Josh Harrison, Producer
Before we dig into the more technical stuff, I have to get this out of the way to be sure we’re all on the same page (No, my bosses did not make me write this).
Chances are, you’re reading this because you have something you need to distribute to an audience. It’s also possible that you are considering distributing it via a “virtual event”. Before we go any further I should clarify what I mean by virtual event. To me (YMMV*), a virtual event is a happening that people attend online or over the internet. This could mean a presentation, a meeting, a learning session, or a time and place to eat pizza together… virtually. The sky’s the limit! It’s also important to note that I personally think that the word “virtual” when applied to an event sounds a bit like we’re all going to play a game in a 3D environment so I will substitute the word “online” for “virtual”. Call me crazy, but it makes more practical sense to me.
In our case here at vConferenceOnline, the need for online events came about via conferences. Organizations usually have members and interested parties. These entities need a way to communicate with each other and share their information. In the old days what we now call “in person” conventions or conferences were organized in large cities where people would come from all over to take part in the “event”. This also applied to meetings, continuing education, and many other forms of organized events. This worked pretty well for many years.
In recent years event organizers have seen their “in person” attendance drop. People were busier than ever and their time and budgets were limited. A solution was needed… “Hey, what about the internet?” Online events were born. It became possible to include many more people in the events by offering a “virtual event” online to those who could not come to the “in person” event.
Today, some choose to do online events alongside in person events. Some do them at separate times, and others do online only. There are many factors (which we will discuss in future articles) to consider when deciding HOW you will do your event. Overall, the main reason WHY you should do an online event is to widen your audience options. From there the rest starts to make more sense.
In the next article I’ll discuss types of events and how you might choose what is right for you.
*Your mileage may vary
Josh Harrison, Producer
As a provider of virtual events, the company I work for has a vested interest in putting “the right foot forward” in these articles. That is my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it. On the other hand as a technical staff member for said company I am able to offer a slightly less marketing/sales perspective on the whole thing. Which may be why my wise bosses asked me to write this in the first place. You’ll probably find these articles to be mostly about the “production” side of producing events. Which is where most questions arise once the overall concept is understood.
Just a little info about me so you get where I am coming from. I love all things technology, digital and analog. I grew up taking things apart and putting them back together (although sometimes as different things). When digital became a reality it opened a whole new world of possibilities for taking things apart and putting things together (although sometimes as different things). I started playing with machines when I was young. Coming from a musical background, I enjoyed the engineering side of audio. This lead to enjoying the engineering side of video. All of that lead me to where I am now with vConference Online as a content producer for video.
Now a little history on vConferenceOnline. Founded by Stephen Wynkoop, our parent company, Bits on the Wire, was working on a project for a community site we own known to the Database world as SSWUG.org. We wanted a way to share all of the technical knowledge from our partner experts in a way that was intriguing and interesting. Further, we had learned that people like to watch way more than they like to read (exceptions to every rule of course… as you are reading this). We decided to take what were daily audio podcasts and make them into a video show, “Like TV” said Stephen with a twinkle in his eye.
That’s where it all started back in 2006. Online video was just starting to poke it’s head out along with the infrastructure to support it. What we found in that particular space of technical learning was a lot of telephoned in audio and slide presentations, with little to no production value. We set out to change the way techy’s take in their techness. We said, “Let’s take broadcast level production and merge it with top end IT knowledge. People will love it!” So we started with a small camera, a green screen and a lot of really hot lights. The first virtual event we did was in Spring of 2008. We had 1 camera, a plasma screen with slides, and a huge desire to show the world that technical presentations didn’t have to be mind numbing. 1 year later we had grown from 1 10×20 foot room to a 4500 sq ft office with 2 full studios. Then we had another great idea (pat selves on back)… “We have this platform for virtual events built, why not let the rest of the world in on it?” That’s where vConferenceOnline was born. The whole premise behind our virtual event platform was to offer HD video with supporting materials like slides rather than offer slides with supporting thumbnail video. We built studios with one purpose, to allow presenters to show their computer screens and slides while making a connection to their audience via the camera. “Like TV” said Stephen with a twinkle in his eye.
Many events, clients and features later, we feel we have one of the best (if not THE best) platform for online events. In this series of articles I’m hoping to walk you through the production side with a tiny bit of marketing and sales on the What, Why and How of virtual events. Stick with me, this is going to have a lot of quotation marks and parenthesis.