THERE ARE ALL KINDS of reasons why it makes sense to look closer at live streaming right now. For a start it can give you a means of communication to the outside world at a time when it’s not possible to go through the usual channels. More importantly for the professional, however, this is a service that has a host of commercial applications, from working with a couple to stream their wedding once we’re all allowed back out again, through to a stream of a musical or theatrical event or a commercial broadcast to enable a company to promote a new product or to engage with employees.
Professional quality streaming is a world away from Facetime chats or Zoom catch ups with your friends and family. It should combine good quality visuals, audio and graphics, be well lit and feature the potential to cut to video and image content and a selection of speakers. In short, it calls for an investment in kit and although, as a photographer, you might already possess such things as a suitable streaming camera, a lens and some continuous lighting, you will need further accessories to get even a basic streaming service off the ground.
This is where the input of an expert partner becomes so important and, ideally, you want to be talking to someone who is genuinely interested in you and your aspirations and who isn’t just looking to palm you off with kit you don’t need and can’t afford to make a quick sale. On this front CVP ticks all the boxes, priding itself on being ‘equipment agnostic’ so that no particular brand will ever be recommended over another without good reason. There is also a cherished principle in place that says no-one will ever be looked down on for lack of technological knowledge and neither will they be sold something that isn’t right for them. The aim is to form long term partnerships with clients, and this involves building trust and only selling kit that’s genuinely what the customer needs.
One of those you might encounter, should you be one of the many people currently getting in touch to seek out more information about the best streaming kit to buy, is CVP’s Technical Sales Supervisor, Mat Recardo. He’s fairly typical of the first point of contact you’re likely to make at CVP in that he’s not a sales person – he prefers to describe himself as a ‘techie’ -and he’s also highly experienced and familiar with every item of kit that’s in stock. In Mat’s case he’s been a member of the team for eighteen years and he’s got infinite patience and a genuine desire to guide those who might be novices in the right direction. “I’ve been having a huge number of conversations recently about streaming and how best people might get involved,” he says. “It’s a real hot topic, the thing that everyone is talking about at the moment but, for CVP, it’s nothing new. We’ve been involved in this area for years and we’ve got a huge amount of knowledge and experience that we can pass on.
“A lot of those who are getting in touch are photographers and we completely get the fact that, for many of them, this is a whole new area and there is no expectation on our part at all that they’ll be coming to us with any prior technical know-how. In normal times we would encourage them to come in and then we’d take them through everything and be able to give them a demonstration of the products and even some training before they take the kit away with them. Since this isn’t possible just at the moment we’ll take extra time on the phone and I’ll talk through what it is that someone is hoping to achieve with their streaming set up and then I’ll be able to work with them to source the things they need.
“It’s one of our guiding principles that there’s never any pressure on for someone to purchase. Last week I spent two hours with someone on the phone and at the end of the conversation he realised that he just didn’t have the budget to make the investment he needed to achieve the results he was looking for. And that was fine, but a few days later he was back in touch and had looked again at his priorities and, by moving a few things around, he was able to go for the kit he genuinely needed.”
So, what’s required to get set up and how much might a realistic investment be? “It’s the ‘how long is a piece of string’ question and the reason why I spend so much time talking to people before making suggestions,” says Mat. “Some people who have come to us have seen all of their work and income disappear virtually overnight and they’re just looking for something that can give them a new service to offer with the barest minimum of
investment. Providing that their camera is up to the job they would just need a PCIe card to fit into their computer and to download free OBS (Open Broadcast Software) and they would be good to go for around £120.
“That would be a really basic onecamera set up, however, with a lot of restrictions, and not especially up to professional work, but it’s a start. If the investment steps up a little then a piece of kit such as the Blackmagic ATEM Mini could enable multi-camera productions that would look much better, but you would need
to connect it to a computer, which puts a few restrictions in place. Step up to a Tricaster Mini Advanced HD-4 and you can get around these, but the cost has gone up to £5,500. It totally depends on what the customer is after but you’ll always have the reassurance that we’ll never recommend something we don’t think you might need.
“It’s the same with audio. This is an area that can prove difficult for those moving into streaming for the first time, but if you have a poor-quality soundtrack on your production it can ruin the entire presentation. We can recommend microphones that will transform the quality of the audio you achieve – the Sennheiser AVX range, for example, comes with an XLR plug and uses the 5GHz wavelength that’s legal to work with all around the world, and it’s a really good outof-the-box solution.”
The message is clear: if you’re a photographer eyeing up the potential that live streaming is offering then, unless you’re already up to speed on the technology, it pays to talk to the experts before you run the risk of investing in something that either won’t give you what you need or can’t subsequently be added to if you’re looking to upgrade in the future.
CVP will take the time to listen to you, its expert team will recommend the kit you need to get you to the initial point where you want to go and they will be with you all the way should you have any technical queries or be looking to upgrade in the future. It’s the perfect introduction to technology that can be challenging and you owe it to yourself to work with a partner that wants to help you succeed.
More information: https://cvp.com/department/streaming
Free streaming and other events: cvp.com/commonroom
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