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27 February, 2013

Use social video for hosting live events

The Wall Street Journal is experimenting with a new live-event, social video platform and the results are inviting.

Rush video chat
A Permanent Wave from Rush

Spreecast is something new, yet uses familiar paradigms of Skype-quality video, Google Hangout camera switching, live chat, and social media sauce.

And it is really fun.
In online media, a great user experience wins out over cliche broadcast formulas from legacy media.

This new iteration of live event broadcasting is something that more media outlets should dig into and experiment with.

Invite great guests
I would say that The Wall Street Journal was truly lucky to get Rush on air for one of their first attempts at this. Canadians are polite and patient to a fault. Other famous people might not be so willing to be your test subjects while you learn the ropes of producing a multi-camera live audience interactive event.

Like learning to play a Rush song, there is a bit of a learning curve to meet in order to to produce this kind of show with grace and ease.

This intimate social video engagement makes the recent NYTimes Oscar Night 'second-screen' webcast look instantly lame by comparison.

Spreecast is really smart about letting users edit and share clips after the event.

Put the end-user in charge
The service easily allows me, the end-user, to trim and share my minute of fame.
The clip above is trimmed to show just my Q&A time with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

That's a great feature and works like a charm. Be careful with your text used for the description of the clip. You cannot go back in and correct typos.

Produce your own shows
Once you get your account you assume the role of the broadcaster .

You will be hosting a live chat between your guest and the audience. You can take text questions and video questions and do some filtering and queuing of questions ahead of time. Rush promoted the event on the Facebook page a few hours before the event. That's how I found out about it.

The fans show up ahead of time and you gather questions. One you go live, everyone participating is huddled around their own laptop, so there is no need to be in the same space with your guest.

You control what questions will make it on air, who to bring on camera, and all the while there is a live chat happening on the back channel between the audience members.

The Wall Street Journal had a producer assisting the host, Conor Dougherty, who screened my video question ahead of time. Then she brought J├Ârdis and I on-air with a few moments warning before taking our camera feed live. Just like Radio and TV does in the live broadcast world.

Full disclosure
I made no special arrangements with these journalists ahead of time. I did not drop names or mention at any time that I was a journalist. I had the same chance as anyone else online at the time. I felt lucky to be picked.

The back channel chatter can be overwhelming
There were over 1,000 fans online for the event and the back channel chatter was really streaming fast.
Rush fans are passionate about the band. The cool thing is that the live chat is also preserved and on playback of the video after the event, all that live chat shows up just as it appeared during the event. That's great. but maybe not everyone who was chatting was aware that those comments would be saved. Cringe-worthy comments are there for all to see and linked to your social media profile.

For political guest interviews, I would anticipate this back chat could quickly become a sewer of distraction. It will be interesting to see if Spreecast allows broadcasters to control what elements are active and if they can be moderated by a producer.

Not broadcast quality
When there are delays, the chat room complainers can be quick to voice their unhappiness.
But it is fun and provides an intimate real-time immersive experience.

The potential to do interesting things with it is fascinating.

And now, the rest of the story . . . 

During the interview answer Joerdis thought Geddy Lee told her to come to the Berlin concert "in the shape of a cigarette." We did not really consider that and we have been trying to imagine what her costume should look like.

Perhaps something like this?

As we often say to ourselves in these moments when East misses West.

This answer was "Lost in Train Station."

Marissa Nelson of CBC in Canada commented via Facebook that they have been experimenting with Spreecast for a series of shows.  I found this one with Lauren O'Neil - one of the breakout stars from the Camp VJ Toronto journalsim training we produced with The Toronto Star.