What We Learned from Timpanogos Storytelling & Virtual Offerings – Part 4 of 9

This is the fourth of nine parts on Rachel Hedman’s impressions of the Virtual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Although this happened in September 2020, Timpanogos as well as their Encore Offering in December 2020/January 2021. You can follow Timpanogos here.

9-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Pre-Recorded vs. Live – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Inside the Program REVEALED
  • Part 3 – ASL & its Presence/Absence – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Emcees & “Making it Personal” – TODAY
  • Part 5 – Use of the Screen by Story Artists
  • Part 6 – Art of Binge-Watching
  • Part 7 – Favorites from Featured Tellers
  • Part 8 – Featured vs. Guest Tellers
  • Part 9 – Use of Encore Offering

We love and honor the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.

Please note that I learn from any experience including this festival in Utah that is cherished worldwide. Any and all of these posts within this series are impressions that are shared with respect despite some differences in opinion.

Timpanogos had a storyteller family reunion through their emcees.

When having events virtual, sometimes you don’t need an emcee. Though, having those emcees can give another chance for the audience to be reminded of in-person events and forget that the event happens to be pre-recorded.

While Timpanogos had their featured tellers, they had emcees of past tellers of the Festival. That was a lovely nod to honor the emcees while allowing long-time audience members to reminisce.

We had 18 guests/emcees who each shared a video piece to add to the performances by the 13 featured storytellers. These 18 people do not include the 4 puppeteering groups, the 4 musicians/groups, and the 18 National Youth Storytellers.

Curious as to the emcees?

They were the following: Adam Booth, Andy Offutt Irwin, Antonio Rocha, Antonio Sacre, Barbara McBride-Smith, Bil Lepp, Bill Harley, Connie Regan-Blake, Corinne Stavish, Daniel Morden, Dovie Thomason, Kevin Kling, Liz Weir, Sam Payne, Sheila Arnold, Simon Brooks, Tim Lowry, Willy Claflin & Maynard Moose. Though, Debi Richan also introduced people yet did not have a video featuring her storytelling skills. Debi certainly knows how to spin a tale.

Each emcee had a different style or approach to introducing people. While I knew these emcee parts were pre-recorded, many times the people spoke as if it was in-the-moment.

From what I could tell, it seemed that the emcee got to hear the stories first during a live Zoom and then recorded their emcee pieces after the fact. Then, the pieces were edited in time for the virtual festival. Either that way or they were in Zoom, ran the concert session as it would have been, and truly responded in the order we watched as an audience. I really don’t know. The results? You have a personal approach despite being pre-recorded.

Now who, of all those glorious emcees, were the strongest ones? So many were fantastic.

A couple emcees seemed more focused on themselves than on the featured storytellers they were introducing. I was also not a fan of virtual backgrounds. Those virtual backgrounds lacked texture and depth. They can look fun sometimes…but I was distracted as to the fakeness of them. Our own videographer has voiced his opinion that it is best to use a real background whenever possible. Will there be exceptions? Absolutely.

Yet, a couple shone as shining examples for anyone hosting or emceeing a virtual event.

So without further delay…Drum roll!

Brrrrmmmmmmmmmmm!

Adam Booth wins as Most Fabulous Emcee!

He had a wonderful conversational tone with great energy, a huge smile, and full of humility and authenticity. While not required to be an emcee, Adam Booth used the virtual platform as a way to include props that emcees of live in-person events could not “get away with” or manage.

Adam Booth was brilliant when he included some potted plants to call attention to where the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival would typically take place at the Ashton Gardens in Lehi, Utah. Other times he featured other props that – always – brought it back to either Timpanogos or the tellers to be performing.

Adam had a solid color for backdrop so that he any props used could “pop” onto the screen better. He was framed properly and always knew how to look at the camera. In fact, he did not have to look up or look down at the camera. It was at eye-level.

Connie Regan-Blake, Sam Payne, Tim Lowry, and Simon Brooks receive honors for also having a focus on being welcoming, crisp and strong backdrops, and truly bringing out the best for the featured tellers.

The next time you want emcees for your virtual event…keep in mind that performing and emceeing are two different arts. When you put on top of that the virtual elements? Be sure to either audition or test out potential emcees.

Choose an emcee with a personal touch mixed with the skill of using the screen for that “let’s get excited for our next performer” feel.

Coming next, in Part 5, we will talk about how the Timpanogos storytellers at this time used the screen and things we have all learned since that time.

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