Pinnacle Now Offers Streaming Video

September 14, 2004
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HUDSONVILLE — The Pinnacle Center introduced a new offering Aug. 1 — live streaming audio and video Webcasts from its banquet rooms for special events, corporate events training seminars and dinner banquets.

Streaming video allows events to be broadcast live over the Internet for viewing by an unlimited number of people, including people who cannot attend an event. Camera feeds, VHS, DVD and computer presentations can all be streamed for audio and video.

“As far as I’ve been able to determine, I don’t think there’s even a handful of facilities in the country that do live streaming,” said Bill Worst, who shares ownership of the PinnacleCenter with his wife, Donna Worst.

“It’s the first venue of its size in the Midwest that offers this service to clients.”

Streaming video, also referred to as Webcasting, extends an event’s geographical reach to a dispersed audience without the cost of travel. It has a number of business applications, such as press conferences, product seminars, sales training sessions, corporate announcements and shareholder meetings.

“We just thought streaming video would be huge for our wedding market,” Worst remarked.

“If a brother serving overseas in the armed forces can’t be here for the wedding, or if grandma or out-of-town guests can’t make it to the wedding, they can now watch and listen to it live, in real time.”

Worst estimates he has invested about a half million dollars in audio and video equipment since opening PinnacleCenter in April 2000. The center’s main ballroom, for example, boasts a built in, four-camera system, built-in projectors and four large screens.

“We actually have full concert sound, but we can record the presentations on video or DVD. Now we’re actually going to send them out and broadcast them live on the Internet.”

PinnacleCenter’s technology includes PowerPoint/DVD/VHS playback and wireless Internet plug-ins for laptops. PowerPoint presentations can be sent live to the Internet, as well, with audio going out in stereo, he said.

Video streaming will be used for the first time at Pinnacle for a wedding later this month.

A couple of corporate events slated for October also have opted to go with video streaming. In addition, the church group that uses the center on Sundays has expressed interest in streaming video to Webcast sermons to parishioners who are shut-ins, he said.

Currently, Pinnacle can live stream out from the facility, but not two-way. Worst said he has yet to see any demand for two-way streaming. The company figured a larger percentage of clients would be streaming out so people could watch the events, he said.

Webcasting is a less expensive alternative to dedicated video conferencing, teleconferencing and other phone and Web solutions. The cost? It depends on how much bandwidth is needed to accommodate off-site guests or participants.

“All we need to know is how many people and for how long a period of time someone wants it so we can set up the bandwidth for them to log in,” Worst explained. “If you want 10 people to log in to watch a wedding for five hours — from the arrival, to the dinner to the formal dances — it’s $100.

“If you have 40 logged on for an hour, it’s $100. That’s $2.50 per person, which is much cheaper than flying them here or even putting them in a cab and driving them across town. It’s way less than video conferencing, which can get really expensive.”

“Streaming video just increases the audience reach,” Worst said. “The brides that we have recently met with have said, ‘Boy, that is really something.’ I think its popularity will grow once people know that we can do it here.”

Worst, in fact, plans to issue a press release for the first time in Pinnacle’s history just to let the public know about its new streaming video capabilities.

Pinnacle hosted 974 events last year, 180 of them being weddings.

About 120 other events were fundraising functions for nonprofits, and about 200 were private events, Worst said. The venue additionally hosts weekly and monthly meetings, as well as Sunday worship services.

The PinnacleCenter can accommodate small business luncheons with as few as five people to dinner banquets for parties of up to 800. It also can accommodate 1,500 for stand-up cocktail receptions and 1,000 people for theater-style presentations.

Pinnacle also offers meeting space for classroom-style and boardroom-style conferences.    

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