Live­strea­ming and hybrid events 2.0 — one-hit won­der or a gen­re with a future

It was­n’t all that long ago that the terms live­strea­ming and hybrid events were some­thing for tech geeks in the know. Today, in the sum­mer of 2022, most of us can sing a song about vir­tu­al mee­tings with ZOOM, MS Teams or WebEx. The ver­ses deal with web­cams and micro­pho­nes, band­widths and net­work con­nec­tions, green screens and vir­tu­al back­grounds. Alt­hough two years of the pan­de­mic have given digi­ta­liza­ti­on a powerful boost, the song is now han­ging out of our ears. Will live­streams and hybrid events be remem­be­red as one-hit won­ders, or is a pre­vious­ly unknown gen­re curr­ent­ly in a tem­po­ra­ry slump and soon to soar to new heights?

Per­haps it will help if we take ano­ther look at the cha­rac­te­ristics of digi­tal events and take a clo­ser look at the notes, so to speak. We dis­co­ver­ed the micro­pho­nes and web­cams on our lap­tops becau­se face-to-face mee­tings were sim­ply not pos­si­ble. The jus­ti­fied con­cern about infec­tion and the fur­ther spread of the pan­de­mic is too gre­at. In a way, it is a tool to con­tain the pan­de­mic, but also to stay in cont­act and exch­an­ge ide­as despi­te the rest­ric­tions. First on a small sca­le, within pri­va­te com­mu­ni­ties, and then quite quick­ly on a lar­ge sca­le, within com­pa­nies, local­ly, regio­nal­ly and internationally.

Ser­vice pro­vi­ders of video plat­forms reco­gni­zed their oppor­tu­ni­ties, suc­ces­si­ve­ly expan­ded their offe­rings and desi­gned incre­asing­ly user-fri­end­ly soft­ware. On the user side, con­fi­dence in deal­ing with a wide ran­ge of soft­ware pro­ducts grew with each addi­tio­nal vir­tu­al mee­ting. What was once only of inte­rest to a few has beco­me gene­ral digi­tal know­ledge. Vir­tu­al life, on num­e­rous chan­nels, at all times.

Until March 2020, I mys­elf only used the video func­tion on my lap­top occa­sio­nal­ly, and I hard­ly ever used my came­ras, and when I did, it was only very rare­ly. Both the time requi­red for crea­ti­on and post-pro­ces­sing and the neces­sa­ry invest­ment in com­pu­ter power were too high for me. This view chan­ged abrupt­ly at the start of the pandemic.

I was grip­ped by the new­ly dis­co­ver­ed pos­si­bi­li­ties. On the one hand out of entre­pre­neu­ri­al inte­rest, becau­se my field of work of pho­to­gra­phic event docu­men­ta­ti­on came to a com­ple­te standstill within a very short time and a new source of inco­me had to be found. On the other hand, becau­se of the instru­ments that are beco­ming incre­asing­ly reco­gnizable to me, their indi­vi­du­al sounds and the asso­cia­ted oppor­tu­ni­ties for design. Today I no lon­ger see a sin­gle instru­ment. I see an enti­re orches­tra and thus the opti­on of diver­se and varied audio­vi­su­al streams.

But what are the reasons for always play­ing the same notes in the same sequence?

We want secu­ri­ty. A desi­re that is firm­ly ancho­red in human natu­re. The playful approach from the initi­al pha­se has given way to rigid sequen­ces and struc­tures. Strea­ming sce­na­ri­os that have been tes­ted for the first time and then rehe­ar­sed in rea­liza­ti­on are con­so­li­da­ted and always imple­men­ted in the same way. This makes sen­se, becau­se not every event or mee­ting needs shots from mul­ti­ple per­spec­ti­ves, varied light­ing or a crea­ti­ve com­bi­na­ti­on of the num­e­rous pos­si­bi­li­ties for inter­ac­tion bet­ween par­ti­ci­pan­ts on loca­ti­on and in front of the end devices. And yes, the more the num­e­rous opti­ons have to be com­bi­ned and coor­di­na­ted with each other, the more they may not work accor­ding to plan. It the­r­e­fo­re makes sen­se to weigh up the effort invol­ved and the asso­cia­ted poten­ti­al risks.

Howe­ver, if this takes us in a direc­tion that results in every digi­tal event being pro­du­ced in the same way, bore­dom and over­sa­tu­ra­ti­on are ine­vi­ta­ble. If oppor­tu­ni­ties and pos­si­bi­li­ties remain unu­sed and the digi­tal key­board is not play­ed with ease, the­re will be no new audio­vi­su­al sounds. What helps is a “back to squa­re one”, but with the diver­se expe­ri­en­ces from the live­streams and hybrid events pro­du­ced so far.