Corinne Hedgeley of the Website Sub-Committee being presented with flowers/wine by Maria Small, Chairperson ACDM as thanks for organising the webcast of the conference
APRIL 2001
It is with a little trepidation that I am putting pen to paper (finger to keyboard?) to write about organising a webcast before the first ACDM Webcast has been broadcast may turn out that the only advice I can give is what not to do! Oh well, here goes...
The idea to webcast the ACDM conference was born about this time last year. It is something that I'd seen a number of the large AIDS conferences do to cater for people who are interested but unable to attend due to work, distance etc. The Website Sub Committee (WSSC) was keen to try to webcast last years Joint PSI/ACDM conference to help launch the Private (members only) side of the ACDM website.
However the Main Committee sensibly put reins on our enthusiasm and suggested that aiming to webcast the 2001 e-Conference might be a more achievable target and would fit nicely with the theme of the conference. So, here we are a few days (at the time of writing) before the e-Conference with registrations for the webcast flooding in (phew!).
I got involved in a lot of activities greatly removed from data management as I muddled through the organisation of the webcast. It has been an interesting, enjoyable (and sometimes embarrassing) experience.
My Recipe for a Webcast Ingredients
2 camera persons + cameras
1 'mixer' + mixing board
2 webcast experts
1 visual communications expert
approx. 2 miles of cables
1 ISDN line
1 telephone line
2 laptops
1. Find someone who has done it before!!! A good point at which to thank Kas Rashid from GlaxoSmithKline's Visual Communications group for all his advice and support over the last year and also being my personal panic may even have met him in Blackpool.
2. Gate-crash the Conference SC and add £££'s to their budget. A big thank you to M andy Gibson and the other members of the Conference SC for their support and also for putting up with me.
3. Start talking to the following suppliers to get quotes and/or technical requirements:
Film crews
The Audio Visual company
The hotel
Satellite communications
ACDM web maintainer
4. Get all of the above to talk to each other to avoid conversations that run like this:
'Why did you ask the film crew to record on DVcam'
'Did I ask for that?'
'That's what they told me'
'Is recording on DVcam a problem?'
'The webcasters will need special equipment to convert it later if you want to stream the video...we'd be better going with Beta..' (said in a pitying tone)
5. Design fliers, a web page and an email to advertise the webcast and encourage registration for the webcast without confusing it with the Conference registration.
6. Write a script for and record a demo video to put on the webcast website prior to the conference so that people registering for the webcast can try out the technology prior to the webcast day. If you saw the video you will know how many volunteers I got when I asked for budding actors to star in the video. I would however like to thank the members of the WSSC for all their 'help' and 'encouragement' during the filming of the video!
7. Turn up in Blackpool on Sunday and panic until the film crew, webcasters and Kas have turned up and tested everything. (As I'm writing this just before the Conference this hasn't happened yet but it's probably quite close to the truth).
We had to make a number of decisions along the way, that affected the budget and the technical aspect of the webcast.
Someone watching the webcast would take up a 'line'. Prior to the conference we needed to decide how many lines to provide (ie. Guess how many people would watch the webcast at the same time). The hiring of lines was one of the most costly features of the webcast so we wanted to keep the number down but also provide a line for every ACDM member wanting to watch the webcast. As this was the first ACDM webcast we had no idea how many people would be interested.
We decided to limit the number of lines to 100 and encourage companies with large numbers of ACDM members to register for only a few lines and project the webcast onto a screen for a group of people to watch together. I hope that if you tried this in your company that it worked well. We also set up a webcast registration form so that we could monitor the number of people planning to watch the conference and increase the number of lines at the last minute if needed.
How much of the conference to webcast was another decision. I was guided very much by the conference SC on this. We went with just webcasting day 1 to make the logistics easier, to keep costs down and to encourage people to attend the conference in person if they could.
On the technical side of things we chose WindowsMediaPlayer (WMP) as the application to view the webcast. RealPlayer was the other main option for this but we had been advised that this would be fire-walled by more companies than MP. We also decided to output the webcast at 56K, to cater for the potential range of modem speeds ACDM members might have. This means that those with fast modems won't see as clear a picture as they could but at least those with slower modems will be able to see something!
If you watched the webcast I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any feedback or ideas for the future for webcasts or the ACDM website, please contact me via email at
Corinne Hedgley
ACDM Website SC -