Yesterday’s WWDC keynote was a very different beast from the usual live event. Not just the lack of audience, but the fact that each of the presentations was very obviously pre-recorded.
Clearly those who like to attend in person will feel they missed out on that experience. But I have to say that I very much preferred the pre-recorded presentations, for several reasons …
First, and most significantly, the pace. WWDC keynotes and iPhone launches alike can sometimes feel like they drag – that they are far longer than they should be. Yesterday’s pace was fast-paced, with nothing that felt like padding.
Apple being Apple, I’m sure there are endless rehearsals for live keynotes – but even so, you can only really get a sense of how an entire event hangs together when you can watch the whole thing. Given the senior execs involved, my guess is that there is no more than one or two full ‘dress rehearsals’ for the entire event; rather, individual presenters rehearse their own segments multiple times.
But having everything pre-recorded means that Apple can sit back and take a leisurely look at the event as a whole, and get feedback from multiple people about how well it works. If some segments feel rushed while others feel slow. It can re-record at will, and edit the final footage into the best possible event.
The end result is something that feels far slicker, better-paced and consistently interesting.
Second, the lack of whooping and applause. Sure, there will be those who feel that made the event feel less exciting, but I’m a Brit: I’m allergic to whooping, and the constant applause just slows things down. It also felt to me like there was less playing to the audience too: less ‘truly magical’ hyperbole, and more facts.
Third, it was more visually interesting. The different settings gave the presentations greater variety than a bunch of people standing on the same stage. Even with Tim Cook’s intro in the theater, the fact that it was pre-recorded meant they could have more camera angles, giving it a better aesthetic than the limited viewpoints we get in a live presentation before an audience.
Finally, Apple was able to get the replay online almost instantly, complete with bookmarks that let us jump straight to the specific section we want to watch or re-watch:
So for me, this is a format I’d love to see every time, for both WWDC keynotes and iPhone launches.
I don’t for one moment imagine I’ll get it, of course. Apple is too big a fan of the atmosphere and the applause and, yes, the whooping. As soon as the company is able to bring a theater-full of people together without killing them, I’m sure it will do so.
But I hope the company will learn lessons from this. Fewer live segments, more video. It could even have Cook hosting the event on stage before a live audience, but have all of the individual presentations be videos. That would still allow for applause, but at least it would be likely limited to the end of each segment.
What’s your view? Would you prefer traditional live presentations, a fully pre-recorded event or some kind of hybrid, with more use of video presentations? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments.
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