The Virtual Meeting Landscape:
The first step in selecting the best-of-the-best is to define the types
of conferencing services and what they are designed to do.
There are 3 basic categories of conferencing platforms:
- Conferencing: Real-time Conferencing (Phone, Web, or Video)
- Webinars: Virtual seminars, typically audio-based with PowerPoint graphics
- Webcasts: Broadcasting on the web
In the interest of making these articles shorter and quicker to read, we will discuss each of these categories in a separate article. In this article, we’ll look at Webcast solutions. Then we’ll pick our favorites.
Take the “cast” from “broadcast” and put it on the “web” – that’s a “webcast”. These are designed to push heavy media content to a large group of people. More work is typically put into the design and creation of the media that will be presented in a webcast, as compared to the other types of virtual meetings we discussed in previous articles. And, of course, greater demands are therefore put on the webcast application. Internet bandwidth is important for both uploading content to the webcast servers, and streaming to the participants. Since more bandwidth is required for delivery of the media, the webcast transmission is buffered so that delivery to the attendee can be smoother. If there are fluctuations in the Internet bandwidth available to the attendee, the cached buffer helps to keep the webcast from freezing up. This means that the latency is high and there will be a 4- 10 second delay between what is said by the presenter and the when the viewer hears it. Therefore, viewers should listen on their computer or smart device and not on the telephone.
Because more media production, software, and hardware are required, webcasts are more expensive to conduct than webinars. Licensing is also more expensive for webcasting solutions, ranging from $1,000-$1,500 per month for the more full-featured licenses. However, as companies employ more and more millennials, it is inevitable that media-laden messaging will become more important in communication and learning. Globalization has also made webcasting technology a better value as companies can spread the cost over a larger viewer base, thus making the cost per viewer reasonable. The Internet has become an infinite broadcast network and demand for content is skyrocketing.
There are two main types of webcast solutions
This is like a webinar on steroids. It allows you to present PowerPoint, Excel, and Word documents, and adds the capability to play full-motion videos. It also has picture-in-picture capabilities built-in, so you can see video of the presenter and crystal clear slides in a larger window. Citrix GotoWebcast is an example of this type of service.
You can use a simple webcam to provide the video of the presenter, though the video will obviously look better with professional equipment and lighting. The audio quality will be better as well, since most webcams do not provide very good audio.
Gilbert Creative has developed a QuickCast Studio where you can walk in and immediately begin to record or webcast your content with the highest quality possible. The QuickCast Studio is like a videoconference room, but designed for live webcasting and presentation recording. See more.
The second type of webcast solution allows you to send full-screen, full-motion video to your viewers. It’s like TV on the web. Functions like picture-in-picture are not typically built into the interface, so more production equipment is needed to switch between cameras and create special effects. Although you can have a one-camera, full-screen webcast, there are usually multiple cameras, graphics, and video playback. It is more flexible than the presentation-based webcast, and there is no limit to what you can broadcast. However, it requires more equipment, labor, and cost to produce. You would use this type of service to stream a live event such as a concert, tradeshow, or church service.
There are a lot of players in this area. Wowsa provides streaming services and partners with many software providers for different solutions. However, we were on one of their webcasts recently and experienced all sorts of buffering issues. You will need to know a lot about edge servers, streaming formats, and the like as it can be very complex to set up. Livestream is our pick as the best service for the price. Their built-in streaming service and front-end interface make it pretty easy to set up and use. It is interesting to note that almost all of these services ride on one or two main backbone networks.
Gilbert Creative can provide full-service on-site production for you. We have an enterprise license for Livestream plus the equipment, experienced crew, and all other resources necessary to stream your live event.
Our Picks for Webcast Solutions
The players in this category are GotoWebcast (Citrix), Cisco WebEx Event Center, Adobe Connect, On24, and others. Our choice for best-in-class for webcasting is GotoWebcast for meetings that are presentation-based, and Livestream for media-based webcasts.
GotoWebcast has an amazing presenter dashboard and administrative setup function. The recording and editing features for the on-demand studio are top notch.
Gilbert Creative owns a GotoWebcast license and can host your meeting for up to 500 people for a session fee. Do the math. The monthly license fee is $1,500. Our session fee is $295 per webcast. So if you plan to do less than 5 webcasts per month, our session fee is a GREAT DEAL. We also have pricing packages to administer and manage the entire webcast process for you. Remember in the first article where we said that clients were finding the technology hard to navigate? We can do all of that for you. You just show up and present!
We also own an enterprise license for Livestream, which allows us to brand your broadcast and can provide an embed code so that the link to your event can be hosted anywhere. Gilbert Creative can also can provide the equipment and labor, including a licensed version of Livestream Studio, to help you capture and broadcast your event.
In addition to the above-mentioned production services, our team includes Creative Directors and Graphic Designers who can assist with enhancing your messaging and content to ensure that you’re communicating effectively with your audience.
We hope this article provided useful information for you. If you have questions or comments, please click here. Feel free to share this article if you know someone who would benefit from this information. Additional articles in this series, “Tips for Budgeting”, “Executing your Virtual Meetings”, and “Tips for Presenters and Participants” will be published soon.