In the life of SIP (Stay/Safe/Shelter-in-Place) Virtual “Live” events has taken over our lives. It’s been a bit interesting to me being in tech seeing how the wine industry is discovering and learning how to host these events using Zoom, Google Meetings, Skype, etc… But it’s clear the “Live” platform of choice for these virtual live events is using Zoom.

What many of the new users and businesses don’t realize is that these “Live” events have been going on for quite some time in the tech industry and it’s just part of doing business. Another industry that has been taking full advantage of these “Live” events are “Gamers” and “Influencers” and they do a great job at production and entertainment.

Over the past year, I’ve been exposed to many of the “Gaming” and “Influencer” channels. My 10 year old son doesn’t watch TV, he watches YouTube and so does the majority of his friends and generation. I’ve been fascinated about how well many of these channels and content are produced and how they engage their audience. In the back of my mind, I said I’m going to learn how to create a similar production one of these days.

It’s a bit crazy how the gamers and influencers engage their audience, an example is a guy named Kreek Kraft who has 1.2 Million YouTube subscribers. I recently watched him throw an online Roblox gaming event that gathered 2 Million users on a virtual server, the thought of that is just crazy… Here’s his YouTube channel if you want to see what I’m talking about. Warning, if you’re like me a Gen X, you may not get it, LOL.

Another “Influencer” I’ve come to be a fan of is “The Hacksmith” who creates “real world” items from entertainment products, for example creating a “real” lightsaber.

My last example is from a pop artist Dua lipa and James Corden. One of the most entertaing produced “SIP” videos I’ve seen.

If you watch these “Influencers”, you’ll see the thought of the production and also see the creativity behind promoting themselves and their sponsors, it’s pretty impressive.

With SIP the wine industry has now adopted these virtual “Live” events and I knew early-on this was something that would be needed by our partners. So I decided to learn and produced these “Live” streams and understand the tech behind these types of productions. I’ve digested and learned over the past 7 weeks, but I am now very comfortable producing these “live” events all off-site and doing them in the style of broadcast TV and YouTube influencer channels. Currently we’ve released 4 “live” and “produced” videos with 2 more in queue.

We’ve been helping our BottleVin partners produce content and I’m proud of the recent broadcasts we’re producing which just keep getting better. I’ve also been watching a lot of broadcasting and you can easily see who’s thinking about the content being shown and who’s just picking up the camera and just shooting without any thought.

I will say that the most entertaining “Live” event I watched recently was this past Friday with Joe Wagner of Copper Cane. He understands being a personality and actually created some nice “shock” value content by letting a person cut his hair “Live”… Talk about entertaining! He ended up with a very un-even mullet, which I hope he can fix, but that’s entertainment!! I was also watching his audience and for the full event, he had an average of 350 viewers, at one point he peaked at 400. Pretty impressive, but Joe knows how to market. Check out the video on FB.

On that note, there’s a couple areas I want to cover in this blog.

  1. The Live platforms that are available
  2. The production and content

Live Platforms

The main “Live” platforms are

YouTube Live

FaceBook Live

Instagram Live

Twitter Live

You’ll notice I didn’t put Zoom into here. The reason I didn’t is that I don’t really feel Zoom is a platform for hosting live events. When it’s all said and done, it “Web Conferencing” software. Try to host a Zoom meeting with 30+ users, it just doesn’t scale and it’s not a great production.

Zoom is a web conferencing platform that lets you bring all the individuals together presenting at a live event. But if you’re doing a “Live” event you really want to host these events on one of the platforms I mentioned and use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or some other web conference platform to stream the camera angles and gather the individuals speaking at these live events.

There are many ways to create “Live” events through these platform. The common one that everyone seems to be using is taking their phone, tablet, or PC webcam and going “Live” real time. This is the easiest way, but from what I’m seeing not a lot of people are putting thought into these productions. Most of the ones I’ve been watching are pretty painful, since everyone now think they are “Live” celebrities. But hopefully there will be more thought and production value when hosting these “Live”events as the wine industry gets more familiar with creating virtual events.

My platform for choice is YouTube and there are many reasons behind this. Here’s a few reasons why I prefer YouTube

  1. You don’t need to have an account to view the “Live” event
  2. Flexibility of broadcasting and production software you can use with YouTube
  3. Post-video download is high quality and automatically available after the event
  4. Can host “large” audiences without much online streaming lag, since this is what the platform was built-for
  5. Lots of built-in tools for promoting and producing these events
  6. You can share with every social platform and not need an account to view

Now onto producing these events…

Production and Content

This past week I came across two great articles on virtual tastings/events. They actually covered the majority of the points I was thinking about writing in the blog, so I’ll reference them.

The first one is from Erin Kirschenmann of Wine Business Monthly in the May edition which provides many great insights on virtual events and how wineries are producing these virtual events. Most of you probably have an account already, but if you don’t you’ll need a one to read this article which is free.

The second article is from Lamar Engel of The Wine Militia. The article provides 6 great tips to think about before doing a virtual production. Here’s a link to the article

Both these article provide great advice and insights into producing virtual events. My suggestions aligns with many of the items said in these articles, but here’s my take on producing these virtual events…

  1. Personality – Make sure the people you are filming are natural and engaging. Not everyone is meant to be on the camera, so if your business is going to put on a virtual event you need to find the right personality for the camera. As your 1st production may be a learning curve you will know if they people you are filming can make a great production! I know that Millennials and iGen looks for genuine videos and if you don’t have that, people will not watch.
  2. Outline – Don’t go into the “Live” or “Produced” event without some type of outline. Without an outline, you’re just asking for failure unless you have some incredible personality!
  3. Production – Be conscious of the production screen and the camera views. Make sure your backgrounds for the people appearing on camera are acceptable. It doesn’t have to be “broadcast” quality, but you don’t want stuff laying around in the background that will deter from the production. Also try to offer different camera views. We constantly switch the camera between the presenters to give you a more engaging event, similar to most broadcast TV events. This just add to the quality of the production.
  4. Be Aware – Make sure the individuals are aware of the camera and let them know these are “live”, so anything they do will be seen. Recently a friend and I were watching a video where one of the individuals kept touching their face. It was almost every 2 – 3 minutes and we were both cringing every time it happened. People need to be aware of what they are doing, even if they’re not the main presenter. Also make sure each individual understands their “camera view”.
  5. Lighting – Try your best to get the best lighting, this will help you see the people presenting, along with helping their cameras focus
  6. Camera Quality – One setting to check if you are using Zoom is that your camera is “HD” quality. This will help a lot, but many of the webcams are lower quality in most PCs. If you feel you’re going to keep doing these, I suggest investing in a high quality camera like a Logitech MX922, C920 or C930e. Be aware these are in demand and hard to find. Also make sure you get the”English” versions. One of our partners purchased a C930c and found out it was only compatible with Chinese PCs.
  7. Production Software – There are a ton of production software and ways to use them. We use digital assets like images, videos, slideshows, and QR codes to enhance the production. As there’s a ton of software, find the one the works best for you!!

Hopefully some of these tips help. I personally believe the wine industry will produced better events as they keep learning about what technology is available and I’m looking forward to seeing this evolve!

Happy Producing!!!!