From 16 offices in Europe, Asia and The Americas, global automotive intelligence provider JATO Dynamics provides data and analysis to its customers in more than 50 markets worldwide. In January each year, JATO’s London-based leadership team hosts a global staff conference; a venue-based event for 155 UK staff which is also delivered by webcast to include a further 470 staff operating in every corner of the globe. It is JATO’s Internal Communications Executive Sandy Bell’s job to ensure the event is engaging and interactive for staff.
Providing technical design and production services for the event, Metro Broadcast’s team not only stages the London-based live event, set, AV and lighting, but also handles the technology aspect including; the webcast infrastructure, platform and navigation; the film crew and location-based production unit; design of an iPad app for interactive sessions; management of pre-recorded content and creation of the opening video sequence.
Summarising the key challenges, Internal Communications Executive Sandy Bell says, “JATO is a truly global business; we have staff based in the remotest of locations who collect and deliver data from and to anywhere in the world. JATO operates around the clock so the order of the agenda is led by time zone differences. Staff join the conference not only from regional offices but often from home and we have to make it as simple and convenient as possible for them to tune in. English is not the first language for the majority of our staff so communications must be visual and clear. It’s Metro Broadcast’s job to help us address these challenges through technology and design.”
Planning and design
Working with JATO’s new corporate identity, Metro’s production team begins by developing the webcast skins for both the registration pages and the five-hour, web-based broadcast. The design then runs across other content such as, video and the interactive iPad app. Processes are developed for email notifications and interactive Q&A sessions. Sandy continues, “Making sessions interactive has really improved staff participation. It allows us to review, prioritise and share relevant contributions from staff. It allows everyone to be heard. We use the iPad app at the UK venue and remote delegates use a Q&A widget hosted on the webcast platform.”
Metro Broadcast’s Project Manager James Clarke says, “The technical configuration allows virtual viewers to be able to see the opening video sequence, presentation slides, live camera relay, Q&A submissions as well as footage that can be streamed live from the US to China. Creating a stage for the UK hosts
One of Sandy’s objectives is to improve the look and feel of the event each year, reflecting JATO’s growing global position. Metro’s set design incorporates the company branded back-drop and screens for presentation content. UK-based presenters are able to view ‘comfort monitors’ from the stage as they deliver their presentation from a branded lectern. The lighting is comprised of a wash and spots covering the stage which creates warm tones for the live relay footage.
LED up-lighting along the length of the set allows for stepped colour changes which reinforce the brand and create variation as the presenters move through the agenda.
Sandy continues, “Every production detail is considered by Metro’s design team to ensure a really professional finish to both the live event and the web broadcast. It is important to get the right look and feel to put our message across.”
Webcast content delivered with TV production quality
The five-hour webcast uses three broadcast camera positions and is filmed using HD cameras. The footage is mixed live and in the room by a professional vision mixer using Metro’s portable production unit (PPU).
Metro’s James Clarke concludes, “Using the PPU with a live vision mix ensures there is an interesting variety of shots from wide angle to close-up and gives the webcast content a TV production look and feel. We can also edit the recorded footage on site and make it available almost immediately.”
Supporting the presenters
The host MC uses an iPad on stage which displays all inbound information and content from the virtual audience including questions and comments. Sandy says, “It allows us to screen the questions in advance which means the presenter is better–prepared. We can also see the volume of questions; the ability to prioritise them means we can run to a precise schedule, improving the experience for those joining from different time zones. Additional questions are circulated with answers after the event."
Understanding the various challenges an MC faces when hosting a virtual event, Metro Broadcast provides direction for the MC as well as familiarisation with the technology. The MC is then able to see who has joined in and from where and create more relevant and engaging dialogue with both a live and virtual audience.
Talking about her plans for next year’s conference, Sandy concludes, “There is much more we can do to make our Global Staff Conference more interactive. Going forward we’d like to use the survey and polling options as well as ask for event feedback from the staff. For 2017 we would like to ask for team contribution and designate iPads to teams rather than to tables or individuals. This might encourage more team-working during the event.”
With attendance figures increasing year on year and levels of engagement made more measurable by the levels of interaction, JATO has found an effective way of conquering some of the challenges that broadcasting to a worldwide audience can present.