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Hey, whats up, guys? It's Stephanie Liu and Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.
We've got a new episode for you on Lights, Camera, Live®.
And this, this one is going to be hilarious.
I can already tell you that, because Ben... we're already cracking jokes.
And when we crack jokes, oh, you know, it's gonna be good. Because you guys guess what?
This is going to be confessions of an Emmy® Award winning livestreaming producer.
So let's get ready for this. Let me go ahead and introduce you to the one....the only... Mr. Ben Ratner.
Hey, how's it going?
How are you? How you been?
Doing good. Doing good.
So for those of you who don't know, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Ratner over at VidCon which was my first time attending. Have you been before?
So this is my second VidCon. So it's exciting to come back.
And did you speak again?
Wasn't speaking this year, I was doing all sorts of different stuff that wasn't speaking
I was speaking to anyone who would listen to me but nothing stage.
How can no one listen to you? Oh my goodness.
So here you guys, let me go ahead and first introduce you to Ben
because this this gentleman has a very, very amazing and interesting background
that you should all be aware of.
And he's like, Oh my goodness, she's about to get into it.
What did she find online? I found everything that I found everything.
There's some good stuff. Good stuff.
That's very true. Okay, so Ben Ratner, he's a producer, a director and a speaker
and he's worked with some of the most amazing brands out there.
Currently at the moment.
Ben, correct me if I'm wrong, but you are working with Neil deGrasse Tyson on StarTalk.
Is that right?
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson? Yep.
And you have also worked with Al Roker on Roker media. Is that right?
Yep. That's Al Roker entertainment.
It's his own private little production company.
And I was the head of livestreaming there when they were doing that.
You're so funny, you said his own little private production. Like are you kidding me?
Well some people think people think it's NBC. It's not NBC and then I have to explain
so it's his own production company.
I love it. I love it. Alright, so if you guys are tuning in, go ahead and let us know where you're tuning in from.
I'm here in beautiful sunny San Diego, I back home.
Ben, you are in New York City, New York City.
So, as in whoop, whoop, shout out to Chad, who is tuning into the show.
We've also got Mr. Mike Allton and Dean Reynolds tuning in. All right then.
So with this impressive background of yours, right, I always love reaching out to live streamers
that are outside of the social media marketing circle,
because it's always nice to see what people outside of marketing are doing
and how they got to be where they're at.
So having said that, how did you fall into livestreaming producer and director?
Did you just wake up one day and I'm like, you know what, this is what I'm going to do?
Yeah, so what happened?
This actually goes way, way back. I'm 27. Now. I first got interested in media and broadcasting when I was in middle school, we had a TV studio in my middle school somehow.
And I am just framed so cool right now. Do you see that?
I was like a flip of the finger. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. So that was you know, I did my first live broadcast in the morning news show.
That's where I learned all about, you know, TV and broadcasting.
And fast forward to college. I did continue doing live broadcasting all that time.
And while I was in high school in college, there was a public access station in town that just gotta try caster.
So I started doing my first kind of live broadcasting out there with them.
And then, you know, college college ended, my first job right out of school was at a company called compound media.
If you've heard of Opie and Anthony, that's Anthony Cumia, his company used to be kind of a radio shack jack still is just not on Sirius XM anymore.
And there I basically answered a Craigslist that said, come work for a talk show basements.
Wait a second, come work for a talk show in a basement and you're like, "Sure, I'll sign up for that."
Hey, it paid nice. I had no idea who Anthony was at the time. I knew nothing at that time.
But it was you know, interesting. Getting it started, you know, two hours a day.
Yeah, I'll do that. And then what happened is over the next year and a half,
we built from one to our show to a full 40 hour week Talk Show Network.
All live streams, mostly behind a paywall, but that was really where I just started churning out live stuff constantly,
all the time getting into interactivity, getting into some of the you know,
extra features you could do with live streaming and multi cam.
So I did that for about a year and a half. And then at that time, Al Roker his production company was starting a wing of their company called Roker media,
which was focused on live streaming. And this was before Facebook.
Twitter came out with their API's that are you do live streaming at a very kind of easy way.
It was like just just getting started at that time was second your cat was that like when Meerkat was the thing... the only thing.
I was thinking I was I was like, wait, let's do the math here. So that's like when Blab, MeerKat... all that was still happening. Okay,
yeah, what all those things that you just said existed.
And so then I reached out to them. This is the kind of thing I like doing. I love experimenting.
And then I spent the next year with Al Roker Entertainment.
Basically, we probably tested produced over 50 shows over the course of that year.
And seeing what works in live streaming space. We've worked with a lot of kind of third party apps and some of the networks themselves on features.
Trying to make really cool things. I did a really cool show. They're called Mary Armstrong's "Never Settle Show".
I've heard so much about that. Is that the one where you won the Emmy for it.
Me for interactivity.
You just you Okay, you guys, this cracks me up because that's not the only thing that's on his desk then.
And also, you know, a Webby.
Because you've worked with Conan too, right?
I did intern with Conan. Yes.
Okay. Well, I mean, but, but do you have your own bobblehead? I have.
Okay, you know what, you don't have a bobblehead. But what I do have is a wacky inflatable arm flailing to man that I ran out of battery for so it won't flow for you.
That's awesome. So Mike Allton says I would totally have those within arm's reach. Always. Yes.
Like I was telling. They're good for exercise.
So So Mike, Ben and I were talking about Okay, so like when you're when you're speaking to a client,
and you're trying to tell the client all of the logistics and they start to kind of like poo poo on your idea?
Do you just get like your awards? And you're like,
You know what, actually, what's interesting is, let me just pull them back out... this one led to this one.
And Facebook for Facebook, watch... they were doing they were starting to fund projects.
So when I was working at still working at StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson,
they said, "Pitch us a show. We want it to be really interactive. We want it to be using all platforms features."
And I was like, Okay, this is my jam. And then they showed me an example of the show that they wanted.
And it was Mario Armstrong's Never Settle Show, which of course, I just won that Emmy® for that time.
