I was furiously taking notes during the Tuesday workshop as it unfolded, and I wanted to share the lessons I learned with the community at large before it got lost in the shuffle of the next slew of events and some upcoming big announcements about our presence in SL.
1- For starters, it is hard as hell to be in two places at the same time. The great photos taken of the event by JimmyJet and Nobody include video of me presenting in RL, while standing AFK at the podium in SL. I couldn't rightly drive my Av there while also clicking PowerPoints (I am not THAT good at multi-tasking), but it seems like there should be an easy answer to this. Perhaps cloning (below)
2- Next, you will end up using every possible permutation of audio-in and audio-out that you can imagine. We ended up with line-out of the microphone mixer box going into the webcast rig, mini-din connectors bringing the Skype out of a laptop into the room in RL during the Avatar presentations, wired and wireless mikes roaming around the RL room, and so on. I guess the answer here is 'Pack a lot of cables and connectors'.
3- This is an easy one to say and the hardest to do- Get a copy of the slides loaded the day before the event, not minutes before the presentation. I failed to do this effectively and thus the first two presenters handed me their memory-sticks as they approached the podium. Too late to get it exported to jpegs and loaded on the slideshow prim.
4- Respect the 20 second delay. Between encoding (server) and client side buffering, there is a 20 second delay or more in streaming video/audio, and sometimes more with the Skype solution when piped into parcel audio. Due to this, if you are in the RL room and are watching the presentation unfold, you have to remember to wait 20 seconds to advance the slide in SL to sync with the presenter. Simple, but important.
5- The lag issue is exacerbated when you have mixed-reality presentations (some RL and some SL). As with Tom and Alph, we had a skype channel that was 20-30 seconds delayed piped into our RL room, which means that they were waiting for a minute or so for answers to questions unless Reuben was able to relay them verbally (he was wearing a headset, thankfully, so we only had slight echo from other audio sources in the room).
6- Make sure you light the RL presenter well with a spot, far away from his or her slides. Some people had difficulty seeing the presenters when they wandered into the darkness of the room.
7- Completely self serving, but the more bandwidth everyone involved has, the better. If you are setting up at a venue with a wireless network, be sure you are a) on your own network for the webcast so as to not be in contention with the people going into SL in the RL audience, b) have a preferred channel for any Skype-relay-hosts you may have (a laptop that is piping in the parcel audio skype channel) and c) have a good stream hoster with lots of bandwidth so it doesn't turn contentious.
8- Figure out your IP addressing issues when you book the venue. You don't want to arrive at the venue and discover that you are behind one or more firewalls that preclude your ability to push RTSP for the webcast. Luckily, being a Net-head, I anticipated this and was able to get a public IP address wired into the room. This had been a complete showstopper for me when I was staging the webcast previously.
9- Have an answer to the inevitable question of 'can we have copies of the slides' and 'will this be available as a video on demand for later playback' in advance. Preferably, when you are arranging the event, have an active dialogue with the presenters to see if they agree to have their content released after the event (people were taking screencaps of the slides as they appeared anyway), as well as a video of the event. BTW- I'm working with the presenters of the event Tuesday do put their slides on prims for distribution as well as turn their recorded presentation into a video on demand in a kiosk in our Technology Center building. (shameless self promotion)
10- Double up on video in the RL room. We had the webcasting-camera in the room, but we also had a professional videographer in the back of the room. It turns out the videographer had some good shots that we will definitely use in redistribution of the event. We did not, and now I wish we had, have anyone doing a video/audio capture of the event within SL so we could post-mortem the SL experience portion. Next time, methinks.
11- Clones. Have a clone avatar for each RL presenter in the room in SL at the same time (someone else must drive, sadly). Animate them. Make them walk around. It seems silly, but its much more engaging that way to the SL audience, as Tom and Alph's presentations illustrated. AND, (this is the strange part), have a person in the front of the room standing at the podium or clicking through slides when the SL presenters are presenting into RL. Byron Reeves from Media X gracefully stepped forward to do this for Tom Malone and Alph Bingham, or else the RL room would have been lost without benefit of the slides. Also, given that we had a psychologist or two in the room, I noticed a marked decrease in energy in the room when we were just watching the avatars stand statically there on the screen and listening to the audio, in contrast to the dynamic of a RL speaker with gestures and such. Perhaps we should have someone script some presenter gestures for the Avs?
12- Expect the unexpected. We had eight part-time staff on this, between Banana from SL Brand patrolling the Sims for griefers and general issues, as well as advancing slides manually, Reuben/Chris/Ted from Millions of Us doing the webcast and skype portions, two guys from my team (that's you Brian and Bill) that thankfully ran around with laptops piping in the skype sessions and all around gopher-ing, my own avatar/me which was not being antisocial but rather was the camera into the amphitheater for the RL room, and AV techs and videographers from the Techmart. In retrospect, I would add at least three if not four people with specific roles for something this large next time, so there is a designated slide-advance person (or, preferably, a tool that automatically does this). I'd let Banana patrol the amphitheater, as well as have one backup for him in the event of something uneventful happening (like when we had a partial sim crash that kicked off about 10 people). I'd also have in-world contact people for Q&A on the fly, (handing around the virtual microphone) with a pre-arranged triage/prioritization method.
That's all for now, as the plane is on final approach through the blizzard into Denver. I'll inevitably have more learnings after a few more of these events. Also, I spoke with a number of people after the event, and we may have come up with a MUCH SIMPLER method of conducting these events in the future from an audio/video standpoint, if not slide manipulation/sync. Stay tuned.