All ears: Learning more ways to listen while streaming

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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: I Periscoped the annual Procession of the Saints during the Italian Market Festival last weekend in South Philadelphia.

One of the most innovative elements of Periscope is that your followers can send you text messages which you can see on your phone screen while streaming a live video report.

Unfortunately, this process excludes web viewers who may have spotted your Periscope-linked tweet on their desktops of laptops.

But I discovered a couple of tricks to open up the conversation while covering the Procession of the Saints last weekend in South Philadelphia.

First, set your mobile Twitter app to send you text alerts when somebody addresses you. Then, while streaming you can prompt your web viewers to tweet questions or comments, and you will see them on your screen.

To do this on an iPhone: Go into Settings > Notifications, and scroll down and click on Twitter. Slide the “Allow Notifications” button to the right and elect the “Banners” alert style. That’s it.

You can do the same with the Messages app for friends who know your phone number. Although these alerts will be superimposed on your screen, they will not be visible to stream viewers.

So, it might also make sense to verbalize when you are responding to a tweet or a text, for the benefit of everyone else who is watching.

You can also ask those web followers to retweet you, and you can thank them when that passes on your screen. While you’re at it, ask Periscope followers to swipe left and share your stream with their followers inside the app, and thank them too.

Another takeaway from last weekend was that you will need to allow time for uploads between streams when using Periscope.

For instance, if you want to end one stream, move and start another, you can’t start again until the previous video upload is complete.

Otherwise, you will lose the replay version inside the Periscope app, locking out viewers who might like to see the stream over the next 24 hours, before it is automatically deleted.

I haven’t figured out the ratio between stream length and upload time, but it seemed as if a 15 minute stream took about two or three minutes. The formula will obviously depend upon your connectivity but I have to wonder if image complexity and compression might also be factors.

I also like to keep the replay version online in order to maintain the option of recording it with Quicktime when I get back to my laptop; so that I can save the comments and hearts.

You can also set the Periscope app to keep a copy in your phone’s Camera Roll. Click on your profile and “Settings” to fine the option to “Autosave Broadcasts,” but that version will not display the user engagement.

Finally, I had one strange experience with my screen flashing white several times before one of my streams crashed. The phone felt hot in my hand — perhaps from all the sunlight — and I wondered if that was a factor.

In any case, all copies of that stream were lost; so, you’ll want to do everything possible to avoid crashes before you begin. I’m not sure if it helps, but I have made it a practice to force-quit all other apps before streaming.

If you would like to take a look, here is a four-minute edit from the 17 minutes of footage I streamed on Periscope during the of the Procession of the Saints:


Beam those streams to a big screen: Watching live video apps on TV

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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: I recently caught these streams from Periscope users at the New England Aquarium, atop the Washington Monument and even one flying inside a Philadelphia Police helicopter.

While it seems obvious that new live-streaming applications such as Periscope and Meerkat were designed with mobile consumption in mind, I sometimes like watching streams on my big-screen TV at home.

My method requires wifi and an Apple TV device, and it’s pretty simple. Once you have both your phone and the Apple TV box logged into the same wifi network — and with the Apple TV cabled to your TV — all you have to do is:

1) Swipe up from the home screen on your iPhone
2) Tap AirPlay
3) Wait for the Airplay screen
4) Tap Apple TV
5) Wait a second for the Mirroring button to appear
6) And drag the Mirroring button to the right


That’s it! You can watch Pericope, Meerkat or anything else from your phone and on the big screen at the same time.

You can tilt the phone to view horizontal videos from your Camera Roll or from YouTube on the big screen, but vertical-only applications like Periscope are going to make you wish you had a vertical TV, as I discussed in a previous post.

Connecting your home audio system to your TV can further enhance the experience, as I enjoyed while watching Diana Ross performing last night in Las Vegas:

Finally — while I haven’t tried it — I am wondering if connecting your phone to your TV with a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI cable might works as well for a little less money.

Who’s got other ideas for enhancing the live stream experience?


Imagine texting your favorite performers while they play for you; or just do it now with Periscope

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose reads messages and waves goodbye after singing “Ain’t No Sunshine” for a small, spontaneous audience Tuesday night on Periscope.

For many years now, I have been plopping down on the couch at the end of my day and checking YouTube’s daily “Most Viewed” list on my Apple TV, just to see what made people click. I can’t begin to summarize the countless trends and discoveries, but at last I have found something much more interesting to do.

A couple of nights ago, I figured out how to enhance the experience of mobile streaming video consumption by mirroring my iPhone screen on the Apple TV device — which I have connected to a big screen and my home audio system.

I watched and listened as one Periscope user streamed Neil Diamond singing “Cracklin’ Rosie” during a live a concert — and it sounded terrific; even though I’m not much of a Neil Diamond fan.

I found another user streaming from a Fleetwood Mac arena show, but the house lights were up; so, it must have been streaming either too early or perhaps during intermission.

Then, I hit the jackpot. There was Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing into her phone — where about 100 of us were watching. Again, the sound was outstanding.

If you don’t know Pomplamoose, they’re not easy to define but it’s safe to call them exceptional innovators.

So, I simply texted what I was thinking: that I should not have been surprised to find her playing on this emerging platform. Mostly, I listened. And then I captured the frame grabs above just before she bailed.

This interactive experience felt like such a breakthrough — to text one of my favorite entertainers while she performed — that it made me wonder if this was how captivated TV viewers felt when they tuned in to Sing Along with Mitch 50 years ago.

Want more? One night later, I stumbled onto the stream from a guy who calls himself Marks Records as he rapped whatever anybody typed in the message window. Before I knew it, I had him rapping about my beautiful wife, our lazy housecat and my pitch that we all need to work together for peace.

I lost that link but found him doing it again yesterday. It’s quite an experience but definitely #NSFW.

I have also found myself attending sporting events through other people’s stream’s, often from the front rows. One guy streamed as Vin Scully read the lineups on the big screen at a Dodgers game. Other users took me to see NBA and NHL matches on recent nights.

The only problem is that you have to wade through a lot of baloney to find the good stuff, at least until somebody develops better search protocols. In terms of quality, this experience can feel more like surfing YouTube’s “Recently Added” queue rather than the “Most Viewed.”

Above all, streaming to the Apple TV left me wishing that I had my TV mounted vertically on the wall at home, and wondering how long it will be before mobile video production makes that the norm. Or, maybe we will have rotating screens? Time will tell.

Bottom line: Either I’m crazy or this is the biggest shift in social sharing in many, many years. What do you think?

Finally, randomly, this is still my favorite Pomplamoose video: