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Q&A: A Decade of Event Video

July 13, 2018

Ten years ago might not seem like that long ago to some people. But think of it this way:

In 2008 you were still going to video stores to rent movies.

You weren’t watching TV online much.

YouTube was only two years old.

It was still two years before we met Siri.

The first-generation iPhone had only just come on the market, which means you weren’t sharing videos of your dog, say, blowing out birthday candles on Facebook and Instagram.

When we put it that way, it seems like a lifetime ago, right? How did we manage?

It was during this landscape that UK-based technical production and digital event specialist, Saville AV began using Mediasite as its streaming solution for clients wanting to create online, live events – as we’ve established, a pretty rare thing back then.

“We really had to explain to people what online video was about and how it could work for them. The world has really hyper-evolved in the past 10 years,” said Jim Young, Head of Creative Technology at Saville AV. “The stats of video being consumed around the world now compared to 10 years ago is incredible. Everyone watches television now online. Meetings are delivered online. It really is completely standard now, whereas back then it was like a maverick thing to do.”

Celebrating a decade of online events with Saville AV, we sat down with Jim, as well as Group Communications Manager Gareth Lloyd, to discuss how things have changed and what they think is coming next for video in the world of events.

Q: What was it like back in the “pioneer days” so to speak of online event video?

Jim: Looking back at the old content from 2008, it’s crazy compared to what we’re capturing with Mediasite now. We were capturing maybe one event per month back then, compared to the thousands and thousands of hours of video we have now. Back then we actually burned CDs on-site. We recorded the content, edited it, and when the event finished we actually stood at the door handing out branded CDs with recordings of all the sessions. That was mind-blowing for people.

Gareth: It was like a craft fair for video. There’d be a truck with lots of glue, CDs and cases, etc.

While that all seems very old fashioned now, it really did blow people’s minds back then. Mediasite made all of that possible, because we were able to edit the content while recording, while also capturing all of the slides and supporting material.

Flash forward to today and we’re capturing events of all sizes with equipment ranging from one Mediasite RL Mini in a backpack that we can just plug in and go to truckloads full of production equipment and Mediasite Recorders. And people all over the world can consume the videos in real-time.

Q: Sure, online and hybrid events are the norm now, but not everyone has jumped onboard yet, and it can seem daunting. What’s your advice to someone just getting started?

Jim: First, find the right platform. We’re delivering these video experiences globally using Mediasite, and along with the production values that we provide, it really is a match second to none.

One thing that we always suggest if you’re doing a hybrid event – with on-site and online attendees – do something a little extra for the online audience. When the on-site attendees are heading to lunch, for example, have a presenter on the stream interview someone or read some tweets. Make the online audience feel like they’re part of the event.

The tools in Mediasite like polling and ask-a-question and even just being able to switch the slides and video feeds around to view it the way they want, lets attendees feel like they’re actually there. Even the on-demand content has that same functionality. If a doctor presented an important session about his research, people watching six weeks later in a different country can hit the Q&A button and communicate with that doctor. That’s something that makes the world a really small place.

Q: What’s the biggest event trend people can’t ignore?

Jim: You can capture several video streams at once, so people can really be involved in what’s going on. You can have a couple cameras running. We quite often embed different players in websites so people can choose exactly what they want to watch.

We’re also starting to see a lot more crowdsourcing for events – people getting together online to discuss their interests and what they want to get out of an event. That fuels the decisions on which presentations and keynotes happen. Reaching out to people before the event starts really boosts the discussions and engagement that take place at the event, because they see their input was valued.

Gareth: It’s all about collaboration and convenience. People want accessibility. They want to be able to communicate regardless of location. They want to be able to watch from any device, on a global scale. As we get more and more into augmented and virtual realities we can create even more collaborative experiences. It’s all about having realistic collaborative experiences, and Mediasite has always been at the heart of that.

Q: What are some of the most innovative event video applications that you’ve done with Mediasite?

Jim: We’ve done some crazy stuff like putting Mediasite on a trolley that went around the venue to shoot different rooms. This is especially effective for technology expos where people are doing demos. We did this at Integrated Systems Europe earlier this year.

We got involved with a Google event a few years ago when the Tilt Brush was released. The Tilt Brush is a 3D painting virtual reality application from Google, and we got a first edition of it, along with an HDTV VR headset. We had a 4D artist painting live pictures using the wands of the HDTV. That was a massive challenge to display that to an online audience in real-time.

We’re also doing a lot of fun things with Google Cardboard, which is an AR headset you put your iPhone into. Say you have an awards ceremony. You could put a 360-degree camera on a table and stream the ceremony. People in another location could put Google Cardboard on, look at the lights, red carpet, etc. and see what’s going on. You can create a really crazy virtual world that is accessible to anyone now, and that’s the wonderful thing about technology. It’s opening up boundaries where it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars. It’s accessible to everyone. It’s a really exciting time to bring it all together.

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