The rise of real-time

The rise of real-time

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Contributors:

Matthew Halliday

Atlantic Live Stream finds a much needed niche

Sometimes an idea seems so obvious that you wonder why no one has thought of it before — and just as quickly realize that, if it’s really as good as you think, you’d better jump on it ASAP, before the field gets too crowded.

For 31-year-old Michael Hall, co-founder of Atlantic Live Stream, that idea was simple. Since 2009, Hall has operated Word of Mouth Media, a Halifax photography and video production company. “In the photography world, you’ve got to fight for years, tooth and nail, to come out on top,” he says. “I was looking for a niche.”

The idea he kept coming back to was to use his expertise as a professional videographer to build a new company focused on professionally, slickly produced live streaming, as an antidote to the webcam-at-the-back-of-the-lecturehall approach most common at the time.

He sat on the idea until a couple of years ago, when the advent of social media live streaming gave him a kick in the pants.

“That’s when live streaming saw a rebirth with Facebook Live and other social media apps,” says Hall. “LTE networks had arrived, internet speeds were getting faster and faster and high-quality streaming video was becoming really possible. And I realized, ‘oh God, it’s happening. I better get on it before it’s too late.’”

Last summer, Atlantic Live Stream was born, partly in anticipation of a crowded field of competitors. A year later, the professional live streaming space is still curiously empty. Hall thinks this must be a temporary situation, though he’s hoping to use the breathing room to establish his company as a local leader.

“There are lots of gear-heads who are doing live streaming,” says Hall, “but they probably don’t have an eye for framing, for photography, for lighting. So you’ve got these heavily produced streams that don’t actually look or sound that great because the people producing them don’t have that particular expertise.”

Atlantic Live Stream has so far developed a significant roster of clients, each necessitating a different creative and technical approach.

They do a weekly show with Halifax lifestyle video blogger Erin Trafford, which can focus on everything from home renovation, to guest interviews or to road shows. In October, they did a traditional live stream of the Art of City Building Conference, but embellished it with roaming, live, on-the-floor interviews. That same month, they worked with Live 105 to stream a Gord Downie tribute concert at Garrison Brewery, requiring collaboration with a sound engineer and the addition of a wireless gimbal camera for close, dynamic performance shots.

For big events, like the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Halifax Business Awards this January, they’ll marshal up to six camera operators working with wireless cameras — minimizing cables and other impacts to the event, as well as giving them freedom to roam. Another operator will be responsible for switching between cameras.

It’s a big step up from streaming to YouTube or Facebook Live with an iPhone, which Hall believes works just fine for some purposes, but not when variables start piling up — noise, lighting challenges, large spaces, big crowds and so on. Atlantic Live Stream will also produce after-the-fact, broadcast-quality highlight reels, with full post-production.

Hall has also worked with smaller clients, streaming weddings and even funerals.

“That’s an area where you wonder, ‘why would you want to live stream a funeral?’” asks Hall. “But of course it makes sense when you think about it. Family might not be able to make it, the costs of travel, that sort of thing.”

Hall believes that just about any event a client might hire a photographer or videographer for is fair game.

“It’s going to become standard for a lot of things and in the next year or so, you’re going to see a surge in companies like ours. It’s going to become a much more competitive field, so I’m just glad we got here first.”

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