Events United Delivers Realtime, Two-Site Kickoff for Connection with CHAUVET Professional

Posted on February 16, 2023

sm_CNXN Live_4_PhotoCredit -Shaylyn Kelly-Events United
WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Garrett McConchie experienced a brief moment of disorientation recently, and was both confounded and excited by what he saw. The project manager of CNXN Live, a real-time in person and livestreamed corporate event that took place simultaneously at two sites, McConchie was watching a panel discussion occurring at the Armory in Manchester, New Hampshire, when, for a fleeting second, he thought he was looking at the monitor for the stage in the Palm Beach Convention Center, 1,465 miles to the south.

It was at that point that he fully appreciated how well the team at Events United had achieved the seamless connectivity they were after for this ambitious four-day conference, which involved extensive use of broadcast and communications technology, as well as 111 F2 video tiles and 185 LED lighting fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.

“Everyone at our company, from our CEO Tim Messina on down, didn’t want this to feel like a choppy zoom meeting,” McConchie said of the event, which was an annual sales kickoff for Connection, a Fortune 1000 IT Solutions provider. “Our goal was to create the kind of look that made everyone feel like they were in the same room, regardless of if they were in New Hampshire, Florida, or watching on their computer. It was very gratifying to see that we achieved that level of consistency in this simulcast.”

CNXN Live, took place on two stages at once: the one in Florida measuring 56-feet by 16-feet with varying heights, and its New Hampshire counterpart, coming in at 24-feet by 12-feet with a 24-inch trim. Tying the two stages together in real time was the result of detailed logistical planning along with some very hard work by 36 Events United crew members; 24 in Florida and 12 in New Hampshire.

Providing a big assist was Bitfire Technologies. “We used Bitfire to send video, audio, and com signals back and forth from the two sites in real time,” said McConchie. “We had 16 channels of audio in each direction, via Dante (consisting of direct microphone signals, and subgroups of playback, band, and audience feeds), along with five video signals in each direction. From our main hub in Florida, we were able to switch all nine camera shots to the livestream as if they were in the same room.

“Figuring out how to seamlessly combine the two locations into one fluid streaming event was a challenge,” continued McConchie. “Bitfire was instrumental in this process as it involved a lot of R-and-D and numerous hours of testing prior to the launch. We set up multiple tests at our shop with video, audio, and comms to ensure we’d have a smooth testing day on-site. We’ve partnered with Bitfire before, and their service team is always there every step of the way to test, experiment, and troubleshoot. We had to figure out a way for the client to be able to talk to everyone, for the producers in both locations to talk to each other, for the PM in Florida to be able to only talk to Florida, for the audio team to have their own channel, for the livestream producer to be able to call camera shots on their own channel, and so forth.”

Key to creating an immersive look at both locations were the F2 video wall backdrops. The Florida site had a “blown-apart,” abstract LED wall, that displayed content in different pieces to create a powerfully engaging visual. For that design, 48 tiles made up the abstract background, while 14 tiles were used in the ground supported back wall, 16 in the LED ceiling, and 33 on the stage skirt. The design also had scenic set pieces, and 20-foot projection screens on either side of the stage. Video content was provided by the client as well as by guest presenters, a group that included representatives from Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo, and DreamWorks.

“We made a very conscious effort to use the same set pieces in each location to help bring a cohesiveness between the two stages,” continued McConchie. “Not only were they both color balanced together, but the set pieces maintained the event branding as a whole.”

Lighting color palettes were selected to compliment the video content. The majority of the fixtures delivering color were hung on pre-rig over the audience. “Our venues, especially the one in Florida, had very limited rigging capacity,” said McConchie. “So, with the LED design on and around the stage, there wasn’t much room left for lighting fixtures. We were able to get creative with more ground supported fixtures and LED tiles and added some Rogue R1X Spots in behind the LED with lifts to get some great color. We also added some ladders stage right and left that we filled with 12 Strike 4 and 12 Color STRIKE M fixtures, and throughout the room we used Maverick Force 2 profiles in Florida.

“The fixtures on the ladders, along with the eight COLORado PXL Bar 16 fixtures on the floor gave us amazing visuals for walk-ons and speaker transitions,” continued McConchie, who notes that at the New Hampshire site, the rig consisted of five onAir IP Panel 2, Maverick MK1 Hybrids,
12 Maverick MK2 Spots, 10 Maverick MK2 Washes, six Ovation F-265WW Fresnels and 12 Ovation CYC 1FC fixtures.

“Our on-stage set was quite video wall heavy, so we used lots of texture with color and gobo patterns in the rest of the room to help create the environment as a whole,” said McConchie. “Every fixture filled its individual role excellently. For example, the onAir Panel 2 IP fixtures looked great on camera as an even front wash. It’s a very impressive soft light. The PXL Bars gave us rich color washes, and the various STRIKE fixtures really amplified the excitement level by making transitions stand out.”

Of course, the success of this project depended on more than just equipment and fixtures. At the end of the day, it was the skill, dedication, and effort of a talented group of people, notes McConchie, who, in addition to citing the Florida PM Messina, also credits Rob Livie event producer, Chase Clark audio systems engineer, Jon Martell CAD event designer & video systems designer, Ryan Lane lighting designer, and Donald Van Slyke, the New Hampshire PM for turning this vision into reality.

“Not that long ago, this kind of project would have been impossible to imagine,” he said. “But despite all the challenges, we did it.”