Global Film Event Cannes 2020 Launches Virtual Market, Leverages Multiple Technologies

Jun 18

Global Film Event Cannes 2020 Launches Virtual Market, Leverages Multiple Technologies

While the Cannes Film Festival was canceled this year due to the pandemic, the organizer has launched a virtual version of its co-located Film Market – the Marché du Film, the b2b component of Cannes, which will run June 22 – 26, 2020, and “is intended to mimic the market experience in Cannes, with live and real-time meetings.”

We have attended the global film industry event ten times so are looking forward to participating in this new virtual market next week and share some of our takeaways so far from the robust experience they are offering visitors.

Our first interaction with the Cannes virtual market was registering for the event so we will start with this.  There were two rates depending on when you signed up.  If you registered by June 12, the early bird cost was 95 euro ($108), and after that the regular cost was 195 euro ($221). 

To put this in perspective, the traditional live event has a three-tiered price structure: 319 euro ($361) early bird, 369 euro ($418) regular and 433 euro ($490) on the spot.

The virtual market experience starts with a graphic-centric interface (see screenshot). This primary interface and the various others are simple to use and make navigation smooth. Through this main gateway to the market, buyers and other industry professionals are able to…

(1) Visit virtual booths and pavilions to connect with exhibitors and view their new films and projects in a dedicated space serving as a digital equivalent to their booths in Cannes.  Exhibitors have designed their digital space just like they would design their booth at the physical event with film posters, trailers and other promotional materials.  Visitors can request meetings via a Welcome Desk or directly with participating staff members who are each listed with their name, title and picture.

(2) See online screenings in 15 virtual cinemas.  In order to make the experience as productive as possible for sellers and buyers, the organizer is using live, programmed screenings rather than video-on-demand (VOD) links. 

This strategy is designed to maintain the momentum of the live event and facilitate negotiations versus just sending out links which provides no control over when people watch the films and makes it harder to schedule meetings after the viewing.

The screenings will not run simultaneously but rather multiple times across different time zones so buyers can see the films at the same time in each time zone… i.e. screenings will run first in Asia, then in Europe and finally in American time zones. 

(3) Organize chat and video meetings with professionals from all over the world with the virtual market’s networking app, Match & Meet. The “Best Matches” feature will show all participants that best match an attendee’s interests and goals. Attendees can also take advantage of daily “Flash Meetings” to have six 5-minute video meetings in a row with some of the corresponding matches.

(4) Join curated 20-minute one-to-one speed meetings and meet professionals based on topics such as co-production, animation, film music and more.

(5) Explore more than 100 conferences focusing on the latest technology, emerging trends and the next generation of film production. The vast majority of conferences will be streamed live.

As part of their efforts to make this look as similar as possible to the physical event, the organizer is even offering a digital Welcome Bag which can be accessed anytime from the top menu on the virtual market website – and included 16 different items when we first logged on. Online versions of trade publications which are usually passed out by hand and in racks at the physical event will be available each day on the website too.

We have received lots of questions from clients and other show organizers about what platforms are being used for virtual shows so wanted to touch on the technical execution here.

This show organizer is not using just one platform.  They are using multiple platforms for different purposes.  They are using Cinando, an online platform they launched in 2003, for the screenings due to the streaming quality and strict security measures provided by their video technology partner, SHIFT72, which includes DRM, individual watermark and real-time management and monitoring of admissions to screenings.

They are using the Talque platform for their Match & Meet networking app and b.square for the speed meetings. 

Video conferencing platform, Zoom, is being used to power the conference program.  Vimeo is also being used for conferences.

All platforms will be integrated on the front end and accessed through the Cannes virtual market website.

Considering the volume of web traffic, especially from more than 1,200 film screenings and thousands of viewers, the show organizer is using a scalable, load balancing solution from Amazon so there is enough capacity to accommodate everyone.

There are a few other details that we wanted to highlight which reflect the organizer’s intent in making this new virtual experience as comfortable and valuable as possible for attendees.  Since we registered, we have received ten emails providing us updates, tips and reminders.

In addition, the organizer recently advised that attendees can access the virtual market tomorrow before the official opening on Monday in order to get familiar with the platform.  Plus they have a comprehensive online “help desk”.

“We won’t replace the Cannes experience with the Marché du Film Online but we are recreating part of its essence online by offering professionals an efficient and cutting-edge platform to screen films, buy them, finance projects and meet partners,” said the Market’s executive director.

As the Marché du Film looks to the future, it is clear that they see the physical event coming back but also envision a permanent presence of the virtual format – a hybrid strategy that we are seeing from more and more show organizers.

Photo: Cannes 2018, taken by Encore Media Partners.

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