Staging PH’s 1st huge virtual event
August 19, 2020
By: Miguel A. Miñana
Production team wears masks and observes physical distancing.
On March 15, a day before Manila was locked down for quarantine, ThemeWorks staged two major events: the Women Summit at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, and the opening of the PBA at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Both venues were filled to the rafters.
We at ThemeWorks have been doing events for 20 years: Malacañang state dinners since 2001, corporate events, conferences, Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits, other lifestyle events.
Then the lights turned off on live events. Empty halls and empty stages echoed in silence. We didn’t see this coming. The next few weeks gave us time to rethink, reassess and plan out a road map for events.
As doors shut down, new doors opened to new opportunities, which helped us think out of the box.
With huge LED screen as backdrop, artists and corporate executives were connected from their homes.
Webinars started to become popular all over the globe, with big names in local and world entertainment, business and what-have-you. People Zoomed in from the privacy of their homes to yours. We saw them in their barest—sans hair color, haircut, makeup—without the dazzle of lights and the glitz of their usual fabulous attires.
But four months in lockdown gave us Zoom fatigue. We had to think beyond. We had to dream big again and that is exactly what ThemeWorks did.
After 20 years in the live events industry, ThemeWorks had to reinvent itself and branched out to virtual events.
The author (right) with director Rich Ilustre
On July 4, ThemeWorks pioneered a new way of staging large-scale virtual events in the country. The event was a sales convention. It was staged in a massive television studio, and viewed in over 12,000 homes. The production team was a hybrid of stellar names in live events and TV staging.
It put together the technology of Zoom, Facebook, the treatment of television lifestyle and news shows, the razzle-dazzle of live shows and concerts and the new language of today: social media posts and tweets. Security guidelines and safety protocols were strictly implemented.
The event had Robbie Domingo and Bianca Valerio as hosts, and show-biz luminaries Charo Santos, Piolo Pascual, Matteo Guidicelli, Enchong Dee, Iñigo Pascual as guests.
This was our baptism of fire in virtual staging on a large scale.
Floors all marked for single-way movements, for social distancing
It wasn’t easy as we grappled with new ways to stage effectively and efficiently, but the thrill and enthusiasm of coming back and doing events again after almost four months in hiatus gave us the push.
In a few days, ThemeWorks will stage another virtual live event: the Excellence Awards Night of a leading firm.
The end of the pandemic may not be on the horizon anytime soon, or the return of traditional live staging, but a new way to stage has been born. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author is president of ThemeWorks Events.
Premier lighting designer Shakira Villa Symes all wrapped up