Way back at the start of the year, it could have been as early as February, when I was thinking about this year’s #CyberFest I was longing to get back to real events, with real people speaking in real buildings to a real live audience. Of course I was still acutely aware of the threat of COVID and had no idea whether or not such a thing would be possible, yet there was always hope.
As time went on the thought of all events being in person started to evaporate, it was simply not going to happen. The thought of some contact, however, prevailed and this gave rise to the potential of hybrid events. How hard can they be? Now, on the eve of the festival, I can tell you that they are much more complicated than you might think, or at least they can be.
I was a complete novice at such things. I imagined it would simply be a case of pointing a camera at the speakers and treating the output as another Zoom presenter. I never considered any time delay between the content happening IRL and it appearing on screen. Doh!
It turns out there is hybrid and hybrid. In its simplest form it is little more than a broadcast but a lot depends upon where the speakers are and any interaction with the audience. So far I have managed to get my head around a number of increasingly complex scenarios:
- The speakers are all in person and presenting one after another
- Some speakers are in person while others are online but presenting one after another
- Some speakers are in person while others are online and there is some interaction with the host (me) such as in a panel discussion.
- Some speakers are in person while others are online, some interaction with the host and some interaction with the audience onsite.
- Some speakers are in person while others are online, some interaction with the host and some interaction with the audience both onsite and online.
I am sure that there are others and my head hurts trying to work out the ramifications of each layer of complexity. Actually, it is that complexity equals cost is the real concern. I know there are ways around all of these problems yet the cost grows with complexity and with it the risk of it all going wrong.
For the events I have coming up, some are at level 1 (thankfully) while others are at level 2 and even level 3. I am resisting any temptation to go further and will limit any audience participation to questions presented through me.
Getting here has been a trying time. I’ve certainly learnt a lot and will have to think long and hard before trying to do something similar again. Fingers crossed that tomorrow’s event goes well.
Happy #CyberFestEve everyone.