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Different Roles AV Companies Play in Live & Virtual Events

by Gary Lagestee, on May 05, 2020

Live Events vs. Virtual Events: What’s the Difference?


Remember the time where we could leave our homes and socialize with our friends and family?! Yeah, same. Those were the days. This quarantine and virus have obviously resulted in live events being canceled and postponed, which seriously sucks. We live for the aspects that go into a live event, from the planning to the setup, to the take-down.

With that being said, I’m sure we are all wondering when live events are going to return. That’s definitely been the question of the hour around here, and to be candid, we aren’t sure. With the return of live events being unknown, Clarity is anticipating virtual events are going to be the move for at least the next several months...and we gotta tell ya, we are owning it! Yes, live events are our drug of choice and we cannot wait until they come back, but virtual events do have their own set of benefits. 

Being that virtual events and live events allow us to continue having meetings regardless of economic status, they do have some similarities. However, the AV roles might be more different than you think. While the two types of events are different, Clarity’s approach stays the same, regardless. Our focus is on the purpose, message, people, and presenters. Since you’re going to see virtual events popping up more and more, we wanted to go in depth on the behind the scenes work and the biggest differences between a virtual and a live event!

The role of a producer in a live event vs. a virtual event


First things first. We want to talk about the essential roles in the two different types of environments because these things don’t run themselves that’s for damn sure. In live events, there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of key players. From the audio to the lighting, to the presentation, a lot is going on and it’s a team effort. While it is a team effort, two roles stand out most: the producer and the graphic engineer. Pictured above are two of Clarity's producers, Jay and Andy!

Role of the producer in a live event

When it comes to live events, the producer is the real MVP. They are responsible for the overall vision of the pressure right? Yeah, the role of the producer is stressful, but the producers at Clarity are amazing. Not to be biased, but they are the best producers in the biz and know what they’re doing in any type of event or situation. 

Producers work directly with the client to learn the objectives of the meeting and then design something that will make that vision come to life using AV technology and messaging. In live events, the main role of the producer is to transform the client’s vision into a physical reality in the event space. 

Role of a producer in a virtual event

When it comes to virtual events, the role and purpose of the producer are essentially the same as in a live event, except for the technology aspect. In a virtual event, a producer is still responsible for finding the objectives, figuring out what the messaging needs to look like, and matching that with the proper solutions and people. The biggest difference is that in a virtual event, the producer isn’t traveling as they would for a live event, they are doing most of this work from a laptop instead of a tech table. 

When it comes to technology, virtual events are delivered through hardware and software platforms in tandem. Whereas in the live environment, hardware is used much more to accomplish a physical look.

The role of a graphic engineer in a live event vs. a virtual event


The graphics engineer is the Bonnie to the producers Clyde in both live events as well as virtual events. While this role is essential for both live and virtual events, the day to day jobs are a little different. Keep reading to learn why! 

Role of a graphic engineer in a live event

In a live event, the role of the graphics engineer onsite is to take all the presentations, any scripts for teleprompters, and to work on the PowerPoint slides. In a live environment, the work of the graphic engineer is more physical because they are obviously doing all of this work in person.

When onsite, the graphics engineer participates in the client rehearsals since they are the ones running the slides. When the client goes to rehearse, the graphics engineer position is key in making the event run smoothly. To put it simply, the biggest difference between the role of a graphic engineer and the role of a producer is the producer handles the overall event and the graphics engineer handles the content specifically. 

Role of a graphic engineer in a virtual event

Moving on to the role of a graphic engineer in a virtual event. In a virtual environment, the graphic engineer is performing the same work they would in a live event, but they are using different equipment to do it, just like we talked about for the producer role. In a virtual environment, the graphic engineer is still responsible for taking on the rehearsals, but since they are conducted virtually, the graphic engineer has to juggle the same amount of stuff, but they are communicating through Skype or a phone call while doing all of this.

For virtual events, it’s more of a video editor position than a graphics position. Virtual events require pre-recorded content to be edited to fit the brand and to deliver high value content to the attendees. Editing content, inserting slides, including seamless intros and outros are just a few differences of how graphic engineers are pivoting to virtual events. 

