The Quandary of Quality

Last Thursday I ran a seminar on The Benefits of Amplified Events as part of the Green Impact seminar series at the University of Bath. A full abstract with links to the resources (including a set of short videos created by Brian Kelly) is available. My slides are available from Slideshare and embedded below.

There is also and Adobe Connect recording of the seminar.

After the seminar one of the attendees admitted that he found it all very interesting but was slightly concerned about the quality of the resources (streamed video, video snippets, audio etc.) created. He explained that even a slight crackle in audio put him off entirely and that he felt he’d always rather be at an event then watching it streamed.

We then had a really interesting discussion about the quandary of quality and I wanted to post a few thoughts here.

  • The level of quality required is relative – There will be times when a high level of quality is necessary (for example if you are creating DVDs of talks), but there will also be times when a lower level is required (for example when putting on the Web). High quality video is resource intensive – it requires a good deal of effort to move about, store and edit. You will need to think about the context – what level of quality will your audience expect and are you willing to pay? Commercial outfits will produce excellent quality outputs but they cost – think about your business model.
  • Seamless technology is very important – If the audio isn’t working or the video is blurry people will not be able to watch. Make sure the technology works in advance, test it and test it again. Even if you are doing it yourself you can make every effort to crack this nut. However there are still times when technical difficulties can’t be avoided – it happens in all areas of work – we all just have to learn from it and move on.
  • Online/hybrid events are not the same as face-to-face events – They are different. Often they are an alternative because people cannot travel or attend. Some might argue that they are “better than nothing” but potentially they can be just as good, but different. Audiences need to be aware of this and event organisers need to manage expectations.
  • It just won’t work for some people – However it will work for many others. The face of events is changing and ‘trial and error’ is necessary to make things better. As and individual, and as an organisation, you can decide if you wish to embrace change, or not.

As an aside….I know that my husband and I have different levels of tolerance when it comes to quality of audio and video.

I still love the crackle of an LP and the feedback from an amp. High definition television is wasted on me and I’m just as happy watching fuzzy videos as I am staring up at the big screen in a multiplex cinema. Many things are ‘good enough’ for me.

My husband is a music purist with classical music training and an ear for electronic music. Bad sound quality makes him wince. He understands the physics of sound and the mechanics of video.

I often think that I’m the lucky one as I’m enjoying the AV a lot more of the time than he is! ;-)

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