New York Emmy®. So I was like, yeah, and then we ended up winning a Telly for that series, which is pretty cool.
Even ended up winning those awards? Do you submit yourself or just a producer? Like who...what.. how does that even happen?
Marios Marios team sent out to the Emmy®, I think it was kind of on a whim,
you know, maybe it'll happen and it ended up getting nominated for two and for host and for interactivity.
And we won for interactivity, which was awesome. And then the other two, the Telly and the Webby, I personally apply for through the company.
It's nice when you could have people to pay for those because these are any awards are great to have for a bunch of reasons.
But they are also largely just really smart money making operations because everyone wants an award.
It's a couple hundred bucks to apply for each thing for each category within each thing.
And then it costs you money to actually get these physical statutes.
So a lot of times we get one free statue if you win with your application.
But I could you know, my Emmy® costs like 350 for me to buy the Webby cost like 540 to buy.
And so they they they do come at a cost in addition to actually winning.
Oh, that was so funny. Yeah, I only knew of the application fees.
And I was like, okay, so if you're going to do an application fee, like you really got to know your stuff.
And you got to make sure that your content actually leads up to like matches up with the criteria that they're looking for.
But if Yeah, if you have like a big production team, then you would obviously want to get awards for every single person on the team, right?
Yep. So you know, sometimes depending on and sometimes they're nice enough to pay it all depends on what's going on.
Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it.
Actually love to show you one. I love this one. My favorite fact about the Emmy® is at the bottom of the me here.
Let's see if you can read it there. What it says is basically, if you die, you're the people who you leave this you can't sell it and if they don't want it, they have to give it back to the Academy.
Really? Oh my gosh, that is amazing. Okay, so if you guys are just
tuning in, this is confessions of an Emmy® Award winning livestreaming producer and that is Mr. Ben Ratner.
And so we've talked so far about how he first got started into live streaming
and just being a video producer and how that led to some really amazing projects we have with Neil deGrasse Tyson who you're still working with for StarTalk.
Still working with him
Are you gonna bring him out? Like
over here? At the bottom of Neil deGrasse Tyson.
That's funny. Okay, so then... is that the only show that you're working on?
Are you still doing other projects like, what's up...
So I do some freelancing we're actually getting getting back into the beat for season three of the Never Settle show,
which is very exciting, we'll be working with NASDAQ again on that.
And, you know, when I do a bunch of freelancing, consulting, whatever comes up, I like, I just like talking about this stuff. So it's fun.
I mean, yeah, it's not even work when it's so much fun. And you're super passionate about it.
So then I'm curious, what's your gear? Like? What are you using for for both of your shows?
Yeah, so we're lucky enough for the never settle show this season, to be working at NASDAQ studio.
So it's a full complete, you know, TV production studio. You know, everything's very expensive there.
But season one didn't never settle show. We really just bootstrapped that we had a try caster, we brought in a bunch of cameras.
When you're streaming to a live view, we literally had to bring in the entire studio every single week.
So it was a nice upgrade to start working at the never settle at the NASDAQ studio.
That is crazy. Okay, so when does the when does the new show launch? When does that happen?
I don't know an exact date. But definitely sometime before the end of the year, you should be seeing couple episodes of never settle show.
Awesome. So how many people are actually on the team? It was too when you're when you're livestreaming Never Settle Show - How
many people are actually there?
Yeah, so never settle and season one. We had someone basically at every position,
including cameras and everything. We had over 40 people on the technical crew for that
before you even got to the social media and all the other criticism stuff.
This this year, since we started working at NASDAQ, it's a more consolidated crew
just because the equipment allows for it. So we're using all robotic cameras.
We just have one camera operator, we have one audio person, I think in an audio assistant,
you know, graphics person, a director a TD, there's probably like 10 or so people on the tech side that are keeping everything together.
That is crazy. And so I mean, they're all on payroll, obviously,
You know, they're they're very good about all of it was very cool.
Awesome. Awesome. What is... what is one of the most embarrassing things that have ever happened during one of your live streams?
I could tell you the worst. The worst thing that's ever happened to me a live stream. I would love to have you ever heard of the McDonalds maker a variety spectacular.
That is correct. Hi, McDonald's came to us ask us to do the McDonald McRib variety spectacular.
They want us to do something great when I was at Rooker was to do some sort of live stream for them a group coming back in California.
So I pitched them that idea they liked it. We got to the venue, just no internet,
I did not think about getting the right amount of bandwidth, the most interest and there was almost no cellular in the area. It was an absolute disaster.
So we ended up renting this is the first time ever used abandoned cellular watches at a time we use the paradigm to live you know you may talk about these things on the show before.
Yeah. So we've rented the Tarot deck, and then the rental people did not renew their contract.
So it ended at noon, the day of the broadcast for one o'clock broadcast.
I back up to my backup failed in front of all the McDonalds. It was it was a nightmare.
So that was that was the beginning. That was the last time I ever worked without my own LiveU,
or without really, really being confident that the bandwidth on site because that was just like the worst thing I could have had,
Especially when you have a backup plan for your backup plan. And then that falls through.
So I'm familiar with LiveU. But I would love to get your take on LiveU Yeah, even if you have it on hand just to tell peaople what it is and why is it so useful and how you use it.
I should say that they were kind enough to give me this one for free. I do some events with them, this is about 1000 bucks for a LiveU solo, and then there's a monthly charge for it.
Basically, what this does is it takes multiple cellular records. So just really off the shelf,
you know, modem through cell phones, you can do up to two, hardwired and then internet and Wi Fi takes all those signals,
puts them together up in the cloud. So it's basically sending your your video signal
up to four times to make sure that you have the redundancy in your stream.
And if Verizons not doing great, and you get a Verizon and AT&T card,
let's say if AT&T was better in that area, it'll put more of that weight on AT&T.
Hi, Chris Strub here. So um, yeah, it's basically a really reliable
way to have internet wherever you are.
As long as there is even moderate cellular service.
I used to even when there's Ethernet at the venue, because I'm in control of this.
Yeah, I'm not in that new feature yet.
