Hearts of Darkness: A EventCamp Stream Apocalypse

Hearts of Darkness: A EventCamp Stream Apocalypse

or  7 Tips for Live Streaming your Event or Meeting

I am not sure if you have seen the documentary movie that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems–nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.  I had one of those moments as 3:30 am rolled around the night before EventCamp New York City last weekend  for Event Camp the first meeting for the Eventprofs twitter group.  The internet kept dropping out and the streaming camera cable was wrong. So we were out trying to find a electronics store which was open and had the correct cable.  In my fireman days I would have rated this situation pucker factor 6 or 7 because I didn’t want to let the eventcamp team down for anything. To put it in perspective, crawling into a burning building gets a rating of 5 from me.    But eventcamp was a great learning experience and I am glad to have gone through it.  I already have another streaming  scheduled next month for a client so like it or not this was a great situation to learn.

Here are some tips and tricks of what I learned live streaming EventCamp last weekend:

Having no budget sucks and is not conducive to providing an excellent virtual experience for a live stream of your event especially for a group of meeting professionals. They see details.

Careful about Union Hotels. Better okay it with the union or they may shut down your whole show or event.  It has happened.

Technical Site Survey: I tell my corporate clients that this quick site trip can save them hundreds if not thousands of dollars to find little nuances that dont show up on a website of from a hotel event manager.  It should have been a huge red-flag to me when the Roger Smith Hotel did not return phone calls when I asked about technical questions. Or when they had no room drawings.  I should have hopped on a plane and did a quick technical site survey. (again no budget sucks) So make sure the venue is a good fit for your event and of course a live stream.  Where the Roger Smith Hotel is the adopted Social Media Hotel, our audience are meeting professionals and as I said they see details.  :) I do have to say the staff at the Roger Smith is very friendly and I would stay there again on business or for a vacation and they did donate the rooms for our event so I cant be too picky.

Rehearse: Rehearse with the stream at the venue if possible before the event.  This just takes a camera, a laptop, the venues internet and someone away from the venue on a cell phone watching the stream.  Double check internet speeds.

Power: Just because there are plugs in the wall does not mean they work.  Be careful the plugs may all be on the same circuit so you might not be able to use all of them at once.  Think sound, lighting and video… lots of plugs.  For event camp we made the case for perfect sound for our virtual attendees.  The rooms were so small we really could not bring in lighting trees.  Plus our power issue made it challenging.    I know from a many years of video podcasting if you cant hear the content you wont watch the picture.

Internet: Make sure you know the know Internet speeds in the venue and have a dedicated internet hard line to the virtual streams computer. Not a shared line with the rest of the attendees. Actually, you should have third line for the presenters in case they are pulling from the web for part of their presentation.    This weekends stream we were using a combo wireless/sprint card/ shared hardline to run the stream, twitter plasmas and for the wifi for the attendees. it actualy worked pretty good except when it dropped out and we had to restart everything.

Have a good strategy and goals in place for the virtual audience. I am thinking having a show flow and cue sheet that cues what is happening live and for the virtual audience. Make them feel special. We attempted to do some interviews with presenters after they spoke. Also in conjunction with twitter you can receive questions and try and fix issues with the stream – which we tried to do.

I will try to never do a live stream again without the right venue, equipment and service from the companies providing the equipment. I came away fired up about how great the Eventcamp team was our great #eventprofs community but frustrated that it could have been so much better for the virtual audience.  Yet thats why I love this business.  The next one is right around the corner.

So just as Francis Ford Coppola’s  made some pretty good movies after Apocalypse Now I think our eventcamps will just get better and better. I think this is a great option for events to engage a virtual audience along with the face to face audience.

Did you see the EventCamp stream?  Love to get any feedback on how we can make it better.

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  1. says

    I was one of those virtual attendees and all I have to say is that I had a great experience!

    What was key for me was SOUND, I was very impress with the sound quality on my end. Know that I was at home on a DSL connection where at least 4 people were playing World of Warcraft at the same time or were streaming Youtube videos.

    While the video was dark/fuzzy, I could see the basics of the PowerPoint slides. Could I read the details .. no. But then I doubt that I could even if I were sitting in the room!

    It would have been nice to see the speakers instead of a dark outline, but I could hear what they were saying.

    The Twitter feed also enhanced the experience as additional websites/resources were listed and the “virtual” audience could ask questions.

    Overall on a 1 to 10 scale … I give this an 8! Next year I hope to be one of the “real” attendees.

    Thanks Mike for all of your efforts and showing us all how this CAN be done with no budget.

