One of the best things about writing for School Video News is that I get to speak with and hear from teachers from around the county.
I love to hear different stories of success as well as the struggles that we share in the classroom. The explosion of live stream has made our world far more mobile and fast paced. We no longer have to just juggle the events in the classroom but for some of us we have to plan events literally around the county or state we work in. Recently, we asked our readers to complete a survey about where they are in terms of live productions and specifically streaming. As with all things, there were trends that I expected to see as well as a couple of surprises.
When it came to where you were streaming, there were no surprises there. Youtube and Facebook were the clear leaders with Livestream following closely behind in third. As an educator who takes pride in our field and loves to see how it is growing, I am glad to see that we as a field are “fishing where the fish are.” It really bothered me when I made the jump into education how many teachers/administrations/systems/etc tried to force people to go somewhere other than one of the big players in the game. When we try to change people’s viewing habits and don’t go with the crowd, our students ultimately suffer because they can see the view counts and know that no one is watching. I highly suggest each teacher get to a place where if they are streaming, they are going with mainstream tools (forgive the pun).
Another area where I wasn’t shocked by the response is the use of a video switcher and the brand of switchers preferred. Tricaster and Wirecast were clear leaders in the field. 58% of respondents say they use Tricaster equipment and 21% say they use Wirecast. In my opinion, these two dominate the marketing for one reason, perceived ease of use. Tricaster and Wirecast are “all in one” solutions that all allow you not only switch but add graphics and play video elements. As a teacher, having those abilities in one box make them pretty hard to ignore. These tools give students the opportunity to create products that look professional with a limited amount of training compared to the larger more professional switchers. I will say that I expect to see BlackMagic Design products creep up the list in the next several years as they continue to innovate and streamline their offerings.
Online research, which we thank you for, dominates your decision making. 38% of respondents say that online research is the main influence in their choices for new equipment. I admit that even if I am buying something I know without a doubt works and does what I want, I still read the online reviews. Word of mouth and first hand experience also plays a role in decision making with about 25% of respondents replying that those play a role in their choice.
When it comes to making the purchasing decision, price was the leader. This makes perfect sense as we all are trying to stretch a dollar as far as possible. The responses to the ranking of the important factors in purchasing a video product did have a huge surprise buried in the results. 22% of those that responded said that feature set had no bearing on their purchasing decision. Also brand reputation carried no value as well with over 40% of people saying it ranked least important. This tells the story that our teachers are not afraid to test new products from new vendors but they aren’t going to pay a lot for it.
While we are talking about purchasing, I have to tackle something that made me happy. The partnership with outside entities is rising. As I talk with teacher from all over the country, the trend of keeping outsiders out is starting to dissipate. The survey results show this as well with a 56/44 split between those who can work with outside partners and those who can’t. I can not express to you how important bringing the outside into the classroom is. This is something worth fighting for. I know that there is money involved and there may be scars from past transgressions but in order to give the students an opportunity to work with “clients” and get real feedback from someone other than you, it is essential to bring in real, relevant clients. In order to prevent a rant, I will just say “fight for it and it will make your students better, fund your program, and help you as a teacher.”
The final response that seemed too obvious to really publish but I am going to is that an abundance of you use B and H for purchases. 77% of you to be exact. B and H has done a good job in building relationships in the education community and are big enough to have pretty much anything you need and can get it to you quickly.
While 50% reported that they use HDMI to carry their signal, over 12% reported still using RCA connections. I am not at all judging because I know exactly why this is the case - you use what you have. I know this because until the first of this year, I was in the same boat with our studio set up. Our cameras were from the original launch of the program. Did they work? Yes. Was I able to teach students how to produce newscasts? Yes. Where the students exposed to things they could expect in the “real world?” No. I was blessed enough to make the case for updating but I know that is a true blessing.
When it comes to wireless video solutions, Teradek leads the way with over 25% of readers saying they use Teradek products. The price point and features of Teradek are most likely the lead cause for this number. The Bolt series of wireless tx/rx solutions are cost efficient and more importantly they work so teachers trust them and as noted earlier, teachers talk.
The results of the camera manufacturers were very close. Canon and Sony lead the way in the area of 40% of readers sharing that they use their products. Again not really a surpise there as these two companies have made a lot of headway in mainstream thought when it comes to video production. The surprise is the growth of the iOS tools in live production. The adaptation of live streaming apps for cellphones has to play a role in this.Over 20% of responses said they use IOS devices for their live productions. I imagine this will grow tremendously in coming years. While we are talking cameras, there is almost a completely even split in the number of cameras used in a production. From One to Four cameras are used in 96% of broadcast, Five or more cameras are used in the remaining broadcasts.
Standalone encoders are becoming more popular as a way to get your video products on the web as easily as possible. There are a lot of new products on the market including Boxcast, Epiphan’s Webcaster, and the Matrox Monarch but the most used at this point is the Teradek Vidiu. Teradek did a great job launching the vidiu in the education market and showing the simplicity of their set up. According to the survey, of those who use a standalone encoder, the Vidiu accounts for 61% of the responses.
Live sports and graduation are 90% of the live events streamed. Not a surprise there because those are two things that encapsulate the high school experience. I tell my students I focus on sports because they are easy. The story tells itself - your only job is to capture it. And let’s be honest, graduation is the pinnacle experience for the families of the graduates so there is going to be a ton of viewers. Also school and community leaders are eager to see what happens but not usually eager to get into the mix of people.
One of the final questions in the survey dealt with where your program is in terms of years in operation. Obviously the more we do the survey, the greater number of programs with more than 5 years grows but I am most impressed by the 12 respondents who listed their program as “under consideration.” For those people, I say thank you for taking the time to invest in your program prior to the start of the program so you can be better prepared for the launch of the program and have a plan for how to attack launching and making a successful program.