Almost overnight, covid changed what was needed.

Event Agencies had to pivot fast to provide their services online. The tech developed, online services evolved and soon we all knew the zoom look. Elsewhere, Tik Tok superstars emerged from lockdown world with millions of followers. Now, two years on what is new, what is changing and what will matter?

For us, live-streaming represented a new type of customer.

Whereas our usual film-making customer was interested in the light, the cameras and the angles, our new clients wanted to know our internet speeds, the detail of our technical solution, inner ear monitors and what audio channels should be used.

If there is a typical live-stream requirement at Camberwell Studios, it would be something like this:

  • The show being hosted in one of our greenscreen studios with lead presenters, some guests on-site and some guests being brought in from a Zoom type call. There would be one, two or three cameras being used and monitors so everyone can see what is going on at the far ends. A variation on this would be where we are providing the UK end of a production being managed elsewhere.

This will remain the case for the foreseeable future, with one important development: the hybrid event, where a real audience joins the studio crew and online audience to provide a more dynamic engaging show.

This ties in with an interest in different types of live-stream formats – e.g., chat show, game show, live-shopping channels, homely environments. Although we can appreciate the benefits of the video call, we know people yearn for something more entertaining to tickle the sensory pathways of online life. Likewise, there’s a lot to be said for the camera phone live stream but it can only take a brand so far.

At the heart of these enquiries is a desire for superior production values: more shine and ping, more professionalism. This makes sense and we welcome it.

An obvious way to raise the production value is deploy a set, some real furniture and props that tell a story. That could be as simple as a chair and coffee table with plants and objects in the vicinity. Together with the right lighting plan you could be perfect.

Increasingly, virtual sets are becoming popular: your on-screen talent is filmed on greenscreen yet appears in a hyper-realistic TV studio environment in real time. Perhaps the best-known examples come from the vMix (a PC based) live production and streaming software package (see note at end). This allows multiple camera and other sources such as Zoom calls, Teams calls, Powerpoint Presentations, pre-recorded content, to be brought into a live show environment. You really can create your own ‘News at 10.’

These hyper realistic sets can leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately, there is a change away from ‘hyper’ to more realistic environments. This is happening at the same time as Virtual Production techniques are emerging into the live-streaming list of options. Whereas vMix offers static 3D environments, Virtual Studio Production sets enable a more dynamic real camera experience.

This YouTube link showing the BBC 2021 Olympics is an explainer video par excellence.

There is a role for filmmakers in livestreaming. It’s not all about the tech (it does helps to know). It’s about the things that matter, the lighting, the camera angles and movements, all those individual skills being applied to lift the production value.

More about vMix

Described above in the context of virtual studios, vMix provides a workflow solution that enables the complete control of remote end audio and video sources. The key to this is NDI technology and it means you literally could run a show from a bar in the bajan breeze. There is more to NDI and vMix than this, not least the beneficial environmental impact and reuse of existing technology, some installed years ago and already available.

We will describe this in more detail in our next article, next month.

Andy Woodruff. April 2022

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