The alternative to live captioning is using an AI software to automatically transcribe all speech-to-text. Again, AI tech can generate a transcription into the original language, or a translation into other languages. AI Speech-to-Text Software is advancing all the time and can be an ideal option for making translations available into all languages with a widget plug for attendees to choose from.
However, live captioning is recommended for single translations (eg. English speech to English text, English speech to Spanish text). The final result will be a more accurate and smooth speech-to-text experience for virtual attendees.
Including captions to any video content, including a live broadcast, is always an advantage. Captions and subtitles are now common practice on social media, and is a simple step towards accessibility. As a society we are accustomed to and almost expect the option for captions on our content.
Ideally we assume attendees are watching and listening to a broadcast in a quiet space, with headphones and no distractions. However, a part of the appeal and advantages of events in the digital space, is that attendees can attend from wherever they find themselves at that time. For example, on public transport, or with their children running around, or outside in a park ect. Having captions will significantly allow attendees to stay engaged with the event program in the circumstances that they are unable to fully hear the audio.
As an alternative to an ASL interpreter, having live captions is a necessary and welcome addition for any attendees who are hearing imparied. Find a blog dedicated to adding an ASL interpreter to a virtual event here.
If the livestream is only being shown in Zoom, anyone who has experience typing speech-to-text should work. However, if the livestream captions are intended to be shown on an external website or inside the Vimeo / YouTube player live, then the captioner also needs special equipment.
Typing fast is hard work and to improve work conditions as well as quality of output, we should let the captioners switch off every 30 minutes. In this case, always hire two people instead of just one. The only exception to this might be in a one hour meeting.
It’s really important to let speakers know that there will be captioning and a script will be helpful to the captioners. No script? At minimum, share the run of show with the correct spelling of speaker names.
Conduct a tech rehearsal just with the captioners to test that you can get their captions into the player and/or website. Zoom is very easy. Broadcast is not and requires specific captioning equipment from the captioner.
Image: A behind-the-scenes shots of Billie Eilish's WHERE DO WE GO? virtual concert performed live from the company, XR Studios LA.
XR is part of the augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) world of evolving technologies. XR stands for extended reality and combines virtual with a real-world environment. This means that a human can exist within a virtual space, directly feeding into their own experience of that pre-designed environment. So, again, no uninspiring green screens here.
XR technology means that the virtual space is designed first, and then the filming of the talent is done within that extended reality environment. Not the other way around. The talent can then see the virtual extended reality environment they are in, allowing them to work within that space and fully perform and be present in the moment. It also allows for more integrated lightning, camera movements, object placement, and all those little filming details that make a shot feel 1000% more realistic.
Video: Katy Perry on American Idol performing live with a custom XR experience from Silent Partner Studios, with set designed by Yellow Studio. Discover the behind-the-scenes into Katy's XR performance here.
XR borrows and adapts technologies and software developed by the gaming industry. Software such as Unreal Engine, which allows a complete animated 3D world to be designed.
This custom 3D environment is then placed in real-time on large LED screens that make up the film set and studio. Using cutting-edge camera tracking technologies from companies such as Stype, the movement of the camera is directly connected to the 3D environment on the LED screen. The camera becomes a view into this 360° space, similar to the perspective experienced by a player in a game.
Video: ‘Why 'The Mandalorian' Uses Virtual Sets Over Green Screen’ via Insider
For the future of events, XR has many exciting possibilities for our clients As an events company that thrives in the space where technology and creativity meet, here at Happily we are excited to bring this ‘Hollywood magic’ of XR to our virtual and hybrid events, and make this tech accessible to our clients.
Depending on whether you are looking to go ‘Full Mandalorian' or something a little more low-key, Happily can help you take advantage of the virtual-first wonder of XR.
The future of work will mean transforming underutilized physical spaces into the foundation of your remote office environment. So basically, if your office has a conference room that is barely used these days, why not turn it into something way more useful and practical - like, your own custom broadcast studio.
With your own Happily XR Studio you could professionally film and broadcast from your office at a moment’s notice. This will give your brand full control over the production environment to generate better creative, increased content and enriched storytelling.
As a Happily XR Studio is fully customizable to the space, goals and budget of an organization, each one will be unique. We would love to chat to you about what a Happily XR Studio could look like in your office space, as well as our Happily team of specialists for on demand support, so get in touch with us today.
