Modern Times: Getting Live Video Right Demands a Special Skillset
The Mirage Factory, Gary Krist’s absorbing narrative history of early Los Angeles, includes a fascinating chapter on the transition from silent to talking films. Even for silent movie directors and actors who survived the transition to talkies, the adjustment was an awkward one. Pioneering filmmakers like David Wark Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, and Charlie Chaplin had spent the last two decades “lifting the silent film to unprecedented levels of expressiveness and technical mastery.” Most of their innovations had no place in early talking pictures.
Exploding demand for talkies marooned these directors on oppressively audio-centric sets, their fluid storytelling and camera techniques straitjacketed by primitive recording technology, their whirring cameras encased in glass, and their actors riveted to spots near hidden microphones. Balletic leading man Douglas Fairbanks “took a look at the wires and cables and microphones and sound dampeners cluttering up the set” and lamented, “The romance of motion picture-making ends here.”
For many video producers, the transition to streaming delivery must have similarly limited the agility of their existing production styles and workflows, introducing new requirements and technological demands alien to their prior experience. As UFC director, Live Event Production, Tre James explained on a panel at last November’s Live Streaming Summit, “Not a lot of people understand live.”
“Live,” in the words of James’ co-panelist, BCLive’s Brett Collins, demands a “never-look-back skillset” that many producers never develop. But sometimes it’s just a matter of technology getting out of the way. Innovative mobile production and streaming technologies, many highlighted in this issue’s inaugural Streaming Media Producer 25, have liberated live producers. Increasingly, if you can get the shot, you can share it with the world in real-time.
Talking pictures came around too.
[This article appears in the April/May 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Modern Times"]
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