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.

Present welcomes Alpha Media Events

Present Communications are quickly becoming the ‘go-to’ technical supplier in the UK for quality webcasting services. Our highly skilled engineers work with our trade partners around the UK, Europe and the world to provide live streaming video production for end clients in a number of exciting sectors.

As a part of our expansion in this sector, we are very pleased to announce our acquisition of Alpha Media Events Ltd. Managing Director of Alpha Media Events Ltd, Dan Dexter will join Present Communications ltd as Director of Webcasting.

Dan brings with him a decade of experience in live events and webcasting including 360 and has a particular interest in public sector events and accessible webcasting.

We’re really looking forward to working with Dan and his team in exploring and merging our various technologies to bring clients a better experience.

Present Communications ltd aims to be the most respected and trusted technical support business for live events, providing a superior service to its trade customers. We look forward to Dan continuing to exceed client expectations for years to come.

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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…

Social Video Streaming for Live Events

We love getting your message out to the world, that’s what we’re all about. We can build bespoke micro-sites, complex automated systems for user registration, payment gateways and more.

But sometimes, we just want the video online, we want it live and we want it easy for the user. Easy means different things to different people though. We work with many clients who are already familiar with Cisco Webex, GoTo Meeting, Goto Webinar, BlackBoard and more. Or perhaps for your requirements, something like Skype or even Zoom might work better for 2 way communications and that’s why we work with all of these platforms and more.

You have an existing social media presence, your customers interact with you on various social media platforms so why not ‘stream’ or webcast live to platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Periscope and Meercat or even LiveStream and UStream where your customers are already interacting with you. It’s pretty easy to get a video from your phone up live on these platforms but it’s also possible to stream high quality, studio style video to these platforms and bring superb production value to your social media presence.

Live Interpretation for Webcasting

The World is getting smaller, we are at the forefront of bringing people together using online technologies such as webcasting and video conferencing.  Technology is available for us to make events accessible to people wherever they might be at that specific time.  ‘Delegates’ (in the new sense of the word) are able to interact with each other on mobile devices or at their desks, even from an aeroplane (yes, we have done this).

There are a few obvious challenges to overcome.  The two big ones, time zones and languages.

The first is difficult to change, we can’t change time zones but we can be as flexible as possible with our event and we find ourselves now working on events at more peculiar times of the day.  If live interaction is not required, we can stagger the streaming in different countries.  Or perhaps two or three live events can be staggered throughout the day for the convenience of various audiences.

‘Languages’ are easier.  The stream, already going over the web can be interpreted live with questions and online interaction translated in real time.  This is becoming a relatively common way to stream and something that works really well for multi-lingual audiences.

In this photograph you see a remote location with real time video sent from the event location to an off-site venue which housed our interpreters who were them streamed live in the web.  It’s a big world, but it’s getting smaller.

 

 

AJA Ki Pro Rack

 

We’ve recently invested in the industry standard AJA Ki Pro, a unit that has proved to be of superb quality and reliability for us over the last year.

With a wealth of professional connections, Ki Pro Rack will fit right into your existing cabling and routing system and record 10-bit Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD files direct to removable hard disk or SSD Storage Modules, eliminating the need for time-consuming logging and capturing. The files can be used in most editing systems without the need for additional transcoding or importing processes.

  • HD/SD Solid State Video Recorder
  • Ability to switch between Apple ProRes 422 and Avid DNxHD
  • Built-in broadcast-quality Up/Down/Cross conversions
  • HD/SD SDI, HDMI, and HD/SD analog video I/O
  • Multi-channel AES, analog balanced XLR, and embedded audio I/O
  • Remote configuration and control via Ethernet LAN connection
  • Ethernet file transfer
  • Stand-alone operation and configuration, no need for external computer
  • RS-422 machine control, genlock, and LTC connections
  • Dual Media Drive Bays