Tristan GreeneEditor, Neural by TNW
Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him
LiveControl is an interesting company. Its mission is to take the incredibly complex and ridiculously expensive world of video production and distill it to a format that just about anyone can use and afford.
And, because it’s 2021, that means it’s an AI startup.
We love startups here at Neural, but the vast majority of pitches we get come from crappy companies pushing pie-in-the-sky misrepresentations of what predictive algorithms and computer vision can accomplish.
It’s refreshing when we come across a little company with a big AI idea that seems genuinely helpful.
LiveControl provides livestreaming production services to venues. Their business model is actually based on serving the needs of the church community.
We spoke with Patrick Coyne, one of the company’s founders, who told us the original idea began as a more traditional company. It was started by a man who wanted to help his Rabbi put out a higher quality live stream during services at the synagogue he attended.
At first, the idea was to optimize a multi-camera streaming setup and to have a trained human videographer on site to produce the venue’s live stream.
Coyne told Neural:
But the margins weren’t so great. He still had to travel from venue to venue. So he came up with this idea to find a way to control things remotely.
The way LiveControl works is actually pretty cool. This isn’t a solution for, say, your kids birthday party in your back yard. And it’s not something you’d use to make a big-budget Hollywood film. It’s more for like a small theater, a church, or some other venue with a recurring event.
The Live Control team sends the venue a “studio in a box,” with a couple of cameras (or more, if needed) and everything it needs to get setup.
According to Coyne:
About half of our clients set the equipment up themselves. The other half … they hire a professional. If you can install a Ring doorbell or something similar to that, you can set up the equipment.
Once the gear is setup, the company’s various experts get on a call with a representative for the venue and walk them through optimizing the gear for sound, placement, and lighting.
After that, the venue just has to give LiveControl 24-hours notice ahead of an event. A LiveControl employee will log in to your camera system at the time of the event and run everything remotely for its entire duration. This includes hosting the live stream and publishing it to whichever streaming services you require, including Facebook and YouTube.
So LiveControl is an AI startup, but it’s also a service that matches clients with producers.
Coyne told Neural:
Ultimately, we hope to establish long-term relationships by finding the right producer … a producer that specializes in that type of production, for each client.
The way Coyne describes it, the system is mostly software-based. The cameras use computer vision algorithms to highlight and track objects in real-time and the system suggests optimal viewing angles, zooms, and what it thinks might be the most entertaining or best-framed shots.
Because it’s software-based, it can be used with just about any PTZ camera.
This is a pretty cool use of AI, and a grand example of how “human in the loop” can be a good thing. LiveControl uses AI to augment its in-house-trained producers; the machine doesn’t actually make any decisions.
There’s really no substitute for human creativity when it comes to putting on an event or presenting a production. Unfortunately, a traditional multi-camera film crew would likely cost thousands of dollars per event.
That’s why small and medium-sized venues tend to have crappy live-streams that are basically just wide shots that make everything look like it was shot from a fan in the balcony section.
LiveControl’s services start at under $200 a production. That’s a world apart from traditional video services and there’s no denying the fact that dynamic, multi-camera content tends to get more eyes on it than static wide angle streams.
The company just announced the completion of a $30 million funding round yesterday, so it’s a safe bet the team’s going to further invest in their platform and be around long enough to serve their clients for awhile.
And, now that the world is starting to trickle back into public venues, it’s a great time to up your spot’s live-streaming game.
You can find out more on LiveControl’s website.
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