In terms of difficulty, the role of the graphic engineer is the same for both virtual and live events, but there is an extra layer of communication in the virtual environment. In both settings, this role is very labor-intensive, especially in a virtual context, because the graphic engineer is conducting most of the work through email, which could take several days to get things accomplished. Without a doubt, there is more work on the front end in the virtual environment for this role.

Teams needed for live events & virtual events


We talked with Clarity Experience's account executive, Rob, on the topic of teams that are needed for live and virtual events and the first thing he said is people are everything. Rob goes on to talk about how the team Clarity has for both live events and virtual events are the biggest difference between them and their competitors.

Using your IT department or a “platform” company to pull off a virtual event will have the framework of a virtual event but it will be missing the experience of taking a live event virtual! This is where Clarity comes in using our people to provide the same service and production value as we do for a live event, but now in the virtual realm. Examples of this would be a conference landing page, videos, branding, clean transitions, and most of all, making everything sound and look professional.  

At the end of the day, for Clarity, when it comes to people and teams for live and virtual events, the distinction comes back down to your knowledge of the event and the production of the event. Whether the event takes place online or in-person, Clarity’s approach is the same. Clarity puts their people in the event, regardless of what the context is. 

Working with presenters for live events


Moving on to the presentation side and what that looks like in both types of environments. In a live event environment, presenters often show up early to the venue to get prepared. Some presenters show up to the venue for rehearsal as soon as the afternoon before the show starts.

Other presenters can sometimes spend an entire day or multiple days rehearsing in a venue, depending on what they want to accomplish to make sure they feel prepared. Understandable. There is no worse feeling than getting on a stage and not knowing how to work the technology. I am literally sweating thinking about it. Talk about anxiety.

From the AV side, the team you will see onsite are again the producer and the graphics engineer, as well as the audio engineer who handles all things sound related. In a virtual environment, that work is mostly carried out by the producer and graphics engineer. This team makes sure the presenters feel comfortable and confident before the event starts. 

Working with presenters for virtual events


In a virtual environment, there are fewer technical positions because lighting, speakers, and projectors aren’t involved. In a virtual environment, working with presenters is again mostly carried out by the producer and graphics engineer. When it comes to a virtual event, Clarity likes to spend a minimum of 15 minutes with the presenter to go over the platform and make sure they understand it. 

We asked Rob what these 15-minutes typically look like with the presenters and he said, “we simply start by saying who we are and that we are partnered up with you to work on this event. The purpose of this 15 minute meeting is to test the connection, look at the microphone, and make suggestions on lighting and where you are seated in relation to the screen if necessary. In doing this we can iron out any technical issues because hosting a virtual event isn’t something a lot of people have done and it can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. Taking this time beforehand is really effective in making presenters feel as comfortable and confident as possible.” Win-win situation right there. 

Since virtual events are becoming increasingly more popular during this time, Clarity has even taken it a step further and have started sending presenters kits in the mail to help presenters get set up. These kits have instructions that help the presenters feel that much more comfortable with executing on their virtual event. When needed, we can provide hardware such as a camera, microphone, and lighting. 

One very important thing to note when it comes to virtual events is you still need the show flow. You still need that document (AKA your bible) that shows the cues that are minute to minute, just how you would for a live environment. Making sure the show flow is updated and correct also falls under the producer’s role....shocker I know.

How Clarity Experiences is Different From Other Companies

That’s a rap. The ins and outs as well as the biggest differences in live events and virtual events. The different roles and aspects we talked about aren’t unique to Clarity Experiences, you will see that across other AV companies, but our approach and how we execute is what’s unique and is what makes working with Clarity remarkable. 

Our approach is to be as transparent as possible about what’s happening in our industry and have granular conversations about what we are doing and how we are doing it, instead of just saying everyone else is doing. If you are interested in learning more about a virtual event or a live event, contact Clarity Experiences today! We would love to hear from you and have the opportunity to work with you on your upcoming event!

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Topics:AV ProductionAudio VisualAV ServicesEvent Industry