Select Your Broadcast Platform and Equipment
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Deliver a virtual event on any budget.
- Identify the equipment needed to execute your event.
- Determine if you want to deliver a live event or stream recorded content live on the day.
Let’s kick off this unit by talking about the elephant in the room. No, not Ruth the Architect, but your budget.
Some of you are now thinking, Budget? What’s that? Maybe you’re managing small, scrappy productions made with resources already available to you, or maybe you’re working with large-scale professional productions. If you’re lucky to have some budget, this will generally go toward production of the event itself, whether that’s purchasing equipment to film yourself, renting equipment for a filming period, or hiring a production agency to help you with video production from start to finish. Let’s discuss your options from producing it for free through to spending large sums.
Let’s talk about what this event will run on. Do you have a platform for hosting the event? You or your company may already have licences for platforms that can run simple broadcasts. Do you have a broadcast page that your company can broadcast from like Trailhead Live? Or do you have other ideas to make your own experience using free presentation or video platforms? Come back to your vision and audience—what will they expect, attend, and enjoy?
Lights, Camera, Action!
Cameras: The best streaming webcams often have 1080p or 4K resolution, making them well-suited for professional streamers and gamers. However, a webcam with a 720p resolution can also work just fine, especially if you’re on a budget. If you have no budget, many laptops have a built-in camera or if you have a high-quality phone camera you can use this.
Pre-recording program: If you’re not doing the entire event live, you need to pre-record some pieces of content. You need to capture this somehow. Perhaps you have a multimedia editing program on your computer that allows screen recordings. Some webinar platforms also let you record. (Be careful if you’re using virtual backgrounds as the recording can sometimes skip.) Again, close your eyes and try to mentally storyboard the event in your head. How you want the final product to look determines how you film it.
Lighting: Good lighting is important when you’re filming yourself. At a minimum, make sure the presenter’s face is well-lit. A ring light is most commonly used these days for lighting a face at a close distance. You can also position yourself in front of a window, but this can cause issues depending on what time of day you film, the direction of the sun, and consistency of light if you film over an extended period of time.
Microphone: Now that you look good, you want the audio to come in loud and clear. In a pinch, plugging in a set of headphones with a mic attached will record your audio. However, you will be wearing corded earphones on video. Bluetooth-enabled earbuds are a good fix, or explore a USB microphone. Consider the different noise environments for people recording from home: Will their mics need noise-canceling qualities? Your budget, if any, determines what you use.
Equipment: Having a green screen on hand gives you flexibility on backgrounds for filming. Some video conference platforms offer virtual backgrounds, but without a green screen, it can cause some odd shapes around the presenter. The green screen creates a clean canvas to separate the two. You can also add a background in post-editing if you have that level of skill.
Live Versus Recorded Events
In case it’s not obvious, doing an event live carries more risk and requires more preparation and planning. So as you prepare, consider if there’s a true need to deliver your content live. Can you record it ahead of time, edit it to perfection, and then press play at go time? Direct your speakers to talk in present tense, the tense of “today,” to keep content fresh. It’s still important to engage the audience, so if you do choose to record your content, plan for how viewers can still interact with the presenters and content on the day. You might even decide to do some parts live and some recorded. Ultimately, unless you’re referencing something that’s happening in real time, going live adds extra stress and testing to the finished product.
If you’re planning for multiple presenters, how do you want that to look? It might sound funny, but since presenters are physically apart, how do you want it to look when there is more than one person on the screen?
There are ways to make it look like your presenters are together or to make the separation look intentional. Again, close your eyes and imagine it in your head. What do you see? If you’re not sure, look for inspiration from how others have done it.
If you’re pre-recording, how are you going to edit the finished product? If you aren’t working with an agency, you need the ability to do some video editing. If you have a limited budget, there are some free options, but be cautious about the functionality and system requirements you need.
If you have the budget to purchase editing software, the same rules apply. Think about what you need to do and your system requirements. You might also need an external storage device, too, because videos, video editing projects, and finished files can add to your computer storage quickly.
Editing is a skill that can take some fiddling to get comfortable, so start playing as early as you can if you haven’t done it before. There are lots of tutorials online to help you master certain effects and even some short courses if you have the desire to skill up.