The Alan Turing Institute – Datafest 2019

It was a Thursday evening in August when we received an email from Andrea at The Alan Turing Institute. They were holding an event at The Shard in London that they wanted to have filmed and also live streamed online in realtime. The event was the following Wednesday; six days away, and with a bank holiday weekend in the middle. Could we help? The answer, of course, was “yes.”

The event itself, Datafest 2019, was the final presentation for a programme called Data Science For Social Good. This event is where The Alan Turing Institute and its partners (including The University of Warwick and The University of Chicago) gathered 19 data scientists and 4 mentors to solve 5 data challenges that impact society in a positive way. With stakeholders all over the world, The Alan Turing Institute’s team realised that it was essential to broadcast their results in realtime for the benefit of those who weren’t able to attend in person. We were up to the task to help them achieve that.

Setting up our stream for The Alan Turing Institute
Setting up our stream for The Alan Turing Institute

While nowhere near as difficult as it used to be, live streaming still has some serious technical considerations that need to be thought through when producing a stream to a professional standard. There are logistics surrounding access to the internet – is there a connection? Is it fast enough? Is there a firewall that blocks high-bandwidth activities including streaming? – as well as questions around where the camera equipment and cables will be placed within the venue. (Often near to venue’s power, internet and audio connections – wherever they are!)

If any of these factors aren’t planned carefully in advance there’s a high risk of the stream having issues or simply not happening at all. The last thing any organisation wants is to spend time marketing and promoting a live event only for it to be hindered by a minor (but show stopping) technical issue. That’s why, as soon as we received the booking for the event, we rushed into action. Firstly, we reached out to the venue to make sure that a stream was possible. We then planned our logistics for the day – which meant arriving several hours early to set up and prepare the broadcast. We worked with the team at The Alan Turing Institute to gain access to their YouTube channel so that we could broadcast the event through it.

On The Day…

As the day came, we arrived at The Shard and offloaded our equipment into the venue. An hour or so later we were up and running with our streaming setup. This involved a single camera for capturing the presenter mixed with a feed of the presentation slides, an audio feed from the venue’s PA system, and a healthy connection to the internet that would allow us to stream the event on YouTube. We even had time to help resolve an unrelated (but serious) technical issue with the venue’s A/V system, through which our suggested solution allowed the event to proceed as planned, and also give advice to the presenters on how to give a good performance on camera.

Throughout the event we were able to successfully stream every presentation in 1080p HD on YouTube, and the stream was viewed by over 1000 interested viewers who wouldn’t have been able to engage with the event otherwise. The video included in this post was taken directly from our recording of the event, which we provided to the organisers for use on other platforms, and shows how we incorporated the client’s branding into the design of the video.

After the event we received this lovely feedback from Andrea, the event organiser:

I just want to say a huge thank you for dealing with streaming and video in a way that didn’t cause anyone stress. I have personally appreciated it hugely how you came together and figured everything out, on such a short notice. I appreciate that when things are happening at the last minute, everything is a lot harder – but the professionalism with which the video was done didn’t seem like we called you up on Friday / yesterday.

Fellows were super happy to be able to share this with their friends, colleagues and family, and being able to stream it and have a video up will help us spread our message, work and impact.

It’s fair to say that the live stream was a success.

We’ve long believed that incorporating live video into an event is a great way of expanding your market and building engagement with an audience who might not be able to travel or give the time to attending in person. Live streaming breaks down access barriers, and in some cases can provide a new way of monetising your event. If you’d like to know more about how you can incorporate live streaming into your corporate events, please get in touch or submit a brief.

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