For most of us, and perhaps now more than ever before, much of our lives are online and so it makes sense that our events should be experienced there, too.
Onsite productions are (cautiously) becoming an option again, and these days the benefits of a virtual production are more widely understood and experienced by both the industry and the general public. So hybrid experiences, it is your time to shine.
Image: Worre Studios in Las Vegas. Photo by Jerry Metellus.
Simply put, most hybrid events at best will connect in person and virtual audiences to a stage but will fail to connect virtual and onsite audiences with each other.
In a hybrid event, the onsite audience might see interactions from the virtual audience, but they can’t engage unless they log into a virtual platform to interact in the same environment that the virtual audience exists. Technically, once you log into a virtual platform, you are a virtual attendee. This ultimately disrupts - not enhances - the onsite experience.
In order to move from a hybrid event to a hybrid experience, we need to create ways for onsite attendees to stay out of platforms and hands-free from their devices. And we also need to find ways for virtual attendees to more freely navigate online to build ideas and relationships that emotionally tie them to the community.
Is that even possible?! Yes, with the right technology for broadcasting in place.
In the diagram above, the happy face in the circle represents the audience at an onsite event, and the rectangular faces are a virtual audience.
At an onsite event, it is much easier for an attendee to build a shared experience. They can navigate through spaces with more fluidity, host an unofficial event on the fly, and have more sensory inputs to feel connected to the people around them who are sharing the same time and space. If you’ve ever sat around a firepit to hear someone tell their story, you’ll know that things just hit differently. The glow of the light, the smell of the flames, the heat warming your skin, the tiny vibrations you hear in the narrator’s voice… All of this contributes to really experiencing a story.
With virtual events, technology reduces our ability to create shared narratives to a ‘call and response’ format. Sure, you might be able to hop from breakout room to breakout room or you may be able to spin up a new Discord channel to kick-up a new interest-based conversation, but you are dependent on a bunch of 0s and 1s to get you there. And, oftentimes, in a virtual space you are reduced to a username in a chat box.
Adding a virtual event platform as an offering to your onsite event will technically make a hybrid event, but you’d be still very far from developing a colorful hybrid experience. Virtual guests in a platform are simply never seen and heard by an onsite guest unless the onsite person logs in (effectively making them another virtual attendee) OR we bring the virtual attendee to life in the physical space.
Happily adds an interactive layer to broadcasting to join the onsite and virtual audiences together in the same room - whether that’s online or onsite. This fixes issues on both sides of the platform: virtual guests are now visible to onsite guests without requiring those in-person to glue their eyeballs to a personal device.
Broadcasting is the critical component that closes the loop and can turn a one-directional hybrid event into a multi-dimensional hybrid experience. So let’s first break it down a little into the basic kinds of broadcasts.
A Studio Broadcast happens in a controlled, indoor space, and with the possibility to have a live audience who can be heard clapping and laughing, etc. The content is being made in and broadcasted from the Studio.
A Field Broadcast is brought to where the content is, and broadcasted from that location. For example, a live sports event, a festival, summit etc.
A Virtual Broadcast is where the entirety of the production - the audience, the team, and the talent - all meet in the digital space. The production is not exactly broadcasting from an anchored location in the way that Studio and Field do. Virtual broadcasting and livestreaming is the most recent innovation in the industry.
A Hybrid Broadcast pulls from any number of these broadcast studios.
A hybrid experience allows the embodiment of everyone in the same space. Video games like Fortnite are wildly successful experiences because everyone is together, roaming free to express themselves. Of course not everyone is willing or able to fire up a gaming console or put on a VR headset and show up to a professional event as an avatar. And the technology to allow thousands of individuals to stably show up in HD camera quality at once exists primarily in Zoom.
Virtual guests are going to be ok - maybe even prefer - not to be seen by onsite attendees, but churn will slowly rise the more that they are not engaged. Event organizers who partner with creative production teams like Happily who are testing the latest interactive video technologies and programmatically know how to evoke social behaviors across media platforms will be the most successful at turning hybrid events into hybrid experiences.
The immediate future of hybrid productions lies in our ability to embody both virtual and onsite participants in the room. This can be either onstage, with large screens behind a presenter but it can also be on the sidelines with screens in the room perimeter.
