COVID Is A Problem Even For Shopping Mall Santas, But Nashville Firm Offers Solution

October 1, 2020 by Dave Haynes

I would not have factored Santa Claus being affected by the coronavirus, as he’s seriously isolated at the North Pole, but he too is seeing his routine upset by the contagion and efforts to contain it.

He’ll be fine on the big night, but the problem is with all the Santa’s villages out there in shopping mall courtyards and company Christmas parties where the kids come along.

Santa and the kids have to distance!

A Nashville multimedia shop has come up with a solution to a problem I never would have thought existed, but it does.
Elite Multimedia Productions has developed an innovative virtual or live streaming event design for a safe and exciting trip to the North Pole.  
“With Covid-19 changing every aspect of social gatherings, we have been looking forward into the Holiday season at all the retail and commercial spaces where they host a Santa experience,” says Ben Anholzer of Elite. “In the past, Santa could sit on a chair and talk to the kids while then posing for a Holiday photo. With the restrictions currently in place, we can’t have that this year, so we’ve created a unique virtual and live stream Santa experience which adheres to all social distancing guidelines.”
“With our virtual Santa experience, we would work with each client to build a completely custom, high-resolution playlist of pre-recorded Santa videos,” continues Anholzer. “Using a technical set-up that includes an LED video wall and an audio package, families can then can sign-up for a specific time and use an iPad controller to select their desired Santa experience. Once the video is selected, a 4-minute escape into a new realm will begin followed by a family photo op with Santa himself.”
Craving the deeper human-to-human interaction that has been missing in recent days, some families might actually like to speak with Santa for themselves. Knowing this might be the preference that entices people to visit, Elite Multimedia also developed a live streaming Santa solution to safely create a unique Holiday moment.  
“For the live stream Santa experience, we would use an LED video and audio package in conjunction with an HD camera set-up as well,” added Anholzer. “During the live stream, a real Santa would be in the same location as the LED video wall set-up, but in an isolated space for social distancing. Each location would then have a camera for real-time communication and interaction between Santa and the families offering a more exciting and personal connection.”
While the annual Santa experience may be geared towards families making Holiday memories, it is also an annual event that is depended upon by retailers nationwide. Bringing shoppers out of their homes and into the retail locations, the Santa experience is a crucial aspect to the overall annual sales needed to survive.   
We know different companies rely on Q4 Santa events to bring families into retail and many families may choose to shop online if they can’t have the Santa interaction in the store,” explained Anholzer. “At Elite Multimedia Productions, we recently pivoted into the virtual studio realm with live streaming studio broadcasts, so we wanted to get creative to help bring the magic of the Holiday season to everyone at the end of such a strange and awkward year.”
At a traditional Santa event, it is never quite known when the visitors may arrive and they often all converge in line at the same time, while other times are empty and quiet. In these downtimes, the traditional Santa will simply have to wait, but with a virtual or live streaming Santa experience, retailers can provide both continuous family entertainment and revenue-generating opportunities.   
“Additionally, one of the issues in retail with bringing in a Santa experience is that you may only have a few families visit during the early hours and then a rush of families at the end,” said Anholzer. “This system is built where during the off-times, the LED video and audio package can feature a Holiday movie with socially-distanced seating for families who may be shopping. This also gives the event organizers the ability to feature pre-loaded sponsorship content, logos or other info which can actually pay for the system itself before they even go live.”
My kids are in their 30s and their kids are pets, so I am seriously removed from the whole trip to the mall to see Santa thing.  So I have no idea if this would wind kids up or not.
It SEEMS like a clever pivot for a company that does live events, when live events like concerts really aren’t happening, unless you count in parking lots and drive-ins. This at least puts their people and equipment to work.

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