Home Made Hybrid Events
A practical guide
I made around 80 presentations to film festival directors in the last 6 month. Sent a summary document to each one of them in 5 different versions. Sent introductory documents to those who insisted on reading something before agreeing to meet. Edited in that period 5 different videos that explain what we offer (with an emphasis on hybrid cinematic events), ranging in length between 40 seconds and 3 minutes, composed a 60 page proposal to the EU explaining why hybrid events are the right thing to do and made numerous elevator pitches on the phone, during small talks and in real elevators (the name must justify itself…) explaining what are hybrid cinematic events and why Movies Everywhere is the best tool for executing them.
The one thing I heard repeatedly during this journey was “we don’t have the staff / capacity / budget / expertise to conduct such event.”
I knew what they had in mind: PRODUCTION.
Multicam production with a battery of cameramen (and women), director, switching person, sound person and a huge sound console, production coordinators, mobile broadcast unit with uplink to satellite, lighting gear, green screen, virtual set and tons of coffee cups.
How is that possible?
I’m not pretending that the humble gear in the lower image yields the same quality as the one on top. However, I definitely contend that even for medium size film events and in some case — large film events, the result can be beautiful with the guerrilla approach presented here.
Before we proceed, there is one thing in common, between the stereotype of the production of a hybrid event (“they think”) and what I present (“the truth”): tons of coffee cups.
Hybrid Event 101
In one presentation I was desperate from being unable to get the message across. Suddenly, an analogy came up: ‘You know’, I said to my counterpart, ‘when my kids’ teacher sees that half of the class are in quarantine, she points her phone to herself and transmits on video the lesson in class to the kids at home. She is conducting a hybrid event, even if she doesn’t call that way.’
That, especially nowadays, is something anyone can empathize with and understand.
Quality aside (no offense, but the the teacher is probably broadcasting vertically, a big no no for film fanatics), the principle of an event taking place both in-person and online, synchronously, is the very basic of any hybrid event.
And can the kids at home pose questions too? — Of course.
Thousands of hybrid interactive events are actually taking place everyday in thousands of school classes, university courses and at the workplace.
Size Doesn’t Matter
I’m asked many times why do I insist on a hybrid events when so many people are used to online events. May everyone sit at their home comfortably, including the host and the guest and let’s talk.
The answer is simple: Atmosphere.
In Q&A sessions, guests and hosts alike need to feel the audience. It would be best if they can be in the same room, but if they can’t, having some people in your living room or next to you in your home office or next to you at the kitchen table, makes the difference.
The Case of “The One Field” Documentary
The One Field is a special documentary film. The Q&A sessions before and after it are actually events by themselves. They are not just the typical discussion on “how did you make the film” but are a combination of a workshop, panel, lecture and a social experiment, that are usually longer than the film itself (which is 120 minutes).
The director prepared a detailed lineup for the event, which included an opening speech, a few minutes of meditation, greetings, screening of the film and after that — two lectures, accompanied by supporting materials (videos, music, graphics) and then — an open discussion with the audience.
In the beginning, I suggested that everyone would be at their homes, but realizing the complexity and depth of the session, I suggested we’d all meet at the director’s home and conduct a hybrid event, in which the two hosts will talk between themselves, present supporting material from a laptop, which will serve as a separate source (and not by sharing their screen) and then switch to a meeting with the audience (“meeting” in the sense that everyone can talk).
- The first part is presented by the director and a guest expert. They both show videos, play audio and share graphs and images.
- Since the audience is passive at that stage, I suggested we would broadcast that part and not conduct a meeting.
- The advantage of it is in the quality: An internet broadcast is of a much higher quality. That is by the way the reason why there’s latency of around 17–24 seconds.
- We shoot the speakers with a DSLR and not a webcam.
- We use a switcher, whereby the DSLR is one source and the laptop (with video, audio and images) is the second source, so that no screen sharing is done (which lowers the quality).
- At the end of that stage, we switch to a meeting, where members of the audience can speak freely. In that part, we will move to another platform (Live Webinar).
- The audience doesn’t have to move between platforms! The registration, payment, screening of the film, broadcast and meeting are all taking place in one page.
How we do it?
That’s the uniqueness of Movies Everywhere, where different meeting and broadcast platforms can integrate in one single page.