The future of Events is Hybrid
Bringing virtual and in-person together
The disruption to the events industry as a result of the pandemic brought about rapid innovation and creativity with the introduction of online events. With this transformation came unforeseen benefits in the form of increased reach and attendance, greater flexibility, increased data and metrics, improved return on investment and reduced environmental cost.
As the world slowly begins to return to some form of normality, there is no going back for the conference and events industry. Although in-person events look set to return stronger than ever, with 78% of marketeers saying they wanted in-person events to return in a primary role, the opportunities offered by the addition of virtual elements are too good to pass up. 97% of event marketeers believe that hybrid events will be more prevalent than before.
The challenge for event organisers is to ensure that delegates enjoy their experience however they attend a hybrid event. 43% of marketeers have reported that they find it challenging to replicate event formats in a virtual model. For example, just livestreaming events is not enough. Virtual attendees do not want to be distant observers, they want to feel part of the event and require a dedicated focus. Evidence shows that the attention spans of virtual attendees is shorter. Fewer than 7% of event attendees believe virtual events should exceed an hour in duration and 55% felt they should last 30 minutes or less.
How to bring virtual and in-person events together?
So with the challenge of bringing virtual and in-person events together in a hybrid model, how can technology assist in delivering a seamless experience for attendees? By using the right technology, seamless integration between live and remote audiences (and presenters) becomes possible.
Increasingly, professional camera solutions, such as PTZ and system cameras, are being used to capture high quality images that can then be screened or projected around the events, streamed online or to other venues, or used for editing into more easily consumable packages for virtual audiences.
At the heart of the production is the latest generation live IT/IP production platform from Panasonic - KAIROS. This system can take in a host of signal inputs and output them to any format or resolution, with the addition of virtual presenters or augmented reality effects as required. This type of glass-to-glass solution enables the integration of live and remote audiences seamlessly - wherever they might be. Combined with the latest projectors, hologram and display technologies, the possibilities become endless...For example, a high profile speaker at one event in North America, could be presenting live and online to an audience while at the same time being replicated in hologram form on the stage of events in Europe and Asia.
Peace of mind
With the increased complexity of solutions being used for hybrid events, the technology chosen is more important than ever for peace of mind on reliability, ease of use and total cost of ownership.
For these mission-critical applications, it helps event organisers to know that their solution providers make sure that their equipment and technology is widely tested. For example, Panasonic projectors go through the most rigorous and extreme environmental testing (drop, dust, vibration, temperature) to cater for the challenging event environment. In addition, to ensure the show always goes on, they employ a unique redundant light-source system enabling projection to continue even an element fails.
Leading solution providers should be continuously investing in smaller, more lightweight designs to provide a smaller footprint and easier integration into the conference venue. Technical innovations in Panasonic projectors – airflow design, new cooling system and an improved laser – mean more efficient performance, easier operation, and cost and space savings for event organisers.
Lastly, total cost of ownership is an important consideration. Here, Panasonic projectors offer 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation and reduced installation effort, meaning they fit easily into existing systems. In addition, remote monitoring options and early warning systems mean expensive problems can be avoided before they happen.
Hybrid event technology in action
The Royal Society, the world’s oldest independent scientific academy, recently upgraded its technology for the next generation of hybrid events. A trailblazer in event streaming since 2004, the Society has typically streamed around 20 live lectures a year to its YouTube channel, aimed at increasing public engagement in science, as well as hosting external events from its London Carlton House Terrace HQ.
In preparation for a future of blended live and online events, the Royal Society’s London Carlton House Terrace HQ has deployed Panasonic 4K PTZ cameras, touchscreen remote camera controllers and 3-Chip DLP projectors to provide a 4K-ready multi-screen hybrid presentation system.
Liam Helm, AV Manager at The Royal Society, said: “As physical events begin to return, I expect that we will initially have a smaller physical audience and we will almost certainly have both virtual audiences and virtual participants. This is where the system will come into its own and the Royal Society is set to continue trailblazing with the streaming of next generation blended physical and virtual events.”