Tools For Livestreaming Live Performance

00 Why Go Live?

In recent months, the live entertainment industry has made a major self-sacrifice and shut down live production for the health and safety of our performers, our technicians and our audience. Artists who formerly shared their talents onstage every evening are now sheltering at home. Designers and technicians who were gearing up for the busy summer touring season are now spending their hours on hold with unemployment offices. It's been a massive culture shock for our industry. It's also a tremendous opportunity to pivot our skillsets and our knowledge base to live streaming platforms.

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Our audiences are just as trapped at home as we are. People who would have spent their Friday nights at theatres or clubs are sitting on their couches watching “Tiger King”. We have a massive potential captive audience, looking for the inspiration and creativity that live performance can provide. We just need to shift our focus from performing for a physical audience to engaging our fans and patrons through existing digital mediums.
 

Artists are already taking steps to pivot into this new avenue to reach their audiences. Theater companies are conducting Zoom readings. Musical artists are sharing their performances as YouTube videos. The casts of Broadway musicals are recording their performances individually and they're being cut and mixed in post-production to create inspirational content like the Hamilton cast's performance on John Krasinski's “Super Good News”.

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We have an opportunity to develop and innovate in this new digital medium together. Across the board, from major production companies to storefront theaters, every live entertainment organization is learning how to pivot into the digital distribution of live performance at the same time. As scary the things that we see on the news are, we are also living in a very exciting time to make art for digital consumption. I believe very strongly that we're just at the tip of the iceberg of what we can create in these new digital models.

My team recently streamed a digital production of

“The Importance of Being Earnest” to over 250 concurrent viewers on the Pixel Playhouse Twitch.tv channel that took video feeds from nine socially distant performers (located everywhere from Los Angeles to NYC), mixed in live piano underscoring and sound fx and was curated to provide specific audience engagement to our Twitch.tv community. Over the course of this series of informational posts, I'm going to do my part to share what we learned. We can build a common knowledge base in the live entertainment industry and elevate the quality of work that we do in this new medium. Just because we're all apart doesn't mean that we can't create the same level of production value and investment in the industry that we had in the past. We're just going to create it as we come together digitally.

This first lesson is designed to take a complete novice to live streaming and bring them up to speed on the best practices for the model. You'll learn about the different streaming platforms that are available, how to use the basics of broadcast software and the simple workflow it takes to stream a video capture from a video chat service like Zoom or Skype. Let's get started.

​© 2020 by Andrew Schmedake. 

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