Piping Live! celebrated its 20th year in August 2023. We helped the festival solve their digital technology problems. Going beyond live streaming, we produced a digital event experience with its best production values, audiences and revenues to date.
Created by the National Piping Centre in 2004, Piping Live! serves the community that gathers in Glasgow in the run up to the World Pipe Band Championships. Over 20 years, it has become world-renowned for both traditional piping and contemporary folk music. Piping Live! encourages people to come to Glasgow before the attend “The Worlds”. While there, they immerse themselves in the city’s culture. It’s a valuable cultural tourism asset because it brings more people to Glasgow, who stay for longer and spend more money. People come to the festival because they have watched our coverage. So we want to give the online audience the best possible experience.
Over 10 Years Live Streaming Premiere Piping
We started working with the National Piping Centre in 2012. Over the years we have helped them with live streaming and filming. Our content package comprises competitions, concerts, talks and workshops. We helped the Piping Centre the festival go virtual in 2020. They wanted to take things up a level this year. We helped the Piping Centre present a valuable programme for traditional music fans around the world.
Overcoming Production Issues
Problems we helped the Piping Centre solve included:
- Increasing production values,
- Migrating to a new “over the top” platform for selling access to the live programmes,
- Rapid turnaround of recorded material.
To enhance production values, the National Piping Centre installed a new lighting rig, fitted black drapes around the stage and blackout blinds on the skylights to control the lighting. We made the most of this by bringing our cinema cameras as part of our live multi-camera rig.
in the past, we used TV documentary/current affairs style camcorders. We have worked with operators provided by the Piping Centre in the past. Despite their lack of experience operating cameras, they have an intimate knowledge of the piping world. So camcorders were a good option because they are relatively easy to use. However, we spent a bit of time training them in how to use our Canon C300s and they soon got into it. The results were, according to the Piping Centre, “immeasurably better” than ever before. Audience reaction validated this rewarding feedback.
Enhancing The Live Streaming Experience
Livestream was our professional streaming platform of choice since 2012. We found it to be the highest quality, most robust and reliable. We always used it, even when streaming to social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Since Vimeo acquired Livestream in 2017, it has integrated live streaming services. We had used both Vimeo Live and Livestream until this year, when we finally left Livestream.
We like Vimeo and make good use of its features but we have also been big fans of Castr since 2020. For The Worlds, Cowal Gathering and Piping Live! 2023, we sent an SRT stream to Castr and then relayed it to Vimeo and YouTube. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make much sense to you — how we did it doesn’t matter, as long as the end result is good. But, if you want to learn more about it, check out our blog and publications and get in touch.
The Piping Centre have been making more of their own Vimeo account in the past few years too. In 2022 they moved to Vimeo OTT (formerly VHX), a subscription and pay-per-view platform. OTT stands for “over the top”, meaning the way you package and monetise your content. The Piping Centre asked us to help them determine how to use Vimeo OTT to make sure moving to it was their best option. We know the technology, terminology and workflow involved in producing, publishing and promoting audio and video content. So we were happy to figure out how to get the most out of the platform.
Supplying On Demand
Turning recorded content around quickly is part of our normal process. We record material “as live” where possible, as if it were a live broadcast. This involves vision-mixing cameras, directing camera operators and mixing the sound live. We make individual recordings of everything so we can re-edit any part of the programme. Or we can pass it on to an editor our client is already working with, which happens sometimes.
In this way, we were able to provide the recordings to the Piping Centre’s digital producer very soon after each event. He was then able to get publish the programme well in advance of it becoming available on demand. There aren’t usually many barriers to us working like this. Time and space limitations can get in the way — sounds a bit Doctor Who, doesn’t it? But, we are used to working in unusual, challenging environments. We find a way through challenges.
Presenting a lively festival to an online audience in a way that energises them takes careful consideration and experience. We loved working with the National Piping Centre to make the online offer the most compelling yet for the audience of Piping Live!