Outlook: Reimagining live events in the era of COVID-19
Kora Van den Bulcke
Issue: November/December 2020

Outlook: Reimagining live events in the era of COVID-19

For decades, live events have served as the centerpiece of almost every business sector. COVID-19 has forced business leaders around the world to quickly and dramatically restructure their live events under a new set of challenges: How can I create the same authentic sense of connection, interactivity and spontaneity in a virtual event, particularly when dealing with very large crowds? And how can I make my virtual event truly unique and memorable amid a sea of monotonous webinars and Zoom happy hours?

Immersive Design Studios has long been at the forefront of using realtime technology to transform how audiences engage with both physical and virtual spaces. This year, we have collaborated with a large range of clients to radically transform their signature live events, while maintaining the interactivity that their audiences expect and raising the bar for what virtual events can be. Our Canvas technology platform enables large-scale, interactive and immersive experiences, whether in an arena or a classroom. Two recent use cases of Canvas include a virtual broadcast studio for Riot Games and a virtual events studio for Tony Robbins.

For Riot Games’ League Championship Series (LCS), broadcasting tournaments from their studio was out of the question with COVID safety protocols. We used Canvas to create and operate a fully cloud-based virtual studio for their 2020 Summer Split broadcasts, allowing e-sports players and analysts spread across the globe to compete live inside an elegant immersive 3D space. Canvas powered the live production for each match, handling the 3D virtual environments, seamless integration of remote video feeds from analysts and players, and dynamic virtual camera movements with over 75 virtual cameras.

Tony Robbins opted to use Canvas in a physical studio, to transform his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) event series for virtual audiences. To recreate the energy of a crowded arena, his studio is equipped with a massive 360-degree screen so that he can see every member of his audience, which can number over 20,000. Canvas removes the constraints of a typical video grid, adding animations and displaying the participants in multiple shapes and configurations. Robbins can also enlarge any individual audience member at any time for spontaneous, bi-directional interactivity. The Canvas studio is designed to place Robbins within a dynamic 3D environment, with the ability to integrate elements such as live performers, music, lighting and visual effects on the fly.

In both cases, CANVAS allowed the production teams to have easy cloud-based creative control over all components of the event with nothing more than an iPad – enabling them to get up and running quickly with no special training necessary.

Heading into 2021, we anticipate that virtual and hybrid events will be crucial for building and maintaining community in our new reality. We’ve seen firsthand that immersion and bi-directional interactivity are key components for successful events – and Canvas makes this possible on a scale that has never been imagined. We are actively engaged in bringing our technology to a growing number of businesses in the corporate, educational, and entertainment sectors who are seeking to transform the way they reach their audiences.

Kora Van den Bulcke is the Co-Founder and President of Immersive Design Studios (https://immersivedesignstudios.com) in Montreal.