What equipment do you need to run a hybrid event?

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During the pandemic, the event industry experienced a lot of challenges. Taking all the meetings to the virtual world was one of them. Although, we're now slowly moving to a new, advanced event format - hybrid meetings.



There is no surprise that event planners quickly saw the potential of hybrid events and had to learn the aspects to consider when organizing one quickly. One of the criteria, of course, is high-quality equipment. 

We sat down with our technicians to delve deeper into the tools necessary to launch a hybrid meeting, and today, we’ll share everything you need to know about the required software, hardware, and other equipment for a flawless hybrid experience. 

But first, let's quickly recap - what is a hybrid event, after all?

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event is a meeting that combines an event’s live and digital components. 

Before, we used to look at the multilingual hybrid events from a participant's point of view only. Thus, we said that we could have a virtual audience and in-person attendees in such meetings, while virtual events only have remote participants.

Now, the definition of a hybrid event has changed. Like the participants, a successful hybrid meeting allows the interpreters to choose how they work: on-site or remotely.

Use cases of a hybrid event vary: it can be a large conference, an institution, or a corporate meeting with integration with local hardware. Entirely virtual events don't require the use of traditional interpreting hardware, but they have to use interpretation software.

Today, we no longer have to choose between entirely virtual or in-person events. Instead - event planners can combine features from each to deliver the best hybrid event experience. 

Since we were always choosing between virtual and in-person events, let's see what we can learn from each to later help event planners deliver the best hybrid event experience.

Which one is better: a virtual event or an on-site event?

Event organizers don't have to stress too much about the hardware if we think about a virtual event. Usually, these four components are enough to run a multilingual meeting online:

  • Computer
  • Internet connection
  • Web browser
  • Interpretation software

However, before virtual audiences became a norm, the language industry with the interpreters ahead mostly had in-person experience only, which required entirely different technical needs.

Event organizers wanted virtual events to be as entertaining as those in the venues. Still, they had to work twice as hard to achieve success: virtual attendees' engagement, event content optimization, and the implementation of different event marketing techniques.

On the other hand, the virtual components enable you to reach your target audience easier - in a matter of a few clicks. In-person events already have everything to succeed, but recently, venue restrictions have made them much more challenging.

How do we make the best out of both? We combine virtual and physical events with in-person and virtual attendees or, for example, interpreters. This is how the first major hybrid conferences were born - The Convention on Biological Diversity, for example.

Equipment needed to run hybrid events

The Interactio technicians and hybrid event professionals provided a list of equipment for a hybrid event. Successful hybrid events for multilingual audiences need three types of equipment:

  • Audio hardware
  • Video hardware
  • Interpretation hardware

Now, let’s look at each of these equipment pieces in more detail.

Audio hardware for hybrid events

The audio component is just as important as video. If your next hybrid event is multilingual - you will need interpretation services, and audio will become the priority. Now, we’ll take a closer look at what audio assets you’ll need. 

Audio interface

The role of the audio interface is to convert analog audio to digital and vice versa. In simple words, with this hardware, you can convert microphone signals into a digital format so that your computer and software, such as Interactio, can recognize them.

Some of the great providers for audio interfaces are Focusrite, Behringer, and RME.

Virtual sound cards

Mainly, people use virtual sound cards to route digital signals. In general, these cards enable you to take more control over your audio.

Let's take a look at the Dante Virtual Sound card as an example - it simply eliminated the need for expensive hardware sound cards. With such software, you can create virtual links between your output and input, as well as send audio from other applications on your computer.

Additional virtual sound cards include VB Cable and Loopback.

Microphones

There are many types of microphones, including tabletop, room, or handheld ones. It doesn't matter where your keynote speaker is located - whether they are from a virtual audience or just one of the in-person attendees. Top-notch microphones are a must for the good audio quality of your event.

Traditional events usually provide microphones on-site, but virtual attendees also have to ensure that they are not using built-in tools.

If you are an interpreter joining an event through virtual access, you can consider headsets - that is, speakers (headphones) and microphones combined. For example, Sennheiser provides great headsets, and they ensure that your event participants will receive a crystal clear sound given a good internet connection.

