Virtual Event Production Insights Part Two: Quality Technical Execution
The initial pivot to virtual events witnessed a scramble to use whatever tools were at hand. Largely, that meant basic “web cam” via personal computers from a presenter’s home. Like many decisions driven by the pandemic, virtual solutions chosen at the outset of this period can’t be considered right or wrong. Companies (even broadcast news) were simply fulfilling the crucial need to continue the communications experience, and the forgiveness factor was high.
Since those earliest days, the production community has quickly developed best practices that render the early solutions unacceptable. Audiences are no longer satisfied with glorified “zoom” calls. Yet, that method, along with its failures of transmission, platform melt-downs and other basic technical issues are still widespread.
With the current toolbox available, there are no more excuses. Over a wide range of budgets, veteran experiential producers like Executive Visions can deliver a seamless, polished and professional online experience that will represent a company’s brand the right way.
To start out, here’s an overview of some baseline production levels to consider. These focus on the technical delivery only. The content development and storytelling aspects of a production will be covered in a separate piece where we’ll review elements like story design, speaker support graphics, supporting video, Augmented Reality and Xtended Reality.
Covid Protocol: With each of our solutions, we implement the highest levels of CDC Covid safety and protection protocol and look forward to sharing the details with you.
Level One: Professional Web Cam
Technically speaking, our producers/directors work with presenters on a very basic set of guidelines to establish a baseline of web cam professionalism. Things as simple as…
• Directing interior location and positioning to optimize environment and ambient lighting.
• Being aware of computer height and eyeline.
• Utilizing Basic LED front light or ring light.
• Avoiding use of the built-in mic on your computer. Enhancing audio via “Air Pods”, wired or wireless headsets to help with echoes and extraneous noise.
• Optimizing the wireless or “hard-wired” internet connection. All remote platforms have a sliding quality feature to maintain connection. If you have a poor connection, video and audio quality will degrade. Turning off all unnecessary devices connected to your network will help dedicate bandwidth to your call. Restarting your computer and internet router will clear any potential bandwidth “leaks”. Testing your speed with www.speedtest.net and ensuring you have at least 10Mbps of upload/download speed is critical.
Once the presenter’s webcam environment is optimized, we’re ready for the presentation. But, here’s the crucial part. Rather than the presenter connecting directly to an unreliable platform, we pull content into one of our professional virtual control rooms where we are able to assimilate it, integrate it into a stable platform, mix it into a broadcast style program and provide a seamless transmission. The content can be pre-recorded or mixed real-time for a live webcast.
Speaker support graphics and video, either client supplied or produced by our content team, are mixed-in to the presentation to create a very professional front to back broadcast-style experience.
In addition, the presenter is provided a return feed to their computer displaying graphics, teleprompter, speaker timer and a cue light system based on individual preferences. That provides them with similar feedback/support systems they are accustomed to when presenting in a ballroom environment.
Level Two: Remote Broadcast Camera Package
Level Two significantly increases quality by utilizing a one of our highly-professional remote broadcast kits. We ship an all-inclusive kit directly to each presenter, containing an HD camera, professional lens optimized for the proper look, professional quality microphone, custom lighting and teleprompter. The packages are compact, uncomplicated and easily assembled by the presenter with technical assistance provided by our remote director. If desired, a local technician can be brought-in to assemble the set-up, but that has been a rare requirement.
Although presentations are still conducted in the presenter’s remote location, this solution delivers a serious enhancement to the look and feel of the presentation.
As with Level One, the content is fed into our Virtual Control Room for full integration with graphics and video into a program mix, and distributed over our stable platform and network. Of course, the same return feed speaker support capabilities apply here as well.
Level Three: Studio Shoot
The first differentiating factor at this level, is that presenters travel to our broadcast studio for taping or live broadcast of their presentations. As mentioned above, CDC Covid protocols are strictly adhered to.
The studio environment offers a completely different level of control and opens up a multitude of creative production options, which dramatically increase production quality and viewer engagement.
The baseline technical aspects of a production can be fulfilled a much higher degree of professionalism. Everything is under tight control to deliver a polished broadcast look:
• set and environment
• multiple speakers collaborating safely in a common branded environment
• integration of remote and live studio presenters
• camera quality
• communication between Presenter, Producer and Director
Content can be produced with a variety of shooting styles and environments:
• traditional hard set
• psyche wall
• green screen
• LED set wall creating the ability place the presenter in a highly immersive and interactive Virtual World of Augmented Reality and Extended Reality. These are technically sophisticated tools that have advanced significantly in recent years, and offer greatly enhanced creative potential.
(See our short video demo highlighting the fascinating world of AR and XR technology.)
So, as an overview, those are three levels of technical production that can be configured to meet a wide range of budgets. But, most important, all of them offer a degree of polish and professionalism that will separate you from the onslaught of visually and technically problematic web calls.
As a 35-year Communications and Experiential Agency, we have a team of the industry’s leading creative and technical professionals ready to collaborate closely with you on a Virtual Event Production that will represent your brand the right way.
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