The second part of our retrospective looks at the tech aspects of the event. So, let's get started on the first important decision:
Some of the team at Jump24 are avid streamers, so having their knowledge and ideas around how we could bring Brum Tech Tapas to the community (albeit virtual) was something that came in clutch.
The market for broadcasting software is so heavily saturated now, especially with COVID. We started with the most popular, OBS Studio. This is the standard, and streaming from this program is as easy as “1, 2, Live” but we then came across the hurdle of multiple people having to come in and out of the stream – all while seamlessly transitioning throughout. We found that transitioning was achievable using Skype but it just wasn’t a simple platform for our speakers to join (and that was something that was essential). We needed something that someone who wasn’t technically savvy could easily join, share their screen and present to everyone.
We therefore looked further afield for something designed to have multiple users join, share screen and present, all in one place. The leaders in this field are Vmix and StreamYard. The former, a professional broadcasting platform, is used by many of the main Esports events, from Call of Duty to Rocket League. We really didn’t need something so advanced though, which is why we finally settled on StreamYard.
StreamYard is a browser based broadcasting platform, uses a link to join, and within three clicks you are into the stream. The host can add you as soon as you are needed and can be presented to the world!
We wrote about our experiences with running online events last year, so it’s not surprising that a lot of the aspects to think about when running Brum Tech Tapas fit into what Kevin Lewis at Vonage wrote about in that article. It became very clear nearer the event launch that a tech test with your speakers is a must.
StreamYard certainly offered a much easier platform to use for the speakers than our original Skype plans. Volume levels on mics and a screen share test for those with slides turned out to be essential, as none of the speakers had used StreamYard before. It also gave us a chance to discuss how we were to do Q&A with each speaker and run through any questions they had.
Backgrounds & Cats
Due to the amount of plates being spun by all of us when putting the event together, some things inevitably get lost or forgotten. In my case, I actually have an Elgato Green Screen but time had run out to set it up. So, what you -actually- got was the backdrop of my office, complete with a wonky picture. I guess it’s inevitable that you can’t prepare for things like this (although I’d like to add that all the speakers had proper neutral backgrounds!) but, of all the times I’ve been doing online events for Jump24, it was during my intro to the event that my cat came in and jumped on the desk. You can prepare to make anything as professional and slick as you like, but you can’t stop pets scrambling all over your setup.
Next time, the cat flap will be locked.
To sit or to stand?
While the speakers naturally sat down, I must admit to struggling with trying to sit down while delivering the introduction. Thankfully, I made the decision to mix it up a bit for the interactions with the speakers during Q&A. I think the natural stance here is to move away from the camera, but be seated to give more room. This, of course, will be less of an issue when we return with in-person events, but nevertheless is a useful tip for when we roll out Brum Tech Tapas virtual content such as podcasts and clips.