Using Zoom for Virtual Performances

Zoom during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Due to the rapid rise of virtual meetings in the past nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of Zoom technology has increased dramatically. Zoom is a platform designed for use by people who cannot meet in the same physical space, making it a perfect solution for social distancing.

Zoom can be used either as a meeting space where everyone interacts, or a webinar space where an audience receives information from a host with very little interaction. Both of these options have their place in the world of virtual performances, and Pentacle has assembled this handy guide for artists to use when determining how best to use this revolutionary new technology.

 

Pentacle’s Quick Guide to ZOOM Virtual Performances for Artists

Here are our tips and tricks for using Zoom as a venue for virtual performances.

First, let’s distinguish the difference between a ZOOM Meeting and a ZOOM Webinar.

Zoom Meetings for Virtual Performances

Zoom meetings are intended for use as interactive sessions that allow participants to engage with each other, both visually, orally, and via online chat. 

Zoom Meetings…

  • Are intended for interactive sessions that allow for audience engagement and to disperse artists & audiences into breakout rooms. Here’s a brief video explaining how Zoom Meetings are typically used.
  • Use each participant’s camera for visuals; there is no “backstage” or “green room” in Meetings.
  • Are free! There is no cost for Zoom at a basic level, although paid subscription options are also available for longer meetings and more features..
  • Allow recording, which is recommended, depending on your goals and engagement level.
    • Recordings can be saved and shared with participants.
    • Recording audio can be enhanced with the “Share Audio” function, which is the best way to get clear sound without using external mics. Activate this at -> Sharing audio -> Share Screen -> Advanced -> Music Or Computer Sound Only -> Share
  • Have annotation features, via an on-screen Whiteboard. 
    • To annotate, click on -> Share Screen and select ->Whiteboard.
    • Participants can annotate by selecting that option in the new screen they are viewing.

Zoom Webinars for Virtual Performances

Zoom webinars are intended for use in bigger, one-way sessions that allow participants to view a common screen but not interact visually or aurally. Often, the online chat is available and monitored by the host of the webinar so questions can be fielded from a large group. 

Zoom Webinars…

  • Are ideal for audiences or events that are open to the public, where the audience is simply witnessing the presentation, with limited engagement.
  • Allow as many artists or presenters “backstage” or in a “green room” as you wish, with the chance to switch who and how many screens are Spotlighted. Spotlighted screens are visible to audiences.
  • Require a paid subscription.
  • Allow Recording, which is allowed & recommended, depending on your goals and engagement levels.
    • Recordings can be saved and shared with participants.
    • Recording audio can be enhanced with the “Share Audio” function, which is the best way to get clear sound without using external mics. Activate this at -> Sharing audio -> Share Screen -> Advanced -> Music Or Computer Sound Only -> Share

Common types of virtual performances

A few common types of programming are perfect for Zoom:

Great for Zoom Meetings:

  • Movement Workshops
  • Artist Talk Backs
  • Q&As

Great for Zoom Webinars:

  • Showcases
  • Full Evening Performances

Artist virtual performances without technical assistance

It’s very possible to present your work without any technical assistance, but it does require you to be hands-on during the performance. Here are a few tips, if you want to go it alone:

  • Practice the technical aspects of Zoom, and do a run-through with a friendly audience before going live. Consider creating a pre-recorded video and present it by clicking Share Screen -> Select video from options in “Select a window or an application that you want to share” box -> Enable the “Share computer sound” and “Optimize Screen Sharing for Video Clip” setting on the bottom left. Then click Share. 
  • When sharing videos, use the “Share Audio” function, which is the best way to get clear sound without using external mics.
    • Activate this at -> Sharing audio -> Share Screen -> Advanced -> Music Or Computer Sound Only -> Share
  • Sharing your screen is a good way to show a pre-recorded video or other presentation to your Zoom group.
    • Activate this at ->Share Screen icon at the bottom of the screen, and then select the item you’d like to share. When sharing the screen, the audience can see everything done on the desktop; this facilitates ease of use on the part of the presenter
  • It’s also possible to break your group up into separate “breakout rooms”. 
  • Annotation is a fun, interactive way to collaborate and share notes, via an on-screen Whiteboard. 
    • To annotate, click on ->Share Screen and select ->Whiteboard.
    • Participants can annotate by selecting that option in the new screen they are viewing.

Artist virtual performances with technical assistance

If you are being presented or produced by another entity, it is likely they will be providing some technical assistance.

  • This is preferred, if available, so you can focus on presenting your work.

Here are a few tips, if you are working with technical assistance:

  • Be in conversation with the technical director on cues & provide them with all music/video files ahead of time. 
  • If not required, request a tech rehearsal ahead of the event.
  • Keep in mind that if the technical director is sharing the audio live from their system, the artist will be receiving the audio on their end at the same time as the audience, so there will be a lag. This is especially obvious during a lip-sync.

Words of encouragement for virtual performances

ZOOM Meetings and Zoom Webinars are both a canvas that can be manipulated by the artist. There is an opportunity to tap into both multiplicities and simplicity when presenting on Zoom. Understanding all of its capabilities will be very useful when presenting artistic work, either with or without technical assistance.

 

NEXTSTEPS | 11.30.20

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