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Telestream Wirecast Helps Theater Company Eye Zen Presents Livestream Virtual Pride Month Celebration

Streaming solution is integral in keeping LGBTQ history alive despite a global health crisis

Telestream, a leading provider of workflow automation, media processing, quality monitoring and test and measurement solutions for the production and distribution of video, today announced that its Wirecast solution is playing an essential role in allowing San Francisco-based theater company, Eye Zen Presents, to livestream its virtual, performance-driven LGBTQ history tour for Pride Month. The event, OUT of Site: SOMA, explores the history of San Francisco’s South of Market district, a catalyst for radical change and a stronghold for queer and activist organizing. This year, in response to COVID-19 safety concerns, the initial run of six shows which will take place between June 19 and 28 in celebration of Pride Month will be held as virtual, livestreamed street-theater events.

Founded by Seth Eisen in 2007, Eye Zen artistically recaptures LGBTQ stories and sites overlooked from historical records to create a lasting body of evidence and distribute it for future generations. By experimentally blending performative and visual disciplines such as puppetry and live-drawing with contemporary dance, drag, live music, physical theater and video, OUT of Site launched in 2018 with a sold-out run of performances in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. In 2019, it spotlighted San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood and this year, OUT of Site will continue as a livestreamed event.

“The OUT of Site project places audiences in historical spaces of queer history and brings them to life with live performance,” explained Eisen. “We decided to pivot the production we’d originally planned for the street to create a virtual experience that would allow us to move forward and offer our audiences these stories of resilience when we all need them the most. When the shelter-in-place mandate went into effect, the team began online rehearsals immediately since we had to completely redesign the show to be able to do it in this medium.”

Eye Zen brought on Maximiliano Pierre Urruzmendi-Mele (“Max”) as technical director to put together the pieces of the livestreaming puzzle. With a background in live theater, Urruzmendi-Mele moved quickly to evaluate broadcasting and livestreaming options for the event. He decided on a combination of Zoom, Google Earth, Qlab and, at the heart of the system, Telestream’s Wirecast live video streaming production solution which he had worked with previously.

“Wirecast is a very powerful system that is also easy to learn quickly,” said Urruzmendi-Mele. “While I’ll be using Zoom as the platform for the audience, which will be live so they can comment about the show in a chat-room style, Telestream’s Rendezvous and/or Skype as a sort of green room where all of the actors’ feeds will be placed, Google Earth for extra video elements and Qlab mainly for audio cues, it’s Wirecast that will be the center of all the media for the event.”

Telestream’s Wirecast allows users to capture, produce and stream content easily. It lets users capture from unlimited sources such as cameras, microphones, webcams, IP cams, and more. There are also more than 100 built-in graphics and titles for broadcasts. Users can stream to multiple destinations, including Facebook Live, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo Live, or any RTMP destination.

“Wirecast is a much more professional program that lets me resize any media, any image or any video that's coming in, and I can move it around in any sort of position,” added Urruzmendi-Mele. “I love that feature. A lot of the other programs don’t allow me to do that.”

For the OUT of Site project, Urruzmendi-Mele likes Wirecast’s NDI capture support, which makes it easy to bring IP video sources into the system across a local network. Wirecast will automatically detect and receive any video or audio that is broadcast via NDI protocol. Urruzmendi-Mele is also relying on Wirecast’s Rendezvous which delivers individual video and audio feeds from each performer. “For me, that’s one of the biggest differences between using Wirecast and something else.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, which will begin on June 19, 2020, the production team has already completed a number of trial runs. According to Urruzmendi-Mele, who already says he’s looking to use Wirecast for future projects, “Wirecast has been a powerful part of the whole system. It’s been easy to use and during our tech rehearsals, we’ve been able to very quickly make all of these pieces come together. It’s been a real lifesaver.”

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