Imagine you can create an event wherever you want, even without moving from home or from your office. Imagine the possibility to present, manipulate, recall objects on stage with a single gesture. Imagine your audience interacting live with your event and watching the result of its reactions in the content you are broadcasting.
Imagine the future of digital events.
In BitForFun we often create video contents for internal use: webinars, product demos, video training.
We use Microsoft Stream as it allows us to index the content of our videos, create a corporate repository and also feed live events through Microsoft Teams.
From ProjectForFun to Product in a Few Steps
We normally use Office365, but if we had a private live streaming platform that would allow us to create digital events, accessible from our corporate website, dedicated to a selected audience, regardless of whether it is internal or external to BitForFun, we would have achieved our goal.
If the access to these streaming digital events would be possible without the need to force users to use a specific client to access them as is the case for example with Skype, Zoom, Teams or other messaging/chat platforms, we would have an additional practical advantage.
The idea of creating a totally private live streaming platform was born a few months ago, during one of our “Friday for Fun” sessions, where we give free space to creativity and the realization of projects and personal passions.
Covid-19, Pandemic, Lockdown
The current situation led us to reflect on a larger scale. The security measures and the social distancing have had a huge impact on the world of events with present audiences, from sports to entertainment, from training to corporate events in general.
A fully digital events platform able to turn all physical events into digital ones would be a potential solution to this situation for us and for all companies.
But how can a digital event, where the audience is perhaps sitting inattentively at the desk or with a tablet on the sofa at home, be as appealing as a traditional event?
It's Time to Think
The answer to this question is not an easy one.
Thus we sat down at a table, duly distanced, with old fashioned tools – pens and post-its – and started long group brainstorming sessions, or as millennials call them now Design Thinking.
The objective was to understand the needs and the requests of the events industry in order to give an adequate answer also to the most demanding and nostalgic users and create a comprehensive and innovative solution for digital events.
Some questions to answer ...
- Which are the most used platforms for digital events today?
- What are the limits of the current platforms?
- Streaming on social networks is really the only solution?
- How do you guarantee the privacy of a corporate event content?
- How is it ensured that only selected, authorized, external guests can participate in a digital event?
- How do you keep updated and indexed the list of all digital events broadcasted?
- How to allow the on-demand viewing of past events?
- How to manage and size the load on the platform according to the number of participants?
- How to allow the fruition of the events to people with disabilities?
- How to keep the audience of a digital event involved for the whole duration of the event?
- How to create sets or theaters without the need for large spaces or large investments in equipment?
- How to facilitate the post production activity of the event?
From Questions to Reflections
Questions and reflections have led us to divide needs and requirements into six main categories
Content Fruition and inclusivity
- The audience should be able to enjoy the event easily
- The fruition of an event should be possible from within the corporate site of the company that provides it
- Participants with hearing disabilities should be able to read what is said during the event.
- Participants should be able to read live the translation of what is said during the event in their own language or in one of the most popular ones.
- The transmission must be through streaming and available via browser
- Streaming must adapt to the totality of the devices and the internet bandwidth available for each single viewer.
Privacy and security
- The event data (content, statistics, accesses) must be private and owned by the company that provides the event
- The broadcast of the event must be protected and must also comply with the regulations in force for the processing of the data transmitted
- Only the people invited to the event will be able to see the contents of the event
- It must not be possible for participants to download, record or share the event with third parties, unless specified by the event provider.
- Physical events have always taken place in selected locations in order to attract and thrill the public. Digital events should recreate the same emotions as well.
- Digital events not only can recreate amazing locations, but, as they are virtual, they can allow creativity and imagination to be unleashed with even more “exclusive” environments.
- Great digital location doesn’t mean having a great set. The goal is to amaze the audience regardless of the square meters available
- Satisfying content means excitement for the audience. This equation is also true the other way round.
Interaction with the audience
- The audience must be able to interact with the event and the event must interact with the audience. That’s the only way to get full attention from the audience even if one’s sitting on the sofa at home or in front of the PC in the office.
- The participant must be able to ask questions, answer polls, express his or her satisfaction, send his or her own contributions, and most importantly, all of this should be shared with all the other participants. The audience must be part of the show.
- The platform should offer the possibility to modify the virtual set in which the presenter is located in real time according to the contributions sent by the audience.
Technology and UX
- The setup of an event must be easy and immediate
- For an event it must be possible to create a content schedule
- The contents may be live or pre-recorded
- The technological infrastructure must be able to scale in order to manage events from a few tens to tens of thousands of participants at the same time.
- The platform must be able to support the most popular video encoding technologies
- At the end of the event, it should be possible to download audio, video, text transcripts and anything else in order to republish Video On Demand content on other platforms
- The platform must support events with a presenter and a moderator who manages the content sent by the audience
- The platform must include remote guests who can interact, voice and video, among themselves and with the presenter.
- Real-time statistics must support the presenter throughout the whole duration of the event.
- Post-event statistics should be able to answer the most frequently asked questions:
- What was the average stay of the participants?
- When was the “audience” peak reached?
- How many and what were the reactions at a specific point of the event?
Our answer to all these needs, and many other features, was the conception, design and implementation of two distinct but highly integrated products.
It allows the live multi-bitrate streaming of events through any RTMP/RTMPS encoder, it allows the secure and private storage of all transmitted assets, the subtitling and related real-time translation via Artificial Intelligence (AI) of all the speech during the event.
Moreover Ermes also facilitates post-production by indexing through AI all transmitted events: Face Recognition, OCR, Sentiment Analysis, Brand Recognition, VIP Detection, Scene Detection, Transcript Generation and much more. All this contributes to the creation of a huge amount of metadata allowing full text and keyword searches through all recorded assets and the related editing of specific video sequences. It allows the transformation of assets for download and their protection by DRM (Digital Right Management) policies.
Finally, it allows all interactivity with the audience reporting all interactions (moderated) of the public within the content managed by Morpheus.
Before it wasn’t there, now it is. Morpheus is a powerful online content management and interaction technology that allows you to transport one or more speakers on a totally customized and incredibly photorealistic set. No hardback effect, no post-production, total control over every aspect of the event, from the furniture, to the lights, to the interactions with the remote audience.
All this can be realized almost everywhere, even at the client’s premises and with really minimal needs of space (a few square meters) for the setup of the environment.
The virtual scenario will allow the implementation of several virtual cameras, mobile sets, lighting control, virtual cameras guided by remote operators, real time scene changes, insertion of virtual objects, integration of interactive content generated by the public (Q&A, likes, images, social network posts, graphs …).