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

event.

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

formats.

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

not.

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 .

Published by showmansshow

The Showman’s Show is organised by Lance Show & Publications Limited. Since the Show’s inception in 1984 it has been the UK’s original and comprehensive exhibition of products, services and entertainment for the outdoor and special event world. More than 340 suppliers will be exhibiting the best products and services available in the event industry with in excess of 4,500 event professionals attending to meet new suppliers, network with colleagues and discover the latest innovations and technologies.

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