Production Futures Online

Production Futures Online 2021

Following TPi’s first foray into digital events, it seemed only natural to curate another online event to help inspire those taking their first steps into the live events sector. Hosted on Swapcard, Production Futures Online 2021 featured two days of free panels, workshops, and interactive Q&As with almost 50 virtual speakers, not to mention live sets from up-and-coming talent Rue and The Native from The Nub Sessions, courtesy of Sennheiser.

This year’s supporters featured a range of sector-specific outfits in 80six, Absen, Adamson Systems Engineering, Avolites, d&b audiotechnik, disguise, LMG, NEXO, Pearce Hire, Pixl Evolution, Production Park, Sennheiser, STNDYBY, The Zoo XYZ, TPi, Vectorworks and XPLOR.

Educational partners included Access Creative College, Backstage Academy, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), Resonance, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, Solent University, The COiL Learning Center, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

This year, a key focus was on diversity and inclusion, so we were honoured to partner with wonderful associations and partners in 3T (Tour Tech Training), BECTU, Institute of Sound, Communications and Visual Engineers (ISCVE), NEKO trust, UK Music, Women in Lighting and Women in Live Music, among others.

As well as livestream content, several supporters hosted virtual booths where visitors were able to interact with attendees, get their hands on giveaways, including: Sennheiser IE 100 Pro IEMs and MKE 400 Mobile Kit, a £100 Amazon gift voucher from Vectorworks and more prizes from the likes of Adamson Systems Engineering, Avolites, d&b audiotechnik, disguise, 80six, NEXO, Production Park and STNDBYworld, who were also on hand to provide resources for people looking to peruse at their leisure.

Here, we look back at the two days of content, which is still available to view online. To watch this year’s content on-demand, visit:


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Production Park’s The Mill Studio Manager, Ant Forbes and Stage Manager, Sam Wilkinson kicked off proceedings by sharing their experience as Production Manager and Stage Manager of the British Music Embassy stage at SXSW Online, along with Backstage Academy students, Toby Leadbitter and Ryan Bellwood.

The four described what it takes to build a COVID-19 secure platform for 35 breakthrough acts to showcase their talent with UK-only production and equipment at Production Park Studios in London and Wakefield.

Afterwards, Vectorworks presented a unique training session with Product Specialist, Tom White, where visitors were treated to an insight into Vectorworks’ 3D design software.

TPi then hosted a panel with music industry and live events professionals exploring some of the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in the sector, featuring Arts Council England Relationship Manager (Music), Adem Holness; Live Nation UK Diversity ERG Leader, Alexandra Ampofo; Founder, Karrie Keyes; Global Touring Office Founder, Keely Myers and Women In Live Music CEO, Malle Kaas – chaired by Monitor Engineer, Production Futures Online regular and 3T Co-Founder, Freyja Lawson.

Over the past 45 years, Avolites has designed and manufactured in the UK, professional lighting and now fully integrated video technology for everyone, from students to LD legends. The firm believes that its technology should be open to be used by everyone, at every level – which is why Avolites chose Production Futures to launch its new Online Learning Platform, with an interactive tour of what the platform has to offer. The team also delivered a pre-pandemic show reel and video interviews with LDs, Lucas Edwards, Nathan Wan and Andy Webb on some of the firm’s recent Titan and Ai software innovations.

As many will attest, running an event isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Zoo XYZ’s Nadu Placca presented 10 Steps to a Successful Event – a master class on how to deliver a successful event, covering a broad range of topics from managing and planning events to budgeting, venue scouting and marketing. Shortly afterwards, Placca took the hot seat to field live questions from viewers.

Despite her live schedule coming to an abrupt end in March 2020, singer-songwriter and BRIT Awards Breakthrough Artist, Arlo Parks has had a phenomenal year, garnering critical praise as well as seeing an increase in venue size for her 2021/2022 touring schedule [see TPi #261]. At Production Futures Online 2021, key members of Arlo Parks’ production team – Adam Williams, Chris Parker, Sarah Asmail and James Fernandez – discussed life on the road with the breakthrough star, detailed the creative process and shared plans for the future.

Moving things to the digital ether and in keeping with the ‘new normal’ landscape of live events, Unreal Engine’s Mark Flanagan and disguise’s Tom Rockhill discussed how developments in virtual events may change live performances as we know them.

In the last session of the day, Audio Engineer, Elaine Duffy discussed the differences between live and broadcast sectors. Having worked on BBC Proms, Britain’s Got Talent, Glastonbury Festivals, The X Factor, The Olivier Awards, and several other high-profile showcases, Duffy provided friendly and useful behind-the-scenes insight, tricks of the trade and important lessons learned along the way.

Production Futures Online 2021 also introduced the In Discussion sessions where attendees could speak in real-time on Swapcard’s interactive video chat rooms. Along with Vectorworks and Avolites taking advantage of this space, Day One saw Interfacio’s Richard Wear offer careers advice, CV tips and important information for industry newcomers.

Meanwhile, Bectu provided Live Events Network updates, campaigns and resources, while Rose Bruford College provided academic insight from an educational standpoint and a chance to meet with some of the team.

Chartered Engineer, James Eade and Pearce Hire General Manager, Jim Brown hopped online to discuss the various ins and outs of temporary power installation for events, outdoor festivals and gigs. One lucky attendee also won a place on a three-day City & Guilds Assured Programme in the Application of BS 7909 to Temporary Power System, which typically costs £606.

Finally, UK Music’s Oliver Morris sat down screen-to-screen with former Muse Tour Director, Founder of NEKO trust and Production Futures stalwart Glen Rowe, who discussed his time in the industry and shared pearls of wisdom with the next generation of roadies in an informal conversation with attendees in real-time.


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LED specialist Absen, kicked off Day Two by highlighting the technical considerations required with filming in a modern-day LED studio during a conversation aptly titled Immersive LED Experiences: Virtual Studios. Chaired by Absen European Brand Manager, Jessica Golding, the session discussed the impact and rise of virtual studios on the sector over the past year, with a panel of the industry’s virtual studio experts in Absen Product Director, Christian Czimny, Catalyst Event Production Services and Creative Works. The panel highlighted what ‘virtual’ means in the industry, where virtual studios can be used, and what the benefits are of using LED over traditional green screens.

d&b audiotechnik then provided an in-depth look at socially distanced sound. d&b’s Ralf Zuleeg welcomed BH audio to discuss how d&b Soundscape helped to deliver audio for a socially distanced orchestra and audience via a livestream service at this year’s Ravenna Festival in Italy.

With ever growing development within the virtual space, TPi Editor, Stew Hume chatted to Mike Smith and Ian ‘Woody’ Woodall about one of the latest innovations within this space – inKLICK. This new platform, created by industry professionals, seeks to bring virtual audiences closer to artists. With the platform being used on Tom Grennan’s latest virtual performance [see TPi #261], the co-creators took to the Production Futures Online platform to discuss how modern innovation allows virtual audiences to interact with performing artists and what job opportunities this may create for the live events sector.

With most of us missing the sound of crashing cymbals and the minutiae of sound check, Sennheiser broadcasted live from Airfield Studios, home of The Nub Sessions. Featuring live performances from Rue and The Native, the session provided an insight to all things live music streaming – from microphone techniques, monitor mixing and RF techniques, to live broadcast mixing and playback monitoring – with input from performing artists and audio engineers.

Afterwards, viewers were able to witness those crowned this year’s TPi Breakthrough Talent winners. The class of 2021 includes Olga Kenig, Morgan Evans, Gabrielle Wilson and Cedric Duré. Each winner secured their seat at next year’s TPi Awards and received a generous shipment of STNDBYworld merchandise.

Sound system performances in sports arenas and stadiums have significantly improved over the past 20 years. François Deffarges from NEXO Engineering Support Team led a webinar session at Production Futures Online 2021, which covered requirements as well as design challenges.

In these uncertain times, there is a real need to reassure the next-generation of talent that the live events industry is still alive and kicking – it just looks very different right now. There is a genuine concern that highly skilled professionals will leave the industry and TPi wants to support their future as well as new talent starting their career in live event production.

Therapy on Tour’s Tiffany Hudson and Music Support’s Andy Franks tackled the topic of mental health on the road and some of the methods and services available for those about to embark on a career in live events.

A familiar face to readers, Jake Vernum called in from Japan – where he recently assumed the role of Venue Lead at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics – to kick-start the day’s first In Discussion session. Having worn many hats, from Production Manager for George Ezra and Fatboy Slim to project management in temporary event power, Vernum led the scintillating session, giving those on the call a great deal of advice on how best to proceed in the world of live events.

Also taking up residence for an In Discussion session were Solent University and Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, along with Vectorworks, who jumped on to give part two of their Production Futures training course.

Finally, calling in from the US was Lighting Designer and Fireplay CEO, Nick Whitehouse, who jumped into the hot seat to answer any burning questions attendees had about the world of show and lighting design. Having worked on some of the biggest tours in the US, he certainly had plenty of wisdom to share from the world of live touring, from starting out to designing the visuals for Justin Timberlake’s past two touring campaigns.

This article originally appeared in issue #262 of TPi, which you can read here.

Photos: TyneSight Photographic Services & Sennheiser

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