When bad weather strikes, assignment managers send tv reporters across the viewing area. Five, maybe six crews are scattered for miles. But you’ve only got 2 live trucks. How do you get those reports and video back to the station? Better yet, how do you go live with those reporters in the field?
Here are 3 tools that’ll get more video on the air, faster than you can say “standby”.
1: U-Stream. With one free app and a smartphone, reporters can be live on the air with little effort. The app, available for both iPhone and Androids, streams live video online. The control room simply call up the U-Stream channel.
DOWNSIDE: The video is fairly clear, certainly live broadcast quality and in HD. U-Stream works best for video only because of an audio delay (usually 2-3 seconds, but sometimes longer depending on the internet connection). Putting a reporter in front of the camera makes the delay very noticeable and awkward.
When we’ve used U-Stream for live broadcasts we’ll use one phone for broadcasting the video, and another phone for voice-over. When you only want pictures with a reporter’s voice underneath, U-Stream works just fine.
2: Skype. Skype is primarily for over-the-internet voice calls, but there is a video call option. The quality of video is weak however. I recently conducted an online interview where both sides of the call had high speed internet access. The video quality was poor but there wasn’t much of a delay. The Skype apps are free for both iOS and Android. The station must have a Skype account since SKYPE-SKYPE calls are free while SKYPE-to-LANDLINES require a paid membership.
3: Google Talk and Hangouts. Google video is of the same quality as U-Stream, better than Skype, but suffer from the same limitations. Google talk is free and works best with Android phones, though it also works with iOS. But if you have Google-talk, I’d suggest doing a Google+ hangout.
Google+ has a ‘hangout’ option where up to 10 people can be in on the same video call. Plus (get that?), a hangout puts all of the people participating in the chat in small video icons at the bottom of the screen. When one person begins talking, Google+ recognizes the microphone and puts the person talking full-screen while the others remain as small icons.
What I especially like about Google+ hangouts is YouTube intergration. Let’s say you have ten reporters in the field armed with smartphones. Each reporter can upload video to YouTube, and during the Hangout, can call up that video where it plays full-screen.
Imagine the possibilities of all of your reporters being able to upload video, then join the live broadcast where they can play the video while talking over it.
To make this work, the station would need a Google+ account (which you should already have. Really). Then the control room invites the reporters into the Hangout. The reporters appear on the station’s computer and are standing by when the show starts.
All of this requires some testing beforehand. But it can be done, easily. And the station has more options to go live to more reporters in more locations.