TEDxBrum #Perspectives took place at Birmingham Hippodrome and we were tasked with live streaming the event and producing edited talks for YouTube. We love live streaming and we’d already covered the previous year’s TEDxBrum so we grabbed the chance to be involved with an even bigger and more spectacular event.

In this talk Kathryn Lennon Johnson describes how our everyday environment affects our health, much more than we might realise.

The Benefits of Live Streaming an Event

With an event like TEDxBrum, which took place inside a theatre with a finite amount of space, live streaming meant the organisers could reach a much larger audience. With online channels available to all, no-one was excluded from the event either: live streaming means anyone can watch, anywhere in the world, with no physical or financial limitations. And another advantage is that you can’t fast forward a live stream! Viewers are therefore more engaged with the content than they would otherwise be with pre-recorded video.

The Challenge

How many live streams have you seen where it’s too dark, the sound is awful, or the picture quality is terrible? The reason for all of these issues usually lies in a lack of preparedness. For us, it was crucial that we worked closely with venue and event staff well ahead of the day, including an essential visit to the location. The challenges included lighting, finding the right camera positions, audio quality and internet issues.

How We Achieved Success

It took a team of six and five cameras! We made sure lighting levels worked well for both the venue and video audience and found the best camera positions available, taking into account the number of seats we were going to take up, visibility and health and safety (all of these variables have an impact on where cameras can be located). Having at least one camera at eye-line level with the performer ensured a connection with the audience at home, making them feel part of the ‘performance’ and producing a more immersive visual experience. We paid a lot of attention to obtaining a high quality audio feed, with a clean balanced feed from the sound desk mixed with a feed from inside the auditorium to pick up audience atmosphere. And we made sure we had a production gallery outside of the main event space so the live streaming director could talk to camera operators without disturbing the audience. A word on internet connection. Never take someone’s word that it’s just going to work! We made sure we knew in advance exactly what upload/download speeds were available in the venue.

Finally, it’s easy to forget that live streams will be hosted by a third party – so we always make sure that we obtain or produce branded content that allows us to create lower thirds and on-screen logos that can be displayed on the stream, connecting the viewer with the brand.

The Outcome

The live stream on the day of broadcast picked up well over a thousand viewers and the edited videos on YouTube have been watched by hundreds of thousands. You never know when a live streamed video like this will take off. A TEDxSkoll film we worked on, featuring historian Deborah Lipstadt, was featured on the main TED site and has been watched over 1.4million times!

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