Virtual sessions can be created in the app to accommodate any situations when your participants or even speakers are unable to travel to the venue in person for your event.
By filming the sessions at the venue, you can broadcast the experience in real-time to your app users by creating live streams. The streams can then be associated to your sessions in the form of webcasts, therefore allowing app users to easily attend the sessions remotely.
If the session speakers are also unable to be physically present at the venue, they can film themselves in order to livestream their participation to a session for the app users to see.
The app users will attend the virtual session via the web app on their laptop. This is for their comfort of use as they would typically be seeing the session feed on a large screen, but also so they can continue to interact with the app, as the session video feed is displayed next to the actual web app interface.
Below is a brief video where you can see a webcast being created and then shared via a feed, as well as how this looks for the app user.
In this article, we'll provide some information on the following:
- What you need - what you need in order to set-up virtual sessions in your app.
- Producing the AV stream content - some basic information for filming the sessions and producing the AV content that you will stream for your sessions.
- Creating the live streams - how to actually create the live stream using a streaming platform
- Configuring a webcast with a session - how to actually add a webcast to a session (including the stream).
- How the virtual session looks in the web app - what your app users will see when joining the remote session.
- Tips and tricks for your live streams - some additional information you should keep in mind for your virtual sessions.
What you need
You'll need to have arranged the following in order to create and deliver virtual sessions in your app:
- The necessary AV equipment to film your sessions at the venue, or a vendor that can take care of this for you.
- A streaming platform in order to create the streams (if you do not have a vendor to take care of this).
- App user will access the app via the web app, using a laptop, and will need a strong internet connection (at least 1Mbit/s).
Alternatively, you can use a third-party conferencing tools such as Zoom, WebEx, Skype or Google Hangouts, to allow remote speakers to screen cast any content or presentations they'd like to share and then use SpotMe mobile app as an interactivity and content companion.
Producing the AV stream content
You'll need to arrange for the sessions to be staged and filmed when they take place. Should your organization not have the necessary resources available for this, you can choose to call upon a professional third party vendor to assist take care of this.
By doing so, the vendor would take care of all the staging and filming set-up, and provide you with ready-to-use URLs for you to add to the virtual sessions in the workspace agenda.
Creating the live streams
Like for any event, you will have created your standard agenda with all the necessary sessions.
Additionally, as mentioned above, you'll either hire a third party AV production partner to produce the feed content, or use internal resources to do so.
If you are using a third party, it's very likely that they would simply provide the ready-to-use stream URLs for you to add to your sessions.
If this is not the case, you'll need sign-up and create a channel with a live streaming platform, such as Vimeo or YouTube, in order to create the live streams and extract their links (URL or embed code).
Live streams using Vimeo
You can create a live stream using Vimeo. This is a paid option, as you'll need a Vimeo premium account to do this. Please refer to this article for more information on how to set-up your live feed using Vimeo.
Live streams using YouTube Live
You can create a live stream using YouTube Live. This is a free option, but takes 24 hours to activate the account. Please refer to this article for more information on how to set-up your live feed using YouTube.
Extracting the embed code for the live streams
Once you've created your live streams using a streaming platform, you can extract the URL or embed code for each of your streams in order to add them to the webcasts in your sessions:
Extracting a YouTube Live stream URL
- Go to YouTube studio > Create > Go Live > Manage.
- Click on the ⋮ icon next to the stream you want to embed.
- Click Get sharable link this will place a link similar this one into your clipboard:
- When configuring the webcast in Backstage (refer to step 4 in the Configuring a session with a webcast section below), change the link so it looks like this:
Extracting a Vimeo stream URL
- Go to your Vimeo channel.
- Select the stream you wish to embed.
- Click the Share button in the top right corner of your stream.
- A pop-up will appear with the embed code that will look similar to this:
<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/123456789" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>Copy the URL part of this code (https://player.vimeo.com/video/123456789) in order to add it to your webcast document (refer to step 4 in the Configuring a session with a webcast section below).
Configuring a session with a webcast
Now that you have produced the streams and extracted their links (URLs or embed codes), you'll need to add them as webcasts to the sessions.
A webcast is added to a session in the form of a document in the workspace, so you'll first need to create the documents in the workspace that will each contain the webcasts.
Once this is done you can link the sessions to the documents, so that each virtual session has its own linked webcast document. The below steps will explain in detail how this is done.
Go to the Sessions module, and select the session you wish to add a webcast to.
In the Session view tab, in the Linked documents field, click on Add document.
The below window is displayed, where you can create the webcast document:
1. In the Name field, add a name to the webcast document. This could for example be "Session name webcast".
2. In the Document type field, select Webcast.
(Unselect Autoplay media and Enable sharing. Leave the File field empty)
3. Add a description if you want to provide some additional information to the app users about the webcast.
(Leave the Block viewing until field and Error message field empty)
4. In the URL field, paste the URL or stream embed code, as explained in the Extracting the embed code for the live stream.
5. Select or upload an icon that will the app users will be able to click on to access the web cast.
(Unselect the Enable annotations, On device caching, Enable bookmarks, and Enable landscape mode fields)
6. OPTIONAL: Should you wish to adjust the minimum dimensions of the webcast window where app users will watch the session's live stream, click on Edit webcast settings, and adjust the dimensions.
7. Click on Save item.
The session now includes a document containing the live stream information for the webcast that will be visible to app users when they open the session in the web app.
How does the virtual session look in the web app?
When app users access the session via the web app, they will see an attachment in the session that they can click on to open the webcast. In the below example, the link to the webcast is attached to a feed post and is called Webcast, with the video icon.
Once the user clicks the link, a small window will appear to the side of the screen and the live stream will be played there:
App user can then move the video stream to the left or to the right of the screen, depending on their preference or maximise it.
Should the app user open the webcast before the stream has actually started, they will see a message saying that the stream has not yet started.
Tips for your live streams
Please note that there can be a significant delay (30 or more seconds) on the live stream, depending on the app users internet speed. Therefore, for any interactive sessions such as polling, Q&A, or feedback forms, please ensure that you give the participants at least 1 minute to respond to any questions.
We also recommend that participants access the web app via their laptop and if possible use at least 1Mbit/s upload and download internet speed. These recommendations may vary depending on your streaming provider.