In many cases, a virtual performance poses more questions than answers to your organization. Should you stream or pre-record shows? How do you grow a virtual audience? Can a hybrid production model generate additional ticket sales? But let’s take a step back and focus on the basics first.
Because your number one priority needs to be improving the quality of every online performance. If you’re struggling to get started, here are seven easy ways to make virtual production progress possible:
Invest In Better Light & Sound
Better cameras are nice. But light and sound are ultimately what determines the success or failure of any virtual performance. After all, if your viewers can’t see or hear your masterpiece they’re probably not going to enjoy it. Or even stick around long enough to see how it ends.
If you’re thinking about outdoor theatre, know that your production comes with the advantage of sunlight. Or, at the very least a moderate amount of natural light on a cloudy day. But that also means audio disadvantages whenever dogs bark, cars drive by, etc.
If you’re performing in a socially distanced studio or closed set, you can go the artificial lighting route too. Just make sure you’re using enough of it. If you think you’ve got enough, add one or two more fixtures anyway. Because too much light is rarely a problem for the online stage.
Coach Actors For the Camera
The biggest difference between live and virtual theatre is the audience. Or, rather, lack thereof. Onstage, performers exaggerate expressions and gestures so everyone understands what’s going on.
In a virtual performance, however, this dynamic doesn’t exist. Cameras and technology can execute close-up angles with ease. So, consider coaching more subtle, controlled, and natural body language into your actors.
Another skill your virtual thespians need is the ability to think - and act - fast. Despite all your hard work and preparation, something unexpected is sure to pop up. And when it does, a clever line or funny reaction can inspire memorable experiences for everyone. Just as they would help cover a late entrance or missed line in a crowded live performance, your cast needs to be similarly prepared for virtual audiences.
Use Your Cast’s Technical Skills
Managing a virtual performance makes it easy to forget the important things sometimes. And nothing’s more essential than your cast and crew. Especially if they have technical skills that can save you time, money, and energy.
As part of a tightly knit theatre team, you’re never alone. And in most cases the performers and professionals around you want to help. So, lean on them. Be vulnerable. And give everyone an opportunity to learn and grow together.
After all, you’re surrounded by a team of creative, curious, and bold people who’ve been around editors, audio and visual designers, and media promoters their entire lives. In some cases, they may have picked up a thing or two themselves. So why not tap into those skills and take your online show to another level?
Opt For VOD
Less pressure than live streamed performance, more opportunities to get it right
While it may not feel natural to live theatre pros, in most cases pre-recorded Videos On Demand (VOD) are the way to go. They deliver more opportunities to excel while eliminating the pressure to perform live.
Wi-Fi latency and internet speeds vary from one household to the next. Meaning it’s impossible to satisfy 100% of any stream audience’s demands. There’s going to be lag, technical glitches, and other unavoidable challenges that can ruin viewer immersion in an instant.
Capturing your performances ahead of time frees you from unfair criticism for connectivity problems out of your control. Plus, it fits the on-demand lifestyle of most modern digital consumers too. Win-win.
Embrace The Business of Promotions
Growing your audience, increasing your reach, and improving the quality of your virtual performance sounds like a tough job. But if you embrace the business side of promotions, better online shows are only three simple steps away.
While you’ve had to rethink everything you know about theatre since the start of COVID-19, only your productions have changed. Overall, most of the best practices for connecting with new people and sharing stories are the same ones that have worked for years.
If you’re already using tools like social media, digital ads, websites, blogs, and podcasts to promote in-person performances, guess what? You’ve got everything you need to promote online theatre too.
For the most creative producers out there determined to try something new, we suggest adding live audience talkbacks and Q&A sessions to your virtual performance experience. They’re little things that can help your production take huge steps forward.
Prioritize Key Script Moments
In the world of online entertainment, virtual theatre faces stiff competition. And a lot of it. There are a million things that can go wrong. And if anything does, your viewers can find something else to watch with a single click. The pressure’s on.
Fortunately, there’s a secret to ensure success: prioritize key moments in your script. Break down every scene line-by-line. And do the important stuff right. But, make sure you’re trimming as much filler content as possible. Because long-winded dialogue and three-hour productions are only going to scare viewers away. If you’re producing a VOD performance on a deadline, devoting more time to your large set pieces, rather than less important scenes, will make sure you deliver the best experience possible when working under tight schedules.
Simply put: know your story, execute it well, and remember that in virtual theatre less is usually more.
Expect the Unexpected
If you’ve worked in theatre for any period of time, you know to expect the unexpected. Especially when the day of show comes.
Without a fallback plan for common technical issues like Wi-Fi outage and faulty hardware, your production is doomed before it begins. Which is why a technology-focused partner like On The Stage is such a valuable resource.
We make it easy to take theatre online by bundling ticketing, promotions, streaming, VOD, merchandise, and more in one easy-to use platform. We handle the details so you can focus on doing what you do best: putting on the best show possible. If you’d like to learn more about how we help theatres of all sizes deliver a Broadway-quality experience to their productions and audiences, book a free demo today.