Arts and culture institutions switched to livestreaming and virtual programming out of necessity during the pandemic. As the sector worked quickly to identify digital platforms and content that resonated with audiences, a great deal of learning has taken place over the past two years to inform a range of new digital strategies.
At the MuseumNext Digital Summit, David Mansell from the National Football Museum, shared his practical solutions for hybrid live-streaming. Here’s an overview of his advice for Museums looking to livestream hybrid events.
Post-pandemic digital world
In the post-pandemic world, cultural organisations everywhere are curious to experiment with new ways of delivering hybrid content to audiences. At the National Football Museum, they began live streaming during the pandemic using smaller platforms such as crowdcast and went on to deliver school and community sessions over Zoom as the team became more confident.
The pandemic programme incorporated online school sessions, curator talks and panel sessions which, together with on-demand multimedia content, allowed the museum to offer a dynamic digital offering to audiences. Given the success of the digital output, the museum wanted to continue with a virtual offering that made the most of a hybrid model upon reopening.
David, in collaboration with the team at the Museum, quickly established which of the many video streaming and distribution platforms their community were interacting with such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch and Crowdcast. From a budget point of view, there are many scalable options for livestreaming using these platforms. If you have a laptop and a webcam – delivery is straightforward although basic but easily upgraded with some hardware additions such as a microphone, lighting or even a tripod.
Longer-term investment in tech
David explains how institutions with a slightly larger budget might consider investment in more professional equipment. For example, investing in a DSLR or equivalent camera. A DSLR can record in HD or 4k quality, will offer a better range of lenses for zooming in or focusing and can enable a smoother uplink to certain delivery platforms.
It’s worth keeping in mind that when investing in improving the visual experience, audio should not be forgotten. Not all DSLR’s have high quality audio inputs. At the National Football Museum, David recommends a USB audio interface such as the Focusrite Scarlett. This allows users to connect XLR microphones to a computer, which is great for events that feature a PA system or similar to support a range of content types.
Podcasting audio equipment can also be a great investment as they often have additional features that can support voiceover work, Bluetooth connectivity and programmable sound pads.
Creating broadcast quality livestream events
If virtual events are going to become a more high-profile part of a museums output, then investing in multi-camera setups can offer real value when it comes to quality and professional delivery. Multiple cameras allow greater flexibility in terms of creative choices and can emphasise all the important elements of an event to bring it closer to a broadcast standard.
There are various hardware elements to make this work. A key piece of hardware is a video switcher which is a device to bring multiple video inputs together and allows the operator to select whichever one is needed at a particular moment. The output of this can then be connected to something like the Web Presenter, a capture device or both simultaneously. At the National Football Museum, they make use of all three and a rack-mounted configuration for portability.
It is worth nothing that livestream events are successful only with good content planning, development and delivering methodologies. However, as they become a more functional part of a museums digital output, David explains he found this higher quality delivery to improve the quality of engagement from online audiences.
David Mansell is a Digital Producer at National Football Museum. He spoke at the MuseumNext Digital Summit in June 2022. Find out how you can watch all the presentations from this event on-demand here.