Chicago-based Signature Production Group, an event production company, has adopted a new approach for connecting remote presenters into virtual events.
Like most organizations, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) cancelled its yearly meeting and had a requirement to connect 4,000 members worldwide for a multi-day virtual meeting. Atlanta-based technical agency 3D-TD contracted Signature to broadcast the General Sessions through one of its ten virtual control rooms.
For this event, Signature used Quicklink Studio and Quicklink ST102s to connect bi-directional audio and video to Singapore, Denver, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and Las Vegas, all through its facility outside of Chicago. The Quicklink solutions were provided to Signature by Key Code Media, a US-based systems integrator for A/V, broadcast, and post-production solutions.
Dave Schwarz, Owner of Signature Production Group said: “Quicklink is our ‘top shelf’ solution for connecting remote presenters. We needed it to be as easy as possible, secure, high quality, and 100% reliable. It checks off all of those boxes and is our ‘go to’ when our clients can afford the best connection method possible.
“When we bought our first handful of [Quicklink’s] ST102’s we thought that they would be used exclusively for connecting to keynote presenters, celebrities, and C-level speakers. But after one use, every producer wants to use them for their future productions. We have 32 now, but we’ll continue to add more–they are the perfect tool for the job.”
Joel Paige, General Manager of Signature Production Group added, “At first, it looked like the product we were looking for didn’t exist due to our simultaneous use of NDI video and Dante audio. But the Quicklink developers stepped up and customized a solution that fit our workflow perfectly. The collaborative relationship between our companies has been a big part of the key to the success we’ve had with the Quicklink solutions.”
Signature Production Group provides technology for live events: PA systems, digital mixing consoles, projection screens, LED walls, media servers, motors, truss, automated lighting, reusable or bespoke scenic and more. In addition to the production equipment, we provide start-to-finish project management, creative design, and on-site technical artists and technicians.
With ten virtual control rooms, the team can handle virtual general sessions, seminars and breakouts of any size. In addition to typical “broadcast” capabilities, remote presenters have the type of support they’re accustomed to when they stand on a stage-a teleprompter feed, current/next graphics, notes, and countdown timer right on their screen.
Signature can also accommodate any combination of live and online presenters, and live and online audiences. Its portable connection racks use Reidel VOIP, Dante and WebSRT to connect multiple ballrooms, studios, corporate offices or training centers for a “hub and spoke” broadcast.
The 180-degree wraparound LED wall is the perfect setting for a host or live presenters broadcasting to a virtual audience. The Disguise One VX4 and RX provides content to the screen while the Tricaster 2 Elite switcher manages the studio cameras. Signature can also put remote callers on the screen so a live host can conduct an interview or panel discussion.
It’s easy to change the shape and size of the stage, and add practical set pieces (such as acrylic towers, arches, and panels) to add dimension. Additionally, camera tracking and generative content (using Unity, Notch or Unreal Engine) give endless options for realistic, immersive backgrounds.
Signature Enables National Kidney Foundation Authors Luncheon
In December 2020, creative production agency Wilson Dow asked Signature to provide the broadcast solution for the annual National Kidney Foundation Authors Luncheon. For the first time in 32 years, this high-profile fundraising event was held exclusively online.
The National Kidney Foundation is based in the San Francisco area, but physical locations aren’t really important for virtual events. Signature connected meeting organizers, presenters and authors from around the country to its facility in the Chicago suburbs.
The team creates online/broadcast events from ten control rooms by connecting each presenter to their own server. This gives full control over the audio and video, and allows the team to send back teleprompter, notes, slides, or whatever will best support them.
Virtual panel discussions, interviews, and tag-team presentations can be mixed live (along with music, graphics and video rolls). From there, Signature sends the stream to a CDN (Content Delivery Network) which makes it available to the viewers.
The Quicklink servers worked perfectly, and the event was a success. The National Kidney Foundation exceeded the number of expected attendees and tripled their fundraising goal.
Clearly, virtual and hybrid events will continue to play an important role in the event industry. Not only does it broaden the audience, but the possibility of connecting remote presenters could mean hearing from executives, keynote speakers, celebrities (and authors) who otherwise might not have been available.
Signature Production Group has recently invested an additional million dollars in preparation for the ‘next phase’ of meetings and events. This includes Quicklink video over IP studio servers, a Riedel Artist 128 digital matrix intercom, Riedel control panels and Bolero wireless for their broadcast control rooms.
SPG’s recent investments will continue to expand its capabilities to meet the evolving needs of the meeting industry.
“We knew that an all-in-one online meeting solution wasn’t going to be enough for the event agencies and end clients that we serve,” explained Joel Paige, SPG General Manager. “One of our distinctives is that we provide the same support presenters are accustomed to having in a live environment like a teleprompter operator, graphics artist, audio engineer, and speaker coach.”