‘On Air’. Alan Parsons Project maybe, hopefully? With Panasonic? Not quite.

I have always been a fan of the Alan Parsons Project with such albums as Gaudi, Tales of Mystery and Imagination and my favourites, Turn of a Friendly Card and Pyramid.

Alan Parsons is known as a sound engineers’ engineer in the industry – he engineered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon did you know and invented the quadraphonic “azimuth coordinator”.  One of Alan Parsons’ later albums explored even more new grounds in the audio spatial area, as if the so-called ‘audio wet dream’ of Dark Side of the Moon wasn’t enough!

1484_foto1_product_grootIt is called “On Air” and well worth a BIG listen. (All these links are to tracks on YouTube by the way)

So when I heard of an initiative out of Sydney involving Panasonic called “On Air”, I crossed my fingers that perhaps, somehow, they were doing something in conjunction with the Great Man, his music and some visual stuff.

Well, no, as it turns out. But something equally impressive anyway. And of course, like so many things today, it is born out of the invasion into our lives – in this case specifically the arts communities – of that damned beer bug.

But it is a good news story for a change, so read on!

The imperative to isolate through COVID-19 has thrown calendars into disarray as conferences, plays and festivals are forced to postpone, or abandon events altogether. Although restrictions are lifting in some states, the inability to meet in groups or host crowds at in-person events due to ongoing physical distancing measures has meant many local businesses, associations and performance groups have struggled to continue operating as normal.

In a bid to build industry resilience and help local business spark virtual creativity, Sydney Masonic Centre (SMC), Create Engage and Audio Visual Events (AVE) collaborated to deliver ON AIR, a state of the art semi-permanent studio at the forefront of audio visual and virtual event capabilities.

Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD, the ON AIR studio re-imagines the future of professional events and creative performances. Using three Panasonic AW-UE150 ProPTZ cameras, the studio space provides users with access to leading technology to stream their message to the community, their staff or customers, virtually during a time of travel restrictions and physical distancing.

Until now, this kind of production studio has been limited in existence, with most organisations opting for a more traditional and familiar style of venue or event space for production. In the current operating climate, there is a clear appetite for these alternative spaces. Since March, the studio has been booked out by clients opting for half-day or full-day sessions. With the support of innovative Panasonic solutions, the ON AIR studio has turned an unused conference room into a fully-booked livestream and recording studio.

AVE made the decision to incorporate three Panasonic ProPTZ (AW-UE150) cameras, operated by one central AW-RP150 controller. Already familiar with the Panasonic’s ProPTZ camera from other venues and setups around the country, the AVE operations team can now quickly and seamlessly organise each camera angle during rehearsal, improving efficiency at the operations desk as the event requires just one operator for all three 4K cameras.

General Manager at AVE, Paul Keating, emphasised that the construction and design strategy for the ON AIR studio was centred around reliability and flexibility due to the global pandemic.

The use of the Panasonic ProPTZ camera system within the studio has enabled us to deliver our clients live streams with very high production quality,” said Mr Keating.

We have stocked a range of Panasonic ProPTZ cameras and controllers for years, and the use of pre-sets within the AW-RP150 enables perfect repeatability and control over each camera’s setting. Our technical operators enjoy working with them during shows and clients love the results, flexibility and cost savings these products deliver.”

ON AIR OPS 1 small

The technology utilised within the studio also enables operators to adhere to physical distancing measures, without compromising video and image quality.

“The health and safety of our team and clients has remained of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of three AW-UE150 cameras with one central controller allows us to reduce the number of people required in studio, and respect physical distancing needs.

This also allowed us to carefully manage client budgets at a time when many organisations are looking for efficiencies across their operations,” said Mr Keating.

The ON AIR studio has had back to back bookings since May and, although physical distancing measures are now starting to ease, the studio has remained fully booked throughout July and August for livestreaming events.

Scott Cooper, Director of Sales at SMC Conference and Function Centre also said: “The refitting of this space at the Sydney Masonic Centre has allowed us to continue supporting local artists and business pursuing their creativepassion and utilising streaming services.With uncertainty around ongoing restrictions of business travel, some organisations have also considered hosting national and international conferences with us too. It really is an incredibly unique and versatile space which will fulfil a range of needs in the months – and maybe years – to come.”

With an impressive pipeline of upcoming events and conferences, the ONAIR studio has been receiving great reviews from its early clients, including Blackmores Group, Salesforce, Vinnies CEO Sleepout and Palliative Care Australia.

Through the use of the ON AIR studio, Vinnies CEO Sleepout transformed their annual fundraising event from a state-based physical event to a national online platform, connecting 1,500 CEOs to an audience of 5,000 people. Palliative Care Australia – which runs Palliative Care Week in May each year – was able to creatively sidestep the inconvenience of COVID- 19 distancing measures to transition their annual in-person convention to a livestreamed Q&A style event hosted by ABC broadcaster Dr Norman Swan, reaching audiences across the nation.

“ON AIR is an innovative and powerful all-in-one package. Without the means to run national in-person events, we needed a professional production that could reach our stakeholders in an engaging way, and the ON AIR team delivered! The venue was perfect, the AV was seamless and the webcast hit the audience.”

More information on the ON AIR studio, visit: https://www.onairstudio.com.au/

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