Flemish mayors are Hacking Belgium's Iphone!

Production & On-Air period: April 2017 - June 2018

Partners: Radio 2, Hack Belgium, Solar Challenge Team Belgium

One of the first multicam livestreaming sets we started investigating mid 2017 is called Switcher Studio: an app which runs on iOS and which transforms a bunch of iPhones and an iPad into a multicam environment.

The app turns the iPhones into cameras, which send their images to the iPad over WiFi or over an Ethernet cable.
On the same app on the iPad you can cut between the different iPhone camera's, and you can also ad graphics, photo's, video's and even control the camera's focus, white balance and more.
Audio comes into the app via the mini-jack on the iPad. The app also has an integrated streaming service that brings you straight to Youtube, Facebook or many other streaming platforms. 

In its simplicity it's a quite complete solution, ideal for try-outs, simple interviews, mini shows for an online audience and registrations of small events.

We've done many experiments and online shows with this setup during 2017 and 2018:

At the end of 2017 we gave the set to the Belgium Solar Challenge team, who used it to make a daily wrap up show, discussing the race live on Facebook, straight out of the Australian desert! The students themselves did the setup, the camera cutting and the actual interviews. For the connectivity (internet in the middle of Australia's outback), Chris Dredge from Pacific Live Media opened his satellite dish and fired up his LiveU setup.

 

In January 2018 Radio 2 used this set-up to interview all of the 250 Flemish mayors in one week. Each day they set up camp in another regional studio of Radio2, interviewing about 50 mayors a day. Below you can watch a making of and an explainer video (in Dutch). 

In April 2018 we used this setup to interview participants, speakers and VIP's at Hack Belgium: a three day hackaton to shape Belgiums future. Here's Justine Harcourt de Tocqueville interviewing minister Alexander De Croo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learnings:

  • it's a challenge to keep a compact set compact: 5 iPhones and an iPad are not that big, but when you start adding stands, chargers, a wifi router, a gimball, a bag, powerbanks, ethernet adapters and cables, some lights, some audio, things can get very big, very complex and very intimidating for inexperienced users. 
  • Video over wifi is a drag. It is very unpredictable so testing doesn't tell you much. You can have perfect results on day 1 (typically in an empty room) and have jerky, blocking images on day 2 (in the same room filled with alot of people, each of them using at least one wifi connected device, all polling your router and polluting your airwaves). The latest version of Switcher Studio (July 2018) provides a "bad wifi" setting, which gives you a bit more of buffering during which they clean up the signal. If you can live with an extra second of latency, this is a nice way to cope with video over WiFi
  • Giving video tools to non video makers can give surprising results: broadcasting from Australian deserts or from hot air balloons or doing 12 hour interviews.
  • Integrating all the functionalities for multicam live streaming into one GUI, implies that the person controlling the app knows a little something about:
    • making the shots
    • controlling camera's
    • telling an interesting story by using multicam techniques
    • controlling and monitoring the audio
    • adding graphics, photo's, video's into the stream
    • setting up a stream and controlling it while you are live
    • miking the guests
    • and so much more
  • do not underestimate the audio part!
  • there is an enthusiastic user group on Facebook where you can ask your questions and report bugs or requests. In general the people at Switcher Studio are very reactive, which is very nice
Karel De BondtComment