October 17, 2022

4 Stage Design Strategies That Create a Memorable Experience

Mary Hawks

Determining what stage set design will be best for your event is vital to the success of your attendee experience. You might be overwhelmed with the possibilities available, especially as event formats evolve and attendee expectations escalate. We can help. 

We approach stage set design by asking some basic, but very important, questions:

  • What is the event scale/size?
  • What are the messaging objectives?
  • What experience do we want the audience to have?
  • How will camera placements have an impact?

With these questions answered and considerations in mind, our design team creates thoughtful, impactful set designs, no matter the format or footprint, and we’ve examined four of them here. Read on to level up your next event.

1. Staging for Hybrid Audiences

Remote Streaming and Live Audience Staging

Designing innovative stage sets for an in-person audience can be hard enough. Add in an audience viewing remotely and that invites an onslaught of further challenges, but we’ve mastered a dual-access stage set design for precisely this scenario. 

The best way to imagine this kind of staging design is to think of a sports broadcast. The in-person attendees and the viewers at home have a different—yet shared—experience of the live game.

For one of our major retail clients, we created a design for an in-person and remote audience to experience the same event in two unique ways. Our goal was for everyone to feel like active participants of the same program, whether they joined in person or engaged from home.

For the remote viewer, we produced special streaming content, live trivia and open forum Q&A hosted by event emcees appearing from a custom-built set. Staging for the in-person audience was designed to deliver the entire main stage show. According to Sullivan’s vision, “The design wasn’t constrained by the stage footprint; it extended into the audience.”

The key to our successful approach? Give each audience something special so that neither feels second-best. In-person attendees got to witness the grandeur and energy of the physical stage; audiences at home engaged in fun and informative custom content. For both audiences, Hartmann Studios delivered a seamless experience through clever graphics, sharp video, thoughtful lighting and clear audio.

2. Staging for Virtual Audiences

Satellite Stage/Remote Broadcasting

In today’s world, there will be times when entirely remote experiences are necessary. The challenge that often accompanies these events is how to make the virtual experience exciting and engaging for the participants.  

Virtual satellite stages are essential for these events where our designs break down the walls of a traditional in-person event setup. In one example, we created multiple staging positions for Sleep Number’s Winter Conference 2022 to add variety and energize the viewing experience for their fully-remote audience. 

While one stage was live during the broadcast, another area was prepped for a seamless transition to something entirely unexpected. Orchestrated set changes like these, which might feature surprise guest speakers, make any broadcast more compelling and add a little extra drama for the audience.

3. Staging for In-Person Audiences

Environmental Stage

At Hartmann Studios, environmental staging often involves creating a structure or staging area in an unconventional location (like, say, an uninhabited island). Though when we dare to do this, it’s not for mere aesthetics, but done so with strategic purpose. 

Environmental staging, inside or outside, can elevate your event, make it magical and, more importantly, memorable. When done thoughtfully, it allows attendees to feel transported and immersed in a client’s brand or message. 

That said, an environmental stage design is an immense production undertaking and often best suited for large-scale product launches or highly-interactive events. 

4. Next-level Staging for Virtual or Hybrid Audiences

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Stage

If you’re looking for a way to really set your virtual event apart, AR/VR staging is for you. Similar to streaming and satellite staging, we can create a separate, remote experience through virtual reality that makes attendees feel not only there, but truly immersed like never before.

Our augmented staging designs can virtually transport the audience into a completely custom world, allowing their imaginations to take wing. But a successful VR event requires more than just creating an alternate reality environment. Having a clear messaging strategy that directly ties to a sense of place and the overall sequence of the show is vital to creating an impactful virtual experience.  

And while AR/VR might intimidate some, it offers an undeniable benefit: an entirely unique experience for your audience.

Whether it’s for a small, highly-interactive event or a massive gathering, creating an unforgettable experience and picking the right stage set design is fundamental. At the end of the day, stages of any kind are platforms for your message. As such, decisions about them should not be secondary, rather their designs should be infused with the spirit of your event. When it comes to Hartmann Studios’ stage designs, Sullivan says, “expect the unexpected.”

If you’re interested in how we could help you add some “wow” to your next event, explore our creative services and schedule a conversation with the Hartmann Studios team.

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