How To Make Virtual Entertainment Work
Honestly, I never thought I’d perform a zoom magic show in my life, but now, it’s all I do. Virtual entertainment has replaced in-person shows. At some point, live events will return, but regardless of when, we’ve all realized the value and potential of virtual event platforms. That said, you can’t entertain the same way online as you would in-person. It’s a whole new medium. After much trial and error, I’ve worked out a system that allows the dynamic of an in-person show to succeed on virtual platforms. I thought I’d take this time to share my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t.
The value of magic and mentalism in-person is audience members can say they were “in the room when it happened.” But that’s not possible with a virtual show. This means the virtual show has to be all the more interactive. You can’t have a virtual magician say “watch this,” because without the direct engagement, audiences lose focus and tune out. When I’m hired to perform at a virtual corporate event, every trick I do involves spectators; sometimes the entire audience is included. In most zoom meetings, attendees are simply listening to the speaker. With a quality virtual magician, the audience becomes part of the show.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other meeting platforms are incredible, but they weren’t designed to host theatrical events. So I use Ecamm, a separate software, to overlay Zoom (sometimes another platform, depending on the client’s preferences), allowing me to create custom viewing windows. For example, if I’m reading the mind of a spectator, I want every viewer to be able to see that interaction unfold, and that’s not really possible on Zoom (with the current update it’s possible to spotlight multiple people, but if one of the attendees hasn’t updated zoom, they miss out on this experience). Using Ecamm, I’m able to take the guesswork out of the hands of spectators and create the viewing experience I want so they can truly enjoy the show. I can efficiently share additional imagery/videos, I can switch from one camera to another, and toggle between gallery view, a view of just me, and a view of me and the spectator. I can also display a view of myself, my close up pad (eg my table), and the spectator. All these custom viewing angles help recreate the dynamic of a live show and they improve the viewing experience for guests. Once you see a virtual magician perform with a setup like this, you’ll realize how limited Zoom is on it’s own.
Any professional virtual magician will have a high quality camera (or three), high speed internet connection, lighting, and a background fitting the event.
Many event planners send a box of goodies to each attendee and this is a great place to further enhance the show. I have a couple items I like to send guests providing them a tactile, hands on experience to enhance the show.
If you have any questions about adding corporate entertainment to your next virtual event, feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. I’m happy to help.
Here’s a quick tip: when hosting a large group, edit your Zoom preferences to disable participants who don’t have their videos on. They’ll still be part of the show, but their black picture-less screen won’t be visible in gallery view. This focuses the attention on those who are really engaged and helps create a clean looking gallery view.