No, yeah. Cuz then like other people could be on this same same Ethernet and all of that good stuff.
So it's kind of like live you is like the, it's like the transformers,
they all come together. And they made like the big like, yeah, and with ever, that's awesome.
Talk about this to techies, if you work in post production editing.
And you know what a raid system is, it basically works in a similar way,
where it's putting more than it's more than a single camera signal on one card.
So you can actually pull out one of your recordings during the broadcast
and the entire broadcast is still safe on the other card. That will cause them any problem.
But the point is with multiple with multiple streams, multiple sources of bandwidth,
you get a lot of extra redundancy, that you don't get running off of just your cell phone,
or just a single Ethernet cable even.
That's brilliant. That's awesome. And so is that something that you could just order online?
Do you have to meet them,
you can even order this thing on Amazon, you could, you might even be able to buy it like a B&H stores,
you can get these things anywhere. And then you literally just you get the distance cards off the shelf.
If you even have them already. You can use existing ones. You can even use like the Wi Fi from your phone as an extra source.
So you can really go go far with it.
And it's So to be clear, because I know the live you connects through in like an HDMI cable or into an external camera.
Yeah. Right. So yeah, they make units that work on HDI HDMI, HDMI and SDI. Okay,
cool. So it's not like you could just take your smartphone and plug it into that no, right.
And you actually can you can get a output from your smartphone via lightning or through USBC and go right into a live you if you want.
In fact, what a lot of people do their software called switcher studio,
for example, where it's like a multi cam. thing. I like to use multiple cell phones and put graphics and switch cameras, all that stuff.
Take that output put into a live use solo, you have an incredibly portable multi camera high production quality solution right off the bat.
I love it because Chris Strub who's obviously watching the show right now,
he breaks the Switcher Studio studio a lot and I've actually used Switcher Studio for one of my other clients when I had to connect like eight different iPads.
Are you still using Switcher Studio? Are you more on your like Teradek, like TriCaster?
So most of my work is TriCaster work nowadays or single camera stuff,
where I do a lot of stuff in the cloud. Now you see this impressive a lot.
I know there's a whole bunch of cloud services that let you add video graphics, etc.
So it really just depends on the game for the right thing. Yeah. So you set your studio for sure.
Very cool. Very cool. Hey, so if you guys have any questions about any of Ben's gears,
any of that good stuff, by all means drop them in the comments,
because this is probably the only time that you're going to get a hold of Ben,
let's be honest, because this man is very busy. And he's got another show. That's good. We get
to spend way too much time on Twitter. So like.
So it's Twitter the best place to get ahold of you.
I spend more of my day on Twitter than I spend a week.
Wow, that sounds like that's easy more than Mr. Chris Strub.
So we'll have to see about that. Alright, so what are your tips on how to make a
scroll stopping Emmy® eligible live stream?
Like, what are your tips for that?
Yeah, my tips are, to me the biggest thing, in addition to the basics of having it look sound and broadcast well.
So I like to talk a little bit about you know, what makes good video what makes good audio,
what makes good bandwidth. But to me, it's using the platform as it was intended to be used,
and treating the audience like they expect to be treated. So this is, you know, you want to ask,
why are you live streaming this, it's possible that what you're doing live streaming might not be even the best option for it.
But you can use a lot of live streaming workflows and technologies to make even a regular video app.
Yeah. I like to me a premiere on Facebook or YouTube is essentially a live stream.
But there's a lot of benefits to doing something not enough to Sara Lee live.
But again, using your life workflow. And the to the audience is still happening in real time.
So for all intents and purposes, it is live. But I think it's like Facebook, use the platform features,
you know, look at comments, you know, look at recommended videos,
see how see how audience interacted be works on that platform,
see what the API is what you do see if you can bring in third party software that let you
really, you know, treat your platform the way it was meant to be treated.
And also, the more you treat the platform, the way the platform wants you to treat it.
In general, you get an algorithmic juice on those things. So back when Facebook was pushing livestreaming,
what you want it to be live streaming all the time, when they add new features, like you know,
they they added pulling a little a couple months years ago, whatever it was,
the more of those you know, you get more of a chance of those things being shared throughout people's feeds.
So So take a look at what they are excited about and do that.
Oh, interesting. So it's like, if they roll out a new future feature,
be one of the first early adopter goes to test it out.
Because they want to have some type of case study to share and show other people.
Is that what you're saying?
Yeah, yeah, they want they want. First of all, they want to see that it's working working nicely.
And there's some product manager that is super excited about this thing.
I've heard for this thing to make it into the platform. And you know, whatever promotion
they're doing to make it happen, be a notification, or extra weight in your in your timelines or whatever.
So make those people happy, and they'll make you happy.
Oh, that's so funny, because that is true. Have you ever gone to Facebook F8, the developer conference F8 yet, okay.
But what you're saying is true. Because I've gone and in like the garage that they have, they have like the actual product lead for that specific product that they've developed.
And as soon as you start getting out with them about how you're using the product that they've been developing their teams for so long,
they become really, really interested, they'll start to open up and answer all of your questions.
I love Love, love, love, love that you brought that. But aside from features, isn't there?
Shouldn't there be some structure to a show?
Yeah, there, you know, I actually look a lot the traditional chaise, you know,
things you might even see on broadcast TV for live stream, because this has been done for, you know, 90 years and,
you know, 90 70 years of TV, you know, over 100 years of radio broadcast.
There are structures that people like content is always King. Yeah. You look at some of the most successful shows that like Facebook's read cable talk.
It's it's largely a traditional talk show on Facebook.
So so look to the past to see what you know what can work, because these things have been working forever. livestreaming is just another tool in your toolbox.
Yes, it has extra interactivity, it has certain extra things you need to think about.
But what everyone else has already done. There's a lot, no need to reinvent the wheel.
Yeah. That's, that's, that's so true. And then, my goodness, I feel like so many questions that I want to throw at you.
But hey, if you guys have any questions, but I'll give you something,
yeah, something specific that you could really only do nowadays,
with a platform like Facebook or YouTube. Live metrics, you can in real time be running analytics
and seeing how many people are watching your retention if they're dropping off.
