As the coronavirus pandemic and a host of government regulated safety mandates swept the nation in 2020, event planners, venue professionals and broadcasters were forced to redefine best practices for hosting live events, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of talent and audiences in large gathering spaces. Event producers were especially challenged with finding a new medium to connect with and engage target audiences. As public safety regulations tightened in the midst of the pandemic, venues began experimenting with a wide range of solutions to overcome the unprecedented obstacles they faced. Producers quickly exhausted early audience simulation efforts with minimal success, including reduced-capacity ticketing, piping virtual crowd noise into venues, cardboard ‘spectator’ cutouts to fill vacant seats, and inserting fans into venues digitally via augmented reality. Finally, though, through a series of trial and error, the single standout solution that has revived live events, and proven more effective and authentic than any other – the ‘virtual fan experience’ – was born.
Images: The Famous Group, Screenworks