Like everything else, video production ain’t what it used to be.
In the age of COVID, more and more video producers and podcasters are using Zoom; but what if you want better quality that’s free of Internet bandwidth issues and more control when you are editing? For example, what if you could have high-quality, locally-recorded, distinct audio and video tracks automatically uploaded from each participant’s computer to a cloud dashboard? Would you like the ability to edit with creative freedom that is not limited by what is recorded by Zoom or other streaming software?
I also see the benefits of having this high-quality video source material available for the production of shorter videos for social media.
That’s why I produced this video using http://riverside.fm and interviewed the Chief Marketing/Growth exec of Riverside, Abel Grünfeld about Riverside’s innovative remote video production platform that locally records individual video tracks of virtual recording sessions.
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My New Video Production Workflow: An Exploration of Virtual Video Recording with Riverside.fm
Jon: Hi and welcome to another episode of video Mojo. My name is Jon Leland and I’m a video marketing strategist and a digital marketing strategist. Video Mojo is my playful exploration of the leading edge. Sometimes I say the bleeding edge of video marketing social video, and this whole new frontier of communicating online via video.
I have a very special episode today where we’re kind of breaking our format. I’m also experimenting with an entirely new kind of live production. My guest is Abel Grunfeld. I’m practicing my German pronunciation there in America, we would say Grunfeld, but it’s Greenfeld, Abel, how are you today?
Abel: Yeah, I’m very good, and it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jon: It’s great to talk to you. Abel is the growth and marketing lead on very interesting new startup, riverside.fm. It is a video podcast recording platform which is kind of one way to say it, but we’re gonna get into what does that mean and what’s different about this kind of production? As well as what’s the marketplace for higher quality video interviews and video podcasts and this kind of program that we’re producing here today?
So Abel, let me start there when you market riverside.fm, we’re talking about a higher level of quality. Front and center on your homepage is Hillary Clinton, who’s recording her podcast using riverside.fm. And among your clients, you have Spotify Disney, Verizon, Microsoft, Shopify, some other real players in the content industry are using the platform. Why is that and kind of what’s different about riverside.fm?
Abel: What we in essence, do is quite simple. We we try to make the workflow easy for content creators that record interviews with remote guests. That can be, like you mentioned with video can also be audio only. So obviously, since nine months, everyone has had to adapt to the new reality. And whereas we’re used to recording offline, and having a team of producers or having a studio environment, where you have high control, that is something we’re used to, and we can produce high quality content, but doing it remotely, especially with guests that are not tech savvy, that is a challenge. That is where we come in. We take care of the underlying tech, so that the host can focus on having a deep and meaningful conversation with their guests.
How it works is like a double ender, which is that when we’re talking right now, we’re actually recording on each other’s machine and we’re recording offline, we are recording locally. Afterwards, we’re automatically uploading this locally recorded files to the dashboard Riverside. So to say this simple, what that means is that recording locally is recording independent of internet connection. This ensures that the quality of the files is much higher it is free of internet dropout and that is a way to guarantee and to deliver much higher audio and video production quality as compared to other tools such as Zoom, Skype, or Ecamm.
Jon: Yeah and I’ve been impressed. The aspect of getting separate tracks and having a full HD, actually you go all the way to 4k quality with a video and less conversing with the audio.
Abel: It depends on the input. The constraint in quality is not a constraint imposed by our program but imposed by equipment. If you use a 4k camera you can record up to 4k. If you use professional mic, you can record studio quality audio.
Jon: What it does for me, and this is kind of like where the marketplace distinction comes in, is that rather than recording live, streaming webcast and accepting the fact that there’s going to be dropouts and there’s going to be a more grainy quality, what I’m seeing and because this is Video Mojo and I’m most interested in video, when I test it, I get a beautiful local recording with very high quality. Those of you that are watching this on YouTube know it’s been compressed for YouTube, but I’m compositing Abel and I not live but actually in Final Cut Pro is how I’ll edit it. So it’s a commitment to quality that also is a commitment to a different kind of workflow.
