Client retention is important to any business, but to us at BlackOak Technical Productions, it’s everything. We have been lucky to produce the Chicago Children’s Choir gala for six consecutive years at our venue, The Geraghty. The best part of working with clients year after year is pushing the envelope to go bigger than the year before. That is exactly what we did for the Chicago Children’s Choir, Red Jacket Optional in 2021. Meredith Oliver, a senior technical producer, takes us through their hybrid event below.
Q&A with Meredith Oliver, Senior Producer
HOW DID THE CLIENT HEAR ABOUT US?
The client is a close friend of Tom Kehoe’s, and we have worked with them previously on their event from 2016 on.
AWESOME. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CLIENT’S HOPES FOR THIS PARTICULAR YEAR OF THE EVENT?
A round stage had been the hope of the clients for years of producing this event, an ambitious production for this scale of an event, but we decided to make this year the year that we did it.
HOW DID IT TURN OUT?
It went fantastic – it was unbelievable. The change in staging opened a different and dynamic choreography style which allowed for a fully immersive production for attendees.
THAT MUST HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLE. WHAT WERE SOME OTHER CHALLENGES ON THIS PROJECT?
This was a hybrid event, so blending the virtual and in-person components was a challenge. We wanted the virtual guests to have as premium an experience as the guests in the venue, so we formed two teams – one focusing on the in-person elements and the other on the virtual elements to accomplish this.
THAT WAS A GREAT IDEA TO SPLIT INTO TEAMS. WHAT WAS THE VIRTUAL GUEST EXPERIENCE LIKE?
We used instant replay and tape delay during the livestream to cut out the auction and dinner portion of the event for the virtual guests. It was fun to monitor Facebook & YouTube where the event was streamed and see everyone excited. Parents who couldn’t attend could still watch their child perform on stage and cheer them on through the comments. Guests online were able to see a great show and experience what the Chicago Children’s Choir is about.
WHAT OTHER SERVICES DID WE PROVIDE FOR THIS EVENT?
We provided lighting, audio, video, live streaming, a custom stage, and over 80 microphones.
WHAT IS AN IDEAL TIMELINE FOR A PROJECT LIKE THIS?
We started working on this in March and the event took place in October. More time is always ideal, but I would say eight months was perfect.
SO, STEP US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF PLANNING AND PRODUCING THIS EVENT.
We wish we had nine or even ten months, but there is a certain flow that event takes every year. We start with an initial call to learn what their choreography is going to look like so we can take that into consideration with the layout of the room. We work with the other vendors, KEHOE DESIGNS and The Geraghty in this case so we are all on the same page. We talk about any virtual components, what their video or audio needs are, how many microphones they need – all the details. Then we start putting that into place working on a production timeline all the way up to install.
HOW INVOLVED IS THE CLIENT IN THIS PROCESS?
The client is very involved in the process because the production is essential to their program. The main exhibition for the program is these children performing on stage. They handle all their own internal rehearsals, but also make sure the kids have what they need during the event to be seen and heard in the best light.
WHAT DID THE CLIENT SAY AFTER THE EVENT?
The client was elated with the experience. This event is a marquee performance for the organization, so the stakes are always high, but we pulled off a better production than ever before.
To check out more details on this particular hybrid event you can view our portfolio page by clicking on the link below:
What have you been thinking about with your event?
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