NaSTA Vision Application

NaSTA Vision Application

Preparations for NaSTA Vision are well under way at LA1:TV and in this blog we will look at the starting point for their hosting journey, their application to the NaSTA Exec to host the event. 

The hosting application was designed to show the NaSTA exec the production and technical aims for the broadcast and how they will involve other stations and online audiences. The LA1:TV team worked together on the application with different people writing the sections for their respective areas. 

The first section to be written was the production aims. This allowed the producers and production managers to decide what they wanted to  achieve from the broadcast. As the formula for NaSTA Vision already existed, creating the production outline was fairly simple. One the production outline was created the technical team started to work out the core systems that would be required to prove to the NaSTA exec that they could successfully host the broadcast. There isn't actually very much technical detail in the application, as most of this was discussed in person with the exec, to keep the application short and concise. The main technical challenges that need to be solved were how to accept the incoming streams from participating stations, how to stream the live feed and the voting system. 

The challenge of dealing with incoming live streams from other stations is familiar to any station that has worked with multi site or multi stream broadcasts, such as some intervaristy coverage or FreshersTV. LA1:TV hosted FreshersTV 2013 and solved the problem by building a PC with two Blackmagic Design Decklink Quad cards which can either encode or decode up to 8 live streams at the same time. For the voting system the team decided on a web app which will be accessible to all NaSTA members (whether or not their station is competing) and identify them by station to allocate the votes correctly. Finally the live streaming solution is LA1:TV's regular live encoding system which uses a PC with a decklink SDI card and OBS software to stream to their Wowza streaming server. These systems will be the subject of future blog posts.

After deciding on the systems required to make the core aspects of the broadcast possible the team were able to add in some addition information about extra features they intend to use to help engage the audience and make the broadcast unique. These include allowing every NaSTA member to vote and allocating their votes to their station to calculate the final scores, rather than each station having a single vote, allowing both live and pre recorded entries to enable stations which do not have capablities and how to provide synchronising and cueing tools for participating stations.

The rest of the details for the production didn't need to be worked out for the application as it was put in 6 months ahead of the intended transmission date. This gives the team plenty of time to work out the finer details before stations are told the full plan.

The next stage is the release of entry information to stations which will happen on 9th December when the website goes live. Creating the website will be the subject of the next blog entry.

Some tips for any stations producing hosting applications:

  1. Do start with your production aims, technical and logistics can wait. You need to sell an idea or concept that is going to engage your audience.
  2. Do show how your hosting ideas are unique and will make it a better event or broadcast than other potential hosts. Different ways of engaging your audience are important, be they in person, on social media or use of apps.
  3. Do provide details of your plans for the core infrastructure required for the broadcast. This is especially important for live broadcasts that have content supplied live by other stations.
  4. Do be honest and show that you hvae plans in place to counter any potential problems e.g. not owning enough kit (borrow/hire/buy, do you have the budget?) or lack of expereinced members (training plans/alumni involvement/support from other stations).
  5. Don't provide detailed plans of every single camera shot or piece of equipment you are going to use. Plans will almost certainly change by the transmission date and your audience may not all be technically minded.
  6. Don't promise more than you can deliver. It is good to be ambitious but be realistic, otherwise the event may prove to be more than you can successfully pull off!