The ability to effectively leverage streaming video is becoming increasingly important for a range of use cases, from augmenting brand engagement to boosting organizational productivity. Several prominent tech managers weigh in on how they've deployed streaming video successfully.
One of the challenges enterprise AV/IT teams struggle with is actually defining their streaming requirements for what can be a long list of potential use cases. Dan Rayburn, a streaming media consultant and principal analyst at business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan in New York, suggests that the best way to determine what you need is to start experimenting.
“Build one studio—just one. Dedicate a room to it, put in a camera, put in transcoding. Run that for a couple of months. You will get so much expertise and knowledge from doing that, and then you’ll go, ‘OK, if we want X number of groups within the company to do these the way we’re doing this in the studio, we’re going to need a total of six studios at these locations. And because we have six, that’s the bandwidth we’re going to need in these locations,’” he said. “That’s the way you really get experience in doing it yourself instead of just outsourcing it to somebody, which is what a lot of companies do. You’ve got to get hands-on with it.”
Andy Howard, founder and managing director at Howard & Associates LLC, an IP video consultancy based in Madison, CT, encourages enterprise AV/IT departments to approach streaming like TV. “Nowadays, most organizations have plenty of bandwidth, so my recommendation is always: create an environment where you can deliver a single video stream that’s more like a television broadcast,” he said. “At some point, you might want to focus on the speaker; at some point you might want to focus on the content. You can create lower thirds: who’s the presenter here? You can integrate graphics much more easily.” This approach, he argues, also serves in the long run: “It’s actually easier to deliver just a single video stream, and then you also have an asset that is able to be repurposed for video on demand in a variety of ways.”
In the Field: Tech Managers Talk Streaming
The Organization: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
The Techs: Chip Hickey, IT manager, multimedia services and Joe O’Hagan, multimedia production supervisor
The Need: To stream 50 to 75 live webcasts annually, some low-attendance and password-protected, others for tens of thousands of public viewers.
The Challenge: “We have experienced very few technical problems when sending webcasts. Usually, problems emerge when they are out of or control. One example is when we are providing services for a customer that wants the webcast viewed on a web page or on a platform that (for privacy reasons) they need to input settings themselves. Sometimes, the wrong box is checked (such as resolution) and problems emerge. We try, whenever possible, to test the production and stream prior to the event start date and time.”
The Lessons Learned: “[We] recommend constant diligence with updates and equipment maintenance. Something will eventually go wrong if hardware or software does not get the TLC it needs.”
The Organization: Third Bridge Group Limited, London, U.K.
The Tech: Paul Driscoll, business systems manager
The Need: To stream live events to 1,000 people located in eight offices worldwide.
The Challenge: “Mostly the quality of production expected by viewers—the days of a webcam on a stick are long gone. [We have overcome these issues] using 1080p cameras, lapel mics, mixing desks, and Blackmagic Web Presenter.”
The Lessons Learned: “Aim high and expect ‘feedback’ from your first try!”
The Organization: Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
The Tech: Johnathan Bamber, web/database developer and media services
The Need: To stream small weekly events that deliver faculty insight on business-related current events, as well as larger-scale productions such as a live stream of entrepreneur Mimi Feliciano discussing human trafficking, and the 2018 Convocation Ceremony.
The Challenge: “Limited time and resources. Often these requests are made with very little advance notice. Finding student staff that are well-versed in the technology such that they possess the problem-solving ability when dealing with the dynamic nature of a live event can be very challenging. We are fortunate to have students who are intrinsically motivated and have an interest in these fields.”
The Lessons Learned: “As with any technology, it is imperative to test. When the event is scripted, I would advise running through the script with the technical staff involved and documenting actions where necessary.”