With live events grounding to a screeching halt, 2020 has been a year where many of us have
had to think quickly and transfer our skills into a new sector, which is exactly what Johnny
Palmer and the team at Pytch did with The Virtual Venue .
Q: When the pandemic first hit the events industry, you quickly pivoted your skills and
expertise to ensure you continued to meet customer needs during a very testing time.
Where did the idea of the Virtual Venue come from?
A: It was clear to me from the offset that the events industry was going to be very hard hit. I
saw a complete drop in revenue and I saw event organisers wanting to deliver their messages
and create experiences in ways where people don’t have to come together.
We considered what transferable skills we have that allow us as an organisation to find a new
way of bringing in income, helping our customers deliver their messages and experiences and
also keeping our staff in a job. So within a few weeks of lockdown, we hit it hard and built the
Virtual Venue; one of the most comprehensive virtual events spaces in the UK.
Q: Due to the majority of events being cancelled this year, many have now gone virtual as a
means of continuing entertainment and communication with clients and consumers. Do you
see virtual events continuing at the rate they are even when restrictions start to ease further
for the entertainment industry?
A: We’re in a place now where we can engage with events in multiple ways; by either coming
into the venue and engaging with it first hand in a live experience, or engaging remotely with
commenting, polling and networking, and then absorbing the pre-recorded content after the
In terms of events like theatre, gigs and festivals, I think virtual has its place in the future. There
are a lot of people out there who don’t have the option to attend a live event; whether it’s for
financial reasons, physical, social, or mental health reasons. Traditionally live events can be
exclusive for these people, whereas now, we have an opportunity to make our events become
much more inclusive because we can deliver that experience through multiple different
Q: I understand you transformed one of your warehouses into the Virtual Venue. Talk to us
about the process of this and the kit and people that are available to use.
A: I used one of my existing warehouses and completely gutted and refurbished it. We did up
the office space, toilets, power, tech – everything and we fitted it out as a dedicated, almost
purpose-built, studio for the Virtual Venue.
In terms of equipment in that space, we use the very best of live events technology: a curved
video wall, broadcast camera gear, a mixture of intelligent LED and tungsten lighting, vision
mixers, media servers, vision control, gigabit internet connections – a lot of high-end tech from
live events was put into this space.
Q: How do you track the kit that you’re using at the Virtual Venue and how do you know
what’s available for each client?
A: Stock control is critical for us as our business is very asset focussed. We need to know where
things are, how long they’re there for, how the assets are performing individually. It’s vital data
for us to run our company properly. Within Current RMS, we’ve made a job called ‘The Virtual
Venue’ which is an open-ended rental, meaning it has no end date. All the equipment down to
the last cable, LED screen and camera lens is listed in the Virtual Venue so when we’re speccing
other jobs, we can see if there’s a shortage and see whether that kit is in the Virtual Venue or
Q: I know that a big passion of yours is to bring forward even more eco-friendly methods of
working into the entertainment industry. How does the Virtual Venue reflect that?
A: When you look at the amazing work by people like Chris Thompson from Shambala Festival,
he identified that most of the carbon emissions at live events are not from us but from the
people coming to the events. Travel is one of the worst offenders from an environmental POV.
The Virtual Venue allows us to make it so that audience members don’t need to travel – they
can stay at home or in the office.
In addition to that, we’re not transporting our equipment as it stays in situ, so again, fewer
carbon emissions. Also, the space we’re working in is very environmentally friendly and low
energy. We’ve insulated the roof of the Virtual Venue to a very high standard. We’re using air
source heat pumps and most of the energy at Pytch HQ is from our 50 kW solar PV array.
Lighting wise, we aim to use as much LED as we can.
See how you can use Current RMS to manage your virtual events by signing up for a 30-day
free trial at current-rms.com .