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Seamless broadcast: from convention centre to ‘event studio’

When Covid-19 hit Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg took almost immediate action to reduce the spread of the virus across the country.

These measures included a ban on public events and activities, closed educational institutions, imposed a quarantine on travellers for 14 days who, as of 27 February, had entered the country from outside the Nordic countries, regardless of whether they had symptoms or not. Solberg said the measures were “the most far-reaching measures Norway’s population has ever experienced in peacetime.”

This quick-thinking means Norway’s Covid-19 death toll stands at just 250 compared to the UK’s 43,906. However, for one association, these lockdown measures almost caused one of its major events to be cancelled, until the Oslofjord Convention Center came up with a solution.

Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) has a long‐term lease agreement with Oslofjord Convention Center to host its large events and intended to host its Easter Conference at the venue for 10,000 people. However, Covid-19 meant this couldn’t happen, physically.

“The client asked for a solution,” said Johannes Lauchenauer, Oslofjord Convention Center’s international sales director. The result – the Oslofjord hybrid Event studio.

The studio was put together in just three weeks. It features a 120-metre interactive LED screen and comes with a staff of around 20 events professional, AV technicians and logistics managers to ensure virtual events run smoothly.

The studio was also integrated with Oslofjord Convention Center’s pre-existing app. The app allows viewers to participate in the virtual event by submitting questions, sharing photos and videos, and taking part in votes. There are also two-way communication solutions, linking those in the studio with virtual attendees – allowing delegates to easily invite speakers, or others, from around the globe to participate.

Despite the cost of the studio, including the equipment tallying an eye-watering 38 million Norwegian kroner (£3.2m), Lauchenauer and his team were conscious not to pass this cost onto the studio’s first client.

“Originally, we had planned a physical event with more than 10,000 people and budgeted around 12 million Norwegian kroner,” BCC comms manager, Berit Hustad Nilsen told AMI.

“As we had to cancel that and carry out an online event, the costs were reduced to about 8 million kroner.”

Despite the short lead time to turn the physical event virtual, the event went off without a hitch.

“All our members were invited to the online event, about 15‐to-20,000 people from the whole world, ” Nilsen added. “We peaked at 10,700 online users simultaneously, but we assume that that number corresponds to at least 12,000 participants.”

BCC made full use of the technology available to them. “Participants who had checked in via the app had their profile pictures displayed on a world map on the LED screen which showed where they were watching from,” Nilsen said.

Despite the challenges of going online in such a short time, the conference received a big thumbs up.

“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I guess we surpassed everybody’s expectations as to how much it was possible to carry out in three weeks.

“It was a plus that we got continuous feedback throughout the broadcasts, no matter where the attendees where situated. Members based in Africa, who usually are not financially capable of travelling to Norway, were, for the first time, equally represented and equally participating in our Easter Conference.”

To learn more about the Oslofjord Hybrid Event studio contact Johannes Lauchenauer: johannes.lauchenauer@oslofjord.com.