Global Virtual Conference

the hub, fix8group hq

Remote Set Up | Global Connectivity Infrastructure | Customised WebRTC-based contribution platform | Data Management | Editing

BACKGROUND

FIX8Group was approached by a global, full-service events agency to provide a technically advanced solution for a worldwide conference for a well-known think tank organisation. More than 500 speakers from over 70 countries were due to participate in the virtual conference, which had moved into the virtual realm due to the COVID pandemic. 

Our new virtual events, broadcast and connectivity centre, The Hub, was deemed an ideal central base for the conference, thanks to our significant investment in advanced infrastructure to ensure resilient connectivity capabilities and robust data security protocols in the delivery of virtual solutions. 

The scale of the project meant that, at that time, it would potentially be the largest ever virtual conference of its kind in the world.

The range of speakers included thought leaders from Fortune 500 CEOs, government officials, Nobel Laureates, Oscar winners and Olympians to journalists, philanthropists, scientists, investors and digital pioneers. During the eight-day conference, they addressed more than 4,000 participants located across the globe.

the challenge

With so many people taking part who were based in locations throughout the world, each person needed to be remotely set up. The amount of data coming into The Hub was enormous, requiring huge capabilities in connectivity infrastructure and management.  

A significant requirement was that all presenter contributions had to be web-based and without any software installed on their remote computers, such as Zoom or Teams. Due to security restrictions in place across the various government and corporate IT systems, it meant that all remote contributions had to be via our dedicated customised WebRTC-based contribution platform. 

In addition, part of the content was pre-recorded but the majority of the conference would be live streamed out of The Hub to those viewing around the globe, meaning a 24/7 team on-hand to cater for differing time zones and content types.

the solution

The task involved FIX8Group's newly upskilled team of broadcast, live streaming and network engineers creating rock solid connectivity infrastructure and managing significant amounts of data. A custom-designed solution was engineered to include a remote contribution system spread across eight servers, facilitating up to 64 simultaneous Full HD contributors. This, in turn, converted all contribution feeds to NDI signals which were vision mixed and streamed live. More than 1,400 remote contribution connections were established at The Hub during the conference. 

In the week leading up to the event, every presenter had a scheduled technical test, to ensure they could connect successfully. 

Four separate vision mixing teams each had a dedicated producer, call handler, and vision mixer to manage and operate the live sessions, based in The Hub’s Gallery and show-production space. The team also recorded all the sessions and provided them for editing for on-demand viewing via a number of outlets. 

In addition to the live streamed presentations, a series of green rooms were created for the presenters for welcoming guest speakers and networking. The FIX8Group team designed virtual green rooms that up to 16 participants could join, which assisted in recreating the personal connections that are often lost with virtual events.

CONCLUSION

This was a technically challenging project which drew on the expertise of the FIX8Group team and the significant investment in equipment we had made. 

The back end data management was very challenging and completely new to anyone. Part of our success was our ability to act with speed and precision, and in readiness for anything not going exactly as planned for both contributors and viewers.  

Our team embarked on a steep learning curve with this new broadcast platform – our software and technologies continue to improve as client expectations grow. FIX8Group’s investment and increased knowledge will shape the future of these kind of projects and we will continue to apply this growing skill set in delivering demanding, large scale, virtual events.  

The result was that the client’s virtual conference sessions had a truly global reach, generating significant impact throughout the world with experts discussing topics including business, diversity, policy and innovation.

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Ben Hyman, Senior Project Manager

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