How to Use Periscope to Deliver Local Experiences, Anywhere

One of the best parts of being on a college campus like the University of Oklahoma is the plethora of, well, stuff to do! Every time you turn around there is some event, a speaker, something new in the museums, concerts—the list goes on. Especially for those of us who came from smaller towns or rural communities, the sheer number of options for things to do can be a really amazing (if alien) experience. The problem of course is: if you’re a distance learner, live far from campus, or even once you graduate, it can be easy to feel like you’re missing out.

Luckily, tools such as Periscope, a Twitter-owned live streaming app, now offer an option for sharing this kind of content with anyone who wants to see it, regardless of their physical location.

Using Periscope to deliver local experiences, anywhere

My first time actually using Periscope was for a gallery walk at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art with James Surls, world-renowned modernist artist and current OU artist-in-residence. I was really struck by the capabilities of this new tool for offering cool content that you can actually engage with, live!

Having watched a lot of Periscope videos since, I’ve noticed that there is something about live video that is immediate, relatable and fills a void that Instagram and Twitter itself can’t quite meet. There is a rush of almost-danger knowing that anything could happen next! The option to directly interact with a live stream by asking questions or tapping to like makes events so much more engaging and is second only to actually being there.

Thinking about sharing your own Periscopes? Here are three tips I think might help you out if you’re looking to live stream an event. (Knowledge is power!)

  • Try to know what you’ll be live casting before hand
    • Having some idea of what the event is actually going to entail can help you figure out when to start the Periscope so you aren’t filming too long (forearm fatigue is real!) More importantly, in can inform you of what to focus on. If I were to do the James Surls event all over again, I would have asked him before we started what pieces he was planning on talking about—this would have saved time and allowed me to move ahead to film the piece before he started talking about it.
  • Let people know you will be Periscoping
    • I know, I was just going on about the Cinéma-vérité-realness of live casting—but letting your subjects (and bystanders) know before you start that you will be filming them is always good practice. I also found this helped during the event, as people generally tried their best to refrain from standing directly in front of me and were wonderfully understanding when I accidentally walked backwards into them!
  • Pick the right type of event
    • Picking the right type of event is, by far, the most important step. How do you know if your event is a good one? When you have an accomplished artist talking about his work in a museum, the decision to Periscope is obvious, but what about when it isn’t so clear? I’d say keep these things in mind: visuals, duration and interest.

Visuals: Is it going to translate well to a live cast? How close will you realistically be able to get to the action? How is the light? If you’ll be moving a lot, have you thought about compensating for camera shake? We used a counterbalance during the FJJMA shoot (see above) which smoothed things out, but was really too heavy and unwieldy for something as small as a phone. Next time, I’ll use a dedicated phone gimbal for events that require a lot of movement (maybe something like this!)

Example of a handheld gimbal

Duration: Try to err on the side of shorter events, or for longer events live cast the most important/engaging parts. This respects your viewer’s time, and makes them more likely to stick around.

Interest: ‘Interesting’ can be subjective at times, but you want to Periscope interesting, funny, weird (or all three!) events whenever you can. Delivering boring content will keep people from coming back for more after their initial visit. You and your bro standing in line for coffee in the morning?—eeeh, maybe a pass. Cousin Eddie trying to eat an entire jar of pickled eggs in ten minutes or less? Yes, please!

Ask yourself initially “If someone walked up to me and said ‘hey! ‘XYZ’ is happening across the street!’ would I want to walk over there to check it out?” If the answer is an enthusiastic yes, then go ahead and Periscope it! So get out there and start streaming—or if you have a campus event you’d like to see us cover, drop us a line at webcomm@ou.edu

 

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