Helping put on a digital festival

September 10, 2020

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During the third week of August, the city of Ottawa hosts events in parks and clubs, closing down streets in the heart of downtown for a weekend of live music with a beer garden and community fair. But in the year of COVID, none of the usual events were possible. How could people come together to celebrate the best art, music, and drag the community had to offer if they couldn’t actually be together?

Data Sciences offered a digital solution. Although crowds couldn’t gather in the same room, the opportunities offered by live-streaming video and modern web capabilities could get people as close to the festival experience as was safe to do.

“Pride isn’t cancelled. Pride will never be cancelled.”

Osmel B. Guerra Maynes, Executive Director of Capital Pride

One way we proposed to do this was with virtual reality. Partnering with local company Point3D, the festival was able to digitize the booths and displays that would usually line Bank street and offer them for virtual tour on the Capital Pride website.

But browsing local art and market stalls is only a small part of the Pride experience. Live music, performances by drag queens, and the annual Capital Pride Pageant are huge parts of what connects the 2SLGBTQ+ community to the celebration. Replacing a week of live events with professional video productions would be a major planning and financial investment. Most video productions are expensive proposals, and beyond what’s possible for a non-profit group.

Working with Data Sciences offered Capital Pride a trimmed-down production resource that could strike the balance between professional quality and a quick turnaround.

Production occurred across four days in a space provided by the Ottawa Art Gallery, which included built-in stage lighting. Most of the filming was done handheld, and audio was recorded with a basic lavalier microphone kit. Supported by volunteers, the production was filmed in order to maximize efficiency, which, in the end, resulted in more than 10 hours of footage.

Ceremonies, interviews, and music performances were edited over two weeks along with video submissions from the community. Eight programs ranging from 30 to 120 minutes in length were delivered and live-streamed online and broadcast by Rogers TV.

As the centrepieces of the festival week, the videos drew over 8000 site visitors. And with watch parties in bars and living rooms across the city, the 90-minute Pageant attracted the largest single-night audience.

Despite working with a production team of only two, Data Sciences was able to provide the technical knowledge and creative experience necessary to deliver the 2020 Capital Pride Festival to a digital audience.