We made a mistake…

Cisco Meraki

Since the lockdowns began around March 2020, our businesses have changed. Live events has been mostly non-existent. In order for businesses in our industry to survive, we’ve had to adapt, try new things and learn new skills. Not only that, but budgets are different (smaller).

I’m very pleased with the way that we’ve adapted in the last year. We’ve been able to offer our clients excellent quality live streaming and virtual events at the right price. I’m also happy to say we’re dong it the right way, with highly skilled staff, on some of the best and most reliable equipment currently in the industry.

But it’s been a journey to get here. A few months ago, we were asked to do something new. We were asked to record 20 people in HD from a Zoom meeting. We thought we could do it. In the ‘old world’ it would have been easy. We would have been on site, brought in 20 video feeds from anywhere around the world and rented in a rack of video recorders. The quality would have been excellent and the budget doubled. This time around, we wanted to do it from our studio and we wanted to keep it cheap and keep the client. We did some testing, all appeared to work. We looked over our test recordings, they seemed ok. We confirmed with the client and won the job to work on one of their most high profile projects that year.

We started the job, pressed all the buttons, everything looked good and the ‘event’ took place. After the event, we confirmed we had files, nothing had crashed and we would send everything to the client. Everyone left (virtually) feeling happy.

It was only went we went back over the recordings that we found the quality was poor, to say the least. Very poor. They were certainly not something I was happy delivering to the client. We worked through the night to fix the issues in post (video joke) and by the morning, we were able to deliver something. I say ‘something’ because it still wasn’t good enough, but it was something.

Now there were only a few things left for us to do.

  1. Apologise to the client profusely. Obviously we didn’t send a bill despite the fact we know the end client did pay for the eventual product. From my point of view though, as a business owner, I was not happy AT ALL with the work we had done and was not prepared to let the client pay for that quality of work.
  2. Research, read and learn everything we can about how we had made a mistake.

Now we’re in a unique position that we’ve made the mistake and we’ve learnt from it. And so what’s the outcome / silver lining? We know how technically challenging it is to deliver something like this. We made the mistake and we’ve learnt a lot. As a result, we rebuilt our entire network (more money than we’ve ever spent before one a single item) and changed our workflow for this kind of project. Now we know exactly how to deliver this project, should we ever get asked again! And next time, we’ll get it perfect. Even better than that, as a result of the new things we’ve learned and the improved infrastructure, our workflows for all kinds of projects have changed and improved. Everything we do is now to a far higher standard.

Hybrid Events must be interactive and engaging…

Live streaming, video conferencing, webinars, hybrid events…

These terms all mean something a little different, and we’ve covered the differences in the past. Is largely semantics really, the most important thing is the way in which we decide on our platform of choice.

There are a number of elements to a live video / hybrid events. First, there is the on-site element. This includes the PA system and screens like normal but also now we introduce the video cameras etc.

Secondly, we need to take the video, slides, and audio from the room and send it to the internet. Potentially, we also need to take video, slides, audio and more from the internet and present it back to our audience in the room. That’s the key to being interactive and engaging our audiences, both in the room and online.

Thirdly, the content that we’ve sent to the internet needs to actually make it into the offices and homes of our online participants and vice versa and for this we need a platform. Some live streaming platforms might include Facebook Live, YouTube, ON24, Talk Point, Inxpo etc. Video conferencing platforms might include a Cisco MCU like our in house system or something cloud based like Zoom. And webinar platforms include things like Webex, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting. That’s a lot of options. And to make it more complicated, a hybrid event is essentially a mix of any of these with a live event.

Bringing people ‘into’ your event from online, whether they be at home, in their office or on the train gives the event owner huge potential to widen the audience to increase the reach of the event. It also places a responsibility on the event owner to ensure that the online participants are just that, participants. Engagement should be considered just as important for those people online. In fact, it should be considered more important because those participants don’t have the advantage of actually being in the room with the other delegates.

Now for the techie bit… In order to ensure the delegates online and in the room are fully engaged, video and audio needs to be high quality and real time. Content needs to be available to all users too. Currently, there is a technological gap between what’s needed and what’s available. I could blame it all on Apple but that’s a conversation for another day. All I’ll say is WATCH THIS SPACE…