PWL Launches Virtual Event Studio

Lighting, visuals, show and production design practice Painting with Light (PWL) has opened – in partnership with NEP Belgium – a new Virtual Event Studio at its C-MINE HQ in Genk, Belgium, offering a slick streaming production / broadcast facility – including full virtual audience interactivity – to deliver the highest quality digital events.

Based on a model created by Univate in The Netherlands, the new PWL Studio space offers an innovative and creative approach for staging virtual events of all types – from keynote speeches, corporate meetings and presentations to brand activations, product launches and conferences to seminars to album launches, parties and live music streams.

The project is a response to the massive increase in demand for streamed, ‘delivered-live’ and recorded events and content to expand reach and visibility in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and new social distancing rules and guidelines.

The 10 x 19 metre recording area is fully equipped with the professional audio & broadcast technologies empowered by NEP Belgium and the latest LED lighting technologies from Luxibel, together with moving lights from Chauvet and Robe.

While fully customisable to client needs, for versatility, speed and efficient operation, several pre-designed event stages / spaces are also available embracing different styles and occasions, each of which can be individually branded to make every event eye-catching and distinctive.

Additionally, 3D assets and the design of any physical event, studio, trade show booth, etc., can be imported from a CAD file and replicated, integrating the client’s own environment and product design files into the space for ultimate flexibility.

The Virtual Event Studio dynamics are enhanced with a real – physical – high resolution 3 x 3 metre LED wall made up from 3.9mm Unilumin Utile product. The big benefit of this is it removes the need to chroma-key the presenter and put them in front of a virtual background, resulting in a higher quality end result and better visual coherence.

While the other screens in the event are all virtual, several smaller physical screens in the studio allow presenters to see and review the content on both real and virtual surfaces.

A complete video floor below the presenter stage adds further visual dynamics and looks cool in overhead shots.

The standard five-channel camera system comprises a GV LDX 86 4K unit fitted with a 14mm zoom lens and four Panasonic HE130 PTZs fitted with standard lenses, all mixed via a Grass Valley Korona switcher.

Through the Virtual Event Studio’s unique live interaction functionality, the online audience can be streamed individually on to the virtual backscreen so the presenter can answer questions and engage in conversations ‘face-to-face’.

Audiences can be invited and join in via an assortment of different video conferencing platforms and … virtually be there!

They are gathered in front of the stage as live video thumbnails on the live steam … and shown on a large projection screen in the studio so the presenter can feel their presence, and attendees can see the complete audience, just like a physical event!

The audio set up includes a Yamaha QL1 audio mixer, DPA and Shure mics – sanitised after each use and supplied to each person in individually sealed plastic wraps – with four L-Acoustics 108P speakers in the studio.

Custom soundscapes, music tracks and effects can also be produced for events as part of the package … or the clients can use their own.

As PWL is both an architectural and an entertainment lighting specialist, serious detail has gone into specifying a lighting rig offering each production extensive tools.

An adaptable lighting rig includes Luxibel B Panel 240CW cold white panels with barn doors, picked for features like the high CRI of 96 for perfect flesh tones, and because it’s among the best fixtures for green screening and chroma-key work. It can be dimmed manually or via DMX, and this plus all the other lights in the studio are controlled through a grandMA3 console.

The control room – a separate area where all crew can work at least 1.5 metres apart and meet all the social distancing guidelines – features a Barco E2 image processor and two disguise d3 media server for creating sophisticated motion graphics and sending video content and live camera feeds to the remote and virtual screens.

A selection of laptops is available for PowerPoints and KeyNotes.

The control room has its own supplies for sanitising hands and surfaces, and the entire space has been developed with the foresight of providing a safe working environment and Covid-19 regulation compliance in mind.

The virtual studio live recording output is an industry-standard 16:9 HD video feed which can be streamed to popular video platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and Twitter, each of which has their own native interaction capabilities.

On request, clients can order a custom landing page with all advanced networking features assembled in a virtual lobby room.

For events with smaller or private audiences, feeds can be streamed to video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype.

The interest and take-up has been swift so far, with events for IMEC Belgium, C-Mine Crib and the Agoria Entertainment & Sports Technology Club being among the first to benefit, bringing another new dimension to Painting with Light for both present and future.

Marc Convents, sales director from NEP Belgium, stated, “We’re delighted to join forces with PWL for these new ‘mixed reality’ events which are likely to be part of our future ‘normal’. Both NEP Belgium and Painting with Light work in complementary segments of the events industry and we look forward to a rewarding and successful working relationship.”

Photos: Painting with Light

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