How are virtual awards shows different from a traditional event?
I have said it before but do NOT just film a normal event and stream it! Instead, it is vital to approach the awards show like a live TV show where there is flow, constant content and slick presentation. Let’s be honest, like live event professionals, we get away with a lot- if a segment of a show finishes a few minutes early it generally doesn't matter as people can return to socialising, dining or drinking. But at a virtual event, even ten seconds of “dead air” could be catastrophic for brand value, audience engagement, reputation and the future of a show. As such a virtual event needs to be well planned, well-rehearsed and, if live, have standby content that can be used to fill any changes to the schedule.
In terms of audience experience, it is vital to consider the range of contexts in which audiences may be watching. Some audience members may be together in a venue, while others could be watching from a mobile device in a public place - consideration needs to be given to all of them. For example, an invitation to cheer is great for a remote room full of people but could promote feelings of isolation for someone watching on their own. Our team is very careful to be very mindful of the range of people watching and in what circumstances they may be watching.
Should the show be live?
This is the question I get asked the most. It is worth noting that almost nothing you see on TV or the internet is live - at the very least there will be a few seconds delay and, in the case of many streaming services, up to several minutes. Indeed a lot of “Live” TV, news and radio is actually filmed “as live” where the presenters pretend to be live streaming but actually record it earlier and re-transmit. This is a surprise to many people but it is true and common practice. Indeed in many cases, a delayed transmission is essential as it allows inappropriate content to be dumped prior to transmission.
My advice to clients is to only broadcast live if you absolutely have to. In the case of an award show, the only time that the show must be live is when winners are shown accepting their award.
Intro sections, finalist read-outs, guest speeches and even winner announcements can all be filmed earlier in the day, or even days before. These clips can then be edited if needed and stacked as video clips in a media server alongside idents and graphics to playback throughout the awards show.
But be careful of continuity! This is the process (or even the art) of ensuring that everything flows as one - presenters must ensure hair, clothing, makeup etc is all the same between each take. Even if poor continuity is not obvious to an audience it can make a show feel odd. At Pytch we would typically appoint both our hair and makeup person as well as producer to keep a very close eye on continuity.
Where it is essential to incorporate live elements, this can be done as part of the pre-recorded schedule - so some elements are pre-recorded and then we mix to a live feed of someone in our Virtual Venue, or at a remote location.
Some people say that pre-recording lacks the energy and atmosphere - there is a risk of this if the presenter is unable to project their energy and personality to the audience in a way that feels live and authentic. So when considering whether to go “live” or “as live” it is vital to consider the skills of your presenter. We work with some incredible presenter-coaches who can work with your choice of presenter (or ours) to ensure that the energy and feel are right.
Where do presenters broadcast from?
I have seen some shockingly-bad “shows” where presenters were presenting an award from a home office using zoom. While Zoom has its place (I use it daily) and not everyone has an awesome home broadcasting setup like mine (https://youtu.be/xOtPXTxd19o) it is not ok to inflect bad sound, bad video and a messy space on your audience! There are a range of alternate options
TV-Studio- a space like www.thevirtualvenue.co.uk is ideal for recording presenters to broadcast quality and allows for perfect sound, excellent picture quality and an exciting and engaging set and video. The experience of working in these spaces can be really excellent, with a good atmosphere and a lot of fun. At Pytch we have Virtual Venues in both London and Bristol, which can be linked directly with each other.
Remote feed - we often send out a camera crew to a presenter’s choice of location to film them doing the presentation.
Home broadcast - this can be OK if the presenter has the right kit. Luckily the equipment needed to do a decent job is quite affordable - either we can hire it to you or we can provide it for sale.
How do we let other guests see the winners?
It is a great idea to get winners to be visible to other guests. The best way of doing this is to get a live camera feed of them out to the entire audience as the award is being announced- that way everyone gets to see the response in a way that is impossible at live events. This can be done with feeds from Intelligo, Zoom, Teams, hangouts, WhatsApp or FB Messenger - as long as the feed comes in we can route it through the system.
In normal times we typically steer clients away from acceptance speeches, but in a virtual format, this can be an excellent element to get the audience to feel connected. So as to avoid the dreaded never-ending speech, a countdown timer can be shown to the winner - this in itself can be made to be a fun part of the event!