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One of the biggest trends event profs can expect for 2021 pertains to expectations. While attendees were a lot more forgiving last year, as we all learned the ropes of virtual events, the same can’t be expected today. Gone are the days where you could get away with tuning in from the living room to give a presentation. No, no, no: as we enter a new age of events, where virtual will invariably remain a crucial part of what we do, audience expectations will continuously increase.

Virtual Events Handbook

And in order to keep up with these demands, we must seek to improve. A high production value won’t just be an option on the menu of virtual events, but rather the main dish. So as we transition from low-resolution live streams and sloppy Zoom experiences, we begin to look around at the available technology. And one such example is hardly new, although it’s now making a stupendous comeback thanks to virtual and hybrid experiences – LED video walls.

We’ve all seen the massive LED video walls as backdrops at large conferences. But recently, we have seen a resurgence in the use of this technology to enhance the production value of events that no longer take place in-person.

led walls

Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon /Lucasfilm Ltd.

How The Mandalorian Uses LED Video Walls

Everyone and their dog has heard of the highly-praised Disney+ show The Mandalorian. Helmed by the talented and charming Pedro Pascal, this piece of the Star Wars universe has made the world weep over the cuteness of baby Yoda. But that’s not all the series had done – The Mandalorian has also introduced the world to the unique possibilities offered by LED video walls.

While in the past, television and movies have heavily relied on green screens to create magical worlds, the Disney+ show is shaking things up using what they call “the volume”. The volume is, as explained by VOX’s Phil Edwards, “the combination of high-resolution LED panels – awesome, huge TV screens wrapping around a stage – the physical set design matched to the panels, in 3D models plopped into an environment the same way they do in video games. Then, it can respond to camera movement to simulate the real world”.

led walls

Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon /Lucasfilm Ltd.

The fantastic team behind the special effects on the show – who has also worked on many other Star Wars and Disney projects – has very good reasons to choose virtual sets over green screens. “LED walls make the lighting better, filming smoother, and in certain cases, cost a lot less than using green screens. Now that LED screens can move with the camera’s eye, virtual sets can solve a bunch of green screen problems”, explains Insider. And since virtual events – and the virtual portion of hybrid events – have a lot in common with television, we can learn a lot from The Mandalorian‘s use of this technology.

The 2020 Emmys As A Case Study

Many high-profile events were either completely canceled or took on a brand new shape in 2020. The Emmys are a great example of that. The annual awards that recognize achievements in the television industry are typically attended by hundreds of people. But the 72nd edition saw no physical audience. No, this time around it was just presenter Jimmy Kimmel, as all the nominees tuned in virtually – something all of us could relate to.

But in order to elevate the experience, this enormous event also jumped on the LED wall bandwagon. Using a gorgeous setup that closely resembles The Mandalorian‘s volume, the faces of the nominees and winners were projected throughout the night, as well as snippets of the performances that were nominated. While such a large-scale setup might not be possible or desired for every virtual or hybrid event, the 2020 Emmys are certainly a fantastic case study for the use of this stunning technology.

led walls

Credit: GettyImages

How Virtual & Hybrid Can Benefit

The COVID-19 pandemic further cemented the concept of good things coming from devastating moments. While there’s no denying the terrible consequences it had, it’s also evident how much the pandemic forced our industry to evolve. For a long time now, the world of events had hit a standstill. And where it comes to technology, we were borderline comatose. But when there was no other choice but to shake things up, the industry was forced to keep up and, to a certain degree, become a game-changer.

LED walls are just an example of how we can keep this trend going. Much like the characters in The Mandalorian, speakers, and emcees now have the ability to show up to an event against the backdrop of a faraway land. They can be lying on the beach or sailing away on the Titanic. And just like with the Emmys, attendees can tune in to watch a show that features the most amazing visual effects and be transported into a unique experience.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge, either. If you’re worried about costs but still want to infuse your event with the finer touches of quality production, you can opt for softer LED walls. In 2020, Endless Events worked with FourKites to produce their virtual event. And one of the techniques we applied in our approach was an LED wall that featured colorful backgrounds that matched the brand identity of the client. The result was more engaging sessions that wowed attendees!

The technology necessary to elevate virtual and hybrid experiences is already here. And if you pay enough attention, you’ll realize that some of the most exciting tools have been here for a while. It’s all about using creativity and working with the best production people out there that can challenge you to smash the box rather than think outside of it. The expectations from attendees are at an all-time high. So it’s up to event profs everywhere to correspond!

Virtual Events Handbook

Mariana Fernandes

Author Mariana Fernandes

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