In the world of live performance, tradition expects performers and fans to come together in a single venue to host exciting events. That view has been upended due to “social distancing” rules from COVID-19 that have resulted in postponed and canceled events. But while in-person performances cannot continue under a single roof, they can be unified under multiple mobile and desktop screens. Live video events and get-togethers offer an opportunity to deliver exciting experiences in new and different ways. If you are new to virtual events, then our beginner's guide to video streaming for live events is for you!
We’re going to look at the types of video formats available and how to use them, some available video services on the web, and considerations for charging for access to online events. We’ll also cover security, ease-of-use, available features, and as is dictated in a world of reduced revenues -- cost.
First, let’s get started by explaining the difference between a webinar and a video conference.
Webinars have historically been used for instruction, and one host shares ideas, content and their own computer screen with a list of attendees generally only known to the host. Today, and with the evolution of our society due to COVID-19, the webinar format has migrated to delivering events and live performances. While the attendees are generally muted, the host may share audio and performance duties with multiple co-hosts for the entire event or on-the-fly as the content dictates. The ability to co-host is a requirement for organizations that wish to create a performance with a dozen actors or musicians in separate locations.
Video conferences are synonymous with video meetings and allow many attendees to view each other and converse freely. These have been particularly popular during mandated “shelter in place” orders as a way to connect with co-workers, friends and family for virtual happy hours or morning coffee. They allow for virtually unlimited attendees.
Obviously, 100 voices talking simultaneously would be a cacophony, so often attendees will alternately mute and unmute their own microphones to reduce the noise level. (A barking dog in the background may be oblivious to the dog owner but be anything but to the remaining attendees! It’s not impolite to ask users to mute themselves in this scenario.)
There are many different video meeting services, and the industry is exploding with new offerings every week. You may have already used some of the old stalwarts -- Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts immediately come to mind. Up-and-comers in the video meeting services space include Zoom, Join.me and Amazon’s Chime.
As part of our beginner's guide to video streaming for live events, we intend to cover only those video platforms that include the ability to host both webinars and video meetings. We believe this should be among the criteria in your video service decision. We also believe host sharing (co-hosting) is vital, so exclude any that don’t offer that option.
So, without further ado, let's take the next step in our beginner's guide to video streaming for live events by examining one of the most popular formats, Zoom.