On the Air – making the most of live video

Live video has well and truly entered the mainstream. The arrival of several new tools means that the barriers to broadcasting live over social media have pretty much collapsed. Chris shares some ideas for successfully broadcasting an event, lesson or lecture using Periscope.

Filming a presentation using periscope on an ipadLive video seems to have well and truly entered the mainstream recently. Streaming of events over the web is nothing new but the arrival of several new tools means that the barriers to broadcasting live over social media have pretty much collapsed. Periscope and Facebook’s Live  are probably the most recognisable, YouTube‘s live streaming is still in beta, but there are a few also-rans out there as well. Tumblr, the blogging platform, has implemented support for a variety of smaller live video services and free apps such as Meerkat also offer live streaming to users.

Tools are one thing but it takes more than that for awareness of the possibilities to filter into the collective consciousness. You can chart that route from the curious case of the Drummond Puddle, “Chewbacca Mom” to the US Congress Democrat sit in on gun control law where a media blackout meant that live video effectively took over. The Olympics has also brought a wealth of if through official and unofficial channels.

Jisc has also started using Periscope to live stream some of its high profile events. At the most recent Jisc Student Experience Experts meeting in Birmingham we heard from Scott Hayden at Basingstoke college talk about how he has been using Periscope with his learners to widen engagement and help students build positive online identities. You can hear him talk about it here, on Periscope, naturally!

So, combine the whimsical with the educational and political like this and you can see the potential for the technology.

You can also begin to see some of the potential pitfalls. Think safeguarding, privacy and IPR. That’ll need a separate blog post to cover adequately!

Live streaming events

I’ve been asked to Periscope a couple events for Jisc in the last few months. This gave us an opportunity to expand the audience for certain things beyond the people that could spare the time to sit in a particular room on a particular day.

It also helps us to bring more people into the conversation.

I thought it would be useful to share some of the things I learned from doing this so if you are using it for your own events, lectures and so on you’re not at as much of a standing start as I was.

It’s easy. Maybe even too easy. Just download the app, make sure you have a decent connection, press the record button and try not to breathe too loudly.

The trouble is, ease of use doesn’t necessarily translate into good audience experience. People’s expectations are lower so you can get away with a bit of untidyness but it’s worth putting in a little more effort if you’re trying to do something officially (I’m not so bothered about quick grab-it-and-run video snippets here).

Making the most of Periscope

  • Ask permission from your speakers. I was Periscoped a while back without being asked beforehand and it felt a bit uncomfortable although it worked out OK. It’s polite and there might be things in their presentation that they’d prefer to be off the record.
  • Use a tripod. There’s only so much wobble a viewer can stand when watching something longer than 5 mins. If you need to shift the camera angle, do it slowly and not too often.
  • Pick a good spot. Audio on mobiles isn’t good over long distances so get close to the speaker and away from things like air-con units, doors or chatty audience members. Accept you aren’t necessarily going to be able to film both the speaker and their slides but if you can get a spot where you can move the camera between both, brilliant.
  • Set to record. Periscope has an option to delete the video after 24 hours. Remember to check your settings so it doesn’t do this. If you want more control over the final result you can change the settings in Periscope to save your video to Camera Roll. This means you can edit it in something like iMovie later.
  • Change your moderation settings. You won’t be able to control your audience commenting completely but check the settings to achieve a level of control you’re happiest with.
  • Watch your own stream. As well as Periscoping from an iPad I have a laptop going where I can check what the Periscope audience is seeing. It’s probably overkill but as I was doing it on behalf of Jisc a certain level of quality control was desirable.
Workstation setup with laptop and ipad
Periscope workstation setup with laptop and ipad
  • Think about how you tweet. Include the event hashtag in the name of the video if you can. Encourage people to retweet for you. Tweet when you’re going to be broadcasting. For longer, planned events I try to make people aware of this at the start of the day so if they can plan when to devote their attention to it.
  • Tweet the recordings afterwards. It’s usually the same link as the live broadcast but not everyone will know this.
  • Be spontaneous too. As well as doing the more formal broadcasts you can use live video to grab conversations with people, give a flavour of the event and do more fun stuff too. See my colleague Scott’s Periscopes of the Tai Chi robots from the Liverpool Connect More event.

Your ideas

I’m still learning about how to do live video well. My last go at it was plagued by excessive background noise and the occasional troll in the comments.

Tell us your tips on good live video practice here.

Main image: includes material from a presentation by Scott Hayden

By Chris Thomson

I'm a Subject Specialist at Jisc focusing on online learning and digital student experience.

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