The Awards during lockdown: How we created our first virtual awards ceremony

How did the Relocate team, with video producer Leigh Emmerson, and contributors from around the globe, create one of the world's first high-energy, entertaining, and groundbreaking virtual awards ceremonies?

Leigh Emmerson monitors the live virtual event

Leigh Emmerson, video producer of the Relocate Awards, monitors the YouTube virtual "live" broadcast. All images © Persistence of Vision.

Relocate Virtual Awards Ceremony 2020
Fiona Murchie spoke to Leigh Emmerson an experienced video producer, who worked with the Relocate Global team to turn the Relocate Awards ceremony into a Virtual experience as a result of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.Fiona and Relocate's challenge to Leigh was:“Can we still have the ceremony and still have the excitement and shared experience of the live event but without breaking any social distancing rules?”Leigh’s company Persistence of Vision (POV) had worked with Relocate Global on previous video projects including the Festival of Global People and the Awards Gala Dinner and Ceremony in 2019 but this was a whole new challenge.Discover how the Virtual Relocate Awards broke new ground and the collaboration of a video producer, professional broadcaster and the exuberance and resilience of the global cast of sponsors, supporters, judges and winners rose to the challenge to showcase the global mobility and international management sector at its collaborative best.

Fiona Murchie, Managing Editor of Relocate Global and Relocate magazine posed the following questions:

Q: How has the Virtual Relocate Awards Ceremony pushed the boundary for you as a video producer/director?

Leigh: Although I work in the creative industry I actually have an engineering degree and I love solving problems so when you asked me how we could do the awards this year, I relished the challenge and having to think out of the box. It was an opportunity to pull together a number of skills and techniques I already had and create a bespoke solution for this event. I do feel we have been trailblazers with this project. No one has done anything quite like this before because before the pandemic no one needed to.

Q: What do you think was most special about video and the audience?

Leigh: I think the real challenge was to recreate the live event for the audience that shared viewing experience. I think we managed that and it was lovely to see the comments rolling past and people were clearly engaged. It really is an international community.

Q: How difficult was it pulling together contributions from around the world, produced by business people using the limited resources they had, often in a home environment?

Leigh: Once we agreed on how we were going to do it, the project became more of a logistical exercise. We needed to get clear concise instructions to the contributors on how they could produce their content. We did this with some written instructions and a video. Fiona provided the core ceremony script which they adapted. Once, the contributions started to come in we had to keep track of what we were missing and then the project became a jigsaw which needed to be assembled.
Jayne Constantinis presenting the Relocate Awards from home
BAFTA-nominated journalist, Jayne Constantinis, presenting the 2020 Relocate Awards from her home in London

Q: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic how do you see virtual events evolving?

Leigh: I think these kind of virtual events will become more and more common and will become more and more refined. You can already see on mainstream TV how productions are being adapted to accommodate the current, contact limitations and how they are getting better and better at it.

Q: How will conferences and events change?

Leigh: I’m hopeful in the long term events will be able to happen as they did, but in the meantime, I feel a lot of them will be completely virtual like ours, or, as restrictions are relaxed, I think they will be scaled down with a much smaller audience and will be streamed live to a wider audience. This is something we have been doing for a while anyway for some events. It’s very fortunate that the technology is mature enough now for this to be practical. Had this pandemic happened 10 or 15 years ago it would have been a different story.
Bamboozle perform for the 2020 Relocate Awards
Bamboozle perform for the 2020 Relocate Awards from their home in Margate

Q: How did you start?

Leigh: I set up POV productions in 2002. We are very fortunate in the breadth of work we do. We get involved in a lot of corporate work, live events like this, we make the behind the scenes films for some very high-profile dramas and we produce demonstration content for some of the biggest television manufacturers in the world. I am the hub of the company. I started as an editor but now produce, direct and write as well which enables us to offer an extremely integrated, joined-up, and cost-effective solution. The company is me and my wife Sandra and when we need additional resource we call on our extremely professional network of freelancers.
Read more about Leigh's innovative work on the awards, or in touch with him, at POV productions:

Find out more about the winners on the Relocate Awards 2020 homepage!

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