When you have a live webcast from a hotel or meeting facility, Forrest was right: you really never know what you’re going to get.
This was on my mind when I joined our Event Services team last week at a customer event in Georgetown, D.C.
The room was in a posh hotel in a brick warehouse near the C&O canal. It was gorgeous; plank flooring, 20-foot ceiling, brick walls – all working together seamlessly to create a nightmarish audio challenge for our live webcast.
Staging: The events team, headed up by Amzi and Shaun, had arrived the day before but had to wait for the previous guests to vacate the hall before they could get into the room. It was midnight before the team could get in and assess what the hotel catering crew had set up. The long banquet table in the room’s center was great for a dinner, but completely wrong for the meeting’s requirements. Our team had to reconfigure the room, build a stage and set up a full-scale audio-visual production set capable of delivering the global live stream the customer had envisioned.
Next, Amzi and his crew of five spent the rest of the morning setting up and synching the dual-camera shoot, mic’ing up and testing the four speakers, lighting the stage for optimal streaming results, setting up in-room monitors so the speakers and audience would be able to see the slides, and running the live video, slides and audio through mixers and streaming equipment to ensure that the live event would work as well for the in-person audience as those online. Working closely with our customer’s Communications teams, our Event Services team worked off a timeline-based production script showing all roles and how the event would unfold – every presentation, pre-recorded video, lunch and other breaks – down to the minute.
Show Time: Those chocolates: Despite a morning’s worth of testing, the brilliant morning sun climbs up and reflects off a metal panel outside the building and washes out (and blinds) two of our speakers. The team makes a few adjustments and the spotlight’s impact is redirected. The highly polished and professional speakers kick off, but their live voices are orders of magnitude louder (and in one case, softer) than the tests; our audio guy manipulates the 16-track mixer and Amzi – on the headset listening to the webcasts – works with him to find the happy medium for online listeners without deafening our live audience. Ten minutes in, everything is going swimmingly, “CRASH!” someone in the kitchen dumps a load of dishes. The team stuffs additional padding under the entry ways, but some things you just can’t fix – the clients roll with it. The CEO joins the meeting via a pre-recorded video our team switches in , and the first break comes, three, two, one, and our online audience switches to a “BRB” image and some nice elevator music.
The Reviews: Four hours later, both the in-person and online events have gone off without a (real) hitch. Our customer is delighted (and relieved) and has been able to share premium content with its leadership training teams nationwide.
It was impressive to see and, as someone who’s sweated many events like this, it reminded me just how important it is to not only have a team of trusted professionals running your always fluid A/V set up, but to also expertly managing your live streaming webcast so you can focus on making the event live up to the expectations, time and budget that your executives have invested.
Darian Germain is Vice President of Marketing at MediaPlatform.
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