And these are things that can tell you if your segment should be longer and shorter.
That you know, you could, it's across a lot of money to do that.
And TV, you're minute by minute readings. But even that usually comes after the fact.
So if you take advantage of that you can really cater to what your specific audience is looking for.
Oh, I love that. And so so for you and your role. How much are you a part of the show?
Are you just there for for? Are you there, like for planning for production for editing, repurposing for marketing?
Like how involved are you?
I try to be involved in every stage of the process. I, I started as a tech person, and I realized I enjoyed producing.
But throughout the last five or so years, because of being often the only person in charge of a production are the only person hired to do a specific kind of thing.
I end up in all phases of the process. And I've realized that having your tech person understand the content means that they can tell you
Oh, we can actually do this technical thing to make that cooler work.
Or I have this cool technical thing. Is there something that you might want to do that that suits that from content perspective?
And then I could tell you, you know, because of the understanding I have the social networks
and how all those things work, I could say, well, if you put this thing or do this for after the fact,
it will actually help to bring more people in yada, yada. So you should have a technical kind of streaming type person at every every step of every step of your production.
I love that make sure that you can really integrate. Well.
I love that. Okay, so Chris has a question for you.
And Chris says, Ben, how do you balance the traditional game plan with incorporating live engagement?
Yeah. So a big part of that is testing it out. You have to see what your audience can handle.
Is your office audience, you know, a younger millennial, your millennial audience that's super interested in interactivity.
Are they older people that see that going through their timeline, and they just watch the damn thing?
You know, are they watching on mobile compared to desktop? Is there a place?
You know, art is the ways in which they can interact? Easy? Is it hard?
What's the barrier to entry for interactivity? Yeah, those are the things that I'm thinking about it?
Because honestly, there, I would say that there's kind of two buckets of live streaming on social networks.
You have your one way stuff, and you have two way stuff.
One way stuff isn't that that's just taking, you know, a show and broadcasting in real time.
Yeah, there's, there's a whole lot of benefits to that there's the community engagement on the side,
you don't necessarily need to interact with them to make it a an engaging experience.
That's better than just watching on TV. Before livestreaming people were live tweeting shows, that's something that people like love to do.
It's that second screen experience that you're just taking a little more control over.
And then if you want something truly interactive, you want to ask, first of all the does it need to be interactive?
Are there benefits to being interactive? Because I see a lot of live streaming for the sake of live streaming.
And that made sense for sure back when it was being pushed by Facebook, Twitter, by these people who really wanted it to take off?
Yeah, it was great at the time. Nowadays, you know, you don't get those notifications for every single stream,
you don't get the same kind of algorithm who's just for having a trillion comments in your stream.
So it should really compliment and suit what you're working on.
And if it doesn't really try something else, or don't do that interactivity at all.
Yeah, I feel like that's contrary to what you hear a lot, because people get really excited about it.
And that's been the rule for years. But you need to just test and see what your audience is interested in and what really suits your content the best.
And when you say interactivity, aside from like, showing the comments on the screen, doing intros, outros, and all that all that stuff, are there.
Do you do like interactive polls in your in any of your live streams like
So? So there's various things like polls in the live stream, things like looking in the countdown,
necessarily putting them up, but seeing the field what people are talking about if there is relevant topics to bring up.
But there's also interactivity before your broadcast.
Yeah, I'm finding out what talk talk about beforehand, people send you things that they want to talk about.
We will do like photo contests before when we did the wheel of science series with our talk.
Interact. interactivity isn't just during that broadcast.
I love that. Oh, my gosh, can you please repeat that for the people in the back?
Not just for the broadcast. It is before during after it's even in pre production before you're in the before the broadcast version.
So there you go. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Because that's one of the things that most people think about.
They're just like, Oh, well, I'm just going to go live. And then we'll, we'll see what happens.
And then some people just kind of stopped because they realize, well, no one showed up.
It's like, well, if no one knows, how can they go? And how can they show up?
So what's your kind of like promotional plan for your shows?
How do you get people buzzing about it before they before you actually go live?
Yeah, I'm a big fan of scheduled broadcasts, big fan of just promoting on social media promoting before,
during and especially during, you know, as you come up with a new topic,
send out a new tweet about that thing, but I didn't, not necessarily a Facebook posts,
but maybe in the comments, pin, a new comment on Facebook that says now we're talking about this thing? Yeah. Those are the kinds of things that I feel work pretty well.
I see some people do events, I don't really see a whole lot of, to me, it's a second step in the chain.
Yeah, that just, you know, I'd rather than RSVP to that broadcast on the actual broadcast itself.
Yeah. And I totally agree with that. And I understand that one of the one of the reasons
why like I do an event for the show is because if I know someone RSVP for the previous Instagram event,
like let's say with Jen Herman, and I know that Instagram, you know,
is going to drop up, drop something new, the negative, always re invite them to the next one.
And it's for advertising. So that's always good to. So Mike Alton loved your comment to interactivity is not just for the broadcast.
So yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes. Alright, so let's talk about what are some where do you find your ideas?
How do you say like, okay, we'll have science and all these other cool things.
Where do you come up with those ideas?
You know, so a lot of things just come up randomly as jokes and calls.
But then we're like, oh, maybe we should take that a little more seriously.
This one wasn't a live stream. But for July 4 this year, this is probably two weeks before July 4, we started talking. We were on a call.
They said we might be able to do something with that Takeru Kobayashi if you don't know he won the Nathan's hot dog eating contest a million years.
He used to be the biggest thing and then he got kicked out of the competition
was the whole dirty disastrous thing. Now he doesn't get along with nice and started his own game.
my thought process was, well, what would be something they could do with him?
That would be counter programs, the actual July 4, Nathan's hot dog eating contest,
which is big in New York. I don't know how big it is elsewhere.
But yeah, they kick the hot dog and 10 minutes, it's nuts. So I said, What would be the weirdest thing to counter program that with?
