VRT News Tries Out 360 Livestream On Facebook

VRT News Tries Out 360 Livestream On Facebook
June 9, 2017

From structured Q&A interviews to spontaneous event coverage, news organisations have been experimenting with livestreaming on social media, aiming to better connect with vast numbers of people all around the world.


For example, CBC Calgary recently broadcast a 90 minute Facebook Live to stir debate among viewers, IBTimes UK has used the platform for its reporters to learn new skills, and ABC News has used it to cover main political events usually reserved for television.


Indeed, the ability to go live on Facebook straight from a smartphone has allowed publishers to tell stories in different ways. But will the introduction of Live 360, Facebook's spherical livestreaming offering, change the way publishers use the platform?


Tim Verheyden, journalist and host at VRT News, went live in 360 during the protests against President Trump in Brussels, interviewing those involved in the rally over a 25 minute stream.


"This was a perfect story for us because there was so much going on – it let the viewer see what was happening all around us, and feel like they were at the protest themselves," he said, explaining that a regular Facebook Live may not have been as immersive.


"You have to be in a place where something is happening, otherwise it has no added value."


Armed with a Ricoh Theta S, Open Broadcasting Studio Software (OBS) and a strong internet connection, the team was able to go live from the front of the Stock Exchange. This was an area where there were a multitude of different camera crews, and the team from VRT could ensure protesters knew they would be filmed where they were standing.


"I wanted to walk around and take the viewer with me, so I stood in front of the camera, then had interviewees to my right and left so I could walk in a circle to talk to them as the stream went on," he said.


"We also had a group of interns going out in the crowd to find more people to talk to. It was really quite difficult to manage but we did it."

The crew had a problem with the sound as there was a microphone failure during the stream, so audiences could only hear the sound from the laptop connected to the 360-degree camera.


Although it is possible, the team decided not to cut between different 360-degree livestreams in order to ensure their first attempt streaming in this spherical format went as smoothly as possible.


Questions asked by the audience were intercepted by the newsroom, but Verheyden said it would have been too much for him to deal with on the first attempt.


"It's like learning to walk again, to learn my job again, but I think it can be a great tool if you manage to use it at the right time on the right story."


He explained that audiences need to learn how to engage with this form of storytelling as well in order for the medium to be used within journalism.


"I want to continue doing Live 360s, we learned from this because it wasn't perfect. But then again it shouldn't be because this is Facebook and it can be a little raw and rough," he said.


"We need to choose events where things are happening but people aren't moving too much. When things are moving around you, the pace of the experience is too fast for the viewer."

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