NEW YORK CITY
How the Shorty Awards Used Switcher
to Produce Videos Remotely
The prestigious Shorty Awards honor the best in social and digital media. When COVID-19 forced the 2020 awards ceremony to go digital, the Shortys team needed a new, completely virtual way to conduct their annual post-show interviews with winners. Thanks to Switcher Studio's remote production services, the Shortys team not only made the interviews happen but actually produced nearly twice as many interviews as the year before. Here’s their story.
What do Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Casey Neistat, Bill Nye, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson all have in common?
They’re all Shorty Awards winners.
If you work in social media, you know the Shortys (named for short-form content) are a big deal — a really big deal. Founded in 2008, the Shortys were the first awards created to honor social media.
“In the early days of social media, there was no way to know who you should follow,” said Christina Waterman, Shortys marketing and partnership manager. “Our co-founders created an algorithm where people could vote with a tweet for their favorite people to follow. That way, we could identify the most popular people in each category. … Within 24 hours of launch, it went viral, and the Shorty Awards became the top trending term on Twitter.”
What started out entirely on Twitter soon turned into a full-blown awards show.
“After they crowned all the winners, everybody was like, 'But what about the award show?'” said Christina. “In a couple of weekends, they got a bunch of sponsors together, worked out a venue, and they put on the first annual Shorty Awards. They flew all the winners in ... and that's how it was born.”
Four years later, in 2012, the Shorty Awards added a Brands and Organizations (B&O) competition to complement the Influencer competition, and since then, the awards have been honoring the best in the social and digital space from creators and companies alike.
But COVID-19 threw a wrench in their traditions. Once a global pandemic was declared in March 2020, it became clear to the Shorty Awards team, like thousands of other event-planning teams across the country, that their May 2020 ceremony wouldn’t be able to continue in person as planned. So they did what we’ve all been doing: they made it virtual. Here’s how they used Switcher’s remote production services to help make it happen.
The challenge of recording interviews virtually
The Shortys team was tasked not only with producing a live, virtual awards show, but also with translating their popular post-show Brands and Organizations interviews to a new digital format. These interviews provide a chance to hear from the B&O winners about the strategy and work behind their award-winning campaigns. And though they’ve traditionally been conducted in person, there was no question to Shorty Awards organizers — the B&O interviews still had to be included in the 2020 itinerary.
“We said, ‘Well, it's going to be even harder to recognize these brands and organizations and the people behind all of the work: the creatives behind the work, the art directors, the business development managers. ... That’s when we were like, ‘We have to still do this,’” recounted Christina.
That’s where Switcher came in.
remote production services
As the Shorty Awards team looked into the logistics of recording and editing Zoom interviews, Carley Schumann, the Awards' brand partnerships manager, reached out to Switcher Studio.
“We saw [that Switcher] is a way more powerful video tool that we could be using to make these even higher quality than if we were to edit them,” said Christina.
When they learned about Switcher's Video Chat feature — which allows up to five remote guests to join a virtual room for a collaborative livestream or recording session — they realized it would be the perfect tool for conducting their remote interviews with B&O winners.
When it came to actually conducting and producing the interviews, Christina worked with a remote livestreaming producer from Switcher’s team. Before each interview, Christina and the producer joined a Switcher Video Chat room along with the award winner and the interview host.
Christina introduced winners to their host and explained the format before the interview started, and the remote producer served as the technical whiz in the background, polishing the interview videos in real time using Switcher's live-editing tools.
"I was happy that [our remote producer] was there because he would help with all that,” said Christina.
Though Switcher is typically a hands-on multicamera livestreaming tool, remote production is a perfect solution for those who want to be more hands-off with their live or recorded productions. Using Switcher’s Video Chat feature, remote producers are able to use all of Switcher’s live-editing functions — like the ability to switch cameras and add text and assets in real time — to edit live footage from remote locations. Any webcam or smartphone can join a Video Chat, which means it doesn’t require the purchase or shipping of expensive gear.
Alternatively, those like the Shortys team — who didn’t want to livestream their videos but also didn’t want the typical post-production time — can rely on remote production services to get remote videos filmed and edited in one fell swoop. There’s no need to edit together footage from multiple cameras in post production; that’s all done in real time.
Producing more videos in less time, remotely
So how’d it turn out, you ask?
Not only did the Shortys team conduct more interviews than ever before — 39 versus the typical 20 or so — but they also came out better.
This is for a few reasons.
Because the Shorty Awards team sent the interview questions to winners ahead of time this year (rather than just catching them after the show), the interviewees had more time to prepare and collect their thoughts, leading to stronger answers. Plus, as Christina noted, “They were in their own spaces, so they were more comfortable and it felt more natural."
Additionally, by nature of being virtual, the interviews didn’t have a firm time limit. When interviews happen in person post-show, time slots are tight. By leveraging Switcher’s remote production services, scheduling wasn’t as strict — the run-of-show was more relaxed.
More than anything, partnering with Switcher's remote production services saved the Shorty Awards team from having to produce nearly 40 interviews all on their own using Zoom.
“It would have taken a lot more time. We would have had to do not only the producing ourselves, but also all of the editing and uploading," said Christina. “Switcher just helped cut out two of those major steps that it was going to take.”
Adaptability has always been a critical component of every marketing and event production strategy, and in the time of COVID, it’s more important than ever. Switcher originated as a livestreaming tool for those producing their own content — and it still is — but we are excited to be in a position to offer expanded production services to other organizations, like the Shorty Awards, during this uncertain time and in the future.
When asked if she would recommend Switcher to other people looking for remote production for their videos, Christina said, “Absolutely. Yes. A hundred percent.”