Speakers

When we think of a hybrid event, two kinds of speakers might pop up - loudspeakers and wired or wireless headphones.

People who choose to attend in-person events might only have to use headphones in a few cases:

  • If the event is multilingual and they are providing interpretation services. In this case, you will have to use a mobile phone to access the event app, choose the language of interpretation, and use your headphones not to disturb any other in-person attendees.
  • If the event is suited for people with hearing disabilities and needs louder audio. Remaining in-person participants might only require loudspeakers, so if your event has a live audience, make sure to take care of their sound quality too.

Note: one of the must-dos before a hybrid event is to find out the needs of your audience before the event! Send out a survey and inform remote attendees of some ground rules and equipment suggestions, offer the event platform demo, and introduce them to their virtual counterparts. 

Ask how many people will be there in the in-person audience and remind them to bring their headphones if they need interpretation services!

Audio mixing consoles

It would be best to have an audio mixing console to control incoming audio signals. Often there are many incoming signals on any physical events if you want to digitize them.

The same applies if we are talking about a virtual conference or other virtual or hybrid events. Interpreters in different languages have different channels, so if you are going to work with an audio mixing console - choose the one that works best for you.

Some of the industry favorites include the ones from Soundcraft, Digico, and Midas.

Video hardware for hybrid events

Excellent video quality is essential for everyone: event organizers, in-person event attendees, or simply providing a live stream for those who participate virtually. As hybrid events combine all of these needs, it’s crucial to pay exceptional attention to video hardware. 

Video capture card

Video capture card lets you convert video signals from SDI or HDMI to USB. The function is similar to audio capture cards. What's different is that it receives your camera's output and transforms it into a digital format so your devices can recognize it.

Video capture cards manufacturers include Blackmagic, Magewell, and AJA.

Video converters

The same manufacturers also provide video converters. They might be helpful for your hybrid event if there are video signal streams of different sources. Video converters can easily convert different video signals to the ones that work for you and other devices you're using.

Screens

In-person attendees who are sitting far from the first rows will need a screen on the side of the venue to see what happens on stage.

Interpreters might also be far away from the speakers, so they need screens with an up-close image of the presenters to examine their body language and other cues that help interpret.

Besides, screens are essential for all people who might want to receive recordings of the presentations, having a watch-on-demand feature in mind. Attending virtually? The screen will always be in front of you, so choose one that doesn't make your eyes tired.

Video mixing consoles

Imagine having one video signal from a speaker from your event, another from the audience, and some different video sources from remote participants. With the help of video mixing consoles, you can layer out and mix these incoming video feeds in a way that your audience would like to see them.

Some of the great providers include Roland and Blackmagic

Interpretation hardware for hybrid events

To implement interpretation services for your next hybrid meeting, you’ll first have to find a remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) platform that meets your needs.

RSI can break the language barriers and attract more attendees. Best hybrid events implement multilingual solutions to expand the event content, but you will need to take care of interpretation hardware and software to do that.

Live and hybrid events still require hardware for the interpreters working on-site. However, virtual attendees can simply use interpretation software by logging into one of the event apps and receiving audio through there.

After choosing your hybrid event platform that supports interpretation, there's just one last thing you might need for your event - the interpreter console.

Interpreter consoles

The reason to use such consoles is quite simple. If your event is multilingual, it will most definitely need a lot of interpreters working behind the scenes. Each language pair that the RSI interpreters will work on will have a different language channel.

The interpreter console will let them listen to and interpret into different language channels. Some of the devices include Televic, Bosch, and Taiden.

To sum up

Hybrid events have enhanced the event experience, combining the best features of both virtual and on-site meetings. Likewise, such a combination significantly expanded the list of software and hardware necessary to launch an event. 

There’s a lot to handle from audio, video, and interpretation perspectives, yet following our suggestions will come in handy while collecting the required tools.

If you have any questions related to the event equipment or would like to discuss your next hybrid event, get in touch with our team.

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Published on

Dec 20, 2021

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