The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has transformed itself over the last decade, developing a reputation as one of the world’s most exciting museums of art and design. While it has doubled its visitor numbers to more than 3 million per year with major exhibitions such as Hollywood Costume and David Bowie, the Museum also wanted to engage with people in other ways as part of its Digital Futureplan.
“The Digital Futureplan aims to create a world-class visitor experience using digital technologies, while ensuring our digital products are developed to match the V&A’s standards for design quality,” explains Andrew Lewis, Acting Head of Digital Media, Digital Media Department, V&A. “Our online goal is to extend our reach to attract and engage with a larger, global audience. We have found video to be a very valuable tool for improving interpretation of objects, exhibitions, special projects and events, both on-site at the Museum and online. It provides more in-depth information and enables our online visitors to have a ‘live’ V&A experience, even if they are not able to visit in person.”
The V&A has been producing video content for many years, including live events, but had always turned to a third party for live production and streaming, at great expense. Recently, the Digital Media Department looked into the possibility of bringing this element in-house.
“I did some research in the market trying to find a solution that was going to be suitable for the V&A,” says Peter Kelleher, Motion Media Manager, V&A. “We haven’t got a massive team, so we needed something that did as much as possible in one unit. I looked at various manufacturers and systems, but the TriCaster ticked all the boxes. It was a unit that incorporated a lot of the features we were after, without having to buy lots of components and stick them together.”
The V&A team chose to purchase the TriCaster 460 live production system to live stream events, such as fashion shows and talks on current exhibitions, via the Museum’s video channels that are embedded onto its various websites. In addition, the V&A team will use the TriCaster to stream content to projectors and screens throughout the Museum, and provide video feeds to external websites.
“Bringing live streaming in-house has given us complete control of the production process and allowed us to tailor the service to our requirements,” says Peter. “This equipment enables us to mix, encode and stream within a single unit, making it simple to use and cost-effective. The graphics elements and transitions of TriCaster are also extremely useful, as they add a professional look to our productions and allow changes to be made quickly and easily.
The V&A has a production crew consisting of a Director/Producer, three camera operators, one A/V technician for audio and checking live streaming output, a Web technician to help set up the stream and Web pages, plus a presenter for live interviews. The number of crew will depend on the event and its complexity.
“The production crew is experienced in filming and production, but had not been involved in mixing, encoding and streaming content live,” says Peter. “We had two days of intensive training from NewTek on all aspects of operating and producing live content. The training was comprehensive and the support documents and videos are a great reference. I’m very pleased that NewTek provides good support for their products. They are continuously asking for client feedback and updating the product range – you want to see something that is well supported and will continue to be supported into the future.”
In July 2013, the V&A debuted its live streaming capability by delivering the Jenny Packham Fashion in Motion event from the Museum, bringing the excitement and spectacle of the high fashion catwalk to a wider audience.
“Fashion in Motion has always been a very popular programme for us, but we realized that we can reach a much bigger audience,” says Oriole Cullen, V&A Fashion Curator. “It’s incredibly important, because it means that international audiences and those who can’t make it to the museum can follow the shows live online.”
“The V&A realizes the importance and benefits of online resources,” concludes Andrew. “Streaming video increases the reach of content, but particularly event content, creating a whole expansion of the size of that event by allowing more people to see it simultaneously. NewTek is one of many special brands that are helping us to fulfill our Digital Futureplan aims.”
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