As part of our live streaming, in-person, and hybrid events, we’re often asked to display pre-produced media that our client (or one of their collaborators) has created, such as PowerPoint slideshows, photos, and videos. Occasionally, we’re also asked to playback less common presentation formats like Prezi or Canva. And even less frequently, but often enough to deserve mention, we’re asked to display websites or other web-based content. This post will discuss the ins and outs of using these various multimedia elements in a live streaming, in-person, or hybrid show.
Defining the show type
First off, what do each of these show types mean? Here’s how we use these terms.
Live Streaming – The event takes place somewhere, and we simply capture video footage and transmit that footage to a remote audience, whether through traditional internet streaming platforms or through a more elaborate delivery system. The key differentiator here is that with pure “live streaming,” there is no expectation that anyone at the local venue will consume any of the visual or audio elements. That is, we are not running local screens or audio. These days, this arrangement is actually not very common. More often, we’re providing some version of the two following event types.
In-Person Event – All of the audio-visual elements that we produce during a live show are fed back to a closed system within the venue, such as large screens and audio systems. For instance, during an in-person lecture, our systems might combine live video footage of the lecturer along with her slideshow presentation, and place these elements on a large projection screen for local audience members to see more clearly. Any audio or video playback is served only to the audience in the room — no to a live-streaming audience or an audience in an adjacent building, for instance. The proceedings are usually recorded for archival purposes or to upload to a video sharing site at a later date.
Hybrid Event – The audience consists of in-person attendees as well as virtual attendees, and/or some of the local audience is in an adjacent room or building. This is the most common type of event in 2022. The local audience needs to see and hear the proceedings in the form of large projection screens and sound system, and the remote audience also needs to be able to see and hear these things. Hybrid events are the most complicated to facilitate from an A/V standpoint, because sometimes the needs and expectations of the two audience types are different. For example, an in-person attendee can simply turn their head to focus their attention on something else in the room, whereas the online viewer can only see what we serve her on the live stream. The in-person attendee might not care to see a wide shot of the room, because he is experiencing the room in-person, whereas the online viewer might appreciate seeing the full room and the expanse of the crowd, because she otherwise cannot experience that view.
We will now discuss the best practices for preparing multimedia for each of these types of shows.
Slides will be played back on OUR systems — not on your personal laptop. Please provide the slideshow file as discussed below. The sooner you can get it to us, the longer we’ll have to test it and contact you with any issues that we’ve discovered. Please don’t wait until the day of your show to hand us a slideshow. You may be very displeased if it doesn’t work flawlessly because we didn’t have time for testing.
The preferred filetype for slideshows is traditional Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT or PPTX file extension). PowerPoint is the most universally used platform for basic presentations and interfaces easily with all of our equipment. If you use special fonts, please export the file as a PDF or PNG image series.
If you prefer to use another system to create your slideshow, such as Cavna, please be sure to export the show as a PDF or PPT so that it can be integrated into our systems. (Worst case, export it as a series of PNG images.) We CANNOT rely on a live connection to Canva or other online document during the show. We must have a hard copy in one of these formats.
Prezi shows are not recommended for a live audience. If you insist on using a Prezi, we must offer the disclaimer that the presentation may not look or operate as designed.
Slideshow best practices:
- The page layout should be 16×9 (not 4×3)
- For in-person audiences, use nothing less than size 36 point font. Size 48 pt or larger is preferable.
- Remove animations. If you want to “reveal” bullet points or other slide elements, duplicate the slide and add it to the next numbered slide rather than creating animations.
- No videos. If you want to play a video during your slide presentation, please provide the video file to us separately, and note where you want to playback the video on your “run of show” notes to us.
- No audio or sound effects. Again, if you require audio elements, please provide them separately along with instructions on when and how to play these back.
- Nothing that relies on an internet connection to display. Internet connections at event venues are notoriously fickle. We don’t want your show to stop because of a slow connection (or a disconnection).
- No crazy fonts. If you must use a crazy font, you’ll need to export your slideshow in a PDF or PNG format. Otherwise your text will not display properly.
- Email us the slideshow DAYS in advance. Preferably a week in advance. If you do not, we cannot guarantee that it will play back properly.
Photos come in a variety of formats, but JPG is the most universally accepted format. For charts or images that have a lot of text, the PNG format may be better, but note that the file size will be much larger, typically.
Note that single photos are handled differently than photo slideshows. If you have a series of images that should be displayed in a certain order, please consider creating a PowerPoint slideshow, as discussed above. Handing us a folder of images and hoping that they playback as intended typically doesn’t work well.
Please keep in mind these best practices when providing us with photos to display:
- Screens are 16×9 landscape format, so photos that are formatted/cropped to 16×9 work best.
- Vertical images don’t display well on horizontal screens. Consider cropping or choosing a different photo. If a vertical photo is required, we might be able to dress it up with a blurred background of some kind.
- High resolution is preferred. Images should be at least 2,000 pixels on the long side. Low resolution images will look bad on a big screen.
- DPI (dots per inch) means nothing in this context and should not be relied on as a measure of an image’s resolution.
- Consider changing your filenames to something that is meaningful rather than the random digits assigned by the camera. For instance, “arrival.JPG” if it should be played as guests arrive; or “dinner.JPG” for an image that should be shown during dinner, etc.
Preferably, videos should come to us in an MP4 contained encoded with H.264 compression, and at a size of 1920×1080 (HD). Most live streaming and hybrid events are produced at 29.97 FPS framerate, and videos will play back nicely if delivered to us in that same framerate.
Please do not ask us to play a YouTube video during your show. If a video from YouTube is desired, please let us know a week in advance so that we can try various methods of downloading a usable file from YouTube. However, providing us with a file instead of a YouTube version is preferable.
If a video doesn’t have sound, please let us know so that we don’t think we have encountered an error.
Feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns!