Maryland Municipal League 2020 Conference:
For twenty years, Image Engineering has managed and provided full-scale live event production services to The Maryland Municipal League (MML) for their annual conference in Ocean City, MD. Unfortunately, in 2020, live event calendars were decimated with the unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As virtual became the only viable event space, MML turned to us for support in providing an online solution that preserved and provided a high-value interactive experience to their loyal attendees.
Planning and Resource Management
Our Project Manager and Technical Director worked closely with MML to convert their in-person conference theme and schedule into a virtual experience by offering consulting on best practices for virtual events. For the General Sessions, this meant exploring the meaning behind traditional conference events and identifying ways we could meaningfully transfer it into a virtual space. We also restructured their breakout sessions to be more engaging for audiences by increasing speaker-to-audience interaction utilizing tools such as Chat, Q&A, and Polling.
Image built a custom soundstage at our headquarters in Curtis Bay, MD to differentiate the look and feel of the General Session from the breakouts. Using 3D Renderings, we provided MML with a visualization of what their stage would look like in-person and how it would translate to the virtual space for attendees.
General Sessions were produced live, capturing feeds from both our staging area and remote speakers. Similar to a live event, we used a production switcher to navigate the various content inputs. For a virtual event, these inputs can be studio cameras, remote speakers’ cameras, video playback and graphics playback machines. All video sources are ingested into our broadcast switcher and switched in real-time to create the program feed. This system architecture gives us the capability to integrate pre-recorded content, lower thirds, sponsorship overlays, PowerPoint presentations, still images, charts, graphs and any other relevant content along with a speaker’s live/pre-recorded video feed.
We utilized similar technology for breakout sessions at individual workstations, allowing us to moderate live camera feeds and integrate pre-recorded content such as pre-produced videos, still images, charts and graphs for concurrent sessions. Each workstation had a media server delivering each breakout session in 1080 HD resolution. A camera and wireless headset at each workstation facilitated easy and effective communication between our staff and remote session speakers. This set up allowed our team to test speakers’ personal audio-visual equipment prior to the broadcast, provide virtual stage management and troubleshoot while a session was live, if necessary. Working side-by-side with MML’s staff and volunteer moderators, our team of trained technicians provided all technical support in breakout sessions, allowing conference staff to focus on Chat and Q/A functions.
Supported by our production and technical team members, MML’s first virtual conference received high praise from attendees, volunteers and internal staff alike. Utilizing the methods and technologies put to practice during this conference, the Image & MML partnership looks forward to “Reimagining Tomorrow” using a hybrid format, to bring their live events to a broader audience in new and engaging ways.
“Image Engineering has handled the production for the Maryland Municipal League’s Annual Summer Conference for almost 20 years. The professionalism of Image Engineering’s talented staff, their innovation and creativity has kept our event fresh, exciting and special for every one of those years.” Scott Hancock, Executive Director