Adapting to the unique challenges of how to produce a live event in conjunction with social distancing, the design team at Elite Multimedia Productions launched a new Virtual Event Production Studio directly from their headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Our owner Jeremy Byrd had kicked around the idea a while ago, so as we started to build-out our demo room with LED video, we decided to add in some of our lighting inventory as well,” began Kenny Mason, Production Manager Elite Multimedia Productions. “Once the shutdown’s happened, we saw that live streaming was going to be a vital component to keeping the production industry going and we needed to find a way to take advantage of that. Since we already had this new demo room with production gear ready, it was a natural progression to transform the space into a virtual production studio.”
As the team at Elite Multimedia got busy creating the new studio, their production expertise and extensive inventory would prove to be valuable assets. Understanding exactly how the infrastructure of a high-quality production studio should be built, they were able to create an engaging and robust design environment.
“When we came back to the office after the stay-home restrictions were lifted, we really hit the ground running,” continued Mason. “In the room, we now have an upstage 2.8mm LED video wall along with some decking that’s wrapped in EPIX LED lighting strips. On the backend, we have our 3ME switcher that’s running multiple PTZ cameras due to social distancing guidelines. We then have a monitor position for the band as well as a broadcast mix position, and we are using multiple set-ups throughout our headquarters to create control room locations. In all of these positions, there is a program feed with audio, plus we have the ability to multi-track in case the artists would like to take audio from the live stream for mix down.”
Ready to put the studio to use, Elite Multimedia Productions began speaking with their clientele about the possibilities of creating virtual events. Knowing that the music industry has often relied upon the power of social media to highlight their newer artists, Mason knew they only needed to find the right partner to showcase the new design.
“In the last few years, we have started seeing more and more music artists using social media platforms to back away from the traditional system of how they get discovered, and this type of production studio gives them a direct route to take their online presence one step further,” added Mason. “Even when the full live event industry is safely able to open back up, a lot of newer artists will still be able to use something like this to grow their fanbase which can then lead to selecting the right touring gear when it’s time to hit the road.”
Headquartered in Nashville, the music industry is not only prevalent in the area, it’s a way of life. Using their vast array of contacts, it didn’t take Elite Multimedia long to find a great opportunity for an event collaboration and the studio launch. “Over the last 9-10 months, we have really been pushing the press and the social media for two of our newer artists, Eric Burgett and Seth Cook, and the plan for 2020 was to be releasing a new song for each artist every six to eight weeks,” began Matt McClure, Owner and President, Bow to Stern Group. “We had also been stacking up appearance dates to really geo-target the markets we wanted to play. Between the two artists, we had about 40 dates set up with more coming in, but then the hammer fell, and the Covid-19 pandemic caused us to lose everything. Our focus at that point became to look at this as an opportunity to build even more content and have everything completely ready for when we could play live shows again.”
Looking for the opportunities that might allow them to accomplish their reassessed plan for 2020, McClure spoke with Mason whom he has known for many years. As Mason began to explain the possibilities for showcasing both artists in virtual environment design, McClure was confident it would be an ideal opportunity and agreed to take part. “Kenny Mason is a good friend of ours and when he reached out about the new studio space being put together, he asked if we might want to be the first to go,” added McClure. “It was really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up because I know Kenny’s professionalism and the passion that he has for creating quality productions. You always want to work with people like that, and for us with newer artists, this would give us a high-quality production environment to really showcase their talent.”
With everyone on board and eager to go live, the production professionals at Elite Multimedia were once again able to do what they do best. Excited to be back in a full production environment, the design collaboration was able to create a unique and engaging experience for both the online viewers and the artists. “Each artist played with 3 band members and we worked with Kenny to find a way to best approach this for a virtual audience,” added McClure. “One of the things we brainstormed was to make it a continuous stream, so we had multiple cameras showing different visuals that really helped the viewers understand this wasn’t pre-recorded and we were live. It really went amazing, especially considering that none of the Elite technicians had actually seen the show prior to showtime and they were operating on the fly.”
Now up and running, the Virtual Event Production Studio at Elite Multimedia Productions has also produced events for New Found Glory and the Folds of Honor “Rock and Raise Challenge” featuring performances by Lee Brice and Tyler Farr. Having demonstrated how the space can be a viable opportunity for connecting artists with their audience when public gatherings are not an option, these virtual events are also offering a more interactive experience behind the show. “After the live stream, I got over a hundred messages and emails from industry colleagues wanting to know how we pulled it off and everyone was blown away by the production,” admitted McClure. “Our foundation has always been ‘music first’ and to see something like this on a grand scale that feels like a real concert is really on point and gives us a great way to showcase artists.”
“I think even after we start to see municipalities starting to open back up, we’ll still have those who aren’t quite ready to go out just yet,” concluded Mason. “It also opens up some other avenues using online tools where fans can watch the live stream and actually interact with the artists for such things as songs they might like to see played and it really creates a different way of going to a show.”
To watch the full live stream featuring Eric Burgett and Seth Cook at the new Elite Multimedia Virtual Event Production Studio, click here.