Virtual Event FAQ
With the world of virtual event planning being brand new to so many people, we’ve compiled a brief Virtual Event FAQ to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about virtual events and live streaming:
The term virtual event and hybrid event are often used interchangeably however, there are differences. A virtual event takes place completely online with all guests attending remotely. A hybrid event takes place partly at a physical location with some guests present in-person and others joining online.
A virtual event platform is where your virtual event will be held online. It could be a free video conferencing app, your organization’s website or a specialized app built to host online events.
Here is a good analogy: for live, in-person events your event location (hotel ballroom, conference center, office building, etc.) is your event venue, for a virtual event, the event platform is your venue.
Options run from free video conferencing apps to virtual expo apps costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Asking “what is the best virtual event platform?” is like asking what is the best type of car for me. The best virtual event platform is the one that has the features that meet your needs, is reliable and fits in your budget.
The good news is that there are new virtual event platforms entering the market daily with a myriad of features and price points.
The bad news is that there are new virtual event platforms entering the market daily with a myriad of features and price points. This makes it extremely difficult to stay on top of new entrants with the latest features. What might have been the best platform for you a year ago may not be the best one for you this year. It’s important to have a consultant who knows what is available and what platforms will meet your needs.
While it’s easy to think virtual events should be a small fraction of the cost of an in-person event, this isn’t necessarily the case.
While you avoid a lot of the very expensive costs associated with an in-person event (venue, food and beverage, transportation, lodging, printed collateral, decor, etc.), your virtual event platform, additional AV required, additional event technology and added behind the scenes staff will add up quickly.
Yes, virtual events can be done on free video conferencing apps but what will the attendee experience be? Even though the event is virtual, your goal should still be to deliver a high-quality attendee experience that they will remember. That might mean a substantial investment in your event platform and production.
Many streaming platforms and CDNs (Content Distribution Networks) will allow you to stream to their platform then they can distribute the stream to multiple social media platforms or CDNs. It depends on what platform you are using so be sure to ask.
Live streaming can be as simple as streaming from your smartphone over a cellular network to a social media site to as complex as a network style broadcast studio streaming to tens of thousands of people. The higher the production value and the quality of stream, the more expensive the equipment is and the more technical knowledge that is required.
For a professional looking and sounding live stream you will need at the minimum a quality HD camera, a quality microphone, some lighting, a hardware or software based encoder and a stable internet connection.
If you will be presenting from home, you can still set up a relatively inexpensive “home studio” to deliver professional looking results. You will need an HD webcam (or a DSLR camera and a capture card so your computer will recognize your camera as a webcam), a USB condenser mic, in ear headphones and a small ring light.
Video files are very large and transmitting them over the internet takes a lot of time and bandwidth. An encoder compresses the video files into smaller packages that can be delivered quickly and efficiently over the internet. At the other end, a decoder reassembles the packages for viewing.
The streaming protocol is how the encoder breaks up and transmits video data. Currently the most common protocol is RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol).
There are many different types of codecs(compression method) in use but currently the most common for live streaming is h.264.
A minimum of 5Mbs (Megabytes per second) upload speed is needed for an HD video signal. However, it is strongly advised to have at least double the required speed available to allow for network fluctuations and bitrate peaks. You can test the speed of your internet connection by Googling the term speed test.
Cellular bonding uses a special piece of broadcast equipment that sends the encoded video signal out over multiple 3G/4G/LTE cellular modems and then recombines them at an off-site server to send them to a CDN or end destination. The benefit is that several slower cellular internet connections can be combined to create a faster pipeline than any single connection would allow for.
In addition, if one of the cellular signals should drop, the rest will continue to send the video signal. It is advisable to use cellular modems from several different carriers. This way, if one carrier has a weak signal in a given area or has network issues or congestion the other carriers can pick up the slack.
Network bonding is similar to cellular bonding. Network bonding sends the encoded video signal out over different types of networks (hardwired ISP via ethernet, wi-fi, and 3G/4G/LTE cellular modems) and then recombines them at an off-site server to send them to the CDN or end destination. The benefit is that there are multiple avenues that the video signal is leaving the broadcast site. If any one should falter or fail the others will pick up the slack and the video signal would still make it to the end destination without issue.
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If you’re looking for a Chicago virtual event production company to help create
a successful virtual or hybrid event, contact us today for more information.