Complex directing: How teambits works for a smooth interactive livestream

Large events live from interactive elements. Even before Corona, more and more of these took place digitally – which we at teambits often designed and executed. This has many advantages, such as fairness, speed, easy handling and the versatile, fast presentation of the results. Currently, we are experiencing a special interest in building virtual or hybrid events with digital interaction.


Sascha

We talked to our technical director Sascha about how the direction behind such an event is actually structured. And of course about the reasons why teambits is so great in live events. Read more about live streams with teambits here.

Sascha, at teambits you are responsible for technical management, event preparation and implementation. Which events are these?

“Before Corona, of course, we accompanied events in large locations with large numbers of participants, usually several hundred or several times four figures! At the moment things look different. There are now many virtual and hybrid events. Here teambits is even more exciting, because we create a meaningful connection: People can participate on site as well as from elsewhere.“

Does this mean that hybrid events are on the rise?

“Right. The last events with the Federal Environment Minister, for example, were set up in such a way that 20 to 30 people sat in the studio as real participants. And in addition, we had participants from all over Germany in remote locations. So it was a hybrid event.

But there were also virtual events, such as the discussion round with the Minister of Health, where 1500 participants joined in. So these are now only those who had teambits open. Surely one achieved there still more, which simply only watched.“

Can you describe how such an event works for you as technical director of teambits?

“I’ll take my last event in Berlin as an example: The exciting thing about the event was that not a single participant was present due to the measures taken around Corona. It all took place virtually. So we mixed and streamed live broadcasts on site, just like in a TV studio. The director was sitting in a large hall in the hotel. At the moment with a lot of distance between the individual trades.

Aufbau vor Ort komplexe Regie

The trades, these are the different tasks that arise in the context of such a production. All event technicians on site are specialized in their trade, they are responsible for light, sound and video. Up to this point, this is a normal director’s setup. In addition, we have set up several green screen boxes for the lectures. The speakers presented their lectures in these boxes and were released from the technical equipment, “gekeyt” is the word. Out of these boxes a virtual studio was graphically assembled. In addition, there were live circuits to smaller studios. With such a setup, the video team included more specialists than usual. In addition to the colleagues who took care of camera work, image mixing and the signals from the external temporary studios, some of them also took special care of the stream that was transmitted to us.

The trades have a common technical management which takes care of the installation and smooth running of the technology on site. In addition we from teambits, for the interactive elements between audience and moderation and guests. So there are already about 20 active people in the direction.

We are all connected via headphones to the so-called “intercom”, which is the speech connection in the control room. This is the voice communication link in the control room. The intercom is also used for instructions, the “calls”. At the front of the screen you can see the mixed image and other relevant information such as the control room plan.“

So the room is full – that sounds complex.

„Yes, that’s what it is. teambits now also offers Software as a Service, i.e. packages that enable everyone to work with our software. But of course this applies to completely different applications and requirements.

The complex, directed events are our traditional strength since we came on the market in 2007. Since then, we have gained experience and understanding of the special ecosystem of a live direction. Because we know what is required, when and how and what challenges can arise. I would like to summarize this under soft skills of live events.

On the other side there are the hard skills. Our elaborate tool, we call it “Java Meeting Cockpit”, is able to change interactions at the push of a button and live. New answer option in or out, change wording, a different result display, countdown on/off/shorter/longer, quickly link the results from a TextTool with the input mask of a voting and thus continue working with the submitted text contributions… All this can be done live with just a few clicks. It goes without saying that you can’t just put this tool in someone’s hand.

That is why we accompany complex events on site. This is something a customer using a pure SaaS product cannot provide. Complex direction with teambits in livestreams – that is simply special and unique for us. teambits moves far away from our competitors Mentimeter and Slido for example.”

So the technical direction is already complex. But elsewhere, the content must still be directed – for example, when it comes to clustering the incoming questions, right? How can you imagine that when a question like this is typed in on the participant’s machine – what happens to it then?

„What we prepare technically must of course also be processed in terms of content. Roughly speaking, we bring the questions of the participants from their devices to the control room – there they are processed.

We embed the teambits question mask into the organizer’s website. So the participants use the known page or a special landing page. When a participant types in his question, it is sent to us.

Grafik komplexe Regie mit teambits

So the question comes to us and now an editorial team is responsible for sorting and clustering the questions. They are all viewed and examined – which topic they belong to, how exciting is the question for the audience and can it be answered at all in terms of content and time frame? Finally: Which questions fit into the round and offer a varied discussion? The questions that the director wants to release for the moderation are often still being worked on. For example, they are shortened or formulated more simply.

In this respect, the director controls the interaction with the audience. Selected questions are then activated individually by the moderator on a moderator tablet that can be configured for this purpose. These are then the ones that are also asked in the round and the viewer gets a direct answer to his question that has just been digitally submitted at home.

But: There are also completely different requirements. During the livestream of the Federal Environment Ministry all participants could follow the questions and comments in the stream. The director only intervened if the netiquette was violated. At the same time, teambits was configured in such a way that the director’s assistant not only released the presentation view for the participants, but also the individual questions to the moderator. Every event has a coherent concept. We then insert teambits in the way that makes sense.“

You address the embedding into the website structure of your organizers. Do you experience that there are special arguments for teambits?

„Yeah, right. This is often the requirement: The organizer wants to embed the participant view of teambits in which the questions are entered into a microsite or landing page together with a streaming player. The participant view should be customized in such a way that it easily fits into the design of the organizer’s website. We can do this, and with this argument we have already won out over competitors.“

What is important for the livestream to run smoothly?

„In my opinion, the first thing that matters is the flexibility and quality of the software. That is simply right with teambits. We are really strong in live events. As I said, our Java Meeting Cockpit is incredibly sophisticated. The teambits software is so flexible because we have adapted it to the needs of a control room over the years.

Then you have to be able to work in such an integrated way and react to customer requirements in such a way that you don’t have to reconfigure or develop anything new. There is no time for that. We simply have a lot of experience and have been doing some events for years. This is of course an advantage if we not only know the tasks of the others in the control room, but we have also been able to familiarize ourselves with them personally.

After all, it is the team that stands behind teambits. Some of us are very experienced in events and have learned sound and light engineering. We are not only general computer scientists and special web developers. We know the trades, we know how everything fits together.“