I’m am interested in how do you see this marketplace? We mentioned a number of very big players who are committed to the quality that comes to mind. I watched on Netflix, I think it was Oprah interviewing Barack Obama and they did a video, I believe I saw each of them had their own video production system and they merged them together. So this is a step towards that, versus I think many people are doing live streaming using Zoom just for the convenience of it. And I started out doing live with zoom, then I moved to Ecamm, and now I’m experimenting with this quality. But how do you see that market? Who is coming to you? Who are the people that are producing shows at a level of quality that they want to go those extra steps in order to get that better quality?
Abel: Yeah, I think it’s a range of people. There is a professional aspect but there’s also the aspect of people doing something for a hobby or as a passion project, but wanting to deliver the quality that they can be proud of. Translating that into something more concrete, when we look at our audience, it started with podcasters, it’s audio only, or video podcasters. This can be professionals with whole production teams and unlimited budgets. But we also see a lot of indie podcasters who are doing something for fun, really in a niche, and at the same time wanting to produce the highest quality possible. So that is one use case, podcasters.
Another use case is when it comes to recording video, and recording video from a distance. We see a lot of companies recording for internal communication or marketing, as well as recording interviews with external guests, which they distribute either on external channels like YouTube or any other social media to build up an audience to gain trust for what they’re trying to sell. Or they use it to keep actually people their organization internally motivated, and use it merely as a communication tool. And as a more engaging communication tool.
Jon: Very interesting. I think taking a minute to reflect on this kind of production because, you know, pre-pandemic, if you’re doing a video documentary, for example, you would have a crew go to wherever the guests are and interview them. Even within the radio production like NPR. My son, Andrew has been a professional podcaster and taught audio journalism and he told me that the term that they use in that industry is tape sync. So if they had a guest who was in a remote location, they actually would hire an audio producer, who would go with a microphone to the guest’s location, because they don’t expect them to have a good microphone to be able to record that kind of quality. So it seems to me that riverside.fm is really filling a gap there where pandemic or otherwise, like, I wouldn’t be able to interview you in the Netherlands. And I don’t think I wouldn’t have the budget to hire a crew in the Netherlands to do a video recording. So next best thing, we really have good quality here versus doing a live event. Now there may be some immediacy that gets lost by not doing live, but it’s an interesting menu and selection of options that producers have now.
Abel: Absolutely. And what might be a valuable addition is that if you purely look at the product that we offer, so right now, it’s just a host and a guest, we’re having a conversation. But we have actually built something to help producer teams. Basically, there’s something called the producer mode, which allows producer to join the show to be in control without being recorded and or visible. But at the same time, they can monitor they can make sure that there’s no audio keeping, all participants use the right equipment, and they can do sound checks. So we’re really bringing the idea of a hands on production team offline, to an online environment. We seek to bring you a virtual studio rather than simply a video conferencing environment.
Jon: That’s very interesting. One of the thing I am interested in, I’ll be transparent, and why I was interested in riverside.fm is I want to work with corporations or visionary organizations that really have a message that want to do more of this kind of video with the opportunity for me to be a producer. I’ve actually directed zoom, video shoots while they were recording locally with their iPhone, and so this is far more sophisticated and an opportunity, like you said, to produce conversations.
We can also bring in, I think you said seven or eight live videos and capture those streams individually. Then you also have a “call in” mode, which uses this composite recording, which is not as high quality. It’s interesting when we do zoom, and we do gallery mode, in order to put 2 – 3 – 4 people on the screen, you know that it is what it is. But in your case we could do four people and record high quality four at a time, each one has an independent track, and we have that quality. If they’re calling in, then it’s very limited. In terms of the quality, is that correct?
Abel: That is correct, yes. When you call in, it will be contingent on the quality of the internet connection. But if they join as a guest you record them locally on a separate track. That is when you get indeed the high quality.
Jon: Cool! One of the things that I’m not doing today that I was doing when I was doing live streaming, is being able to take the comments from YouTube or Facebook and put those up on the screen and answer questions in that way. But in this case, you can give me a link and I could I have any number of people watching in what is virtually a private room? Is that right?
Abel: Yep, that’s right. So there are three different statuses in terms of inviting people on Riverside. There’s the guests think that you obviously send to guests that you want to be recorded for the whole conversation.
Jon: You’re my guest on my riverside.fm account.
