Guides

Stop Worrying and Master the Tech

In part 3, I said that the most important thing you can do to have a successful online live event is to make a great show, and that's definitely true.

It's also true that there's a little bit of technology involved. You may or may not be familiar with it already, but it’s technology that you can master fairly easily. Don’t let that intimidate you and definitely don’t let it stop you from moving into online live events.

If it seems difficult to start, that’s probably because it’s just unfamiliar. I saw this close up in the mid-90s when the internet was becoming popular. Some companies sat on the sidelines of the Revolution that was going on because of the perceived technology barrier. But the technology was never as big and bad as they imagined. So those that did make the investment to get over the hump, to break that little bit of inertia to get started were the ones that reaped the rewards.

If you don’t want to learn the tech yourself or handle it internally, so many people already understand the tools that you can easily find affordable, qualified freelancers. But getting the basics down will help you during the hiring process so you can make a great hire.

So let's talk a little bit about what you're going to need to know that you might not already know if you're a live event producer and you want to make the leap to online live events..

You’ll have to film your event to broadcast it online. Your current staff might already have some expertise in this, and you don’t need expensive equipment. You can go a long way with $1000 or less. In a pinch, some high-end phones and tablets can even do a decent job. But if you’re serious about online events, you’ll want to make a bigger investment that will continue to serve you as your productions evolve.

When filming, you also have to think differently about production. A camera just pointed at a stage won’t result in an exceptional live event. Think about how film and TV are shot.  Multiple cameras and angles are used to create drama and different perspectives. You can also add effects that would be impossible in an in-person event, like close-ups. You can start very simple and still have a big impact. As you build skill and experience, you can make it more complex and sophisticated.

In addition to your filming equipment, you're also going to need encoding software. There are many options, but one of the most popular is OBS Studio. It's both free and user-friendly. It might seem a little complex at first, but there are really only a few simple things you need to know to use it. This software allows you to put together all the different sources of audio and video from your production and deliver them as a streaming performance. YouTube has a bunch of OBS Studio tutorials that will show you the basics in just 15 or 20 minutes. I did this myself recently and can now create a livestream with no problem.

Gamers on Twitch and other streamers use OBS and similar tools, so it’s a common skill. Like I said, your crew or staff may already know how to do this.  And if not, you can go to a freelance marketplace like upwork.com and find affordable, skilled help.

Once you have your audio and video content coming into your streaming and recording software, you need to find a place to stream it.  There are lots of options here, including Stellar, of course. You'll need the ticketing platform of some kind if you plan to sell access to the stream and with Stellar the ticketing platform is integrated directly into the streaming. But there are other ways to go too. They’re just not as good.

To sum up, you need to produce your live show, capture the audio and video, put that through your streaming software, and finally you'll need to stream it somewhere and what better place than Stellar, where the ticketing is also elegantly integrated into what you're doing.

In the early days of the web, the opportunities were enormous. When it comes to online live events, it's those early days again. And once again, the opportunities are enormous. I'd love to make sure that everybody in our industry, everybody in particular who's been so badly affected by the pandemic, takes full advantage.

Stop worrying and learn the tech. You'll be glad you did.

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