PRG and Far Right on the Forefront of the Virtual Entertainment Revolution – The Esports Observer
What people often miss when watching their favorite movie, concert, esports tournament, or theatrical event is what it takes behind the scenes to make it all possible. What the audience sees is a finished product that in some cases has taken months to produce and countless hours in technology development. If you haven’t been paying attention, PRG and Far Right Productions are two names you need to know as they are leading the charge in creating new esports experiences based on cutting-edge technology.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to be at home more, production companies had to adapt and innovate new ways of producing and hosting events in a virtual world. With esports and music industries more closely tied than ever, the pandemic also made it vital for artists to find new ways to interact with their audiences.
One example of the virtual entertainment revolution was the March 26 Fortnite Concert Series event starring Ryan Gary Raddon, better known as Kaskade, a seven-time Emmy Award-winning artist and a huge Rocket League fan.
That event, done in conjunction with Epic Games, was the culmination of talent and technology forced to evolve due to an unprecedented force majeure. PRG, a full-feature production company, and Far Right Productions, a design and production company run by Guy Pavelo and Steve Kidd, are the folks behind this and many other online events. Kaskade performed an in-game concert for a special crossover between Fortnite and Rocket League, which required that Far Right Productions bridge the styling of two different gaming universes.
“With Rocket League and Epic, we wanted to make sure we met expectations and keep to the brand and imagery of Rocket League,” Guy Pavelo, designer and lighting director for Far Right Productions, told The Esports Observer “Our company likes to really try to make sure we stick to the imagery and branding of the artists and our clients and how they want it to be approached instead of forcing our opinion.”
Approximately 12M fans logged in to Fortnite that day to watch the event. Advanced extended reality techniques and programmed in-game lighting effects were used to enhance the fan experience. Groups of players broke into flash dances, while virtual lasers and fireworks went off within the game, all of which were programmed by Pavelo.
What Kaskade’s in-game concert and other events have shown is that consumers are truly seeing the value of virtual entertainment. And as technology continues to improve, so will the experience. Unlike the 3D craze of the early 2000’s, Pavelo believes that virtual entertainment is here to stay and that technology will continue to evolve.
“There’s still a limitation due to hardware capability, but that’s come a long way,” Pavelo said. “When you reach a point, you still hit that shelf. It still starts to fall off the shelf, but at the end of the day, we have to move into virtual because that’s the state with the way things are going on. When the state gets better, this isn’t going to go away. So now it’s the discussion of how to advance the tool set to make it not just a two-year long thing and never touch it again. How can I make virtual things start to become reality? This could be at the beginning of the opening of the door to weird tech that we never would have thought would ever be realistic.”
PRG’s Virtual Production Studio is on the forefront of being the ideal environment for hybrid extended reality events with their inventory of production equipment and all-around support. In fact, for this event and others, PRG adapted to the needs of the various productions in order to offer studio environments due to the pandemic. They now have 20 studios over five continents across the world.
The Kaskade event in March wasn’t the first time that PRG and Far Right Productions have worked with Epic Games. They had their largest in-person event in 2019 with the Fortnite World Cup. It set the tone for a tight working relationship between Epic, PRG, and Far Right Productions.
As the pandemic began to take hold, Epic started to showcase in-game performances, which eventually led to the Party Royale’s Virtual Festival Stage.
They marketed a three-week “Spotlight” series that featured full-scale productions that were headlined by alternative hip-hop artist Dominic Fike with his backup band, singer-songwriter Anderson Paak with his band The Free Nationals, and DJ Slushii. All of the artists performed on PRG’s xR stage at their Virtual Production Studio in Los Angeles and were “piped in” to the game itself.
And yet, while these types of events are important to PRG and Far Right Productions, for John Davidson, esports director of business development of PRG, this is only the beginning of the company’s innovation in the esports space.
“Right now, we are developing relationships with teams, leagues, publishers, venues, and complimentary production companies who are looking to get innovative,” said Davidson. “Right now, we’re having discussions with some folks under NDA, but the relationships look very promising. Just this past week, our Virtual Production Studio hosted the 2021 Summer Game Fest. We have worked in every entertainment category over the course of 30 years, and esports and gaming are absolutely the next frontiers.”
However, as other companies have found out, entering the esports space as a non-endemic can be a little difficult. Davidson believes that PRG will bring an authentic and caring attitude to the space.
“Because PRG’s expertise is in live events, we have a lot of alignment with the esports industry. It’s kind of like, we’re blood brothers,” said Davidson “The esports space is innovative. It has always pushed the envelope. People thought it was ridiculous when we were streaming video game competitions online. Similarly, PRG has been an innovator in event technology from the first animatronic stage light to the xR Stage you see today. So, we’re meeting at the cross-section where it makes perfect sense for us to do more together to innovate the fan experience, whether that be on stream at live events or debuting new video games to the community in ways never before experienced.”
And doing more together is exactly what PRG and Far Right Productions are looking to do. Connecting audiences with gaming and esports is exactly the frontier Davidson is looking to explore.
“Whether you’re a league, a team, or a publisher releasing a new title, we’d love to collaborate and see what we can do together.”
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