Abel: Exactly. I’m here on the guest link, it is two clicks and I’m in this session. That is one part. The second part is for producers, that is the producer mode. Having a production team or having your audio or video engineer, attend the session without being recorded. And then there’s the third option, and that connects to live streaming, that is an audience link. You can share that audience link when you go live or when you start the recording in 30 minutes. Go through Twitter (and any social platform), and you say “hey, following in 30 minutes, I’m going live with a or b tune in” What happens is they click on the link and they are not visible in the conversation but the moment you hit the record button, is when you start your life conversation. That is when they as an audience member can actually attend the session. In addition to that, they can use the chat box on Riverside to ask questions. So this is a way to livestream on Riverside without any detrimental impact in terms of the recording quality.
Jon: After it gets edited? So where they’re watching live is a live stream of this composite mode, correct?
Jon: Camera switching, I mean why I’m a fan of Ecamm live is I can do multiple cameras. They have a guest mode where I can then go to a 2 shot, I can actually live direct 2 shot – 1 shot, bringing graphics is like a live studio. So you’re not competing with that, it’s a little bit geeky. But the technical question that I have is I was doing Ecamm, Ecamm does do some live streaming that I was using restream.io to go out simultaneously to my personal Facebook page, my professional Facebook page, and YouTube Live and getting back the chat. I don’t know, this whole streaming area is fascinating. There’s one advantage I see to your guests link, not the guest link. Sorry. But the audience link, what would you call that?
Abel: Yeah, exactly. Right
Jon: Right. That’s the participants that can just watch via the web page. So the chat then at least gives me the ability to answer questions. And that lends itself to kind of like membership groups. Because you’re not putting it on YouTube. You’re not putting it on Facebook, you’re just saying we are going to be live and you’ll get to participate in this session. You can ask questions. And if we take the time to edit it, the quality of the recording that we’re going to send out is going to be exceptionally good.
Able: Yeah, absolutely. And if I may add, and especially given what you said. I think what the following distinction is important to make. So when you talk about restream talk about Ecamm, these are live streaming platforms with some recording functionalities. Whereas what we do is we are recording platform with some live streaming functionalities, meaning that we optimize for the recording element. But in addition to that, we indeed provide some functions. nullities to go live. And like you mentioned your use case of having a private community attending a live recording. That is a very cool one. And that is perfectly suitable in the to do.
Jon: That’s really well said. I know I’m exploring and sorting this stuff out for myself. And as I talk to people that are looking at this whole world of live streaming, and are you familiar with this new audio only community platform called clubhouse?
Jon: It’s amazing. I’m going to be doing programs in the future, I’m sure about it. Because I’ve just been impressed. It’s unfortunately, at the moment, invitation only, and iOS only, but it’s amazing. And it’s, you know, it’s audio only. It’s a whole different live environment. And because they’ve got some critical mass, it’s happening. But I went off the subject.
And this idea of having a close community or offering it to your followers, so that it isn’t so much a social media thing as a media thing. But what you said the distinction between the fact that you’re recording platform that does offer some live capabilities, versus a live platform that does some recording, definitely at a lower quality. I mean, that’s a very clear distinction. Yeah, anything to add on that?
Abel: No, I mean, I think I think you captured it there perfectly well. And I think to add to what you said, it’s very interesting what you’re seeing. I mean, we’ve sold the acquisition of Twitter, of Twitter acquiring breaker, which is again, I would say, directly related to the rise of clubhouse. And a second thing that I would add is that like, you can see that Patreon, for example, now, so the private community membership, so a way for creators to monetize their work. That is something that is closely related to the idea or the use case you post of using such a platform as Riverside to host a session with a private community. And that is also something we recognize, we can see clearly a trend towards the decentralization of, let’s say, a media landscape, where everything is becoming much more niche much more based on the individual rather than the brand. And that is also where that’s a different tools that can actually help creator distribute their message there, that is the position of these tools. And that’s also, I would say, a place where we’re heading towards, which is going to be very, very different than what we see today.
