From Sea to Stream: Broadcasting Live Shows Online

July 2, 2015

Rock, hip hop, opera, traditional, folk and classical music performed live on boats sailing on the River Clyde beside the Glasgow Science Centre complemented by dancers, pirates and fireworks. Cryptic’s Sound to Sea performance was a high point of the Commonwealth Games Festival 2014. Here, Inner Ear director Dougal Perman discusses how they took the show from the sea to the screen…

sound to sea

Waves lap the wooden longboat and a captivated audience watch from the bank of the Canting Basin. Just as soprano Marie Claire Breen reaches her crescendo, pirates take control of the boat and hold her hostage. In a moment, the Royal Navy is circling the boat and ordering the hostiles to surrender.

This night-time nautical extravaganza was not something you see every day on the water behind the Glasgow Science Centre, right in the heart of Creative Clyde. Our job was to capture the excitement and make it available for people all over the world to watch in wonder.

Sound to Sea was a collaboration with many creative organisations including Walk The Plank, who coordinated the boat traffic and pyrotechnics; the Galgael workshop in Govan, who crafted a longboat for the pirates; several Royal Navy vessels, Green Berets and crew and many more. Understandably when producing such a spectacle Cryptic wanted as many people as possible to be able to see the show. Audience capacity was 1,000 and the show ran for two nights. Our stream extended the reach tenfold as it was watched more than 10,000 times by people all over the world.

I run a content company called Inner Ear. We create audio, video and interactive content with live streaming as one of our specialities. We’ve pioneered the use of live streaming (broadcasting audio and video online via the internet) since we launched our internet radio station, Radio Magnetic, in March 2001.

Having captured content in the US, Brazil and Germany, broadcast the Microsoft Office Office 365 UK product launch from a Routemaster bus driving around central London, taken the Glenfiddich Piping Championship from Blair Castle to an international audience and showcased live jazz and traditional music from remote parts of Shetland and Lewis, we’re always up for a challenge. Cryptic approached us about live streaming and documenting their stunning show and we jumped at the chance.

Covering a large performance area with six cameras – positioned to give us optimum close-up and wide-angled views of all the action – was demanding and rewarding. Using cameras designed for sports and nature coverage, our operators got so close to the action that some viewers thought we had cameras on the boats. (One operator did get on a Navy vessel during the dress rehearsal much to her delight and the sailors’ amusement.) I won’t describe the performances, or how we covered them in much detail, you’re better off watching the highlights or the full show.

Our approach to streaming events like Sound to Sea is to make the production as televisual as possible. We want to enthral, engage and entertain the audience. Festival 2014, the culture programme for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, attracted about the same level of attendance as the sporting activities. There wasn’t nearly as much traditional broadcast coverage as the games though, which is another compelling reason for streaming shows and reaching highly engaged audiences directly.

We know the audience is highly engaged, partly because they are making the choice to watch the stream – be it on their laptops, tablets, phones, Chromecasts, Roku boxes, and so on – rather than stumbling across it on TV. The audience is also very chatty, with a high number of enthusiastic tweets shared.

Most of the viewers were in Glasgow and elsewhere around the UK which is what Cryptic and Festival 2014 wanted. But there were also viewers from 63 countries including major Scottish diaspora centres – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand nto to mention Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, Chile, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Japan and Malaysia.

Much closer to home, BBC Scotland and Glasgow Science Centre helped increase audience reach too by showing the stream (which we broadcast in HD) on their big screen as part of the festival at Pacific Quay. We heard of people hosting Sound to Sea parties around the country in their homes and bars, and we teamed up with Cryptic to do a special screening in Yorkhill Children’s Hospital of the video after the event.

Streaming Sound to Sea shared Cryptic’s stunning artistic vision with an international audience. We took an electric part of Festival 2014 and made it as widely accessible as possible. The online audience got to see something really special. The live audience had the opportunity to watch again. Stakeholders got great value for money in terms of numbers of people who saw the event. Festival 2014 enjoyed global coverage of a landmark show. And we had the pleasure of working on a fantastic project as part of the 150-strong crew who made the music on boats on the river ignite the air and the sky.

We’re working on some new ideas at the moment and relishing the next set of production and promotional challenges, because when it comes to creative ways to communicate content, we like to push the boat out!

Dougal Perman is the director of Inner Ear. If you’d like to find out more about Inner Ear and the services they provide, you can contact Dougal at or call 0141 226 8808

If you missed Sound to Sea, catch up with the videos below.

Full video




Inner Ear’s Livestreaming Showreel


Inner Ear Live Streaming Showreel 2015 from Inner Ear on Vimeo.