Hybrid Live Event Workflow for BDA Awards Show
by Gavin Pease
With times as they are, video production and event approaches have had to adapt to an ever-increasing online environment. Many Live Events have inherited the process of building their audience through a combination of in-person attendance and web-based presence via stream. This has allowed viewers to stay safe in their own homes, as well as increased the reach that a Live Event can have in being more widely accessible. No longer does an event-goer have to physically attend a conference, keynote, or awards show to get the full experience.
As these Hybrid Live Events are so quickly gaining traction, we want to break down how E7 best plans, prepares, and executes a show in this new environment.
Element 7 was recently approached by EXP Events to facilitate filming and streaming one of these unique events for BDA, an advertising and merchandising agency based in Woodinville, WA. The event was an awards show and celebration of the company's year of accounts and sales. An overhead breakdown is featured here to show how the event was setup.
A host was on stage at all times, and they bestowed awards to salespeople and execs both from the live audience, as well as many nominees and recipients who were calling in entirely online. These remote participants would need to be displayed and switched independently to show live to the crowd and stream.
For each Award Category, then, we had two nominee feeds available: 1 Gallery View Apple Laptop hosting a Zoom room with all applicable nominees, and 1 Full-Screen Pinned Laptop on our winner for that category.
When the pool of nominees was announced, we sent the Gallery View Feed out on the Audience-Facing Monitor and live stream so viewers could see everyone eligible. When the winner was revealed, we cut to the featured Full-Screen Pin Feed for them to accept their award virtually. If the award recipient was in-person, the Gallery View Feed remained up and the award was carried out on stage.
The live show was also fed back into the zoom calls so all the nominees could see what was happening on stage and we were able to speak to the Zoom Rooms to advise participants when they were going live.
In total we had 8 Apple Laptop Computers dedicated to managing the Zoom calls of nominees dialing in. 6 of these computers were Gallery View, and 2 were for featuring the winners pinned in Full-Screen. Whichever computers were not actively used in switching the current Award Category were on deck, queueing up the next round in the same fashion. We repeated this cycle loop for all 15 Award Categories, and are happy to say they all went off without a hitch!
Switching & Feeds
With so many feeds to manage, we had an extensive video village set up. All video routing was handled by our Blackmagic Smart VideoHub 40x40 12G-SDI, which was an integral cornerstone for all our routing onsite.
All our Zoom feeds were ran to a Blackmagic ATEM Mini Extreme ISO, which both recorded and allowed us to switch between the various calls. This feed was then routed to a Blackmagic Television Studio 4K.
A separate cut, independent from the livestream, was established for the 3 In-House Monitors to present graphics and information to the in-person audience. We accomplished this by using the AUX Output on the Switcher. Our Technical Director used a stream deck to facilitate these cuts, which were made easy when needing to cut the Monitors and Livestream simultaneously. Graphics were added via the ATEM Software.
2 DSM's were used as confidence monitors for the host, displaying the powerpoint presentation and notes as a guide for talking points.
Show records were covered by 2 Atomos Ninja V Recording Monitors.
Finally, the Live Show was ultimately outputted to a Master Computer that streamed the video online using Livestream Studio.
As for E7's camera team, the video coverage was fairly traditional. Three camera operators from our crew were set to cover the event: 1 Center Stage Wide Shot, 1 Off-Angle Medium Shot, and 1 Roaming Shoulder-Mounted Camera.
Our new Blackmagic Ursa Mini G2's were our workhorses in capture and were outfitted with Fujinon TV Zoom Lenses for smooth live moves. These camera systems were best as they were most compatible with the Blackmagic Ecosystem established by the Switching Team. The G2's were easy to match to one another, and, even in the low-light environment, provided crisp and reliable visual feeds.
Onto the Next
The crowd was lively throughout the show, and when the curtain closed it was time to let loose at the company after party. We even set up a standing monitor and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K as a Zoom Webcam Station for virtual guests to celebrate and interact with the party as it happened onsite.
We're working to hone this Hybrid Event workflow into a consistent package in our Live Production moving forward. With boundless audience and participant capabilities, we can truly bring the excitement of attending a unique live experience into your home and beyond.