Image render by Happily
In the diagram above, the stars represent the talent, the happy faces in the circles represent the onsite audience, and the rectangular faces are a virtual audience. The boxes are the broadcast as a whole; the solid one is the Studio and the hollow one is the virtual, both working in sync. By bringing everybody together in that same place, built around and feeding into and out of the broadcast, is when a hybrid experience can happen.
Talent is also able to come in either virtually, or into a studio and onto the main stage. The talent, onsite audience and virtual audience are all able to see each other and feed off each other's reactions. For example, there would be chats, comments, faces and emojis from the virtual audience brought into the physical space, via screens curated into the set design. This would all be seen and interacted with by the onsite audience and talent. That is when we actually are starting to have a high rate experience again and the central broadcast element is vital for that.
We’ve already learned the hard way on hybrid events so you don’t have to. For more on producing a hybrid experience with Happily, please reach out to us below click here.
Every Happily event is unique, and Happily teams are customized, so below is just a general outline to understand overall how a Happily Producer will, can or could contribute to your event. (Spoiler alert! They are amazing.)
They really take the wheel behind-the-scenes of a production. It could be an onsite or virtual event, an intimate fundraiser or a massive week-long summit - no matter the scope or complexity, an events producer can be involved.
In event planning they supervise and coordinate all practical aspects of an event and oversee the ‘ground forces’ that will be present on the day of the event, such as the AV team, keynote speakers, Backstage Leads ect. The level of communication between these ‘ground forces’ is the responsibility of the Producer.
A Producer typically creates a detailed run of show (ROS) for the event or live broadcast, manages the ground staff, and schedules, as well as leads all those team meetings. If the event requires (eg. a live broadcast) they can call cues and ensure that every beat of the ROS is met by the right person.
What a Producer doesn’t usually do is have much involvement in the creative, strategic and overall vision of a production. They take the goals, concepts and general outline established by the leadership or the client and get the wheels turning.
An Executive Producer is a different type of producer. They would be part of that leadership team, sitting above a Producer. An Executive Producer will co-create the experience with the client. They oversee all the components of the project, from creative vision and pre-recorded videos to custom micro. An Executive Producer is more ‘bigger picture’ than a Producer.
They'll manage and be thinking about the 10,000 little details that create a successful production so you don’t have to. You can keep your energy for the ‘bigger picture’ stuff, or so you can take a step back and enjoy the event, knowing that the behind-the-scenes will be running smoothly without you.
No matter the scale of an event, there is always a very long and growing to-do list. Having a production that is organized is vital. Producers will bring structure, be delegating tasks, providing detailed production documents, ticking things off that to-do list, and just get. stuff. done.
Producers will resolve any issues that may come out of nowhere during the middle of the event. They are decision makers, who are assertive and capable if something unforeseeable were to happen.
We all know how important strong communication is, just you know, in life. A large part of a Producer's job is to create and support wonderfully harmonious communication between any various teams, as well as with you. They will keep everyone on the same page, and make sure everyone has the information that they need to do their job.
They are the ship captain who can see an iceberg from a mile away. Sometimes things just won’t go according to plan, and if that happens they can anticipate any issues and have already thought about or discussed or planned what to do in that situation.
For example, if a microphone onsite stops working, there will be a spare one handy. If someone cuts out during a virtual event, they might have a video ready to play.
Producers are event professionals who will be able to provide for you the expertise and knowhow of putting together an event. They can bring all the experience you need for a successful production, offering advice, presenting alternatives or explaining any bumps in the road they foresee.
Hire our specialists On Demand to help with ongoing experiential marketing and media production tasks that don’t require a full-time employee. For a low monthly fee Happily makes it easy to expand your team with friendly, talented, and responsible team members just in time.
There are over 50 different types of specialists roles across Happily’s five studios - Strategy, Creative, Web, Broadcast, Experiential - that you can tag in. Such as a Producer, Sponsorship Strategist, Video Editor, Technical director or Web Developer. For more about our On Demand click here.
If you're a Producer, join Team Happily to be a part of the award-winning network that puts on the best in events. Create an account here to get started.
Quick note: We have a specific blog post about how to integrate an American Sign Language translation into a virtual event that you can read here, as it is a little different.
Language groups will each have their own Zoom link in which the broadcast will be streamed, and their language will be translated onto that stream.
