Worre Studios: The Intersection of Live and Virtual Events
- Mar 03, 2023
Can you imagine producing a Zoom call with over 100,000 participants? How about adding top-name performers and a live audience? It may seem impossible to pull off successfully, but that’s what the Worre Studios team does every week in their one-of-a-kind studio in Las Vegas – with four more studios planned around the world. Worre Studios hosts events from product launches to entertainment shows and concerts to conference events or investor meetings with the goal of helping their clients create higher-impact events with a greater reach. This is achieved by creating a front-row experience for all attendees, no matter where they’re sitting. Hosts can visually expand the audience field to talk to attendees directly, see and hear their reactions, and have constant interaction, which keeps audiences engaged and on the edge of their seats.
Advantages of Hybrid Events
Virtual events have allowed companies to continue to deliver on their goals and objectives while some people could not attend live but risk making the virtual audience feel left out from those who attend in person. Virtual events are best used in conjunction with live events, not as replacements, to create a hybrid event. Hybrid events are synergistic: taking the best elements that each format has to offer and delivering an enhanced result that neither alone can achieve. For example, the captured content can be repurposed on demand, extending the life and message of the experience.
Challenges of Event Hosting
Hosting a traveling live act in a large venue typically requires over 20 trucks to transport a multitude of equipment, stage structure, and production infrastructure, plus costly local union labor to assemble the set in each location. Then it’s off to the next city, with no opportunity to capitalize on the momentous effort. Many more variables risk live mobile event reliability than those with a dedicated stage and control room. From incorrect equipment setup to unstable connections or limited facility bandwidth, one substandard element has the potential to derail the success of the event. It’s also difficult for the talent to engage with a huge audience, and it’s difficult for the audience to engage with the act on stage from distant seats in the auditorium.
Meanwhile, remote attendees of live events are often relegated to passive spectators. Managing remote attendees and content sharing can also be difficult for hosts or presenters, especially if they are unfamiliar with the process or do not have the appropriate equipment and infrastructure to make management quick and seamless. A robust technology platform is needed to enable everyone to become part of the action.
Audience engagement is the primary focus of the Worre Studios events. The shared experience and real-time feedback achieved through production aspects like showing live and virtual effects images behind the presenters on the stage and sent to the audience are key to elevating the experience to be more engaging than a typical Zoom call or virtual event. Understanding the challenges that can arise from hosts managing remote participants and content sharing, Worre Studios saw the freedom and increased focus that presenters could gain without the burden of coordinating remote attendees. This creates possibilities for better quality performances and interactions from the host and a better experience for remote participants through top-tier production effects and smooth real-time exchanges with the live participants. Increased seamless interactions and face time with a focused host also present the opportunity to enhance team cohesion and build synergy across multiple locations or create an intimate community of fans near and far.
Worre Studios also saw the possibilities in helping their clients reach a larger audience, not only through the inclusion of a virtual audience but with the added feature of real-time translation of the event in multiple languages at once. This reach can also be extended after the event through recordings that include the various camera, program, and translation feeds that create a more immersive experience similar to the hybrid event.
Hybrid events are in demand more than ever, and technology is a crucial component of making these events possible and elevating them into significant experiences. Worre Studios is a 25,000-square-foot facility with a stage surrounded by two 73’x 14’ and two 24’ x 14’ 1.9mm LED curved walls on motorized platforms creating a 360-degree interactive screen system that can either surround the 65-foot circular stage completely to create an intimate universe for a remote audience or expand to include 300 people in a live audience. Three trusses above the stage support motorized lights, Grand Ma3 with Elation and Martin Heads, and the surround sound system, with monitors on the edges of the stage. High-definition cameras run on tracks, dollies, and jibs.
Aside from stage technology, there are many technology components at work behind the scenes. The ability to display up to 2,700 guests on the LED wall and incorporate digital images is achieved through Canvas video software. The host can use an iPad to expand the audience field for direct interactions with attendees and maintain high audience engagement.
The studio also has two 5G network connections, allowing video to be shot in 8K resolution. Fiber optic distribution between the stage, rack, and control room utilizes Evertz routers and Lightware Ubex dual encoders, which provide full redundancy switchover in less than a second.
The control room has an AJA bridge, Yamaha Rivage with a DSP-RXEX mixing console, a lighting console, and an NDI video switcher. These digital devices make up the core technology for the production of events. Because they utilize IP, they reduce the amount of physical hardware required while increasing system flexibility to support any type of event configuration the client needs. With this solution, Worre Studios can create custom, quality experiences for nearly any occasion their clients need.
Worre Studios also created an “interactive village,” the heart of remote attendee management. Forty-eight iMac workstations manage 100,000 two-way video guests (one-way broadcast feeds can scale up to millions) to coordinate live multilanguage translation events that can include more than 100 countries. This robust management system for remote interactions takes the burden of coordinating remote attendees from the event host so that they can focus on the quality of their information, interactions, or performance. With the interactive village overseeing remote participants, each person joining remotely is guaranteed face time with the host and live audience, which creates the intimate, equitable atmosphere that builds cohesion across multiple locations.
The pandemic has accelerated the integration of the digital environment into live events to reveal the merits of hybrid experiences as more than a viable solution to a location issue. Hybrid experiences offer a new venue for engaging a larger audience, with the quality that makes live and remote attendees feel involved and empirically connected. Highly produced, sophisticated hybrid events substantially expand performers’ reach and the attendees’ experience by leveraging large digital video walls, surround audio, dramatic lighting, video switching, and premier remote videoconferencing technologies. These types of events highlight the value of combining effective digital content with connecting to and sustaining an engaged remote community while promoting commerce that extends the investment beyond the production of the initial event.
Space designers and event planners must move beyond choosing what platform to use. They need to consider the next generation of events and the most advanced technologies that can drive the success of these types of connected engagements. Designers need to demonstrate digital and virtual literacy in order to be effective and continue to help clients reach audiences and achieve their business goals. With the right technology solutions that accommodate and enhance seamless exchanges between performers, remote attendees, and live audience members, it is possible to expand high-quality immersive experiences to a larger audience in a meaningful way.