Everyone Is a TV Station – The Future of Live Streaming

January 27th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 1
Everyone Is a TV Station – The Future of Live Streaming

It’s interesting how trends circle back every couple of decades. Although each resurgence of a trend feels new and fresh for most of us, when you get to a certain age you start to notice history repeating itself, but never without a twist.

For example, even though we finally have brilliant high-resolution cameras in our pockets at all times (which is what we wanted all along right?), Gen Z is ditching their phone cameras in favor of 20-year-old digital point-and-shoots. It’s definitely the vibe and a software filter on the most advanced camera ever just can’t replace vintage hardware. Which in this case is still digital, but hey it’s old and grainy digital.

“If you have to ask why then it’s not for you” is a typical response when we old hats are stumped about some new (old) product. Like Sony’s dedicated MP3 players which are going for $350-$3700 and are practically sold out everywhere. “Sometimes you just want distraction-free listening on a simple device rather than have a phone/computer that does it all.” Hmm, wonder if my old iPods are a hot commodity now.

sony new mp3 player

And just when we’re starting to peak with amazing display tech on our phones, tablets, and monitors, the rise of slow, pixelated, greyscale e-ink displays is about to make bright, saturated colors incredibly unhip. Actually, this one I’m all for. The world needs to bring back PDAs and Palm Pilots.

BOOX Mira e-ink monitors. Is grayscale the future? Image source: Onyx Boox

So let’s get back to the topic at hand. What trends are resurfacing in the video production world? From my vantage point, seeing where MZed members are coming from and what kind of work they’re doing, hearing from educators, and just having my ear to the video scene, I can tell you this: live TV is back but in a new way.

amazon live
Amazon Live is basically a 24/7 home shopping network run by influencers.

From cinematic DSLR films to YouTube Live

When the DSLR revolution first hit, I was working at a PBS station where everything was shot live in the studio, with nothing more than some talking heads and a cheesy set. The look and feel of DSLR video, the approach to storytelling, the ethos – and even just the urge to get outside and shoot something, about a person or a place or thing – it was all an incredibly refreshing change that launched a generation of video creators.

And with that revolution came a gigantic rush of gear acquisition, rapid improvements in production workflows, a ton of education and community support, and now a steady career path for in-house corporate video creators.

filming a podcast
Image by DCStudio on Freepik

This makes it interesting and slightly sad to see that the generation of up-and-coming creative filmmakers, the ones who are buying gear now and learning and sharing and setting trends, have unanimously gone back indoors to become miniature TV stations broadcasting talking head opinions. At least the sets have become much cooler this time around.

It’s certainly incredible how far the technology has come, where a single person can control multiple cameras, read from a teleprompter, take calls or respond to chats, and broadcast live with graphics, text, and everything that used to cost millions of dollars for a TV station to do.

But it’s also a little sad to me because we have all this capability now to tell stories about other people and places in the world, but we’re choosing the lowest hanging fruit, the live talking head studio program, which is exactly what local live TV used to do before DSLR was set to change all that… for a while at least.

Clients want TV shows, not videos

While up-and-coming video creators are starting their own YouTube channels that look very much like TV station productions of yore, just about every working video producer I know has shifted to live-streaming productions for clients. What started as a pandemic response to business closures has become an undeniable cornerstone of our industry today.

While it sounds very new and innovative and it certainly uses some profound technology in the process, what we’re really talking about is multi-cam live TV interview shows. Sort of like the YouTube trend mentioned above, but corporate. In essence, clients want their own TV shows now. They even have a steady broadcast schedule. TV Guide, anyone?

video interview show
Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels

What first started as the new norm of “every business needs to have a podcast” has become “every business needs to live stream.” Again, I have to say, it’s amazing that this is even a possibility nowadays, with only a Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro, a few cameras, and some lights, you can replicate what a TV station would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building only a few years ago. And that’s not including the studio crew, master control operators, and traffic staff that was required to broadcast a little interview show.

The more advanced versions of this production can look more like a network news show than a local public TV interview, with graphics, roll-ins, a mixture of in-studio and phone/zoom interviews and more.

What’s truly fascinating about this whole trend coming back is that now there’s a unique angle to the live TV show that we never could have expected. While the studio crew and talent are all in the same room, often the director or producer are remote, maybe even states away remotely.

Screengrabs from a virtual production studio near me – Burbank Entertainment in Minneapolis

Very soon, thanks to new cloud-based workflows, we’ll see remote camera switchers produce shows using talent who are entirely in different parts of the world. I mean, that’s all possible now with Zoom of course, but I’m thinking small businesses and corporations are going to ditch the studio and put on entirely virtual shows in a professional way, using virtual backgrounds. Live local client productions are going global. Or maybe they already have?

House of Worship Live

Finally, I think we’re getting to what I see is much bigger than all the YouTubers and corporate clients combined, and that is the House of Worship. If you went to any small town in North America or Europe right now, you would find what looks like 5-10 full-fledged TV stations.

One Sunday a few weeks ago I went on YouTube on my TV and started searching for every and any church within 20 miles of my small town. It was shocking. Every single church, no matter how small, was broadcasting live to YouTube, using multiple cameras, great-sounding audio, and a series of slides at a minimum.

house of worship concert
Live Sunday service screengrab from a church near me. Image credit: YouTube

Some of the bigger churches had higher-end production components, including animations, pre-recorded roll-ins, stage lighting, and full-on concert performances with bands and on-screen lyrics for the viewer at home. The musicians even had their own screens with tablature for the songs they were playing. There were tons of cameras, some moving on cranes, and it was all seamless, high quality, and live.

Now think of how many churches there are out there, and how many live productions are happening each and every week, with all of the components and crew and everything that a TV station would have to have just a few years ago.

I would even guess that the majority of high-end filmmaking gear is being purchased by houses of worship now, rather than only going to rental houses in LA. Did you know that 1 out of every 3 Fender guitars sold today is going to someone who plays in a Church band?

house of worship video production
Screengrab from a popular house of worship YouTube channel – Image credit: @churchfront

What’s interesting to me is that outside of the church community, none of the filmmaking industry is really even talking about houses of worship. I’m certain that a major demographic of readers here and MZed education members are primarily working in the church community, often with live production. But are we catering any of our discussion toward them?

Anyway, I’ll end with this. It’s profound to think about how much of the filmmaking industry today is going towards live production, whether it’s individuals broadcasting from their basements, corporate clients creating their own interview shows, or churches performing like legitimate TV stations.

When we talk about filmmakers or video producers, we should update our assumptions about who they are. It wasn’t so long ago that many of us here were in one of a handful of disciplines, like corporate or event videography, documentary, short or long-form narrative, news photography, or commercials. But now it appears that many of us are also a TV station.

Learn with MZed

No matter what type of video production you’re into, an MZed Pro subscription will help you level up your skills with over 700 lessons in cinematography, camera operation, editing, audio, color grading, you name it.

Plus we’re constantly adding more courses, which become available to MZed Pro members immediately when they’re released. For less than $1 a day, (billed annually at $349), here’s everything you’ll get:

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Join MZed Pro now and start watching today!

Feature Image by Freepik

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