Amid the economic mayhem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual events and web streaming sector has been experiencing exponential growth. D&D has now taken the virtual event concept to the next level with the production of the first virtual edition of Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week, which took place from 9 to 11 November 2020.
The high-profile event, which traditionally takes place every year in Paris, brings together top space and satellite industry executives for a week of panel discussions and business meetings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the top summit could not take place as a physical event this year. Euroconsult, the Paris-based space industry consultancy, therefore approached D&D to produce the event’s first ever virtual edition on a tight six-week deadline.
“It was the most complex event that we have done so far,” says Bjorn Brockmann, D&D’s Managing Director. “For the first time, we had to run two parallel web streams for three consecutive days, each day involving a combined twelve hours of streaming without a pause.”
The stakes were high. The premium event featured a stellar line-up of speakers including key executives of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus, Arianespace, SES, Viasat and others. The exclusive audience of industry leaders expected the highest quality product and user experience complete with interactive tools that would allow them to interact with the speakers.
D&D has been providing web stream solutions to clients including the European Space Agency for almost a decade. 2020, however, saw an unexpected upturn in the company’s web streaming business as organisations all over Europe have moved their events online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, we would produce about five web streamed events a year,” says Brockmann. “Now it’s about five events per month.”
Recently, D&D produced, for example, the European Space Agency’s press briefing on the occasion of the release of the first images from Solar Orbiter and the first ever Industry Space Days (ISD) conference, which featured a continuous three and a half hour web stream. The World Satellite Business Week, however, presented a new level of complexity and technical challenges.
“We had to beef up our technical infrastructure,” says Brockmann. “Our network is now connected directly to the backbone telecommunications infrastructure and enables three times ten gigabit of uplink and downlink. That means we can guarantee excellent audio-visual quality, as long as the client’s technical set-up is fit for purpose. We expanded our data centre, which is now equipped with thirty computers, and can comfortably handle two streams at the same time.”
During the six weeks of preparations, D&D’s multidisciplinary team developed the look, produced graphics, provided coaching to presenters and directed pre-recordings of some segments of the programme. All of the major panels were, however, live. The audience could access the stream via a dedicated event platform, which also provided the engagement tools for communicating with the panellists.
“The result was absolutely fantastic,” says Brockmann. “I believe that we are now way ahead of the current market standard in terms of the quality and complexity that we can offer. We can easily incorporate graphical elements like sponsor rolls, corporate branding but also provide a flexible speaker view, including showing all speakers at once.”
D&D uses widely accessible teleconferencing platforms such as WebEx, Skype and Zoom to connect the speakers and panellists while the audience views the resulting product via a hosted web stream.