Okay, I just thought, what if we just had the world's fastest hot dog eat or eat a single hot dog for 10 minutes? We just had him drag out the eating of a hot dog.
And it was just a throwaway comment that became just this kind of hilarious,
you know, viral potentially type thing because it was just so obscure.
Okay, so then like,
what did he do? Okay, because I'm in in my head. I'm envisioning.
He's either holding this teeny hot dog and he's trying to very slowly or he took it up a notch
and he got like a fork and a knife and he
he was slowly doing it. He was sniffing it. He was really for the first time is like savoring food and is now trying all the condiments, the whole thing.
But the worst thing about this though, it was a really fun day. And everything. We go out. This is July 3 2019.
Do you remember anything thing that happened on the internet on July 3 2019?
And when you say the internet, I don't know why I automatically thought of like Kim Kardashian breaking the internet. I don't know. You tell me.
Well, your your second half of that is correct. That is the day that Facebook and Instagram completely went down this year.
For like 12 hours a day is distribution just completely went away.
Because we couldn't post the thing. I'm pretty good with it on Twitter,
but it was just one of those like, dammit, internet.
Yeah. So okay, and that. So that's a good segue. What do you do that if like your primary Facebook platform is gone?
Like what other? What are your what's your default? Where do you go to?
Yeah, you need to think about the audience's that you have.
And see if it's even worthwhile to do it elsewhere. If you have only created a Facebook audience,
you know, dependent, depending on the stakes of your broadcast, it may make sense not to broadcast live and just put it up on demand later,
in fact, so that's what we did with the McDonalds stream. We couldn't we just couldn't broadcast that I recorded it went back to the hotel room a couple hours later.
And then we were able to put it up that way. But it didn't have you know, it was it was late,
the timing was off. for a bunch of reasons that didn't quite work.
But at least you know, to me, I'd rather get to that same audience, even if it's a little bit later in the day.
Yeah, that makes sense where you like, so when that happened with the whole McDonald's thing where you just kind of like I'm in my cave, I am in my hotel room.
Do not talk to me. Were you like totally Golem?
It was not a good day in my life.
So sorry. That is true. I mean, yeah, I mean, you cannot, I would imagine that you wake up every morning just feeling like the bomb.com. Right?
Not sure if I give myself those adjectives.
Okay, so then other ways that you spark your creativity starts off in like email chains up,
you know, jokes, like any other programs that you watch that you're just like,
Hey, I would love to see how I could translate that into live video.
Yeah, so I, I'm a big fan of talk shows, you know, I'm a big coal bear,
you know, the cone and those kinds of fans? And everything they do, I always think how is that going to work for the talent that I'm working with. And it's kind of a mesh of that.
And a lot of times it comes from talking with the talent, see if they have something that they wanted to do, and just haven't had the platform to do or haven't had the resources to do.
What I find a lot nowadays is that, especially with older people, they don't realize that this stuff is pre easy, you know, low barrier to entry.
So I do a whole lot of just bringing people's ideas to life in ways they didn't realize could happen.
And I don't blame them necessarily, because it's only been about five or so years, since this stuff was at the level and efficiency that you can do this way.
And live streaming, you're really only talking three, three and a half years of API rtmp,
you know, social network based streaming. So we're still doing the game, but you know, getting them aware of the things that you can do.
It's really, really just excellent. That's good. Yeah.
You know, usually when I when I sit down with a client, they're like, hey, so Stephanie, we want to do this live stream. What can we do?
Usually, the first question is like, what are you imagining, and I'd rather just have them like, word vomit everything that they want to do and not limit their imaginations
and just like be creative, instead of just trying to put them in a box and like, Oh, well, you know, you could do this here's package a package be like, how do you approach it?
Um, no, let me let me give you example, with Mario with Mario's show. So I met Mario at a meetup.
It was like a future of TV meetup where I heard about him at a meetup.
And then I did a stream when I was a broker it was with Al and was with Gary Veynerchuck in America was in those comments there.
And he was like, oh, how did you do that? super cool. At that time, I don't think even saw livestreaming multi cam, because we were one of the first people to be able to do it. Wow.
And then he told me a story about how he's been trying to do the show forever.
He's got rejected networks, yada, yada. And I said, Well, why don't we just do this thing dirt cheap with a try caster? A couple cameras?
You know, there's there's almost no barrier to entry here. Yeah.
And that was what got going. That was really the way that you know,
his lifelong dream was able to happen all of a sudden, just because, you know, someone made him aware that it was possible,
as an option. Yeah, it's an option. And then you know, the questions are,
how much do you want to spend? You know, we can do this thing with one camera.
We can do it with eight cameras we did with eight cameras.
Next year, you know, we were able to create partnerships or betters to do that kind of thing.
Another example of this is a show we did called bold. It's still on the air right now. It's kind of like a morning show for millennials new show kind of thing.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder. She's one of those talking heads on cable you see a lot she wanted to have kind of this, her kind of new show.
They brought her into Roker. Again. This is possible.
We can you to this studio here, which actually was the studio where I that I built for compound media and Anthony.
Wow, that went out? Well, we said all we need to do is plug you into this, it's here, it's ready to go.
Let's figure out what the content is and how to make this thing work. So I just having access to knowing this stuff makes all the difference in the world.
And so then, so you know everything about the tech, obviously,
and you're wicked smart about that. How involved are you in the content ideation process?
Like you're usually involved in just for like, Oh, this is one show that we want to do?
Are you are you sitting at the table? And you're like, we want to create a series,
we want to create a show with more than one episode?
Yes. So those are the conversations I had I try to get again involved in these conversations as soon as possible and make sure I stay in them as long as possible.
And yeah, things like, Is it a one opposite of series? Is it monthly? Is it weekly, those are like some basic things that you know,
I understand as a tech person, what it takes to get that done. And I also understand, you know,
we can be flexible with that we can try it daily, we can try a weekly, we can see how the audience
isn't direct. So it depends on budget, it depends on availability, and depends on audience.
I mean, those are all things that you need to take into account when you do this kind of thing.
And I'm just, I'm randomly create a person sometimes. So I try to throw it ideas.
