With the arrival of high-end smart device cameras, sophisticated gimbals, 4G, and platforms like Twitch or Facebook Live, video live streaming has become immensely popular. Journalists have used the technology to cover breaking news right when and where they are breaking, do spontaneous interviews on a popular social media platform, or cover that really long, yet potentially important press conference both in full and on a budget. Unfortunately, journalistic live streams run the risk of becoming rather boring after a while. They might be exclusive, but they also lack dramaturgy, editing, extra features – which is why viewers tend to tune out. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Journalistic livestreams could be more compelling, and we’ve just started a new DNI project that is ready to tackle the challenge: LIMES, short for Livestreaming & Mixed Reality Management System.

Project LIMES, kicked off in January 2019 and partly funded by the Google DNI, is a joint effort of Hamburg-based media startup Contentflow and DW. Esports organizer and production company ESL, based in Cologne, serves as an external partner and beta tester.

In a nutshell, the project aims to make livestreams more appealing by adding mixed reality content layers that allow for interaction (e.g. live comments, live polling) and access to in-depth information (also via face and object recognition). The term mixed reality is used in the sense of augmented streaming ad TV technology here – think arrows, boxes, captions, and effects – not in the sense of watching a video on your tablet while wearing a HoloLens.

LIMES will benefit all kinds of digital media businesses as “pimped” streams are likely to have more reach and can be (better) monetized. Target audiences for the easy-to-use platform are editors, project managers, and producers.

The biggest LIMES test case will be DW’s Global Media Forum (GMF), an annual conference where journalists, media managers, technology experts, NGO representatives, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, civil servants and politicians get together to discuss the role of the media in a globalized world. Two instalments of the event fall into the scope of the project: GMF 2019 (scheduled for May 27th and 28th) and GMF 2020 (dates tba). While LIMES will still be under development this year, it should be fully functional for the 2020 event.

Project progress should be fast, as we’re not starting from scratch, but with a rock-solid piece of software. LIMES will be based on Contentflow, a video live streaming software built by the company of the same name. The platform already allows users to manage a vast number of streaming sources which can be put in containers and smoothly distributed across social web platforms. Contentflow also offers basic online editing, snapshot functionalities, ad server implementation, statistics, and a multi-user content management system.

DW Innovation’s role in the LIMES project will be that of a co-manager and creative consultant. We’ll work on requirements, user testing, evaluation, the GMF test case, and the dissemination of results. Hopefully, we’ll also be taking the software to our newsrooms at some point. Our colleagues at the DW lab already held a workshop involving Contentflow/LIMES earlier this month.

(Alexander Plaum)

Photo by Kees Streefkerk