Seventy-five percent of event organizers shifted to virtual events in 2020, and most companies plan to keep their events virtual or hybrid for the foreseeable future. The key challenge is audience engagement.
“Right now, everyone is throwing up a Zoom grid on their screens at home and staring at the camera,” says Marina Worre, co-founder and CEO of Worre Studios, a state-of-the-art digital virtual events company. “It’s really hard to keep the energy going because you need the feedback of the audience, you need to see that reaction. And when you have that one-way stream, you don’t have that.”
One of the main problems is the passivity of the traditional event experience. “People sit and watch, but they don’t have the interaction that they need from the screen, typically a laptop screen,” notes Larry Smith, president of Worre Studios. “You’re just sitting there. It’s a very passive experience.”
That lack of engagement is important because the virtual aspect of events is here to stay, even after in-person events return. “Companies are now seeing that hybrid events could be a solution for where they don’t have to deal with quarantine times or the uncertainty of international travel,” Smith notes.
Technology is key
Virtual and hybrid events are only possible because of technology, but it takes more than just an internet connection and a camera to engage organizers, speakers, and audience members simultaneously. That requires cutting-edge technological solutions that not only serve the needs of the current moment but are capable of keeping up with future demands in terms of bandwidth and features.
“When we had our last event in 2019, we pre-sold 7,000 tickets,” says Worre. “Then COVID happened. We decided we needed to build our own studio where we can host events.”
That studio sports a 65-foot circular stage with 14-foot ultra-high-resolution LED video walls, as well as two smaller additional screens. This allows Worre to configure events as either 360-degree purely virtual experiences or with up to 300 in-person audience members. The studio’s twin 5G network connections allow them to shoot and transmit events in 8K resolution — and currently handles up to 250,000 participants from around the world, with the ability to scale to millions. They held their first event, which attracted more than 36,000 participants, in December 2020 without a single technical glitch.
Future-proofing the technology was crucial. “What we’ve done is procured and installed technology that allows us to be ahead of the technology curve and competition through the next 5-10 years,” says Smith. “Our issue was, let’s buy the best of the best now that will allow us and our clients to feel confident in having the most up-to-date technology, no matter when they use the studio.”
Audience engagement underlies every decision. Worre Studios can handle multiple live translation streams, and speakers or organizers can put any audience member up on the screens for real-time interaction without lag or delay. Production aspects like music and virtual effects can be pushed to both the speakers and the audience so there is a shared experience and sense of real-time feedback, unlike traditional virtual events. Best of all, Worre Studios can provide all the technology and support staff, so companies or event professionals don’t need any expertise or technological infrastructure to plan their hybrid or virtual events.
“We call it the interactive village,” says Smith. “Always up always ready to go and having the support staff to operate it regardless of country regardless of language.”
For Worre, the future is now. “Even though it’s just them sitting in front of their computer, they feel the energy, they feel the laughter, the cheers, they hear the music,” she says. “All of that creates that two-way experience — you cannot compare it with anything else.”
To learn more about what Worre Studios can do for your next event, visit worrestudios.com/.