Behind-the-scenes fun with Facebook Live: Part two
June 6, 2016
by Mark Ollig

“This is our team!” Producer Nitin quietly whispered to those of us watching along on Facebook Live.

He approached the news desk, where NBC Bay Area morning television news anchors Sam Brock and Laura Garcia Cannon were seated.

We continue where we left off last week: participating in a Facebook Live video broadcast from the NBC Bay Area’s “Today in the Bay” TV news studio, as chaperoned by Producer Nitin, via his cellphone video camera.

While broadcasting live on-camera to the television audience, Laura sets up a news story as the TV station switches to its prerecorded account of it.

The two news anchors, now off-camera, notice the approaching cellphone pointed at them, and smile.

Producer Nitin told the anchors the Facebook Live community was watching.

Sam Brock looked into Producer Nitin’s cellphone camera and said, “I was just thinking if, you know, five years ago, someone saw someone walking around with a phone, just talking to themselves . . . doing paces around a studio, you would think; ‘what is that guy? Like, crazy?’” he laughed.

“The Facebook Live thing is pretty new, so a lot of people are kind of getting used to the idea,” Producer Nitin replied.

With the news anchors being off-camera, they appeared to be in a more relaxed, and jovial mood.

Facebook Live users are typing out messages and comments, and my “Greetings from Minnesota” is usually seen and occasionally acknowledged by Producer Nitin.

Close to 100 Facebook users were actively participating in this Facebook Live video feed.

“Let’s say good morning to some of our Facebook friends,” Producer Nitin said to the two news anchors, as he began reading some of the comments being typed by those of us participating in this live-feed.

I quickly typed; “Good morning from Minnesota!”

Producer Nitin saw my greeting, mentioned my name, and told the morning news anchors I was a regular viewer of their Facebook Live video feeds.

They both smiled while looking directly at the cellphone camera.

Sam then asked; “What’s Mark . . . like, is that like Oh-leg or Ah-lig?”

Producer Nitin knew the correct pronunciation of Ollig was “Oh-leg” and told them, to which Sam smiled and nodded, while Laura grinned, and said; “Ah, we’re learning!”

So, there I was; seated in front of my computer screen in Minnesota, sipping coffee, while two professional television news anchors, located in a major TV market in California, were trying to get the pronunciation of my last name right.

Not too bad at all, Mark.

Producer Nitin was informed by the floor director the news anchors were about to go back live on the air, so he quietly backed away from the news desk.

Sam and Laura checked their paper copy, looked up into the studio TV camera, and resumed reporting the news, reading from the teleprompter.

Oh, did I mention all the television cameras in the news studio were being remotely operated by folks in the control room?

Producer Nitin then quietly walked through the studio exit, down a hallway, and into the newsroom production area.

We watched people at work inside their office cubicles; on the phone, obtaining news from their sources, and busily typing out stories to be sent to the studio set, for on-air broadcast by the anchors.

During a previous broadcast, Facebook Live viewers followed one person walking from the newsroom production area, carrying a handful of papers (news copy) to the studio news desk.

The papers were given to the news anchors, while they were off-camera.

Digressing back to the current Facebook Live video feed, producer Nitin walked past someone who was busily typing, and cheerfully said; “Good morning, Kari Hall!”

Kari looked up and smiled. She has been an NBC Bay Area meteorologist since May 2015.

Still walking, Nitin then stopped by morning traffic anchor Mike Inouye, who was preparing his morning traffic reports for broadcast.

Inouye smiled, and gave a brief behind-the-scenes description of the current road conditions in the Bay Area, to all the Facebook Live viewers.

The traffic video Mike saw was high-quality, and in real-time; not in the ten second updated “screen captures” I view when looking at any one of the 200 MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) metro area online cameras.

Producer Nitin then walked into the darkened control room, where I saw many horizontal rows of television monitors on the wall, along with the folks operating the news studio TV cameras.

The control room director was busy determining which TV camera, or television monitor’s video, would broadcast live to their television viewers.

My participation on Facebook Live was not only a learning experience; it was also fun.

At times, I felt like the “proverbial fly on the wall” during those behind-the-scenes segments.

To be clear, Facebook Live is not only for the media. It’s for any Facebook user who would like to broadcast live video to their followers.

To learn more about broadcasting using Facebook Live, check out: https://live.fb.com.

The homepage for NBC Bay Area is: http://www.nbcbayarea.com.

Follow me on Twitter at my @bitsandbytes user handle.

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