To set up a livestream for a successful offline event with only two weeks preparation time and ambitious demands – this was the challenge the FuckUp Nights faced. But how is this even possible when Corona safety and hygiene regulations must also be observed? A report about an event livestream that was quite a challenge.
Defeat as an opportunity – that is the concept of the Fuckup Nights, a series of events that inspires audiences around the world and is also an integral part of the start-up scene in Germany and far beyond. At various locations, founders and entrepreneurs present their personal stories of failure – from insolvent enterprises to the shattered dream of a start-up – and show not only that failure is human, but also how they manage to get up again and carry on.
During the Corona pandemic, many fear for their professional existence, because contact bans and other regulations to contain the virus cause economic problems in almost all industries. Many fans of FuckUp Nights have been looking forward to the next event. Reason enough for Markus Lezaun from the Düsseldorf digital agency Blanko together with Patrick Wagner and Ralf Kemmer from the Fuckup Nights in Berlin to try something new. Together with the organizers of the event series of the same name in Frankfurt, Leipzig, Mannheim, the Ruhr area and Vienna called for the biggest Fuckup Night of all times in April 2020 in a livestream. A real premiere, that nobody could have imagined a few weeks before.
A high-quality webcast in a short time – is that possible?
The Fuckup Stream was to be more than a simple mobile phone recording of a yoga course and had to satisfy the professional demands of the offline events. Just like the Saturday evening program of television of times long past, a whole scene should gather in front of the receivers and listen to the stories of some daredevils sitting around the proverbial campfire. This nostalgic basic idea was not only to be reflected in the design of the broadcast – it was also an indicator for the success of the event. A little bit of TV, in touch with the people and under difficult conditions.
All a question of (livestream) technology
A first question concerning the stream was where to stream to in the first place. Normally the Fuckup Nights are financed by entrance fees, so the logical idea was to make the livestream available to paying participants only. But soon it became clear that the stream needed to be publicly accessible, so a different financing model had to be found. In the end, the organizers decided on a donation model, which on the one hand had an impact on the design of the graphics, but on the other hand also led to the fact that Facebook and other portals were streamed in parallel for maximum reach.
Generate views through crossposting
A multistream, also known as simulcast, was used for this purpose. This allowed the stream to be forwarded to Facebook as well as to the livestream event page dringeblieben.de. But that was not all. Since the stream was a cooperation between several German speaking FuckUp Nights, it was also supposed to be available on different Facebook pages.
Instead of just having the stream shared by different channels, crossposting was used. This allowed the stream to be published on all participating pages simultaneously, while the texts of the postings were adapted to the target group of the respective page. So viewers could watch the stream directly on the FuckUp Nights Facebook page of their choice without a recognizable main sender. This way, viewer statistics for all Facebook streams were collected in one place.
Another challenge was the short time available – the pre-production alone for a show-like livestream of this kind usually takes several weeks. In addition to the content schedule, graphics and inserts have to be produced and a plan for the technicians has to be worked out. As far as the content was concerned, it was possible to follow the schedule of the FuckUp Nights, which was preserved in its core.
The two presenters Ralf Kemmer and Patrick Wagner, the brains behind the FuckUp Nights Berlin, guided the audience through the evening. As usual, there were three speakers, who spoke live one after the other about their personal stories of failure. After a short welcome by the presenters, they spoke freely into the camera. Their presentations were faded in separately during this time. Each presentation was followed by a short question and answer session with the moderators in the seating area. Just like at an “offline” FuckUp Night, questions from the audience were also answered. These questions were asked during the presentations in the comment function and were collected by Ralf Kemmer and Patrick Wagner. Thus it was possible to transfer the concept of the ” analogue” FuckUp Nights to the digital version of the event.
Consistent on screen livestream design
The design of the event had to be defined and implemented from scratch. Due to this fact, stage design, lighting and graphics were created in close cooperation. To achieve an extraordinary but consistent look, everything was designed in vintage style.
From stage event to stage set
The stage design by Iris Resnizek is reminiscent of a living room. A retro seating area and decorations created a cosy but not too crowded picture. As a little wink and reference to Corona, rolls of toilet paper were built into the design and newspaper articles were used as wall decoration. This sitting area had multiple functions. On the one hand, it served as seats for the hosts and during question and answer sessions with the speakers. While the speakers held their presentations, they did not stand on a stage and next to their PowerPoint presentation as usual. Here the seating area in vintage look fulfilled its second function as a background for the speakers.
Graphics in the webcast for a coherent overall picture
Graphics and animations are an important design tool for a livestream – which is not needed for physical events. Not only do they help with the structure, they also ensure consistent branding. In this way, content can be clarified, the program can be given a structure, but also logos and information can be displayed. To make the graphics fit into the retro look, it was decided to make them look like old teletext. However, since the flow of the stream was created parallel to the design, great flexibility was required here. By using placeholders graphics and adjustments directly in the stream for example. The calls for donations, for financing the event, were also integrated into the design in an attractive and fitting way and motivated numerous people to donate.
The right camera work for the event livestream
The heart of every FuckUp Night are the speakers’ stories. Creativity was required to make these presentations entertaining and varied visually. In contrast to a stage event, viewers want variety and different perspectives during a show. In a TV show this is achieved by using many cameras.
Three cameras were used in this production. Two cameras were fixed in position and only varied in the framing. One of them showed the seating area frontally, as the lead camera, while the second provided a total view of the set. In addition, the speakers of the event appeared in front of this camera to give their talk. The third camera was used flexibly as a shoulder camera and captured close-ups of the speakers and presenters from different angles. Thus, even with only three cameras, an effect (almost) like a TV show could be achieved.
Successful event livestream in a short time
Just like in the stories of the speakers, who are happy and successful today despite many difficulties, the first FuckUp Night Live Stream was a complete success. With the experience of the livestream service provider, plenty of creativity, flexibility (and of course social distance!) in the implementation and use of face masks, it was possible to realize the livestream event about failure with less than two weeks preparation time. And even if the idea was born out of necessity, the audience response with 10,000 viewers – from a standing start – shows that the demand is there. That’s why the next FuckUp Night Live Stream will certainly not be long in coming.
And last but not least the FuckUpNight Livestream in full length: