Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Broadcast Weddings

Here is yet another tool you can add to your video arsenal and offer clients something they may jump for. The ability to broadcast their wedding or special event LIVE for people who live too far away or were unable to attend!

Looking around on Livestream I've found several videographers doing this very thing, offering wedding packages with the addition of a live or pre-recorded feed. Below is a list of producers and their channels you can watch now:

JMK Productions

EMD Video Vision


Wedding Select TV

Wedding Biz

AJH Studios

If you are a one camera or one man production company this may not be for you, because you will need people to handle the live feed. However, if you produce weddings and want to broadcast it later for the client it can be done easily. Simply produce the video, upload it, then send out email invites for the time you intend to broadcast it.
Your bride could do this part, all you need to do is send her the URL for the broadcast and start it at the advertised time.

Unlike a video on utube or other clip streaming source you have no time limits. You can broadcast a full two hour wedding because the signal is streaming live. You can even broadcast the entire day! Even a pre-recorded video is still streaming live so there is no limit how long it can run.

To do it Live you will need a high speed internet connection. You will need a laptop or computer to transmit the signal & someone on it to mix the feed. If you want different camera angles, then the cameras and operators each need a laptop to broadcast their signals. One person will control the virtual broadcast booth and switch cameras, add lower thirds and other graphics. This will not be easy but with some coordination and planning you can pull it off.

You should be able to come up with a package plan for live or pre-recorded video transmissions. You will obviously charge more for live because you will pay the crew and need more equipment. If you intend to produce the video then broadcast it when finished, that could be an additional fee added to the original cost of producing the wedding video. Broadcasting a pre-made video is much easier.

Also with a live broadcast you will have limited mobility as each camera will need a cable to a laptop streaming the signal back to the booth. If you have firewire cameras you can get away with about 12 feet from the laptop. However, if you place the camera on a dolly or tripod with wheels you could move the whole kit and kabootle around with the laptop under the camera attached to the tripod, assuming it's wireless.

Virtual Network From Your Physical Studio

Your "broadcast booth" need not even be at the wedding location. In fact if you are limited on bandwidth at the location I recommend you have someone at your home studio or business with a high speed internet connection take the feeds from the cameras and cut to them for the actual broadcast. This person will control the lower thirds, graphics, and cueing then transmitting each camera, switching from one to the other. You can do this from the virtual network broadcast page at Livestream, from anywhere!

You can have as many cameras as you want and bandwidth allows. Most churches today have internet for the staff and if it's high speed and you can access it wireless from laptops then you probably will have no issues. Like a wedding itself, you get one shot at getting it right. You may have limited time to set up and test before time to 'go live' and your camera operators will need to be aware of the feeds they are sending.

Coordination is the key.

You will need to be able to talk to each camera operator. You could accomplish this with your cell phones, set up a conference call and get everyone on the same page. Radios will work if you are within range. You can hear your camera operators within the virtual studio software but you can't talk back to them. So some kind of communication will need to be in place. Otherwise they each will not know when they are live and they will have to shoot as if they are at all times.

At the location the bandwidth will be under pressure. Cameras are sending their signal and receiving a preview, which will be delayed. Adding a talk back feature may be too much for the connection. A good idea would be to broadcast the rehearsal and discover any issues then so you can correct for them. The rehearsal is a good time for you to get in there and load the system up to see what you can get by with. Plus each operator will get a chance to work with coordinating their efforts to get the best video they can make. You may find it isn't as hard as you think.

The payoff can be enormous!

Transmitting a live wedding, especially for a couple with relatives around the world or to far to attend will be a major asset to them. Something they will likely be willing to pay much more for. Price it accordingly. Your time, crew, equipment and the stress factor all come into play here.

The technology exists to do this. It's new and not without it's own issues. Frame rate and audio sync can be a problem on a stressed internet connection. Plus if you are trying to broadcast HD, you've added more to the mix.

Can it be done. Yes.
Will it be easy? No, especially the first one. In time you will get the hang of it and it will go smoothly. Practice, practice, practice, then practice some more.

However, when the digital dust settles you will have a feature few can offer and do it right, and you will have an edge on the competition.


Anonymous said...

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Earl Chessher said...

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