The Late David Bowie had almost run out of recording space on his mixing desk when it came time to add the vocals to his iconic track Heroes. To give his voice the necessary power and presence the song’s chorus needed, his engineers set up three microphones at varying distances from the pop idol that would activate only when his voice reached the right volume.
Singing at a normal level would activate one mic. Get louder, and a second would be added. Scream “we could be heroes,” and a third would open up creating the impact of a thunderous call to arms.
That power to reach audiences at an ever expanding volume is exactly what the partnership between Facebook Live and BlueJeans Primetime can recreate.
It might start as a standard panel discussion before an audience, and build to include questions and comments from the in-room audience. And then it could crescendo with questions and comments from Facebook’s audience of billions scattered around the world.
At least it has the potential–with a little more vision and a whole lot of coordination at the final stage of the process.
BlueJeans Takes Facebook into the Event Streaming Business
When video conferencing starlet BlueJeans announced in September it would partner with Facebook to bring interactive live streaming to social media’s largest platform, it established something of a landmark for video chat.
Until then, video conferencing hadn’t established a solid presence in the world of social media. Video-based apps such as Periscope and Meerkat are viewing portals rather than a means of two-way communication–and VC is at heart about letting people interact with each distance.
By adding the ability to stream live video conference calls from multiple sources, complete with comments from the online viewing audience, Facebook Live evolves from static TV-style broadcasting to an all-inclusive free-for-all that marketers can turn into a publicity boon. And in return, real video conferencing between multiple callers finally gets a toehold in the social media phenomenon.
Essentially, what BlueJeans adds to Facebook is the ability for groups of video conferencing callers, businesses, and anyone with something to say or sell, to make presentations in front of an audience limited only by the size of their social media circle, without having to make nice with the traditional broadcast media.
And more than that, BlueJean’s Primetime technology means the setting for that initial announcement could be as large as a town hall or an auditorium.
Video Conferencing Creates the Digital Town Hall
The BlueJeans technology is able to seamlessly stitch together live feeds from multiple in-room discussions and create a single, functioning meeting. Of course, you can also have additional remote viewers and speakers join the mix from their own devices.
With master control in the hands of a central moderator who has power of veto over everyone’s microphones (important during a passionate or divisive discussion), and BlueJeans’ ability to condense digital information down to size that lets hundreds of network attendees share the same stream, you can turn several meetings of dozens of people into a single venue for hundreds.
Presented in its polished version it looks like this:
Then, send a live feed from that video conferencing hub out into the world through Facebook and you can let anyone who’s aware of the event’s existence watch proceedings. While the scale of the potential remote Facebook audience is innovative, linking remote speakers into a large in-room discussion that is subsequently relayed online isn’t new.
Google Hangouts was recently pressed into service to allow Edward Snowden to avoid U.S. law enforcement and take questions from a San Diego audience for the purposes of promoting Oliver Stone’s new film about him.
Video conferencing allowed Snowden to remotely take his place alongside a set of presenters in front of a large in-room audience and respond to their questions. So what happens if you reverse that dynamic and have the remote, unscheduled participants instead pose questions of the in-room speakers and audience?
Online Video Chat for the Whole World
And so we come back to the Heroes crescendo, and the final piece of the Facebook Live experience.
To activate that remote viewing audience of millions you just need to let them turn on the microphones on their webcams. And then make them wait patiently in line to speak.
Sounds daunting, but it’s already being done on a somewhat smaller scale.
We’ve written about start-up video conferencing-social media hybrid Blab on a few occasions, but what’s pertinent here is that it acts like Facebook Live but lets the remote audience join the streaming conversation.
It’s limited to a four-person presentation, but the host of that publicly broadcast presentation can invite members of the viewing public up into a chat window so they can share their own thoughts. There’s your third Bowie microphone.
You’d need a patient, keen-eyed moderator to pick through the live comments coming in from the viewers on Facebook, but if the remote audience member had a compelling take or personal experience of the subject at hand it might shake up the entire presentation. Perhaps potential remote speakers could be quickly vetted by the moderator via video call the way radio talkback producers tee up phone-ins for their hosts.
But give voice to those masses and your discussion evolves from dozens speaking to each other through video conference, to hundreds chiming in from the auditorium, and finally millions sharing their opinions through Facebook.