Innovations in Video Communications

Video communications and content delivery technologies have gone through an amazing period of innovation and change over the past decade. Video conferencing technology has moved to the cloud allowing anyone, almost anywhere, to connect and communicate with ease. Live video streaming has made its way into social media putting a “go live” button into the hands of billions of users. This democratization of technology has led to all kinds of new use cases. Throughout this process companies such as Twitch, Facebook, Zoom Video Conferencing, Google, Microsoft, Slack, and Discord have all experienced explosive growth by listening to customers and scaling their offerings to match growing market requirements.

Keeping Tabs on Video Communications Innovators

In this chapter, learn about innovations in live streaming, video conferencing, and content delivery. Understanding how to use the latest features in live streaming, video conferencing, social media, and collaboration software will help you design immersive experiences for online attendees. To deploy these software solutions, first think about your event and its relationship to public access. Will your meeting be public, private, or a mix of both?

Social Media Streaming

Social media websites – like Facebook Live – are ideal destinations for purely public events because they offer the largest amount of exposure and shareability. However, many meetings are held in a private setting where only specific meeting attendees should have access. Private meetings leverage video conferences and webinars that require unique meeting invitations with optional passwords or webinar registration. Hosting a private webinar or video conference is an easy way to host private presentations that offer user engagement tools in a private setting.

Zoom Video Conferencing

For example, you may host a Zoom meeting with a small group of close friends while a Zoom webinar could host an online event with up to 100 interactive video participants and up to 10,000 view-only. Zoom offers a cloud-based dashboard that provides event managers with a single place to manage registrations and integrations with existing CRM systems. The Zoom webinar system, and most others in the market, offer live Q&A, polling, attendees can raise their hands, and there’s even an attention indication feature. For meetings where you want to monetize access, Zoom offers a PayPal integration through a service called Zapier.
One of the most innovative new features announced at the 2019 Zoomtopia conference is live translations. Zoom has supported automatic video transcriptions, a feature that provides speech to text file processing in the cloud, since 2017. The new translation feature provides live translators who can translate your conference in real-time and deliver the translated audio to groups of participants around the world. This new feature allows meeting participants to select their meeting language of choice from a list of available live interpreters. Meeting participants will hear the interpreters at 80 percent audio levels and the original speaker at 20 percent.

Video Conferencing Hardware

Video conferencing industry innovations complement meetings and live streams in many ways. While software like Zoom was not designed for multi-camera video production, it’s quite easy to capture a video production system output and use it with Zoom. The easiest way to use video production software and bring it into video conferencing software is through an HDMI to the USB capture card. An HDMI video capture card can bring that video into software like Zoom via the USB webcam and audio inputs. You can also use an external virtual webcam output with many systems as well.
Innovation in the video production industry has also made live streaming and audience engagement easier and more interactive. A company called vMix has developed a tool called vMix social which integrates with Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and IRC to manage comments that are moderated and displayed on-screen. The software provides a dashboard for curated social media comments. It selects the messages that are automatically overlaid on top of the broadcast.

vMix and Video Production

“Data sources” is another powerful feature that makes events more interactive. This feature allows broadcasters to integrate data sources directly into on-screen titles. Information sources can include Google Sheets, Excel, RSS, XML, Text, and more. For example, your live production is underway and there’s a title that is automatically updated with timely information via a Google Sheet. The meeting admin only needs to enter information directly into a Google Sheet on their laptop or smartphone to have direct access to the information being displayed on the live stream or inside of the video conference.
Here is another example: A non-profit hosts a live fundraising event and accepts donations via YouTube Super Chat. The super chats (live donations) are logged in a Google Sheet which automatically displays the latest supporters of the project in real-time on the live stream.
Data visualization and collaboration tools also help educational events find a happy medium between education and entertainment. While charts, graphs, and PowerPoint presentations do a decent job, broadcasters can capture much more audience attention with a mix of data and real-life representations of the data. If you have an app, show the app in detail and share the latest feature. If you sell a product, zoom into the product, and share its look and feel. If you can make your presentation entertaining, you will increase viewer retention. Consider ways to strike a balance between information and entertainment.

NewTek NDI

One particularly innovative new video production standard is called the NewTek NDI. This technology makes sending and receiving high-quality video sources over a local area network incredibly easy. Software like Wirecast, OBS, vMix, Livestream Studio, and many more all support this standard. The software allows video production companies to do things to connect standard computers to create larger more flexible systems. Along with IP video production, IP connectivity for devices like PTZ cameras allows smaller teams of producers to do more for large events. For example, PTZOptics cameras support the NewTek NDI and have direct PTZ camera control integrations with software such as vMix, Wirecast, OBS, Livestream Studio, and NewTek Tricksters. This enables event managers to use a single ethernet cable to power up a camera (via PoE), receive HD video, and control a PTZ camera. The HuddleCamHD NDI webcam is an innovative new product worth checking out.

Note: To learn more about the NewTek NDI or PTZOptics cameras consider taking my free courses available on Udemy at –

On the content delivery network (CDN) side, innovations are starting to transform what’s possible for event managers. Many CDNs providers now allow broadcasters to monetize their live streams by overlaying instant ads on top of the live video streams. For example, if your favorite soccer player makes an amazing goal, broadcasters can overlay a link for where to buy the player’s jersey directly on top of the video player. Twitch takes full advantage of the concept with a feature called “Twitch Extensions,” a library of tools that broadcasters can use to overlay interactive elements on top of their video players.
Twitch extensions offer interactive buttons that show additional information about the videogame currently being played. For video games that support this integration, viewers can interact with live elements of the game, such as the player’s inventory. PTZOptics has a behind-the-scenes camera control extension that gives the audience control of a PTZ camera. High-profile artists and musicians use this feature to set cameras up backstage and charge live viewers for the capability of controlling the audience’s view.

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