Live coverage with UstreamPosted: October 28, 2010
Last week the Westboro Baptist Church came to town. Although we were reticent about giving any more attention to Fred Phelps and his message of hate than absolutely necessary, we had to acknowledge that the Spokane community was planning to turn out in numbers to protest. We had to be there. And in the end, we produced out some solid coverage.
With Westboro’s well-publicized schedule of appearances, it seemed an easy opportunity to try something new with our live coverage at spokesman.com. Drawing from advice I got from Danny Gawlowski at the Northwest Video Workshop, I decided to try Ustream to shoot some live video.
For a trial effort, it went well. I shot live feeds of the counterprotests at Gonzaga University, Whitworth University and Eastern Washington University. Below you can check out the (choppy) replay of the EWU counter demonstration, easily the biggest of the day, then read on for some specs, tips and observations about using Ustream with an iPhone.
Interested in trying live coverage yourself? Here’s what I learned.
Have an ally at HQ: I set up a player for the Spokesman-Review channel in a story spot and arranged for our city editor to make the story live when I called to give the signal. Make sure you have that ally’s phone number on speed dial.
Mobile is mobile, but laptop+webcam is stable. I shot the video with my iPhone 3GS, which allowed me to be agile. Honestly, a laptop and webcam would not have worked well for the settings. But it made for shaky video. Anticipate your setting, and choose accordingly.
Buy a battery extender. As you can tell from this query, options abound. I used the Mophie Juice Pack Boost because that’s what I was able to get on short notice. I don’t recommend it. While it added significantly to my battery life, the physical connection was very wobbly. The Boost also is bulky, but although that might annoy people simply looking for some juice, it gave me something to hold onto for greater stability.
Download the right app. Ustream offers three free apps for download in the App Store, each with a specific function. You’ll want Broadcaster to do a livestream. Recorder lets you shoot and upload later, and Viewer allows you to do exactly what you might expect from the name. (Broadcaster and Viewer are available for Android phones as well.)
Have a great team. The stream I shot was nice and all, and quite a few people tuned in. But it would have made for laughable coverage without the reporting of Kevin Graman, John Stucke and Chelsea Bannach; editing by Addy Hatch, Carolyn Lamberson and Liz Kishimoto; and photography and videography of Dan Pelle and Colin Mulvany.