As we continue to navigate the altered landscape of the live events industry, as an agency we’ve launched a new service offering – Ready To Roll – to help you design and produce professional, broadcast-quality content for your customers, partners and staff in a clean and safe environment.

However, you may have questions about where to start when translating your original live event plan into a broadcast format. You may have originally ruled it out as an option for your brand; what place, if any, do standard event assets like sponsor booths, a slick stage design or printed signage, have in a world of Zoom meetings or video on demand?

We believe that by staying true to your brand purpose and design principles, with a little understanding of these new media tools, your brand can still deliver a meaningful impact to your customers, even in their living rooms. Our Director of Environmental Design, Lars Wijers, takes us through his process of translating a live event into a consumer-focused digital-streaming experience.

Bim Ricketson, Executive Creative Director

Experience is still everything

GPJ’s expertise is the audience experience. We specialise in designing and delivering immersive events, exhibitions, keynote presentations and so on. While content is king, experience is everything, and we know what makes experiences great, regardless of the medium.

It’s important that we take a holistic view of what goes into a broadcast and understand the why, how and what, so that we can all adapt our processes for this new output.

To give context for some of the processes and principles, I’m going to use a conference for a fictional tech brand with a global audience as an example. The event has a large-scale keynote presentation, multiple breakouts, an exhibition, tiers of sponsors, live and interactive demos, engaging brand stories, lightning talks, 1-on-1 chats with experts… you get the picture.

No doubt there has been a tremendous amount of work put into the event already, and that’s great – this is going to be the springboard from our live experience to the broadcast. So how do we engage our audience at the same level, if not better? Let’s start by going back to the audience experience and consider the original purpose.

The viewing experience

First, consider the end-user. They’ll be at home, there might be kids, there might be partners also working from home, or they might be on their own craving some social interaction. They’re probably watching on a laptop from their couch or makeshift dining table-desk. Either way, there’s plenty of opportunity for distraction, so one of our primary objectives is to keep the viewer engaged. It emphasises the crucial role that design plays in creating a successful broadcast.

The closest thing we can compare our live broadcast experience to is a TV show. These come in many formats; daytime chat shows, news shows, sports shows, panel shows and more. Consider how the shows are structured, as the design will need to facilitate the various segments and camera frames.

Your original live event probably spanned the length of a day or more, but TV shows are usually much shorter. Movies are around two hours long, but will your content be as exciting as a movie? Consider also that everyone’s ‘working from home’ routine is different and their preferred viewing times will vary. It could be beneficial to play into these viewing habits and make the experience flexible and on demand – allow users to pause to go make another coffee, rewind because they got a text, or rewatch the most compelling parts.

Principles and considerations

With so many events moving online, it’s essential to understand some key design fundamentals in order to stand out. This is your opportunity to make a statement and create a memorable, impactful impression.

Stay true to your brand
Consider your brand and event personality. Design appropriately and stay true to your brand, and your audience, no matter the format. Don’t be tempted to do something different for the sake of standing out.

Layer it up
For a visually rich broadcast, it’s best to design in layers. Consider the variety of camera shots – from wide overall pans, medium crops and close ups. This means we need depth, some key features, as well detailed textured backgrounds. Every shot has to be interesting.

Keep it flexible
The broadcast will likely consist of various segments, from presentations, interviews, live crosses etc., each with their own functionality and dynamic. Consider how to make sets flexible to accommodate a variety of environments and styles.

Support the content
Content and set design should flow together seamlessly. Think about how to integrate screens into a set without just using a large LED background, how PIPs are used during presentations and how the set looks on screen once graphic overlays are added.

Engage the audience
Audience engagement is hugely important. Simple mechanics such as competitions, phone ins and viewer questions or comments are easily achievable, but what else could be done? Could you extend the broadcast into cross-platform content or host interactive quizzes from your mobile?

This is new territory but the challenges we face are not so unfamiliar. There are so many opportunities to explore and get excited about, for the near and distant future. As brands venture into this new space, they are also shaping the industry in the long run. The world is changing and we are adapting. Watch this space.

Lars Wijers, Director of Environmental Design