Focal Point Productions is using a Blackmagic Design live production workflow to produce educational content for GBMC HealthCare System. In addition to streaming weekly townhall meetings for hospital staff and frequent educational Facebook Live sessions for patients, Focal Point Productions is also using an ATEM Mini live production switcher to stream interviews with GBMC HealthCare System experts for local news segments.
PH: Given recent events (COVID-19) reliance on streaming became increasingly important. Can you talk about the educational content for GBMC HealthCare System?
GMBC: Our COVID-19 live streaming work for GBMC HealthCare System has can be separated into two categories – internal communications and public education. Our first internal piece was a live town hall on March 20th. It included the hospital president and other leadership discussing COVID-19 policies, workplace changes, future plans, and answering employee questions from the chat. We then continued for five more weeks to hold these meetings, most of which averaged 800 live viewers, with even more watching it on-demand later.
We then held several public Facebook Lives to update and inform the community. These included hospital healthcare providers not only presenting the latest information about COVID-19, but also how the pandemic has been affecting other aspects of individual’s health. These included topics such as diabetes, cardiac, neurologic, weight loss, abuse, and more.
PH: How has the Blackmagic Design live production workflow been an asset?
GMBC: The Blackmagic Design live production workflow has been awesome to work with. Their equipment is affordable and easy to use. Frequent software updates add new features and squish any small bugs, making my productions worry-free. As the lead engineer on all live streaming projects, once things are set up, I can often have another team member jump in at any time to take over the controls and switch a live show. It’s so easy to use. My toolbox is full of Blackmagic Design equipment, including dozens of converters, two switchers, four I/O capture devices, three HyperDeck Studio Mini recorders, and much more, including a Pocket Cinema Camera 6K that I just added.
With these Blackmagic Design pieces being the center of my production, I’m confident I can accomplish almost anything my clients need.
PH: What’s the production process like to create ongoing videos to keep staff informed on latest updates?
GBMC: Our internal clients at GBMC HealthCare System would work with hospital leadership and healthcare providers to identity talking points and who is best to deliver the messaging. They would also create any PowerPoint slides or visuals to be included in the live streams. As the owner of Focal Point Productions, I would assemble a team and develop the production plan. Most projects only had a few days’ notice to organize and produce.
PH: Can you talk a little about how you’re still able to conduct interviews? What did that process look like?
GBMC: COVID-19 has made conducting interviews and shooting video very difficult. Normally we have people sitting a few feet away from each other. But now with the six foot social distancing requirements, this has proven to be a challenge, especially when producing a town hall event with five panelists and a moderator. That’s almost 36 feet of coverage area in a conference room that isn’t much bigger. We had to forgo some of the aesthetics we’ve become accustomed to, like lighting and camera angles.
We’ve had to turn to having some guests and even hosts present remotely – from their home or work. To successfully pull that off we’re using the ATEM Mini Pro or the Blackmagic Web Presenter. These devices allow us to connect our professional cameras and audio equipment to Skype to send two-way communications back to our main studio, instead of using a laptop’s poor internal camera. This gives us a nice crisp image and clear audio. Viewers are surprised we’re doing all of this over Skype and not something more expensive or high-tech like satellite or fiber.
PH: How has this been a learning experience? What are some takeaways?
GBMC: We have learned a tremendous amount over the last few months. Our offerings are pivoting to using smaller crews, socially distancing, and producing mostly virtual events instead of in-person. Everyone on our team has stepped up incredibly during these challenging times to change how we do business. And then some things have remained constant. We still conduct site surveys to test the internet, plan camera placements, and figure out the workflow. We always bring back-ups and make contingency plans.
Marty Jenoff is the President of Focal Point Productions, a Baltimore, Maryland video production and live streaming company founded in 2000. Marty got his start in video production at the age of 13 when he used gift money to buy a VHS camcorder. Now, almost 30 years later he has been a local expert on live streaming and has directed and engineered hundreds of shows.