Keeping it weird in Philadelphia: Covering the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

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Jim MacMillan

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I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: A competitor pedals a shark toward the finish line Saturday at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.

I could try to explain the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, or you could just watch the video below. I have posted a two-minute edit, taken from the three live streams which I shared Saturday on Periscope, totaling 19 minutes.

Basically, artists parade on decorated bikes and other vehicles and then speed down a crowded chute before trying to avoid crashing in a mud pit.

But I learned that it can be difficult to cover so much down time. While the pace was perfect for those in attendance, there was just not much to see or say between riders.

Also, as I started to discover while covering the recent Broad Street Run, sunlight can make viewing your screen nearly impossible. I wish I had taken the shady side of the street.

I was probably also zooming too frequently, and I wondered if that was why a lot of viewers seemed to check out quickly. Shaky shots are just no fun to watch for very long.

Meanwhile, steady zooming seems to do little harm to the image quality, probably because resolution is so low to begin with. But I think we might look back in a few years and wonder how anyone tolerated these highly-pixelated images, which is how I often feel these days when viewing old YouTube videos.

Also as I have discovered in the past, I picked up new viewers by stopping and restarting streams and by changing titles, but I ran into initialization delays again, reinforcing my suspicion that crowded events place a burden on broadband service make it safer to start connected once you begin streaming.