It's it's sometimes hard to get producers and companies to realize that a tech person can have ideas.
But I'm a person, I watch a lot of stuff, I see a lot of stuff. There's there's not a whole bunch of original stuff out there. Everything's a take on something else.
There's eight shows with comedians in cars right now.
So you know, you find your take your perspective on something that already works great,
or something that someone else isn't doing great that you know, you can make great.
And I try to encourage these people do these kinds of things,
because there's just so much opportunity with with the, you know, the barrier to entry dollars.
Oh, I love that. I love that. And so my cotton is already jotting notes down furiously
as he's getting ready to drop a new show next week. So like, I love like, this is like the perfect timing.
This is very serendipitous
for you. Yeah, this
makes doing a show next week. What can you make them right through just notes? Exactly.
So Mike's doing this show next week, so I need you to come on the show.
So okay, so we've talked about different studios, does everything have to be in a fancy studio?
Oh, no, almost nothing does. I mean, a lot of single camera streams, there's a lot you can do with those you can from your phone.
Nowadays, you can even add graphics, you can roll up the video, you can add lower thirds,
you can start stop your screen, you can throw comments on screen. There's plenty of apps that do that there's also a lot of cloud apps.
Even just going from your laptop people don't just because it was the the livestreaming started on mobile,
for social streaming worked its way to computers, via rtmp and sending stuff to Facebook.
They're only in the last like even year to do they open up webcams to live streaming,
that's really the thing is like he can became really popular, but only recently.
So you can do a pretty solid live stream just just like you're doing right now,
you're using cloud software you're using, you're using things that make this a more than engaging stream.
What I what I get really excited about is the future of kind of remote broadcasting.
And a lot of people call me broadcasting remote at home broadcasting.
Yeah, tell you were basically camera in one location, broadcast from that location, producer somewhere else, your livestream producer, everyone else somewhere else.
It means that, you know, if I were to, if I were to be a you know, a talk show host in Missoula, but but your engineer could be in New York, where there's a lot of TV people,
it's a it's an excellent way to get the talent that you want to get the crew that you want without having to be on site. And you can do this with multiple cameras.
You could even send live you signals up into the cloud, bring them back down.
And you can either use cloud software to stage tend to presto, or you could bring it back into like a try cast or your your existing control room setting.
And that's a way just to take even a basic camera stuff from a cell phone and turn into a whole live broadcast.
There's the show live PD, which is kind of the extreme example of this.
It's on a&e Friday nights for Friday and Saturdays from nine to midnight.
They use they use bonded cellular, and they have 30 cameras and eight precincts around the country. And they're doing basically a live version of the show cops.
But that's the extreme version of what you can do at home.
I mean, where two people talking and then you you're throwing up comments and stuff.
That's, you know, it's all the same thing, just the different levels.
That it's a it's a live cop chasing show. Is that what you just said? Or did I just said addicting it's
Yeah, it's they're not chasing cops. They're chasing criminals are criminals, depending on who they end up. Yeah.
Oh, that's so see. I'm a cord cutter. But now you've actually just got me interested in into like,
oh, okay, I want to check this out. Is that available? Like?
It's, it's um, I mean, only on you know, streaming, you know, like slang, things like that it
Yeah, they put clips up online. But this is this actually goes the value of live.
This is the number one show on cable on Friday and Saturday nights. It beats out.
Sometimes it beats out football, like it's it's that kind of because it's live.
You don't know what's happening next. Yeah, it's got that value.
Oh my gosh, I mean, how did okay. You're talking about cops, criminals, legal plus livestreaming.
I feel like that is like the epic that could be the can be the craziest show ever.
How do you get away with all
this there's so that particular show, it's under the guise of news and live broadcasting
Hey, basically open sourcing. That's kind of how they get away with it.
But the reason that you have started, the reason that the creator came up with that show is years ago,
people cop started to live stream some of their pursuits some just randomly throughout the day,
they surely would like to be a cop.
This is around a lot of the controversy around cops. And they were trying to you know,
livestreaming once you create your own narrative, you're your own content producer.
And so they saw what that was doing. It's obviously engaging,
because you don't know what's gonna happen next, but also just brings you into everyone's lives.
This is very popular in Twitch, you have IRL streamers and real live streamers that just, you know,
follow you that that you know, you follow them their entire day, just because people are interesting.
And then you know, they were able to transition that from periscope to you know, actual TV broadcasts.
Wow. Okay, so you and Chris, by the way, I feel like are... Have you guys met? Have you not met?
Right? We have met on a couple occasions.
Okay, cuz I'd like you to need to meet you. You both love Twitter and this this live PD thing,
which I think is absolutely hilarious. One question that Jim Fuhn has for you, Ben
is have you heard of StreamYard? Have you
heard of that live streaming platform?
Ever not use stream yard? What I will say is more and more of these pop up all the time.
Some are getting bigger, some are consolidating. Their you know, I don't know exactly what streamer it is.
I know what the features are that I'm looking for in any project that I do.
And then I look to see what platforms are using those well, which ones aren't
necessarily using those as well. Which one had the correct combination of things that I need?
Yeah, usually put together patchwork for each project.
Do you Okay, and I have been wishing you for this for so long.
And I might just break down and create it myself. But do you have like a cheat sheet that says this platform has all of these features.
And this one has all of these features? And
you know, back when I was a broker I had that I did that things changed directly.
I just don't have time. Which is every time I start a project.
They looked at my go tues and I look to see, you know, what are they doing now?
And then also, what has Facebook broken? Because they want to be annoying with their API rules.
So like I you know, I wasn't raised for restrain.
Let's see everyone that does the re stream.
Live. Yeah, I'm sorry, the switchboard for streaming to multiple platforms.
And all of a sudden Facebook said, Hey, you can't do that. If you're going to stream to Facebook.
You can only stream to Facebook and nowhere else.
So they caught on to that. But only on switchboard not on Ustream.
window. No, no, everyone had to deal with it. So basically, I don't I haven't checked recently.
But you have to do rtmp streams, do it around, basically, instead of API streams.
