My experience on streaming contents during the Coronavirus pandemic

Andreu Ibàñez, GDG Lleida lead & GDG Spain co-organizer

After a call to blog from our GDG DevRel Europe team I wanted to share with you some of my experiences on streaming content during the first 4 months of the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’m a person who runs dozens of projects simultaneously, mostly related to communities and software development. This is why I decided to share my knowledge about streaming content, as with the Coronavirus most of the communities moved to online event formats.

About Myself

To start and put you in context, creating content is not new for me. My personal blog has more than a thousand posts, and my Blogger account more than 80 blogs, a lot of them active in weekly manner, not bad I would say.I can also tell you that I’ve been writing for printed technical magazines since the eighties, talking on weekly broadcast radio programs for more than 10 years. (often with live audiences of 30–50k people) live, and also I’ve done 45 technology podcasts on YouTube for at least a decade as well..

How it started: Podcast

More than a year before pandemic, that’s April 2019, I “pushed” some of my colleagues at the GDG Spain to start a new adventure, a monthly podcast and video series. I firmly believe that the activities of the many GDGs we have under our umbrella organization have to shine more on the net.Having a podcast, both in video and audio, will help both with giving visibility to our content and also specially to the hard working people behind it.

We started a group of 3: Orestes Carracedo (GDG Vigo), Mario Ezquerro (GDG La Rioja), and me (GDG Lleida) — and later GDE Cloud and WTM lead Laura Morillo joined the team. Technically speaking the only tool available back than was Hangouts (live):, things were easy, content was king, and we didn’t care too much for the appearance, and everything was live streamed.

Finding the perfect Solution

After 6 episodes and the death of HoL we started our crusade for other solutions and better production appearance: using simpler things like Jitsi or Whereby to an expensive Wirecast full TV station. Every solution has his pros and cons, but our worst experience was with Wirecast. The Rendezvous Hangouts video conference functionality never worked well (and believe me, I saw hundreds of YouTube videos of training on WC), but also the sound gave us problems after problems, not to mention that you need a really powerful PC to run it. We got into several very stressful situations and we decided to stop and do some more research and tests. Being Open Source folks, we finally changed to the true quality solution — meeting our high standard: Open Broadcast Studio, OBS, a free and open solution. It is a bit behind on possibilities and works in a different way than other solutions, but that has plenty of great possibilities. We analyzed many other platforms, like Streamyard or Mobcrush, but sticking to OBS was the perfect and definitive solution. Also, we added some hardware for better sound quality, like good mics, and we got some very cheap chroma screens (to change the background), to have some fun and make the appearance professional.

Streaming Frenzy during the Pandemic

With this new setup, just after 8 episodes the pandemic arrived, and we entered the so-called “Streaming Frenzy”. Being in full lockdown at home made us move fast and we made a call to our large community of speakers. From there, a dozen of webinars were streamed live in a few weeks, with similar technical contents as we’ll have at any of our GDG events in person, like Cloud, Tensorflow, Kotlin, and many more.

After this initial national effort in contents, I focused on doing stuff for my other local communities, from GDG Lleida, Women Techmakers Lleida, to LleidaDrone, P.E.R.A., the Liquid Galaxy community, etc — and many more weekly webinars were developed.

Growing the Team & Content

Later the GDG Spain Podcast team was extended to 11 people, four women and seven men, including technicians, designers and tertullian, creating 5 different monthly content pieces like the GDG Spain Podcast (13 editions), Cloud Español Podcast (2), XR Devfest Podcast (2) for Augmented/Virtual Reality, and also BITS and TIPS, shorter contents with not much than 10 minutes focused on sharing only one piece of information.

XR Devfest Podcast

From my other communities and based in our “Webinars de los Laboratorios TIC” brand, next to the GDG activities, we have dozens of other interesting events, such as Space X and NASA commented launches, to amazing Drone racing video contests. The last addition that just launched in the beginning of August is GCiers Podcast, a podcast made with the help of our more younger collaborators at the Liquid Galaxy Open Source community, ranging from 13 to 17 years!

Lessons Learned & Statistics

From there let me share some of the lessons learned, starting with some statistics:

I’ve developed (in the different teams) 44 streams, 21 live and 23 premiered

with a total of 2.341 minutes of contents. We had 137 speakers (98 where men and 39 women). This is a HARD work, lots of work, and we “only” got 8.241 views… in total!?

To start: live streaming better vs Youtube Premiere (edited or pre recorded video)?. We did half of the videos live in the beginning, but now we only do live videos if it’s a must (like a live comment to a timely event). We finally agreed, that the stress for running the stream live is not worth the audience, and doing it pre recorded now, usually with zero or minimum editing, is more relaxed.

And to end, is it worth the enormous hours devoted to the creation, scripting, production, streaming of as many hours of content as a reduced audience???
In comparison, and to be honest, if we developed these events in a personal pre-pandemic way, the audience will be even lower, Spanish GDG events range around 100–150 attendees, with a few large DevFest events having more.

We are slowing down in August, but will come back in September with new seasons and episodes, looking for improvement in the graphic aspect. And last but never least we’re also readying the Devfest 2020 season, where we’ll handle several DevFests from our GDG Spain Podcast team.

If you’re interested on those activities, hang around my personal blog, that normally acts as an aggregator for all my activities, www.andreuibanez.com, and also visit our blog.gdg.es for our GDG content and the Youtube https://www.youtube.com/c/GDGSpain/

and https://www.youtube.com/user/andreuibanez

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