You have a hidden talent I’d like to call your attention to. By the time you were 18 years old, you had watched more than 20,000 hours of video (TV, movies, online, etc.). That’s more than twice the number of hours most people need to become an expert at any skill. So while you may not know all the technical jargon, when it comes to judging content, creativity, and execution, you are truly a video production expert. This is going to come in handy, because today, every major corporate meeting and event needs to be reimagined and staged to work for both in-person and online audiences.
As you can imagine, this is not accomplished by simply pointing a camera at the stage or just looking into your webcam. Those techniques may have been OK pre-pandemic when only a few people might attend online (and they still may be OK in a pinch), but after a year and a half of online meetings, everyone, like you, is an expert at judging video production. So it’s time to take your meetings and events to the next level.
The first step in leveling-up your productions is to understand the differences between the human eye and a camera. Our brains work very hard to interpret what we see. You probably don’t pay attention to what is in or out of focus when you watch a stage show. If there are lots of people on stage, you may try to watch all of the action, or you may concentrate on one or two people. Whatever you are focusing on is what you see. Cameras don’t work that way. The director and editor have to choose what the audience is going to pay attention to and present it to them in a sequence that feels natural. This is easier said than done.
The first step in creating an exceptional hybrid (live and streamed) event is to craft a production concept designed to work for the hybrid audience. Is the set the right size, are the graphics readable in all of the various sizes, do you have bucolic vistas that need to be seen by both audiences? How will you style your close-ups, medium shots, etc.? Will the cameras be visible to the live audience? Does it matter? There are hundreds of questions that need to be answered as you work through your production concept.
Will there be interactivity? Chat? Polls? Show of hands? Virtual hands too? Are your corporate colors (brand colors) compatible with the lighting and set design? Is this a sales presentation that is mostly about a PowerPoint? Is this a sales presentation that’s mostly about a live product demonstration? And on and on. Once you have a solid production concept, it becomes your North Star.
The best storytellers say, “Always leave them wanting more.” But storytellers usually aren’t trying to close deals. This is where meetings and events truly differ from traditional television shows or movies. Now that we are working in a hybrid world, everything needs to be shorter, tighter, and more completely thought through. Shots need to be tighter. Video is a close-up medium. You can’t show wide shots to someone watching on a smartphone or laptop, because the screens are too small for them to see any detail. You need to respect the fact that someone watching you remotely will have other distractions you are unaware of, so every word, every sound, and every graphic need to be focused and powerful. Hybrid storytelling is an art form all its own.
You will need a set. You will need lights. You will need graphics. You will need sound. You might as well make them awesome! There’s no point in making your meeting or event available to a streaming audience if you are not going to respect them. Since you need all of these production elements for every event, you might as well make them great! The incremental cost of an amazing lighting director over a not-so-amazing lighting director is negligible. The cost of a cube truck over a panel van of grip equipment is also marginal. Hire the best and let them work. The benefits will far outweigh the slight upcharge.
Streaming Platform and Network
Here, you must forgive a shameless plug and some personal bias. Over the past 18 months or so, we have produced events on every major streaming platform: Zoom, Teams, Google’s various offerings, Webex, Slack, BlueJeans, Streamyard, YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Live, Twitter’s now defunct platforms, LinkedIn Live, the proprietary VPNs of some of our clients, and several dozen others. Each has its pluses and minuses. Of all of the platforms, when it comes to “big” events, my personal favorite is BlueJeans Events. This platform is different from the BlueJeans video chat client you may be familiar with in that it has the capacity to simulcast to 100,000 attendees. So, when we need to do an “all hands” meeting for a multinational client or any meeting or event with tens of thousands of attendees, BlueJeans Events is my platform of choice.
A New Service
I am so impressed with BlueJeans Events that we have struck a partnership with Verizon to offer BlueJeans Premium Production Services powered by The Palmer Group. Our award-winning consulting producers will work with Verizon’s sales team to provide end-to-end production services from the world’s best writers, directors, producers, and production companies. I’m very excited about this new partnership. Now that almost every one of our clients is producing hybrid events, this is the perfect time to ensure that every production we work on is streamed with the best platform on the best network. You can learn more about our premium production services here.
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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.