August 17, 2020

How Hall of Music Productions is adapting during pandemic

With the cancellation of university-sponsored on-campus convocations and conferences under the guidelines of Protect Purdue, Purdue’s Hall of Music Productions is adapting to continue to support Purdue’s campus and students. The unit regularly aids in producing over 1,300 events including concerts, theatre productions and seminars, as well as programming for Ross-Ade Stadium’s and Mackey Arena’s video screens.

“Our work is different, but we are still finding solutions for people to get their messages out and people to get their work done that they need to do,” says Dan Metro, senior associate director of Hall of Music Productions. “We’re just helping people out, trying to pull people together in different ways.”

The biggest change Hall of Music Productions has seen is transitioning all events and projects to being livestreamed or recorded video events. Only a small percentage of the unit’s work before the pandemic involved streaming the entirety of an event. To adapt, the unit has cross-trained staff so that more employees are able to go to events and handle the video.

Geoff Gooch assembles lighting equipment Geoff Gooch, technical coordinator for lighting systems and design for Hall of Music Productions, assembles lighting equipment for Purdue's 2020 spring on-demand ceremony. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

“The conversations surrounding an event are very similar, but how we approach events has totally changed,” says Erin VanEmon, event production manager of Hall of Music Productions. “It’s still based around accomplishing an objective of an event. Some of these conversations have pushed the boundaries of what we have done and now it has opened up whole new avenues for us as a department on getting a product out the door.”

Two of the biggest events Hall of Music Productions has helped produce this year were the spring and summer commencement ceremonies. The unit’s staff was responsible for staging, recording and editing the virtual ceremony to create an on-demand commencement identical to past in-person ceremonies. A behind-the-scenes photo gallery showing the work related to spring commencement is available online.

The staff also has helped stream events for several 4-H fairs around Indiana, produce an e-sports tournament with live commentary alongside Recreation & Wellness, and manage a project for Tippecanoe County courts addressing how to put together a jury and hook up streaming for courtroom proceedings.

Hall of Music Productions currently is taking on recording for this fall’s Boiler Gold Rush. Many events for the new student orientation program, which typically welcomes between 6,000 and 7,000 new students, will be held virtually. The events will instead be prerecorded or livestreamed.

For the fall, the unit is looking to work with student groups and other campus organizations under the Protect Purdue events guidelines to provide programming in the virtual world. One group, Purdue Space Program: A SEDS Chapter, was set to have a weekend-long conference, but has transitioned its materials into a nine-episode podcast series.

Beyond working out innovative ways to produce events, the staff is aiding the University in preparing for the beginning of a new semester. The unit has committed trucks and drivers to move furniture to open up classrooms, assisted in editing videos for classroom content and through its woodshop is helping to create custom Plexiglas structures for certain areas.

Writer: Madison Sanneman,
Sources: Dan Metro,  
Erin VanEmon,

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