This is ideal for translating a live broadcast into multiple languages and is a good way to bring niche-communities or cultural groups together within your audience and allow them to connect with each other. However, if you prefer to keep your community altogether in order to connect across languages, this may not be the option for you.
You can have the translation captioned live onto the stream. This is an ideal option for translating your event into just 1 other language.
We can integrate an automated translation widget into the streaming platform that can provide captions in 50 languages. Attendees can simply select which language they would like the captions to be provided in.
We used this technology in the Survivor’s Summit 2020 which you can read more about in this case study.
Zoom enables different audio channels to be created for language translations. The human interpreters on the other end then have their voice (and the translation) fed into that audio channel. The attendees can select which available language they would like to hear the event in, with the option to mute the original audio, or to hear it in a lower volume with their chosen language overlayed.
Image: Zoom's Interpretation Feature
The role is the same, but the ‘producer’ part refers more specifically to the organization and leadership in the pre-production stage of an event. The ‘show caller’ part is more specific to the ‘day of’ direction and management during the broadcast.
This is a senior position and will take on a huge leadership role. The producer is the main connection between the client and the Happily team, communicating the needs and desires of the client with the various event specialists requires clear and open conversation and delivery. Plus, of course, those strong communication skills need to ensure that the client and the Happily team have all the information, direction and support that they need.
The reality of any event is that even with the most organized run of show there is always something that could veer off track, and always something unexpected that could pop up. You must prepare for the unpredictable. Having something pre-planned up your sleeve in an ‘emergency’, such as a video or crossing back to a presenter, will mean make or break in the heat of the moment. (Bonus tip: share this Plan B with the team!)
The pre-production of a virtual event means a lot of emails and a lot of chats on slack. The producer is responsible for keeping the whole project moving forward, so answer those questions from the client and reply to those doubts from a team member promptly.
Essentially the producer’s primary responsibility is to create the virtual event that the client is asking for, that meets their requirements and reflects their brand. So actively listening to the client is vital in producing an event that meets and exceeds their expectations.
Depending on the event and the requirements, streaming engineers could be in charge of the main broadcast, or simply a breakout room.
As you are responsible for building and giving life to an event, so many of the tiny little details are in your hands, and it could mean make or break to the success of the event. From the correct Zoom settings, the video quality, audio sync with the livestream, and the exact timing of all the motion graphics, videos, presenters ect. into the broadcast. Every little detail needs to be checked, and then checked again.
We recommend an ethernet connection (not wifi) to maintain a steady bitrate throughout the livestream. A 'bitrate' is the quality of the video and/or audio being uploaded to the chosen platform, and it is so important. Your internet speed will determine what bitrate options you have. Platforms such as Ookla Speed Test will tell you what your current internet speed is.
Streaming through OBS is resource-intensive, and can be really hard work for a computer, or laptop. If your computer crashes, that would be disastrous for the live event. So, having a reliable desktop computer that can easily handle a complicated livestream with multiple programs running is e-ssen-tial.
The ROS (run of show) is basically your step-by-step, second-by-second manual of the livestream, and is your everything. In broad terms, your job is to follow the ROS to the T, and bring it to life. So, knowing, studying, clarifying and asking questions about the ROS of the event is crucial as a streaming engineer.
Sarah: Camille, can you introduce yourself, where you work, your role, and what kind of events you are organizing right now?
Camille: Sure! Hi, my name is Camille White-Stern, I am the Executive Coordinator at Splash which is an event marketing software company. My role is unique. I am sort of like the right hand to the CEO, so I work very closely with him and the rest of our executive team, and I also plan a ton of events. I plan events for our team - their internal events like our all-hands, cultural events, our annual offsite holiday events; and then I also get to work closely with our marketing team and produce events for our customers. I work with sales sometimes to produce events for prospects that we’re targeting. And a lot of the events that I’ve been planning recently are workshops, they’re webinars, and sometimes it’s just a party, just to party, kind of virtual events. So kind of all over the map. But the goal of these events is really just to create human connection, especially in this time. We are all working from home in quarantine, so it's been really interesting to navigate the virtual event landscape during this time.
Sarah: And can you tell us a little bit about… when do you use Happily to help you with your event?