Yeah. So you know, it's just one of the things that things are constantly changing.
Yeah. So you have to stay on top of it consistently, because everything is always evolving.
Hey, you guys, if you're loving the show as much as I am, because I've I've completely geek out with Ben, by all means, go ahead and drop them in the comments.
Because otherwise, Chris is going to talk all about live PD.
Also, in the comments, right quotes about things that I didn't say I want to see if we could just just incredibly fake fact that live streaming.
See those in the comments?
What would you say to someone that's still on the fence about like, Oh, I don't like the sound of my voice.
I don't know how I look on camera. I shouldn't do live video. What do you what do you usually say?
What do I say? First of all, what I like about a lot of people expect that it's going to feel like you're you know, like you're selling at the Beacon Theater, and you have to talk in front of 3500 people.
Yeah, think about that. You just talking to the webcam, you know, to one person on the end. In fact, I often suggest the CO hosts in those situations.
So when you can call us up at someone you can talk to.
Because that can help you kind of feel like you're in a smaller, easier situation.
I like that. I like that. Because another question for you forum.
Miss Amanda Robinson. She's saying what's the difference between rtmp streams and API streams?
Sure. rtmp is the protocol by which livestreaming works.
So you're always actually somehow using at least if you're streaming from a computer,
for the most part rtmp it's the thing that takes basically, your video brings it from your source,
clear destination, or at least to the cloud where it gets turned into another format.
an API uses rtmp but also adds on features. So when you start your Facebook stream from,
let's say, something like switchboard or something like vid press or something like I bet you, whatever, whatever service you mentioned, there, they're digging into the API.
So basically, Facebook is giving them access to their features.
So you can use these, you use this magic code to connect to that.
And you could put this into your software, your hardware.
So right now you're using what are you using into the Skype this? Yeah, are you using he can Stephanie cam, or going to Facebook and saying I want to stream live.
So here's the button to go live. Here's the thing that lets you collect your comments.
And here's the thing once you put them on screen, so So all of that is basically using platform features that Facebook provides.
And API's have a lot of things that you might not even know about.
It lets you get things like analytics lets you get you know, things like profile pictures,
all sorts of stuff that you could dig into these things, but
got it. Okay, here's another one from Jim Ben says to use an avatar if you have a face for radio.
No, that's only only halfway there suffer called Adobe Character Animator that lets you in real time anime yourself.
They did this at a live episode of The Simpsons if you watch go bear if you've seen cartoon Donald Trump that was actually a live person sitting in front of a camera
as he's being the enemy you set up your your feet you see sort of your body
and then it emotion tracks you and it gives you the the talk
and lips it follows your eyes around yeah actually extremely animation.
What that is so cool. I Are you do you plan on doing any of that stuff anytime soon?
I don't always have a need for that but yeah, occasion is
a Christian Job says can you give us a fake facts about Mario and Nicole Armstrong?
Yeah, they can fly.
Because their arms are strong.
I love it. I love it. I love it. So Amanda says thank you Ben. Very very helpful.
Yeah, see this is why you needed to meet Ben Ben is awesome.
Hey, you know Amanda you jumped on late so I don't think you actually saw his me
Can you show her your Emmy® again?
until I got I just got this will be a couple weeks ago but I you said he said Conan just kind
of sitting up here and i na me. That's awesome. When you have lobbies you're like obligated to do weird things with them.
Why you obligated to do weird things that though?
Because everyone like once you get me is it? How do you use it?
You put on display? Is it a paperweight? You put it in your bathroom?
Is it like something that you used to poke people with? Like?
I really like I feel like there should be a spoof of you like on the subway just like poking people like
Oh, I'm sorry, do my me just poke you.
Better go? Well,
I know. Exactly. They'll probably take it away from you.
Like you see that bottom inscription on the very bottom. It says no pokey on the subway.
Go, go go. So let's one last question. Because you've been so gracious with your time is for those that are interested in submitting their shows to award submission sites?
What should you look for it? Because do they always give you the criteria for what they're looking for?
As they're judging nominations? If you're paying like 300 to $500 per submission?
I mean, you gotta be smart about it, right?
Yeah, so look to last year's winners and the year before, those are always up.
So it's the kinds of people that one, when I submitted this for this Telly award for the World Science series with Star talk. I could have put us in a science category, I could have put us in the interactive category.
So I looked to see the one that better based off of the people who applied last year, and also said,
I think I can be these but I can't be these. And so that's kind of my strategy for choosing where to go.
And then the question as to which awards in general to go for my philosophy and awards is they're,
they're important to the people that think they're cool.
And they're meaningless and expensive to the people that Dutch me is a very strong category p everyone knows me, even though mine is just a New York Regional Emmy®.
There's tremendous marketing value that to me, I've gotten business because people see in me or I can poke them within me.
You know, babies, a lot of people know the Webby Awards, a lot of people know the telly awards,
but there's just a whole bunch of these kind of like money sucking words that not a lot of people know about easy to win. If you want some hardware on your desk, that's great.
But I don't necessarily find the same value to those as a producer, as someone who's going after new business.
So make sure that and only push these things to people that are going to be interested.
If this person you know if you're talking to someone who's not in the media industry,
don't show them a Webby. They, it's I've got to say first of all, the dumbest looking statue will follow them.
We will trim that.
Yeah. But but in the media industry, web, these are incredibly cool if you work in digital media,
you know what websites so you know, there's value in that for media industry,
but there's not going to be value in that if you're doing a live stream crew doctor's office.
So kind of pick and choose the things that you want to go for.
And think about the reasons that you want to use them in your life.
That is awesome. That is awesome. Well, then, I this I it's been a while since I've live stream
and I can't believe how much I've laughed. So thank you so much for just being
such an informative guests completely absolutely entertaining. How can people just stay in touch with you?
Because you're doing some kick ass stuff? What do you
how do they best thing follow me on twitter at Ben makes TV.
I spend way too much time there. So to answer any questions over there,
and so like PD is tomorrow, Friday,
Friday, Friday and Saturday nights and at night.
