Visions CEO , Chris Norman chats to Mike Fletcher about growth via acquisition and the importance of production for effective hybrid events
Chris Norman , CEO of Visions is working from home in a converted pottery mill on the edge of the Peak District when we speak . His Cockapoo is curled up on the chair opposite and his eightmonth-old daughter is sleeping peacefully .
“ We were supposed to be getting married but Covid put pay to that notion for the time being so we had a baby girl instead ,” he exclaims . “ We ’ re just getting used to the clocks changing but she sleeps through the night so I can forgive her for waking at 5.30am instead of 6.30am .”
Norman is probably due a paternity leave break after a 12-month period that has seen his holding company , The Event Technology Group , take-over not one , but two event suppliers that had succumbed to the knock-on effects of the pandemic .
In November 2020 , Norman extended his role by becoming CEO of the renamed Fisher Productions London . Just two months before , he ’ d had a bid accepted for sound technology supplier , Dobson and subsequently launched Hybrid Presentations , with studio facilities in London , Reading and Manchester .
“ Dobson has enabled us to enhance our streaming and virtual capabilities by combining the creative and technical knowledge expertise from within our family group of companies . Hybrid Presentations is set-up to use multiple platforms to suit the customers needs and we ’ re producing events using a wide-range of streaming options including break-out rooms and sponsor pods to maximise audience engagement ,” he says .
The takeover of Fisher sees Norman expand into the London venues market , completing the Visions production portfolio of outdoor , in-person , experiential , virtual and hybrid activity .
Visions ’ hybrid pedigree dates back to 2012 when Norman led on a ‘ world first ’ for BMW Group , which saw social video streamed onto a Mini Cooper as it drove around London ’ s West-end whilst being filmed by another Mini and streamed back to the internet for eight-hours each day over a two-week period .
“ It was the reason for buying our first TriCaster for mixing cameras ,” Norman recalls . “ We then produced a hybrid solution for Panasonic so that online viewers could post questions onto its stand at IFA , the consumer electronics show in Berlin . These were then used for live streamed product demonstrations . Between then and the pandemic , we ’ ve been investing in kit and producing virtual and hybrid events for a range of predominantly financial services clients .”
For hybrid to be a success , Norman believes that planners should invest properly in the production and plan for two separate experiences .
“ There needs to be a better understanding of what drives virtual attention and the type of content and delivery formats that will keep viewers engaged ,” he says . “ Errors within content streams or virtual presentations just aren ’ t tolerated anymore so planners need to partner with experienced suppliers that can provide solutions around lighting , camera angles , mixing and editing .
“ Many of the agencies that made space in their warehouses to set-up green-screen studios are now finding they need the warehouse back as in-person events return . As the hybrid model matures , clients need to understand that more production equipment and cameras may mean less seating . But production is an important investment .
Organisers need committed suppliers with a track-record and production expertise so that they can properly justify the additional expense and build effective hybrid programmes for the future .”
It ’ s time to end the call as Norman has a meeting with a potential client to talk about two cross Atlantic events taking place in New York and London with contributors being streamed live . It ’ s sure to be another exciting and technically challenging project for the Visions team to be working on .
“ THERE NEEDS TO BE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT DRIVES VIRTUAL ATTENTION AND THE TYPE OF CONTENT AND DELIVERY FORMATS THAT WILL KEEP VIEWERS ENGAGED ...”