Earlier this week we released an extremely detailed blog post discussing 20 honest predictions for hybrid events, it ended up being the most popular article we’ve written - ever. It resonated with a lot of people who are tired of hearing tech companies in particular constantly talk about how awesome hybrid events are going to be.
As we mentioned many times, on the whole, hybrid events will be a great opportunity for the events industry and PheedLoop is designed and built, pre-pandemic, to meet the opportunity. But hybrid events will have their challenges, and simply re-branding products and services as “hybrid event platforms” just isn’t enough. Thoughtful engineering, planning, and creativity will be required.
At PheedLoop, we are working on several new products to help facilitate the future potential of hybrid events, and while some of our biggest projects are currently in stealth mode (to be released in a few months), this post covers a small but important update that we’re very excited about.
Meet & Stream, PheedLoop’s built-in solution to allow speakers to meet, and stream their meeting to thousands of attendees, now supports an upgraded direct RTMP option! This means you can skip the “Meet” part if you want, and use any other input source you like.
We announced this a few weeks back at our last user conference, Trailblazers, and events have been using it constantly since then. Many events just like to use PheedLoop Meet and stream that, but others are now excited about using things like Restream, OBS, StreamYard, and other systems to stream directly into PheedLoop more effortlessly than our previous RTMP options.
We’ve always had options for RTMP streaming in PheedLoop which have evolved over time, initially relying only on third-party integrations a longer time ago, but what’s different now is we’re working behind the scenes to optimize our streaming solutions, particularly on the RTMP side, to get ready for hybrid events. Ensuring we have one simple, integrated, and intuitive platform for all types of events is critical.
Some of the upgrades we’ve made to our direct RTMP option to better support hybrid events over the past few weeks include the following:
PheedLoop’s RTMP ingest now supports 1080p ingests! We recommend an H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec still. For best performance, we recommend 5,000 kbps and 2 second keyframe interval. This should result in the best 1080p stream at about 30 frames per second.
Remember that the encoder settings when streaming to PheedLoop don’t mean your attendees will see the same quality. For most events, the standard 720p 30fps works great.
When it comes to streaming over RTMP, the one thing everyone knows about and simply have had to learn to live with is latency. With some platforms and solutions, it can reach up to 60 seconds, which is almost impossible to use for any real-time activities like polling or even Q&A.
We’ve implemented a new reduced latency function into our RTMP streaming set up, which now brings the latency down to about 12 seconds on average, which is amazing compared to what’s out there today. With such a low latency, no one can really even tell there’s a delay because attendees only see what’s being streamed, not what’s happening in the backstage.
A severe limitation we’ve heard event planners mention over and over again is that they can’t find platforms which simply support concurrent sessions. This is obviously a major limitation, especially given the types of events PheedLoop tends to power which may have 10 or more sessions running at once, or hundreds of sessions per event.
Our new direct RTMP option generates, automatically, unique RTMP keys for each session in your event so it’s incredibly easy to stream as many concurrent sessions as you’d like!
Everyone connecting to your event is using a completely different internet connection and device. A one size fits all solution just doesn’t make sense. At our last user conference, we tested and have now rolled out an adaptive resolution encoding system that allows your attendees to easily and automatically watch your live stream with minimal (ideally none) interruptions. This is better for virtual and hybrid events as people connect to your event from all around the world.
The number of times we’ve facepalmed when we heard a prospective customer telling us that another platform they used forced them to wait for days or weeks before getting a Dropbox link with their event’s recordings is … well it’s too much, and wrong. PheedLoop’s new direct RTMP solution, because it’s built-in to Meet & Stream, means you now get the recordings in the same way. In fact, while your session is being live-streamed, the assets are being created. This means minutes after your session is completed broadcasting, you’ll have access to the files right away.
Even better? You can plug those files back into your session and rely on PheedLoop’s free Upload & Stream system, allowing you to keep your content available and on-demand for up to a year or even continue to monetize your content for months or more.
The RTMP player which plays the HLS stream is naturally built right into PheedLoop and comes with all the benefits that you expect from the virtual event portal, down to things like picture-in-picture mode. However, in some extreme cases often due to some simple user-error on the attendee's end, they're stuck and so are you as the event admin so you need a quick solution. PheedLoop's new standalone player mode cuts through all the fancy features and gives your attendees a super simple foolproof fallback option to enjoy the live stream.
This is one small step we’re taking to help events powered by PheedLoop prepare for a hybrid events future. Streaming is likely to be a cornerstone of the hybrid events experience, so it’s crucial that we ensure it’s as flawless as possible.
Keep an eye out for some amazing product updates coming up to support hybrid events, including technology solutions to help attendees feel confident on-site.