Will you and Chris she like live tweeting that?
Yeah, depends if I'm, I should be watching. Yeah.
I love it. I love it. I love it. All right, you guys. That is Mr. Ben Ratner.
Obviously doing some amazing things full of knowledge. If you're looking for a speaker, a video producer, a livestreaming producer for your next next show.
Talk to that man over there. He knows his stuff. He knows that he knows he knows.
But PS By the way, like are you? My God? Are you speaking any other time that yours at conferences and I
don't think I have anything scheduled at this point. And if you want me to again,
I love talking about me and other things that are me so
well, let's get you to Facebook f8 because I would I would totally love to see you just corner when
I like the product managers for live video. Like stop messing with the API.
I would totally make that into a gift. That's good. All right, then. Thank you so much.
Thank you everyone for tuning in. D like everyone, Amanda, happy birthday. Happy birthday, Chris. Okay, bye. Oh,
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Ready to take your live stream show to the red carpet?
Just imagine what it would be like to win an Emmy® for live streaming!
How does one even transform their live stream from invisible to invincible?
In this episode, special guest Ben Ratner, joins Lights, Camera, Live® to share what he's learned from a decade of work in television and online interactive video to make your live stream out of this world.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN
Behind the Lens: What Really Happens on Set
Tips & Tricks to Make A Scroll-Stopping Live Stream
Seriously Easy Ways to Spark Your Creativity
ABOUT BEN RATNER
Ben Ratner is a multimedia content creator with nearly ten years working in live television, media production, social media and live streaming production. Ben is the video producer for StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He formerly worked with Al Roker's Roker Media, Compound Media, and Conan on TBS. You can follow him and chat about live production and dollar pizza at @BenMakesTV.
What is Ben Ratner’s go-to live streaming gear?
Season one filming for the Never Settle show was very bootstrapped.
Ratner mentioned that the team brought in a bunch of cameras and used TriCaster to produce the show.
They literally had to bring in their equipment every week for setup and breakdown.
“We’re lucky enough for the Never Settle show this season,” Ratner shared, “to be working at the NASDAQ studio. It’s a full complete television production studio.”
How many people did you have on staff to produce the Never Settle Show?
“We had someone basically at every position, including cameras and everything. We had over 40 people on the technical crew for that,” Ratner explained.
Now that Ratner is working at the NASDAQ studio, the team is more consolidated thanks to high-end equipment and robotic cameras.
“We just have one camera operator, one audio person, I think an audio assistant,” he added. “You know, graphics person, a director a TD, there's probably like 10 or so people on the tech side that are keeping everything together.”
What is the worst thing that ever happened to you on set?
“McDonald's came to us ask us to do the McDonald’s McRib variety spectacular,” Ratner shared.
After pitching an idea to the team and getting buy in, it wasn’t until Ratner made a startling discovery… the venue had no internet.
“I did not think about getting the right amount of bandwidth - there was almost no cellular in the area,” he explained. “It was an absolute disaster.”
To make up for the lack of internet, Ratner and team rented a Teradek and just when they thought they were in the clear, they encountered another stumbling block.
The company that they rented the Teradek from had not renewed their contract.
“Their contract ended at noon on the day of the broadcast and our shoot was set for a one o’clock broadcast,” he explained. “The backup to my backup failed in front of all the McDonald’s team.”
As you can imagine, it was a total nightmare for Ratner and the team but there was a lesson to be learned.
Never forget to check internet bandwidth and availability.
Ever since then, Ratner always has his own LiveU Solo unit on hand.
What is the LiveU Solo?
The LiveU Solo video encoder offers one-touch, wireless live streaming directly from your camera to popular online platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube and Twitch.
“It takes multiple cellular cards and you can combine them with a hardwired ethernet cable and wifi in the cloud to send your video signal up to four times to make sure that you have the redundancy in your stream,” Ratner explained.
What are your tips on how to make a scroll stopping Emmy® eligible live stream?
“To me, it's about using the platform as it was intended to be used,” Ratner replied. “And it’s about treating the audience the way they want to be treated.”
If you’re live streaming on Facebook, Ratner encouraged viewers to take advantage of the features that Facebook has to offer.
“Look at comments, recommended videos, and see how audience interactivity works on the platform,” suggested Ratner.
What advantage does live streaming have that traditional network television doesn’t?
“When producing a live stream, you can pull in live metrics in real time,” highlighted Ratner.
During a broadcast, you can see how many viewers are joining the broadcast and how many have dropped off.
If you pay close attention to those analytics, then you can get an idea if your segment should be shorter or longer.
In regards to interactivity, what should brands be mindful of?
Ratner had these tips to share when it came to making a live stream interactive:
Are there real benefits to being interactive? Interactivity should complement your show, not distract from the message.
Discover what your audience can handle. It’s important to gauge whether your audience skews younger or older. Do viewers want to engage with the broadcast or sit back, relax, and just view the program?
What is the barrier to interactivity? Do you want engagement to be one-way or two-way?
Interactivity isn’t just during the broadcast. It’s during pre-production, broadcasting, and post event production. Ratner encourages producers to engage with viewers before the show to get audience buzzing before you start streaming.
What’s your top tip for promoting a live stream?
“I'm a big fan of scheduled broadcasts,” Ratner chimed in, “I’m a big fan of just promoting on social media promoting before, during and especially during, you know, as you come up with a new topic.”
Ratner also suggested sending out a tweet and pinning a Facebook comment to get viewers engaging before the broadcast has aired.
Want more tips, check out Facebook Live: Guide to Promotions and Collaborations.
What excites you about live streaming today?
“What I what I get really excited about is the future of remote broadcasting,” answered Ratner.
“You basically have a camera in one location, broadcast from that location, producer somewhere else, your livestream producer, everyone else somewhere else.”
Sound familiar? 😇
He continued to explain, “It's an excellent way to get the talent that you want to get, the crew that you want without having to be on site, and you can do this with multiple cameras.”
Loved this episode? Get more behind-the-scenes tips by joining the Social Media Strategist Group!
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