The COVID-19 pandemic led a local college student to start a business that doesn't just keep him busy during quarantine, but also meets what he believes has become a new, practical need.
Connor Cuthbert, 19, of Fleming, launched Finger Lakes Live Streaming this spring. The business can provide livestream video of events like weddings, concerts and games, bringing them digitally to audiences who may not be able to attend them personally due to social distancing. Its services include multi-camera live productions, recordings, and drone photography and videography.
A first-year civil engineering major at Villanova, Cuthbert told The Citizen that he began planning the business when he discovered the livestreaming program Switcher Studio. It allows users to wirelessly connect up to nine smartphones as they capture video, and switch between them like the director of a sporting event. Users can also add text cards and prerecorded video. Streams can be sent to platforms like YouTube and Facebook, with password protection if desired, and Cuthbert can provide digital and physical recordings to customers afterward.
"After playing with it, I was really impressed," he said of Switcher. "It has a lot of versatility."
Starting a livestreaming business wasn't something Cuthbert considered before the pandemic, he said. But with the need for it, his abundance of free time and the low investment it required, he moved forward with the idea. Cuthbert, who graduated from Auburn High in 2019, is no stranger to self-enterprising, having organized the local haunted house Nightmare on Anna Street for years.
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Though Finger Lakes Live Streaming will sometimes require a few extra hands, like when Cuthbert is operating his drone, he'll mostly be able to livestream events on his own. He uses tripods for the smartphones, as well as remotely movable cameras and microphone systems to deliver as high-quality a stream as possible, he said.
The first event for Finger Lakes Live Streaming was the pinning ceremony for Cayuga Community College nursing graduates on May 22. Cuthbert has also livestreamed a couple funerals for family and friends who couldn't attend in person. And as people slowly return to holding smaller events and gatherings this summer, he hopes to help share them with wider audiences.
"Livestreaming is going to be a necessity now," he said. "There's a practical need for something like this."