Thoughts on live-streaming forums

I live-streamed a forum to Facebook from my phone for the first time. There were a number of pro’s and con’s to this approach compared to filming with a regular camera.

It was for the Socialist Alliance’s forum: Save the Murray Darling – water for the river and community. You can watch it here:

Socialist Alliance forum: Save the Murray Darling – water for the river and community

Posted by Green Left Weekly on Monday, March 4, 2019

The number 1 reason I like this approach – aside from the fact it works better with Facebook’s algorithms – is it’s quick. Now your all probably going “duh its live”. When I say quick – it avoids the normal process after recording onto a dslr of copying onto a computer, editing and then uploading. Then crashing during the upload because the video’s so long and my crappy internet cut out for a minute. And so on. All time I could be spending working on documentaries.

It doesn’t take up hard drive space. Which equals money. A large rally that I take a thousand raw photos at and clips of speeches and the march takes up significantly less space than a regular forum.

Sure, its frustrating filming with a phone. I kept wanting manual control over aperture, lenses and so on that I’m used to. The quality is not as good. But you can hear what the speaker is saying and see them clearly enough. It’s a forum, these things aren’t that visually interesting as the best of times anyway. A solitary camera on a tripod is never that much better in my experience.

To film it in a more engaging and visually slicker style requires at three camera (preferably all the same so their footage matches well), a radio mic with a sound mixer and lights. People to operate the cameras and sound gear. Then the time to edit all this footage. Or you could do it live, if you have a live mixture and someone to do it. This is all gear and people I do not have and can’t afford.

I also feel if you have the money and time there are more engaging ways to present the information given in forums in video. For instance when one of the speakers, Bruce Shillingsworth, was using his artwork to talk about the cultural significance of the rivers. A more engaging way of presenting this would be to do an interview, cut in with still shots of the paintings and the landscape. Even animate parts of the paintings.

The only caveat to all this is if your filming a person’s speech to use clips of in a documentary. Unless your actively pursuing a documentary, speeches just end up taking up hard drive space and are never seen.

My final reason for live-streaming over a more conventional approach is not many people watch forums. People told me I had to film a forum last year. I filmed it and spent a day or two uploading, including a short clip to Facebook. Barely anyone watched or shared it. If I’d lived-streamed it I would have saved myself a day.

In the future I plan on live-streaming a lot more. Though there are a few improvements to make, such as getting a mobile phone microphone and figuring out a way to light it a bit.