When I was a young teenager pedaling my Schwinn Sting-Ray and navigating my way through life in a typical middle-class neighborhood in Southern California, live albums were all the rage. We had Frampton Comes Alive, Kiss Alive, Foghat Live, Aerosmith Live, the Who was Live at Leeds, the Wings were Over America, and Cheap Trick did the live thing in Budokan.
Today, the whole “live” thing means something completely different. Now it’s all about Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and whatever happens to be the next social media vehicle to take us live. Can we do live tweets yet? If we can’t now, I’d imagine it’s coming soon. It’s crazy, I tell ya.
I’m just thankful we didn’t have smartphones and GoPro cameras when I was a kid or I would have gotten in way more trouble than I did. Riding our bikes off Bill Ashkin’s roof and into his pool went under the parental radar back then, and had we posted a live video of that, I’m pretty sure we would have been stopped before even attempting it. Or at the very least we’d have gotten in major trouble once one of our parents saw the outcome online. There were quite a few other things we did that wouldn’t have gotten the “parental approval” stamp, but I don’t have the time to get into each of those. Besides, I can’t remember all of them anyway, which is probably a good thing.
Now, this live stuff isn’t all bad. It can be good if you really want to share your kid’s baseball or basketball game with grandma and grandpa or show your son’s graduation or your daughter’s wedding live so all your relatives who live thousands of miles away can witness those special moments, too.
It’s totally amazing that we have the technology to do all that now, but when some of us regular folk attempt to do live video at an automotive event or interview someone of interest in our industry, nine times out of ten the narration falls flat; either phonetically or due to lack of speaking talent. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far between, so it’s best to leave that up to the professionals. I’ve seen enough poorly shot and bad-sounding Facebook Live streams to last me two lifetimes. Trust me on this. There is a reason “Broadcast Journalism and Documentary” and “Television Writing and Production” courses are offered at the college education level.
I, for one, recognize my limitations in the sound and video world. My vocal range is not made for radio, television, or YouTube Live. I probably have what they call “a face for radio.” Or in my case; a magazine.
Also, in the age of GoPro cameras, we stick those things on our cars while on the local autocross and think we are going to make a really cool action video of our car hauling ass on the track. Unfortunately, the speed and excitement of driving an autocross rarely translates well, so we end up with a boring video of us driving around some orange cones at what looks like a pretty slow pace.
My point here is that we’ve now put cameras just about everywhere we can, so it’s no longer new or exciting. Sure, you can do some creative editing and pump in some fitting music, which certainly helps the cause, but again, proper editing requires the proper education in film production where one can learn the skills necessary to put together an interesting piece—live or recorded.
Let’s face it; most of us attempting to double as a live video host just aren’t very good. So let’s put down the smartphone, get back to wrenching, driving, or whatever you are good at and leave the “we live, baby” stuff to the professionals. Your friends will appreciate it, I’ll appreciate it, and I know the guys with experience will really appreciate it.
I say going live without a net should be left to the more skilled folks.