The Iranian Teleconference

We had a couple of really early mornings and hectic days here at TBP HQ last week. We were recently contacted, at the last minute, by an Iranian production company who were interested in our Live Streaming services. They were hosting a conference for Iranian Doctors in Tehran but one of the speakers, a Canadian diabetes expert by the name of Dr. Ian Blumer, was invited but unable to travel. This left them with only a few options, and they chose to have him deliver his presentation via Live stream.

The production was being handled by Sanofi, an Iranian Company, and tensions were high as we tried to figure out the logistics of a Live stream that would project on a giant screen at the conference in real-time. This made things quite difficult for a number of reasons. The 1st problem is that Iran is 8.5 hours ahead of Toronto. This was no issues for the first day of shooting as Dr. Bloomer’s first presentation would be at 8:30pm Tehran Time / 12pm Toronto EST. The big challenge was the 2nd presentation scheduled for 12:45pm Tehran time. This meant a 3am wake-up call and a 4:15 am shoot.

The second and more concerning issue was Iran’s strict internet laws about which sites they allow the population to use. This made our usual choices of Facebook, UStream and Youtube Live impossible, and Sanofi would need the use of a VPN (virtual private network) to receive the stream being sent from our facility.

Any Delay from filming to the stream was also going to be an issue as the conference had set up a question and answer segment for Dr. Blumer. Sanofi had initially wanted to use Video chat software like Zoom or Skype, as they would both limit the delay from question to answer but unfortunately, these are not streaming services and therefore would present a plethora of challenges which are next to impossible to overcome.

We ended up choosing Youtube Live via the VPN in Iran. We felt this produced the best quality video output that they could re-purpose while also giving us the least amount of delay. All that was left was to set up the green-screen and to run a practice stream. There were, of course, growing pains in running the practice stream. One of the main contentions was the need for the doctor’s feet to also be on a Green Screen and though ours is large, it was barely large enough. We didn’t feel it was necessary and that it would ultimately make the shot look worse but our friends in Tehran stressed the need for it, so we figured it out.

When the day arrived, everything was seemingly ready. Stream and audio prepared, Dr. Blumer came early and all seemed to be going according to plan. Before long, however, we descended quickly into some technical challenges such as, how to display the PowerPoint, which was sent from here, at the same time as the green screen feed. However, after a couple of minutes of tension-filled scrambling, and while on the phone to Iran, we were able to set up a system that worked for everyone. With day one now in the books, we looked ahead to day two with a plan and system that had worked and one we were confident we could replicate.

Day 2 arrived and Paul and I rushed to get to work at 3:15am hoping for a stress-free shoot with, hopefully, no major complications. A change in the system had been mentioned in discussions with Iran the previous night. Sanofi were eager to cut down the delay time and move to Skype, but we felt that meddling with a working system would be a recipe for disaster, and so we kept the same settings as we had used on the previous day.

After a 1.5 hour delay, due to other speakers going over time, Dr. Blumer’s presentation was underway and by all accounts, came off without a hitch. We exchanged congratulations with our Iranian friends on a job well done. But not before receiving a short video of the fruits of our labour. In it, we saw a 10ft tall Dr. Blumer Projected on a 30ft long video screen in front of an audience of hundreds. It was only after seeing this that we understood why the doctor’s feet needed to be seen, and why it was all worth it in the end.

Check out how we did it here.

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