Hybrid events are here to stay for good

Creative Technology worked with the BBC to produce this spectacular VJ Day 2020 event on Horse Guards Parade

By Steve Purkess, head of sport and broadcast, Creative Technology

In 2021, we predict there will be a continuation of the virtual event trends and technology already in motion, with hybrid events, live events and their streamed counterparts existing side by side and being a key part of the short and medium term landscape going forward.

There has been a huge shift in focus to virtual events this year, with factors such as virtual event portals and live streaming becoming the only way that many of our clients can reach their audience due to the restrictions on large gatherings across the globe.

2020 has brought a whole host of new challenges for both Creative Technology (CT) and our clients and has pushed us to explore and develop technical solutions in order to continue creating engaging events and delivering them to a larger, more diverse audience than ever before.

Creative Technology and the wider NEP Group has managed to quickly pivot into virtual events while continuing to deliver on-site services. This year has also seen our group establish production platforms which enable high-quality and stable remote contribution of ‘talent’ alongside connecting conventional and virtual studios around the world.

Engaging remote audiences

In an industry where our focus has always been the audience in the room, we have had to find new ways to create an engaging virtual event for this ‘at home’ audience experience. Each event is now actually a broadcast and our thinking has evolved accordingly, taking cues from traditional live broadcast production to bring that same excitement into the viewing experience.

Something that has been really fascinating to develop and implement is the live virtual audience technology. Bringing an audience into a sporting event via remote contribution not only brings back an element of the audience atmosphere into the event but also offers a unique and memorable experience for each audience member.

It is interesting to review the benefits of a hybrid event. Creating a virtual companion event alongside a traditional event gives our clients the ability to deliver their message to thousands, even millions, of people all over the world. This is a benefit which we see remaining a focus long after the pandemic is over.

Day-to-day business

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has been the main trigger for this increased adoption of streaming technology; however, the impact of the virus does not stop there. In the delivery of on-site services not only are there travel restrictions, testing and quarantine measures to consider for crew, but also the financial impact of this, putting the affordability of services on site under scrutiny. With a significant amount of our work in the sport market being overseas, any innovation or change in production workflow which reduces the requirement for crew at the venue is an area of focus for our sports clients – and it is not hard to see the short- and long-term benefits that this approach brings.

The challenge CT has is that deployment and build of technology overlay on site will require boots on the ground, so we have to take our approach back to the drawing board and look at more bespoke systems which can be delivered with reduced crew levels.


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