The production world has been upended by Covid-19. The entire industry has been affected—from major directors and studios to small independent freelancers around the United States. It is a sink or swim moment for many, and that means adapt or go broke.
I knew things were getting serious when all the events I had scheduled to cover with my company for the next few months all canceled within a two week period in late February/earlyMarch 2020. I looked at my blank calendar and wondered: Now what?
For years, I have split my time between corporate/commercial video production and producing documentaries for PBS, Netflix, Amazon and other outlets. Part of what I’ve always done with my company is live webcasting. We had clients that had us webcast their conferences and events through CDNs such as Livestream, YouTube and Vimeo. But it was a small part of our business, maybe 15%.
After hearing nothing from any clients for several months, we started getting emails and calls around June asking if we could help people produce programs for their online events. I said yes, even though we had never done anything exactly like that before.
The first program we produced, for a local non-profit, had a learning curve. We had to participate in several zoom or zoom-style calls with groups of up to 7, direct people on getting the best results for lighting and audio, and then record these sessions to edit together later. We had to keep in mind transitions that would give the program the look and feel of a live event.
The result was a turn-key, hour-long program that the client used for their fundraiser. All they had to do is start a zoom call with more than 200 participants, and press play on the video we made for them. It went smoothly, our clients were happy and referred us to others.
Today, things are still slow on the traditional production end, but about three-quarters of the work we have is producing programs that clients can use for live digital events.
Adapting to this new world of widespread video-conferencing has not been so foreign to me. After all, people everywhere are using cameras and microphones to communicate through video. That has been our specialty all along. Instead of directing in person, I am directing on-line. And maybe the video is not always 4k broadcast quality with perfect lighting and audio. But that’s ok. As long as it feels authentic and gets the job done effectively, live event audiences are willing to forgive some imperfections.
In the end, as a video services company, our mission and goal is to help our clients communicate effectively through video. And if this helps other companies and organizations effectively navigate and survive these uncertain times, I am in 100%.