalls provided opportunities to explore some of the fantastic arts and humanities research projects associated with the digital transformations theme. It was a visually interesting and engaging space.

The organisers were keen that the remote audience should be able to experience these integral elements of the event. As a result, they requested two live video streams: one which focussed on the formal proceedings, and the one which provided a roaming window on the more unusual parts of the event. This included live performances, such as this one by a visual artist and coder, and a live tour around the exhibition space.
 

Delivering a Roaming Live Video Stream

 
The tour around the exhibition space was one of the most logistically difficult parts of this event to plan.

We normally operate with a fairly lightweight live streaming rig, designed to fit into any space unobtrusively. However, creating a rig that we could move around a large, densely packed area on different levels of the venue was a new and exciting thing to plan.

We sourced equipment that could run entirely on battery power for short intervals and required the minimum number of cables to create the simplest and most compact set up possible. We transported all this around the venue using a small trolley. The venue kindly provided us with our own wifi connection separate to the one used by the delegates so we could confidently stream via wifi, rather than an ethernet connection.

To manage the live video stream smoothly, we created a hold reel showcasing video clips provided by the client, which we could effectively use in place of advert breaks to cover the time we needed to move the equipment around the venue, locate a power point and set up the next shot.
 

The Digital Transformations Moot live stream hold reel
 

The Event Amplifier as a Continuity Presenter

 
Unlike a normal live video stream, where the stream simply provides a window to passively observe the event as it unfolds, we felt that this roaming stream required the event amplifier to take on the role of a dedicated presenter to provide some form of continuity. In addition to conducting live on-air interviews with exhibitors in front of the camera, the event amplifier spoke directly to the remote audience to explain what was happening and what to expect later on the stream. This made the experience more television-like for the viewers.

When we reviewed the video footage after the event, we felt that this technique was particularly effective, and helped to retain viewers through what might otherwise have been a fairly disjointed session. It was a really enjoyable thing to do and we would be keen to try this out at other events to create more dynamic event coverage. I will have to perfect my Martin Brundle impression though so we can do proper “grid walk” style coverage next time!
 

Live on-air interview at the Digital Transformations Moot
 

Wider Applications

 
This experience prompted us to consider whether we could extend this use of an event amplifier as a continuity presenter to improve our live coverage of more traditionally structured events.

In the past we have tried, with varying levels of success, to encourage various event chair people and speakers to address the remote audience directly and to be aware of their presence when chairing a live streamed conference session to communicate a sense of inclusion. When the chair person has taken this on board, we have received very positive feedback from the remote audience. However, it is often easy to forget and can feel unnatural to some people. It is rarely possible to train event chair people and speakers effectively to help them develop this awareness in advance of the event, and we have become reliant on explanatory slides at the beginning and end of sessions to help inform the remote audience about what’s coming next.

We have become increasingly aware that this is not an effective strategy from an accessibility perspective, and fails to provide context to those live stream viewers who prefer to listen to conference proceedings whilst working on other things, rather than watching the live stream avidly.

At future events, we want to make use of our more direct relationship with the remote audience to provide verbal continuity announcements, direct to camera where possible, to help guide the remote audience through the event. We hope that this will make our live stream coverage more personal and encourage greater engagement with the event by the remote audience. This very much builds on the idea that an event amplifier should be a guide through the event for remote participants, as well as a creator/curator of amplified materials for their consumption.

 
Image credit: ChrisEngelsma
 
 
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