“We were at Werribee Park for the Melbourne International Three-Day Event and we were relying on one Telstra internet dongle,” recalls Chairman Robert McKay of the very first EQ Life live stream in 2011. “We had this flash new technology and I was confident that I knew how to work it and the camera. And then when the event started, several hundred people arrived and used their mobile phones and we had no signal!” Despite a few tense minutes, Rob did get the technology working and the event was streamed successfully.
“I stood up and actually did the filming for about 10 hours, and everything went to plan. We were all out to dinner that night at the (Werribee) Mansion Hotel to celebrate, when all of a sudden both my legs cramped. I had to be helped up from the table to go and walk for 15 minutes to get rid of the cramps!” Needless to say, Rob retired from a career behind the camera, and dedicated camera people were hired for subsequent streams.
Streaming from the Australian Dressage Championships at Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC) one year, Rob recalls the introduction of stream-saving technology mid-event. “The event ran Thursday to Sunday. On Friday, the internet signal dropped out; I said, ‘Right, that’s it, if we can’t get a signal and can’t get a reliable connection then there’s no future in live streaming’. And then someone said ‘Rob, I was watching some cricket the other day and I saw a fellow streaming live with a pack on his back’. I investigated this lead and found there was a technology park within 15 minutes of SIEC. I rang the guy and said, ‘This is what we’re trying to do’, and he said, ‘Come and see me, I can fix it for you’.”
Rob explains the equipment they ended up with on that occasion was Israeli technology that used eight different internet dongles covering all the different providers. “I was told it was designed because there could not be a technology failure for the Israeli defence missile system – which is what it had originally been created for. He said, ‘This will not fail’. He came out on Saturday morning, an hour and a half before the event, and we had to play with the connection to get the technology right – but it worked seamlessly.”