Jon: Yeah, and it also makes sense, in terms of the corporate marketplace, you mentioned organizations earlier, who want to do events for their own people, and end up with a really high quality recording, but at the same time, have multiple people on camera, and have, you know, staff and other audiences who they would want to include, at the time of live, unable to ask questions, and so forth. But then distributed as a more finished polished production. Yeah, as you know, so not only are we seeing revolutions in distribution, and you know, it was unimaginable not long ago, to be able to do the quality of live video that zoom does, for example, or that the quality of live production with all the bells and whistles that I’m able to do with the Ecamm. But is also fascinating that the programs can have the kind of production quality that we were used to pre pandemic and pre internet.
The other thing that that is important to me, and I think is another kind of a tip, but also an advantage of having really good quality video and isolating it, and not working around the multi camera aspects that you end up with, on zoom, for example, is that I’m focusing more and more on short form video. And I love doing interviews like this, and I love having the longer form format. But I think what’s going to be more valuable to my audience, particularly in a soundbite oriented culture, are the nuggets. And I just actually, this week produced one of my first shorts, an insight that I had in a conversation with Jay Acunzo of Marketing Showrunners. And those kinds of nuggets and the ability to edit out these short form videos will be ideal to have the high quality video and make those really kind of like, sing sweetly from the quality point of view.
Abel: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I mean, when having a very insightful conversation, by not leveraging the fact that you have so much unique content. So what you can do, one one use case I particularly like is to You record both audio and video, you use the audio for a podcast, you use the video for your YouTube channel, then you repurpose the content. And take for example 10 different clips of like the most interesting points being made this used for social media marketing strategy. And then you can also transcribe for example, the conversation and transform it into a blog post, which is a bit more to the point and synthesize, then then you have four or five different pieces of content, all different all complementing each other and all being like perfectly made for different types of distribution channels.
Jon: Yeah, you’re preaching to the choir. And I kind of even more than that this is something that I’m moving into. When I talk about being of service to visionary organizations. The one point that I would disagree with you about is the audio production and the video production, because as a producer, I don’t want to edit both of those. So tell me if I’m missing something, but what my intention is, and how I will do this program is that I will edit the video. And then I will strip out the audio and distribute that as an audio podcast, as opposed to doing a separate audio edit. And I 100% agree with you that part of the reason for doing what I call a web show, call it a video podcast, called wherever you want is not just for the original program, but for those opportunities to repurpose the content and refine them and deliver even higher quality clips by doing that kind of post production.
Abel: Absolutely. And I mean, like you said, you can choose to edit the video and audio as one file. And so the moment you make one edit that applies to all different files, all different tracks. And then once you have the finalized version, that is indeed, when you can split them and use it to distribute as an audio file and like a video file.
Jon: Great. It’s wonderful to talk to you thank you again for making the time and congratulations, because I do think that riverside.fm has identified a quality niche. And it’s evidenced in the people that are already using the platform. And I don’t think the as they say the toothpaste is going back in the tube with regard to the fact that even when the pandemic comes to an end, hopefully soon, that we’re going to be still more and more working in virtual spaces and doing this kind of virtual production. So I think you’re very well positioned. And as a longtime video producer, I can really see the value of having that quality. The big question for me to be transparent is how long will it take me to do an extra edit that is going to be more sophisticated. I’ll be custom compositing the two shot of us side by side as well as having the isolated tracks. So anyway, it’ll be fun. And it’ll be an interesting part of this video exploration.
Abel: Absolutely. You’ll see people that take a more hands off approach and try to minimize the time, you’ll see people who outsource the whole process. And the people who really like to dive deep into it, and really, like do everything custom. So it’s like you said you can you can make anything out of it. You can make it very simple or keep it simple. Or you can go really deep and specific.
Jon: Fabulous. Well thanks again and enjoy your weekend and Amsterdam and stay safe. We I will mention for the audience that I got a couple of very interesting interviews coming up, Jay Acunzo of Marketing Showrunners and he’s going to be back. And I’m actually doing his course, about program premises and doing programs that matter and conversations that make a difference. And Sean McCabe who is doing exactly the kind of report repurposing a video that we’re talking about. He’s got something called the daily content machine. And he’s been a big leader in online marketing for a long time. I’ll be interviewing him in February. So stay tuned to Video Mojo. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch, listen, whatever you do, and we’ll see you on the next episode.