  2. says

    Thanks so much for this very informative post. I’m going to pass it on to our team here at Icon.

    I had no idea the stress you were under at Event Camp. You made it all look so easy.

    Sharing what you learned is so helpful to us all. And I have no doubt that it will be easier the next time around. But again, this is all new territory. The people who jump in and make a few mistakes are the ones who will be ahead of the game. As someone who was there, I can say that the AV was great and it was a wonderful experience getting to interact with the virtual audience. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews from virtual attendees I’ve spoken to.

    Thanks again for everything you did at Event Camp.

    • says

      Jenise- I have to say you were one of the folks I really wanted to meet and I am glad I did. You are right it was such a learning experience. I actually have two more of these to figure out in the next two months. (not event camp obviously) I always put lots of stress on myself because I want each show to be perfect. But this time I have the eventcamp team watching and they are all such cool friends, eventprofs and it was so important to make sure it went well. Thanks for your nice words. I cant wait for the next one of these.

  3. says

    Mike – another “me too” as a virtual attendee – I really felt like I was there! Yes the video was a bit dark, but really not bad, and I could even recognize quite a few people from their twitter profile pics. The sound is much more important anyway, and that was clear as a bell! I thought it was a great example of the future of live streaming. Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks Steve. The online software that our sponsor LiveStream gave us is really cool. I wish I had more time to fool with it before the actual event. I am so glad you watched and enjoyed it.

      Will we see you at the next event?


  4. says

    Hi Mike, this is great info you are willing to share. Someone’s got to get through the growing pains so everyone else can benefit no? But I have to say, for all those problems you guys did such a great job. I can only imagine what you could do with the right venue/budget/tools. I also think that having a bunch of event folks there helped…all we needed to do was take a look at the outlets and we understood immediately.

    Despite little glitches here and there Event Camp 2010 was an overwhelming success. Everyone I talked to said the same thing, “it was even better than I imagined it would be!” Summer Camp is going to rock!

    Thank you for being a part of the team that created it…I am deeply grateful.

    • says

      Traci- It was great meeting you! It was a fantastic experience and I also look forward to Summer Camp! LOL

      Really it was people like you that made it work. If not it would have been Mike, Jeff, Jessica, Christina and I getting drunk on the live stream. Then the dark cameras wouldn’t have been a problem they would have been a plus!

      Thank you so much for coming to eventcamp and commenting here on my blog.

      Your friend


  5. says

    Mike, it’s very interesting to hear these behind the scenes ‘hiccups’ as they were never evident in the daily sessions. I hope that is a testament and validation to the quality of the environment that was provided to the virtual audience.

    I missed much of the morning sessions, but saw most of the events from the tail end of the fish bowl session on. Aside from occasional minor and expected stream choppiness (again, reiterating minor), the experience was above any I’ve witnessed in terms of quality. I will second Julie’s comments about the sound quality as well. Well done!

    • says

      Hey Eric- Honestly it was a cluster and worked out fine in the end. I did and still do feel bad because it is not the sort of performance I strive to present. It was an amazing experience and I hope to see you at the next one! Thank you so much for attending virtually. I look forward to seeing you in person on the next one!


  6. says


    I love this post and revelation of what was happening. You are so brave to tackle this with no budget and something so new. You did a great job and the lessons that you learned and outlined above should be heeded by all of us.

    loved meeting; everyone and finally meeting you. You are quite talented.

    Love the comment about the electrical outlets.

    On to either EC10.2 or EC11.

    • says

      Pat – It was really great to meet you in person. It was such a great learning experience. I cant wait for the next one! I really appreciate the comment.

      You are a great friend and such a smart cat. I learn something new from you every time we talk. I also enjoy our banter. I look forward to watching your progress and fame grow as you lead us in educating and engaging audiences for events and meetings. I also really appreciate your comment here on the blog.



  7. says


    As one of the event organizers, we knew you were under some incredible stress…and I even added more to it. 😉 Powerstips anyone?

    I thought you did a great job and handled the stress wondefully. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us and you pulled off some amazing things.

    Thank you for being on our planning team and helping us pull this off!

  8. says

    I was fiddling with our redesign on this site and loved going back and reading this post. I also enjoyed reading about other hybrid events from folks that have done similar events and released PR statements and are on every website imaginable saying about how groundbreaking and rising to another level it was. We now produce Hybrid events meetings regularly and I did learn a ton from this event. PLus the technology has gotten much better. It’s really okay to make mistakes if you make them one time. Best way to learn. I wish more peopel would put on EventCamps in there cities.


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