DERRY, NH – For 45 years, Girls Inc. of New Hampshire has dedicated itself to “equipping girls to overcome barriers.” This April, the Manchester, New Hampshire based organization provided young women with a firsthand example of doing just that. When its usual, and very critical, spring auction at the local Marriott ballroom was preempted by the COVID-19 lockdown, the nonprofit responded without missing a beat by moving its fundraiser online with the help of the Events United at Studio Lab.
Raising $175,000 from its “first annual virtual auction,” Girls Inc. did more than acquire much-needed funds; it also provided an important lesson for anyone, of any age, in the value of persevering in the face of adversity.
Like all inspiring stories, however, the one behind this successful auction involved more than determination — it also required a lot of careful planning. For the Events United team, this meant ensuring that the one-hour event livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube had an engaging background. This element was created with the help of 60 CHAUVET Professional F2 LED panels.
Every successful auction is part theatre and part social gathering. Being an online event, the Girls Inc. livestream would have less of the former and none of the latter. “We knew that this production wouldn’t benefit from the buzz and excitement of a live auction,” said Tim Messina, owner of Events United. “So, we would have to help create this atmosphere with the backdrop that viewers saw during the auction and the associated music acts.”
Providing this backdrop was a F2 panel video wall that measured 32’ 9” wide by 9’ 10” tall. Covering almost the entire width of the stage, the wall displayed a variety of content throughout the event.
“We wanted to make sure that we were always using all 3.3 million pixels,” said Jon Martell, Production Design Manager at Events United and Studio Lab. “The wall was going to be what people saw for the entire time they were viewing the auction. It was going to be the image they kept in their heads. So, we had to keep it interesting.”
The Events United and Studio Lab team created most of the video wall content in-house, while a small fraction of the background graphics was sourced online. This gave the production a distinctive look.
“We were provided with branding assets by Girls Inc.,” said Martell. “This gave us a basic color scheme and direction. From there, we made layered graphics and placed them using our media server. It was a bit challenging to get all of their content to play smoothly on the video wall. We were not only working with static graphics, but also live web pages and dynamic text throughout the event. In the end, we were happy with how well everything worked.”
Martell was also happy with the decision to use four Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures as front lights for the production. “We were going to use some panel washes, but the Mavericks gave us a more intimate feel, which was important in terms of connecting to the audience,” he said. “Additionally, we used 20 Maverick MK2 spots for texture and four R1 washes for hair light.”
With the lighting complementing the talent and the video wall engaging viewers from start to finish, the Girls Inc. livestreamed auction was an easy program to watch on screens of all sizes. The money raised from the show will allow the organization to provide important assistance to girls during the summer.
Sharron McCarthy, CEO of Girls Inc., praised the Events United and Studio Lab team. “I wanted to let you know how pleased we were to hold our 31st Annual Gala for Girls, Inc NH as a live, remote event with your team at Studio Lab,” she said. “From the moment you answered my email at 10:15PM on a Saturday night when the idea first struck me, to the expert production and graphic design to the ultra-professional studio – it was all a successful and impressive experience. Your team, led by Donald Van Slyke (General Manager) and Benjamin Davis (Director of Studio Lab) were so professional. Donald led the planning very well and his calm, professional demeanor was exactly what we needed to make our event so successful.”