Looking back at 2020
A year of innovation and change
This year, the ability to adapt to changes became more crucial than ever. As the entire world had to move online from one day to another, new creative solutions had to be implemented. Yet more importantly, the importance of standing out as a business also became a deciding factor.
Even though (large scale) live events were not possible anymore, companies still had to inform, train and update their employees and other stakeholders. The growth of online events and online technology is now one of the biggest trends in the market. The technique that is being used is nothing new, it is all based on video conferencing systems such as Teams, Zoom and Google Meet. However, the need to make this environment more professional and interactive is one of the most rapid changes we are facing today. Companies want to make sure that their show, or seminar, is interesting for people to watch – so the message sticks.
So, what does one have to do to make the message stick? This is where creativity and innovation go hand in hand. We can see game engines being used to create virtual platforms where the guests can attend the event themselves and possible sub-dimensions. The virtual world enables visitors to walk between different sessions or enter virtual networking rooms to obtain new clients and connections. You can also create breakout rooms, information desks and chat functions in the virtual world, and all the information shared online will stay there for years – allowing new employees or guests to watch it at a later stage. Of course, not everything has to be based on virtual reality, and more importantly – creative does not have to mean expensive. The most important factor is to be creative together with your client and to work together as a team.
The rise of technology usage comes with both advantages and disadvantages. You no longer have a lot of physical contact with either clients, suppliers or your crew – which are important social aspects of being a human. However, working from home also brings some positive benefits – you spend less time on traveling and being stuck in traffic jams, and a lot of people say they work more effectively now than before.
We asked some of our team members what this year has meant for them, what changed and what they are looking forward to:
Walter Bakker – Project manager
The biggest change was of course the abrupt move from offline to online, however, together as a team we kept the energy high at Unlimited Productions and took on the challenge. As a team we had to adjust to the rapid changes in technology, both within virtual and hybrid events. Yet we also had to look into opportunities in other market segments, but trying to keep it closely affiliated with our company values.
Working from home has its benefits, you can spend more time with your family and spend fewer hours on the road. However, I miss the vibe of physically building live events and stages with the team, and the tension amongst the crowd just before the lights come on and the first drum is beaten. When everything comes together and the crowd explodes, it is an amazing feeling. I am sure this will come back in the future, and when that time comes I will be there and enjoy it to the fullest.
Jörgen Dohmen – Head of Productions
Normally we had to deal with big venues such as the RAI in Amsterdam or Rotterdam Ahoy and figure out if the set-up would fit and merge all the various disciplines together to one. As a rule, this included more pre-production work, involving a lot of logistics and planning. Yet also dismantling all the different disciplines such as fencing, staging, rigging, decor, sound and much more. When we had to move the events online, we did not have actual venues anymore, and we did not have to deal with the ‘old’ disciplines. Instead, we had to deepen our knowledge in new techniques and software tools to translate the offline event into virtual ones. Of course, producing a live event with our crew and suppliers is something that we all are looking forward to doing in the future. However, this past year has also enabled us to increase our knowledge in the digital field – which we will be able to use in future production settings.
Thomas Isarin – Head of Projects
In the beginning of the year we were all busy thinking, how are we going to plan this crazy year with all festivals and major events worldwide? In March, it all took a turn and we had to switch quite abruptly, thinking in ways we had not done before.
In the beginning, it was very difficult to convince clients and other stakeholders that these types of events can be just as much of an experience as the offline ones. In May, we saw the first results and more people dared to take the leap to go digital. During these months we managed to change the perspective of the entire company to focus on how to create an experience at home. How can we broadcast the message the same way as before, and how do you succeed with this with no technical errors? We started broadcasting with the use of various platforms and video conferencing software, eventually we could insert more attributes, like one to one communication with presenters and clients.
The most challenging part was to create the same quality in a digital way and making sure that the person at home was equipped with the right tools – not letting external factors influence the quality of the event. For example, we had to make sure that a presenter was not wearing a white shirt against a white background or interruptions being caused by poor internet connection. Before we would have discussions about how to do the logistics and planning of an event. Now we are talking about which software tool, video and audio stream formats to use and how to manage the same quality from presenter to attendee.
Even though the year itself has been challenging due to no actual live events, we look forward to applying all the new insights from the digital event spectrum in the coming years. As many companies have now seen the added value of online and hybrid events, they will be here to stay. Keeping positive and working forward is the best way to go during these challenging times. At Unlimited Productions, we deliberately choose to convert this energy into creative solutions in order to create new and exciting experiences for our clients.