Producing Live Events, Master Tip 3: Choose Good People and Train Them Well

Total Webcasting is a webcasting service provider out of New York that produces dozens of events a month, and thousands since its inception in 2007. Total Webcasting is unique in that it produces virtually all events for its customers, while owning the streaming server and content management system used for live and on-demand delivery, providing the complete “glass-to-glass” experience. Through their experience, the company has mastered the art of the problem-free webcast. I’ve been after company president Robert Feldman to share his tips with my readers for years; he’s agreed to share his top ten in Letterman order. This is number three.

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Whether you are a freelancer or a business with employees, it is vitally important that the technician(s) covering a webcast be well trained and have experience in the broad array of technical challenges they will face. Unlike a broadcast event where there are lots of technical and production people around, webcasts are often produced by one person. And whether you are using a single traditional camera with a mounted encoder or a mixed multiple-camera set-up like we use, the webcast technician has a lot on their plate and needs to not only be technically proficient, but a diplomat when dealing with presenters. There is a lot of pressure in live production and not everyone can hold it together when things start to go bad. 

For us, it has taken a while (and some negative experiences) to truly understand this and find the right people to fill these shoes. Be honest with yourself and the people you hire about how much pressure there is. And don’t just believe someone when they tell you that they know networks or sound techniques, truly test their knowledge before it is too late.

A good way to do this is to have the technician run a simulated webcast in your offices before managing a live one. And no matter how experienced a new hire is, never let him or her run a webcast without an experienced hand around. Remember, every webcast is mission-critical to the customer, and it’s better to take a bit less margin on a job and ensure its success, than risk an epic fail that could cost your a client or damage your reputation.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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