Over the course of my career in streaming events, I have seen a lot. I have done webcasts in some of the smallest offices, on factory floors, as well as some of the biggest convention centers and hotel ballrooms in the world. I have even conducted a live stream outside, on top of a mountain – and let’s just say, lighting was a small issue. I have done live webcasts with a single executive using a webcam and from some of the most elaborate corporate shows that would give the Grammy awards a run for their money.
No matter the size, production quality or location of each event, I enjoy seeing the pieces and people come together to pull off successful live events. For larger events, event teams are often a combination of different groups, so, you can never be certain if everyone is pulling their own weight. Knowing that, I have to pay attention to each detail, trust those I work with and ask questions as they arise.
Most recently, I had the good fortune to be part of an onsite team in a small French city near the base of the Alps, called Grenoble. The customer is a heavy user of our services, and we assist them every year for their showcase event, in which the leadership team participates in a TV-show type webcast that is broadcast company wide. The event itself is probably one of the biggest, and most well-run productions I have ever been a part of.
The production team consists of 87 people! The main team is based in North America with a local support team in Europe; including camera operators, producers, directors, lighting, electrical, sound, and more. There were 13 cameras as part of the onsite team, as well as four remote locations across the globe. The production truck that was used as the main hub for the event, is well-known for working high-profile Formula One races, as well as the Korean Winter Olympics.
Needless to say, the atmosphere was buzzing with activity during the days leading up to the event. They do the show from one of their larger offices, but it is quickly transformed into multiple TV-quality type sets, that would make Good Morning America foam at the mouth. My co-worker and I usually arrive 2 days before the event to test and to make any configuration changes to the Kollective application that the client might want. Our video streaming strategy team works closely with the encoding team, that runs and monitors roughly 14 encoders for the event. With the customer being a global giant, they provide streams with captioning, streams with other languages, as well as backup streams for each of these streams. That’s a lot of streams!
I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, no matter the size of the production or audience, you can never test enough. After all the rehearsals, and testing, and more testing to test the testing, we are finally set. During the event, my colleagues and I monitored the streams coming off the encoders, the application itself and we kept an eye on Kollective IQ (our enterprise-ready analytics dashboard) to make sure no major issues were happening. We were able to provide real-time insights to the corporate communications managers with the numbers they really cared about – how many people were on!
The event itself went extremely smoothly and no major issues were reported. The customer reported roughly 13 thousand connections to the stream, with 88 thousand total participants who viewed via watching parties. For an executive team to be able to share their critical updates via broadcast-quality live video to this many globally-dispersed employees is a massive achievement. I can only imagine how they will level up for next year’s event.
The adrenaline is always pumping for events like this. If you have a great team, good content, the right technology and you do proper testing (and more testing), you will always be in a better position for success. After this huge event in a faraway, majestic city, with extraordinarily high-end production, I should totally expect my next call to be supporting a live webcast in some three-person conference room in the middle of nowhere. Bring it on, it’s what I live for.
“Nick’s Notes From The Road” is a blog series dedicated to the live event producers, the movers and shakers, the people who just won’t take no WiFi for an answer. In this series we address all things good and bad that might come up during a live event and some tools and tricks for success.