Solent media experts support live gig with a difference
Solent University’s Technician Instructors Matt Hickling and Ian Williamson, recently took Solent’s newly commissioned Outside Broadcast vehicle to a Ministry of Sound venue in London to provide livestream support for a music gig with a difference – the remote audience could interact with the venue!
The Events Revival Alliance, founded by experienced acousticians, have recognised that although artists can stream to people’s homes with relative ease, they don’t get the audience feedback that usually enhances the performance, and also connects audience members to each other.
Solent University have been involved in the first two phases of the project, the second being a recent trip to a venue in London.
We caught up with Matt and Ian to find out more:
Hi Matt/Ian, given the current pandemic situation, what further preparations did you have to do for the gig?
It was clear the crew and the band would have to work in a safe manner during this Covid-19 outbreak, and as such the risk management and infection control was extensive, but allowed a very successful trial event with minimal chances for any cross-contamination.
Tell us more about the gig and how it worked:
Matt: At this time of year, various staff and students from the School of Media Arts and Technology would be preparing equipment, crew and logistics for our participation in the summer festival run; excellent and unprecedented work experience for our students. However, due to Covid-19 these have of course been postponed until the following season. This is where Virtual Audience Acoustic Reality comes in…
Myself and Ian provided two unmanned broadcast cameras and a remotely-operated PTZ (Pan, Tilt Zoom) camera to provide the main feed from the venue. This was fed to the Outside Broadcast vehicle and streamed live.
There were then four separate Zoom streams containing the audience that were overlaid across the top of the outgoing stream. As well as the audience seeing each other on the stream, they were also projected behind the artist onstage, and output to a large TV in front of the stage so the artist could see them.
Ian: The audio was mixed inside the venue by Mike Steer (System Engineer: Al Bayt Stadium Qatar, Wimbledon Court 1, London 2012 Olympic games), and fed into the broadcast van ready to stream out. The van fed the audio from the four Zoom streams back into the venue so the artist could enjoy the clapping and cheering.
To achieve the lowest latency available, the outgoing stream used Millicast to provide sub-one second latency to the home, and the Zoom audience had the expected latency through Zoom. The audio levels were managed so this was never distracting for the artist and only there to further enhance the performance and enjoyment.
What’s the future of the project?
The project is supported by a range of companies and organisations looking at improving the experience for both the artist and the audience. The founders of the ERA are talking directly with companies like Millicast and Zoom, discussing optimisation methods and potential future updates. The World Health Organisation and the BBC were also interested in the outcome of the testing phases as it helps supports their initiatives of safe broadcasting and live events.
What feedback was received on the live stream gig?
The artist on the day, JJ Rosa (Instagram @JJRosaOfficial), said: “What a seriously unique & amazing experience yesterday’s live stream gig was. So so special to be working with @EventsRevivalAlliance on the #2WAY interactive artist and audience concept…”