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How to Optimize Your Live Streaming Productions

SLV Live's Shawn Lam, LiveX's Corey Behnke, LiveSports' Jef Kethley, andf videoRx's discuss best practices for meeting client expectations and bringing more fluidity to your live streaming productions in this clip from Streaming Media West Connect 2021.

Learn more about live streaming production at Streaming Media East 2022.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Shawn Lam: There are two terms that I kind of want to start with, and one is fluid. So the synopsis here is how well are our live streaming production workflows adapted to today's fluid production scenarios. How important is having fluid productions, and what is a fluid production? And the other term is optimizing--how do we optimize our workflows so that they're best-suited for live production. So let's go through the same order and get you guys to just start tackling those those key terms, fluid and optimize. So, Robert.

Robert Reinhardt: The first thing that came to mind when you said "fluid" is just, when the production starts, everything is as everyone expects it to be. I often tell my clients, my number-one job is managing expectations. As long as those are aligned on both sides of the table with my crew and the client's expectations, then things are going to be exactly as everyone wanted them to be. Sure, there are tech glitches that come up. But for me, fluid is basically that process of having everything in pre-production line up with where it's supposed to be during production.

Corey Behnke: With live streaming, I like to tell people, 99% of the people in our industry do film production or do television production. And then there's the small sliver of us that actually go live, live, or live to tape. And to Robert's point, in pre-production, what we've really learned is the more that we can get with the client early, have a coordinating producer, have somebody who's just with them nonstop and somewhat teaching them. Not everybody does live production like us all the time. So there's definitely this education with your client because the more you can educate them, the more they can know what to expect, to Robert's point about managing expectations. A lot of times, I'll say, "Hey, you want a lower-third here?? And they'll say, "What's a lower-third?"

And I know that sounds like baby stuff, but it could be something else like a transition helping them to elevate their show.

To me, everything you do in live streaming is all about pre-production, because in a normal film, you've got all this time, or in a television show, you've got all this time to edit it after. And so if you're trying to set up that assembly-line live stream, you've got to have the support. And the fluidity comes with the changes and staying on top of those changes. It's in pre-production really where the word "fluid" really matters.

Optimization, for me, is efficiency. The more efficient you can make your set and your plan of attack, the better. A lot of people might not have a vision, but they know what to exclude. And I always say, don't be afraid to know what you don't want, because that will inform where you're going to go. And that's the optimizing part. It's just removing and distilling down to what you actually need to do the live stream, because the more you can be efficient and optimized for what you actually need, the more time you're going to spend on the things that matter versus things that don't.

Jef Kethley: When you said "fluid," immediately I thought of the ability to make changes at the last minute. I agree completely with Corey and also with Robert, that most of the situations that we always run into--maybe my clients are special, but my clients actually have a lot of requests at the last minute. So maybe it's just my clients, but the fluidity of our production workflows, it comes down to that, so that whenever we do have an event going on and they say, "Oh, by the way, we need to go to Twitch. Oh and, by the way, we also need to go to YouTube and oh yeah, by the way, we need to put this on a certain server that's behind the corporate firewalls, all these kinds of things that fluidity is, that's where we have to be in this business. We just have to be that away to be able to say yes, instead "No, you can't do that," because no client ever wants to hear it. Maybe that's just my clients, but they, they tend to come up with these last minute "Oh, by the way..." requests. Our fluidity is in our stance: "We'll do our best. Let's check into it. Let's see how we can do that."

Shawn Lam: Thanks, Jeff. I don't think you're the only one that has clients like that. I know I definitely have experienced that. But when I think of fluidity, it definitely involves both that pre-production planning as well as once you're on site, right? The pre-production phase is adjusting to the needs, the changes from the last time you did it, or from the last time they did it, changes just because we're in a pandemic right now. And things have changed in terms of health and safety and the different protocols that are in place. And then on-site, we don't have the in-person audiences as much, although that's changing as things are opening back up.

But that brings a lot of changes and increased emphasis on the online component of events that are hybrid events that have in-person attendance, as well as the online. It's only starting to reopen, and there's a renewed emphasis on that online component, being that much more important and trying to throw in all of those features and engagement items that were once limited to the in-person audience. Now, everyone online needs to take part in these things that previously they didn't. So this is kind of an interesting dynamic there with the fluidity.

For me, optimization really is around your signal flow being as pure as it can for what you're delivering. So there's no sense starting interlaced, then changing it to progressive, and then upscaling, then downscaling and going interlaced again, then progressive, and then cropping it and then stretching it--the really silly things that we used to do back in the HDV world that hopefully are gone now. So you kind of have in mind what your end production and recording is going to be, and everything along that line, that pipe, that workflow is as consistent as possible.

So those are my takes on those two terms there.

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