Live Video Production Hits the Biggest Tech Show on Earth: CES

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The CTA found live streaming so easy that it ended up presenting 22 live streams from CES 2016. There were no advance plans to do that many, but the operation was simple so they went for it.

The CTA’s live video workflow was professional, yet uncomplicated. It used a single camera (a Panasonic prosumer model), which connected to a Livestream Studio HD500 all-in-one production switcher. The setup included a soundboard, microphones, lights, and a dedicated 3.5Mbps upstream connection. One person worked the soundboard, while another was responsible for the camera—which meant making sure no one bumped into it. And then there was the person working the Start/Stop button on the live streaming production app. That person also trimmed the front and back of each recorded video, then uploaded videos to the CTA’s host for on-demand playback.

The experiment in live streaming was a success, and maybe if the CTA repeats its efforts in 2017, someone will actually see them. Since the CTA was on uncertain ground here, it chose not to publicize the live streams ahead of time. The viewership was so low, in fact, that uStudio wouldn’t offer any stats or metrics on it, despite repeated requests. The CTA probably would have gotten more views if it had simply used Periscope.

“It was a little bit of a conscious decision, because we were scared of the connectivity issues and everything else—everything that can go wrong with live,” Parker says. “There was some promotion, but it was on social. It was limited. It wasn’t like a full campaign, or anything like that. It was really light. It was one of those things where you look at it and you go, ‘OK, here’s what can go wrong,’ instead of, ‘This is all golden if it goes right.’ That’s how we’re starting to look at live.”

With 22 successful live streams to its credit, the CTA is feeling much more enthusiastic about live video production these days.

“Now that all the technical stuff is starting to fade away—yeah, there’re still issues—but we’re looking at stuff in a more positive light now, [rather] than worrying about all the possible things that can go wrong,” Parker adds. “I think that for any novice streamer, that’s the initial hump that you need to get over. There’s a promise of how great live streaming is, and then there’s, ‘Oh no, what can go wrong?’ Then you get over that hump and you’re like, ‘Oh wow. This is great.’”

Based on his past history with live video, Parker was pleasantly surprised at how simple this operation was. While his job required him to run around the convention center dealing with situations that arose, his team back in the Grand Lobby kept him abreast of the video streams. The texts they sent were refreshingly positive, letting him know that things were working out. At end-of-day meetings, the staff confirmed how well things were going and talked about what they wanted to accomplish the following day.

“It just really came down to the fact that it was so easy to set up. It was an easy jump from saying, ‘OK, those four, yeah we can do those four,’ to ‘We have all these other items [happening] on the stage every day. Can we do those?’” Parker says. “It was just a matter of making sure we had the start and stop times in there correctly, and moving forward from that point.”

Expect to see a lot more live streaming from the CTA, and not just at its Las Vegas event. At the time of this interview, Parker was investigating the possibility of serving live streams from CES Asia in May. While live video is nerve-wracking, he sees it as a great way to extend the CTA brand.

“It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do here at CTA for a while,” Parker says. “I think baby steps, but it’s certainly something that I think we’ll look forward to doing more and more of as technology gets better and better.”

This article originally ran in the June 2016 issue of Streaming Media magazine as “Live Video Hits the Biggest Tech Show on Earth: CES.”

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