How are virtual events the new normal?
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, the crumbling medical infrastructure and loss of life has been devastating. Along with being pushed to test our limits, we have also had to deal with one of the biggest fallouts in recent years, one that has affected industries the world over. While we continue to fight a common battle, the events industry has found a new rhythm that is slowly changing and shaping the entertainment industry.
With virtual events becoming a new reality, this has only led to connecting more audiences at the same time without worrying about the geographical challenges it would have otherwise posed. As juggernauts of the industry are debating heatedly about the future of events, let us get to know more about how this new normal is going to shape things.
What are Zoom events?
Over the last year or so, the reliable online video and communications platform, Zoom has played an important role in making up for the loss of human interactions by allowing us to connect with our family, friends and peers virtually. Be it a birthday celebration, a family game night, corporate meetings and even conducting classes and seminars, Zoom has provided a means to reconnect and move forward with our lives albeit in a way that is very different from the past.
What makes Zoom events special?
Since the enforcement of nation wide lockdowns, various event management firms began adopting the new digital approach and started conducting events virtually. Most of the earliest virtual events were conducted over Zoom after a few weeks of lockdown and today, the application has become a household sensation, with people becoming increasingly familiar with its versatile usages. Conducting Zoom events has become less of a technological challenge for a majority of its users, allowing us to connect across various geographical regions of the world, just by the click of a button.
Another positive outcome of using Zoom has been its role in paving the way for Virtual Technological Platforms that provide a much more enriched experience. But unlike Virtual Technological Platforms that give access to employees or members of a certain organisation, Zoom is a platform that is accessible by all thus allowing us to connect with a majority of people. From warm cozy birthday parties to family days, Zoom events have got it all covered.
Why are Zoom events here to stay?
Human beings are social creatures and the events industry mainly depends on the innate tendency to interact and grow connections. Although Zoom events and other virtual meetings cannot come close to the sense of physical touch and emotions, it gives us an opportunity to come close to that feeling virtually, from the comfort of our own homes along with being a much more cost and time-efficient medium of communication.
This new norm is here to stay and people have adapted to this medium so easily and readily, that now even weddings take place online. With the exception of the first family, all the guests are invited to the online celebration of the coming together of two families.
Virtual Technology Platforms:
Other applications of virtual communication channels
Zoom as a platform might have a great reach, but the scope for audience engagement is still quite limited. This is where various Virtual Technology Platforms have evolved all this while. Many private corporate companies and event management firms have extensively researched and invested towards technology to produce platforms that will enrich the audience’s experience to a whole new level.
These types of platforms employ a lot of technical tools such as green screen and AVs that make the event more visually appealing for the audience. On most occasions, a designated studio is used to create these virtual live events to be broadcasted to the users. Such platforms help the audience to participate in activities such as taking quizzes and participating in karaokes along with having helped people in the field of AV to not limit their horizons of imagination in order to design a particular event.
What is Live Streaming?
Live streaming is the act of streaming media online while it is being recorded and broadcasted in real-time simultaneously. This form of streaming has had no form of post-production influence. In other words, it has not been touched by editing and is completely natural and raw footage capturing reactions and performances in real-time. Live streaming has been a big and popular part of the internet world and today there are numerous platforms on which live streaming occurs including, Facebook Watch, Instagram Live, Youtube Live, Twitch- a popular live streaming platform used by gamers and their viewers.
In the Indian context, many of the news channels have live segments where interviews, reporting or any form of broadcasting is done in real-time. All our cricket matches are broadcasted live and we enjoy watching the match in real-time from the comfort of our homes. The Miss World pageants are among the list of live broadcasts as well.
Green Screens and Virtual Studios:
Earlier, event managers had to invest a lot of effort, time and finances towards setting up the venue for any event, from the stage, light and sound systems to the man power and other logistics, the overhead costs were quite high. Today, Virtual events have cut down these processes by a big margin and so all an event manager requires right now is a room with a green screen and a good network.
What are Green Screens?
Green screens are like an empty canvas for event managers to project their imagination onto the screen directly, thus making the role of an AV expert all the more important now more than ever. Their expertise is the need of the hour to make a stunning visually appealing virtual event. Green screens are avidly used in the digital world for photography and videography. This green screen later on helps with the adding of special effects without tampering with the subject in front of it.
The many applications of using Green Screens:
By digitally removing, or “keying out” that colour during post-production or editing and replacing it with a background of your choice, Green screens make the process not only easier but also more flexible for any changes. The color ‘Green’ is the go-to colour used for virtual studios because it doesn’t match any natural skin tone or hair colour, meaning, no part of an actor will be edited out through “chroma keying” or removing of the screen. When a green costume or prop is essential, a blue screen is often substituted. These production sets are often referred to as virtual studios or virtual sets. The advantage of such a set up is that the cost of conducting and setting up such virtual events is very low in comparison to setting up an actual event.
Different Kinds of Live Streaming:
Virtual events are not only restricted to specialised portals of organisation and zoom. Infact, the beauty of a virtual event is that anyone can conduct it on their own. Thanks to apps such as Facebook and Instagram that allows users to project themselves live through the app thereby allowing other users to join these live broadcasts at the same time. The last few months have seen many celebrities use such platforms to connect and interact with fans on a global level. We at team.i host our very own daily Instagram live sessions, where we get into conversations with professionals and experienced event managers to hear what they have to share with us.
The Future of the events and entertainment industry:
One of the most frequently asked questions during the pandemic has been with regard to the future of the events and entertainment industry. The conflicting opinions along with the uncertainty that prevails have posed a rather difficult means of knowing for certain what the next couple of months and soon after the next few years will be like.
While the near future might not be looking all that bright, event managers have continued to do what they do best by accepting the obstacles for what it is and charging full steam ahead into the realm of virtual reality and creatively working around it. While the profit margin may be comparatively lower for a virtual event there are various positive outlooks that come with it. Lower costs, geographical accessibility, quicker communication channels, better utilization of human talent and shared knowledge are just a few of the advantages that virtual events have managed to bring over the last year or so.
As things are coming back to normal, so will the events industry. A hybrid model of event management is what we expect to be seeing in the coming months with users enjoying the same event virtually anywhere in the world.
This pandemic might have hit this glamorous industry big time, but it has opened up an avenue that will forever change the course of the events industry in the future. With an exciting future and increased accessibility to look forward to, event managers continue to strive to best contribute toward the sustainability and growth of this dynamic industry.