Camille: So, I have learned that I just need to reach out to Happily as soon as I know what the next date is for my virtual event. I am reaching out to Happily and I am securing them as my tech support. The reason that I love working with Happily, and using them as tech support on my virtual events, is that it really just gives me one (or sometimes more than one) less thing to worry about. As an event planner we all know it can get crazy, and navigating virtual events is something new for me. So, to be able to have Happily on these events with me, and providing just invaluable tech support really takes a lot of the stress and anxiety out of planning and execution of events for me.
Sarah: Awesome! Can you tell us a little bit more about… what are the things like Joy does for you that is a really big help? Just describe a little bit more in detail what you’re delegating.
Camille: So, Joy is amazing. Joy is on the Happily team. Working with Joy, she basically works with me as a sort of like a technical event producer. So she’s, right off the bat, asking important questions and helping me figure out... ok, you know I’m obviously gonna tell her what the format of the event is going to be - but she will then walk through and make sure she has a clear understanding of the run of show for me.
If we have to figure out any cues for breakouts, or for launching poll questions in Zoom, (we use Zoom a lot at Splash for our virtual events but there’s a ton of other great tools out there). And Joy is... she knows so much more about Zoom and how to produce a successful event on Zoom, that it just takes a lot of time out of the planning process for me. If I have a question, I can just slack Joy and say “Hey Joy! Is it possible for us to open up 30 breakout rooms in a second breakout, but only 5 breakout rooms in the first breakout?”. So, whenever I have a technical question I can go to Joy or the Happily team.
And in terms of executing the event - once Joy has gotten this very clear rundown of the event not only for the content side but the technical side - then during the event, she is in constant communication with me. If things need to change on the fly, she’s just adapting and adjusting immediately, which, you know, happens a lot in events.
Before the event, she’ll send me a recap... We do a tech check - a rehearsal - to make sure everything is working, we test all the settings. She’ll send me a recap - very detailed, so that I can review it and confirm, or I have the opportunity to say “actually we’re gonna change this thing in the run of show.”
And then after the event, she always offers the opportunity for me to get my feedback: what went well, what could be better for next time, we can do a debrief if there’s any major issues that we really need to investigate. Even if I don’t ask, Joy is going to follow up and say “Hey, I realized why we had some difficulties with breakouts in the last event. It's because these people joined the Zoom, and they left the Zoom, so they didn't have an assignment to a room.” So just having that extra level of insight and support, and just the detail-oriented work that Joy does is… it’s just unmatched. I honestly don’t want to do virtual events without Happily!
Sarah: We love you! For our last question: what kind of events or what kind of customers, or maybe both, do you think should consider using Happily?
Camille: Seriously everyone. If it’s a meeting, you might not need tech support. But if you are planning a virtual event - even if it’s on the smaller side and you only have, you know, 15 to 20 people - it’s just really nice to have Happily’s support on a call, because like I said, you can focus on the content and engaging with the attendees, while Joy (or someone else from the Happily team) is focusing on making sure your event is still running smoothly. And like I said, if anything pops up, I can slack Joy on the side and ask her to look into something for me, or if she notices an issue she’ll reach out to me and bring it to my attention.
I really think no matter the size of your virtual event, no matter the size of your company or your team, you want to have tech support, and I think Happily just provides the best support out there.
And, I also can’t stress enough: running a virtual event is so different than an in-person event. In the past, I was able to execute events sometimes entirely on my own, with no support - but it would really be impossible for me to execute a virtual event on my own, without support. I can’t play host and - let’s say we have the waiting room enabled - I can’t admit attendees, and be present to welcome guests and make sure I’m checking them in on my Splash app, and things like that. So you know like I said, regardless of the size of the event, I really think you need to have one dedicated tech person - and Happily provides that. So why would I go anywhere else?
Sarah: Awesome! That would be it, unless there’s anything else that you feel like you wanted to mention?
Camille: I mean, you tell me what you want me to say and I’ll say it. I will literally sing your praises from the mountain tops!
Sarah: That’s it. I think that’s great. We love you. Thank you so much. Thank you so so much for using us. We just love helping you and your community honestly, and, like, Joy is in the video but she’s like, “Camille is so great!” So, truly, we love working with you. So thank you!
Camille: The feeling is mutual and hopefully this is a long long partnership.
Sarah: Yeah I know, looking forward to it. So thanks again, Camille.
Camille: You’re welcome.