I produced an online quiz using all the AI and amateur A/V production tricks that I could muster with a zero-dollar budget.
The brief was to deliver an entertaining company-wide quiz entirely online. The crew was Bree and Courtney from our People team designing and scoring the quiz, Andy as quizmaster and myself as producer.
With over 100 employees across Australia at the time, we’d be dealing with Zoom galleries full of faces waiting expectantly to see what they’d committed two hours of their Thursday afternoons for.
Our goal was to produce it like a game show. That meant music, lights, drama, crowd and plenty of glitz and glamour. I’ve been casually doing DJ livestreams for friends over the past few years, which gave me a reasonable workflow to repurpose. At work, I’d already integrated some A/V production elements to our company meetings to help set expectations that online events can be delivered with some flair.
This event was billed as something bigger and better than anything we’d tried before, which called for an all-new set of toys.
Our dependable online meeting foundation is Google Slides + Zoom. My go-to video streaming/studio app is the open source OBS. Answers were collected in Google Sheets. None of this is revolutionary; it’s a robust and familiar production suite that enables some decent innovation.
Why Google Slides worked:
- The crew could all collaborate on the layout and content in real time.
- Using remoteforslides.com, Andy as the quizmaster had a remote clicker to control the slides that I am presenting and screen sharing from my production suite. No “next slide please” nonsense!
Why Zoom worked:
- All attendees could join the meeting, get their video/audio working and engage in the chat without any assistance or fuss.
- Breakout rooms were ideal for quiz teams to isolate and deliberate on answers.
- The stereo audio sharing capabilities meant I could contribute high quality music and sound effects to the event. I overlayed The Sound Room for audience participation and set up my own soundboard in Farrago (I’ve bought this app and it’s great).
- Zoom’s just-launched AI Avatars feature gave us a novel way to have an animated version of Andy overlayed on the slides (with the help of OBS to process a green screen)
Why Google Sheets worked:
- Teams could collaborate on answers throughout the round without needing to speak
- Using the
=IMPORTRANGE()function, not only could each team’s answers be automatically collated and scored on a private master sheet; we even built a simple checkbox system on the master sheet to manually control when the questions would be revealed to each team. We could synchronise this behind the scenes with the pace of the quizmaster in the live show.
Once our crew had successfully tested the format, I was keen to try my hand at a theme song to add some personalisation to the event and avoid relying entirely on generic music and sounds. At this stage it was the night before the show! Time to turn to everyone’s new best friend: Generative AI.
All I had to do was write a verse that fit a certain number of syllables, pick a backing track, pick a voice and tweak it. This turned out to be my favourite element of the show. The song is permanently etched into my brain and became a theme tune in the office for weeks after.
Check the “Move Your Body” track that Voicemod provide for free in their text-to-song service:
Free AI Music Generator - Create Text to Song Music Online
Free AI Music generator online ready create great music and carols now. Pick a song, singer and add your text. Now you have your own song to share
I extracted the vocals and backing track in a pinch using vocalremover.org so I could loop the theme as background music during the show:
The simple animation was produced using VEED’s video maker:
Video Editing Tools - Simple, Powerful, Online - VEED.IO
Cut, trim, crop, add subtitles, edit audio, transcribe to text, add video effects, and more! VEED makes online video editing simple. VEED.IO
Unfortunately, Sarah was at my place the night I worked on this and after hearing it a thousand times she never wants to hear this again. My sympathy only goes so far though and I’ll likely impose it whenever I have the urge to reminisce.
Welcome to my living room, it’s time for the show. My 1.6m wall of screens wasn’t enough for this event and was augmented with an iPad (using Universal Control) for audio processing and another MacBook to monitor comms in Slack. Also throw in my Pioneer XDJ as a hardware MIDI controller for the soundboard, a lapel microphone, my AirPods, an external camera and a vanity light for good measure…
- Teaser clips (like the one at the start of this article) were whipped up using Synthesia.
- To sound more authentic as an announcer, I added an echo and pitch drop to my voice using Audio Hijack (from the same bundle as the Farrago soundboard app).
- Teams were tasked with creating an identity (name, brand, motto) as an icebreaker exercise. Submissions were posted on the company Slack and then each team used their answer sheet to vote on their favourite brand.
- One round was a 2-coin Heads & Tails using FlipSimu with images from Saxon’s AI generated photoshoot for the head and … tail. This resulted in a hilarious moment where both coins kept landing on “tails”, bringing accusations of rigged coins from the audience. I had to do a few more flips to prove otherwise!
- A “Technical Difficulties” mode. Given the complex orchestration we’d imposed on ourselves, I expected something to break at some point. In OBS, I built a scene that I could flip to when something untoward inevitably happened. It was called upon when we started displaying the leaderboard only to realise the slide content hadn’t refreshed and remained blank. Ironically, planning for this added some realism and the moment ended up being a highlight of the event!
The show was a lotta work, a helluva lotta fun to run and we got awesome feedback from the contestants. I’d do another one for sure and it would build on the foundation from this one. Guaranteed, I wouldn’t be able to resist adding some new tricks and trying different things.