Technical event production company Sterling Event Group has created Sterling Studio, a Manchester-based studio space designed to boost the production value of webinars and other virtual events, over video conferencing and online meeting platforms such as Zoom, Go To Meeting, Skype and WebEx. The studio, supported by UK distributor PSCo, boasts a digital backdrop from LED display manufacturer Absen.
The idea to create a studio dedicated to virtual events came before the Covid-19 lockdown, just as the need for an events space with the capacity for high production quality was rising – a need that has only increased since.
“The studio space allows us to use our rental equipment and create a space for users to virtually present to their audience using state-of-the-art technologies, without the obvious limitations that come with presenting from home,” said Dan Charmer, director of Sterling Event Group. This facility is also a fantastic tool for companies who don’t want to invest in, or have the required space or equipment to record and broadcast such presentations.
The 230sqm black box space offers features designed not only to provide presenters with creative freedom, but also to maintain current UK social distancing requirements. The space boasts an 11m wide stage, along with a 3.6m circular podium where presenters can easily maintain the appropriate social distance, fully kitted with a professional lighting and audio system, including digital mixing consoles and stage monitor speakers.
Snaking around the back of the stage is a 16 x 3 metre curved LED screen providing a dynamic backdrop to set the scene for any event. The screen is made up of Absen’s Polaris 2.5mm Pro – part of the multi-award-winning Polaris rental series – which has been specifically created for indoor use, offering 1200 nits high brightness, superior contrast and high precision pixel alignment. The screen is well suited for a multitude of uses, such as Sterling Studio, which uses the LED screen to simultaneously display presentations, social media feeds, branding and custom backgrounds in sharp 18bit+ image processing.
“The screen is paramount to the studio: the sharpness and contrast of the image are key elements to the impact we were looking to create,” commented Charmer. “The Polaris series offers what we need for this project mechanically and, more importantly, visually over our existing [Absen] A3 Pro. The compatibility of the hardware across the range was also a big advantage when adding it to the rental fleet.”
The Polaris 2.5mm Pro panels feature an integrated curved locking system, allowing for convex (-7.5˚) or concave (+10˚) shapes to be modelled as needed to further improve the striking visual effect, as well as round, square or triangle panel shapes. The 9.6kg model also boasts simple and quick assembly, something which Charmer and his team used to their advantage.
“A small team of technicians installed the screen without any help or guidance, and found it to be a simple, stress-free installation,” Charmer said.
The screen is driven by Avolites Ai Media servers, which provide large format backdrops for use during virtual events. All signals are routed through a Barco E2 switching system, which is also routing content down to four 65-inch stage monitors within the studio space, made available to the presenters and their team. These are thoroughly cleaned after every use, along with the other equipment available.
“We wanted to create a safe, hygienic space that encompassed the high production value and set design, whilst ensuring the opportunity for engagement with audiences for our clients in a more visually impactful way,” Charmer said. “We do not know what the future holds, but for now we know we have provided the standard our clients have come to expect from us with the assistance of PSCo and Absen.”