Live Easter Eggs Hatching
After the success of Foxes Live, Channel 4 and Windfall Films set out on a new collaboration; Easter Eggs Live. This collaboration proposed to follow the hatching of eggs of several species, from birds, to reptiles and fish.
Groovy Gecko were asked to stream the eggs live 24/7 for 8 days over the Easter period.
The challenge was to reliably capture 30 sources simultaneously with 17 of the streams available to view by the public at any one time. In addition there was a need to produce a process so that the production team could handle the administration of the streams as well as capture screenshots and keep a broadcast quality copy of all the feeds.
Two 60 minute programmes were aired on Channel 4 on Easter Sunday and Monday, in addition to 3 minute broadcasts daily in the week before. Online viewers were also able to observe the eggs’ progress around the clock, with 17 Egg and Baby Cams streams monitoring the eggs’ journey to become baby animals.
What we did.
Streams came from the state-of-the-art hatching studio and also several locations worldwide. Our engineers had to be able to manage the encoding equipment remotely from our central London headquarters. This was extremely challenging, especially when our equipment for streaming the turtle eggs in Sri Lanka got struck by lightning! They also had to be available at all times to respond to the unpredictable event of one of the eggs hatching.
We provided the editorial team with an administrative system able to manage all the concurrent streams. This included a special ‘snap shot’ tool to allow them to take stills from the streams whilst live in addition to a staging mechanism for each stream so that the video player could change to be in sync with the stage of the animal’s incubation journey. We also supplied the infrastructure to enable a team of natural history experts, who worked around the clock, to provide updates and answer viewer questions through the Channel 4 website and social media.
Easter Eggs Live started on Monday, March 25th with 6 x 3 min live programmes daily at 7.55pm. Two 60 minute live shows aired on Sunday, March 31st (Easter Sunday) and Monday, April 1st as well as live teasers as part of 4 Thought on 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th. Viewers were able to follow all the hatching and baby animal action around the clock at channel4.com/eggs and twitter.com/eastereggslive.
Channel 4 were really pleased with the results and overall quality of the streams with high interaction from viewers across Twitter and social media throughout the event.
“As well as being a fascinating series of programmes, Easter Eggs Live is a huge technical challenge, as it is 17 different live streams of hatching eggs! As a mad keen observer of animal behaviour I’m so looking forward to being glued to the live streams of a huge range of animals hatching all week. But there is, of course, a classic TV warning to ‘never work with children or animals’, which makes this an exciting – but also slightly nerve-wracking – challenge!”
Channel 4 Commissioning Editor for Specialist Factual, Sara Ramsden.