Dust has been installed at E3 2021, the latest iteration of the world's largest gaming program. Players from around the world enjoyed a four-day live broadcast full of news, revelations, panels and interviews, all hosted by gaming industry personalities. It was a herculean effort by everyone involved, but you may be wondering how the sausage is made. The game reveals that it made all the headlines, but what about the creative people behind the scenes that made it happen? Read on to look behind the scenes to see how Paragon Creative Agency co-founders and E3 2021 executive producers Rob Talbert and James Shaughnessy put together this year's blockbuster.
A new vision for E3
"Last year, Covid changed everything for face-to-face events, but no one in the industry disagreed that E3 needed an upgrade," Talbert said.
In addition to adapting to a fully digital format, one of the key challenges in creating a show of this scale and scope is to foster partnerships. For any broadcast to be a success, you need a wide range of publishers, developers and multimedia partners to create a true reflection of the industry.
“This industry is bigger than any role of any person, game, company or industry, and it deserves a diverse and authentic ecosystem wide enough to honor the true place of video games in culture,” Shaughnessy said. "So, in a way, it's natural to put it all together."
Over the E3 weekend, gamers enjoyed a wide range of content, from AAA showcases to indie-focused events and panels on diversity and inclusion. It set a new direction for E3 which offered a wider share of the industry to fans, although news of outstanding games was still being delivered.
“The show has been evolving towards this design; we just got lucky (and cheeky) to be close to the trip, ”Shaughnessy said.
All good broadcasts need a stage and the virtual decorative piece at E3 2021 surprised the fans with its vibrant and amazing design. This year’s ensemble has been inspired by the algorithmic architecture used for musical acts such as Amon Tobin, Justice, Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus. Shaughnessy says Paragon Creative used his experience working on major sports tournaments such as the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League to develop the show’s visual identity. "The E3 stage was intentionally modeled to be the same large scale as major sporting, musical and entertainment events," Talbert added. "We wanted to bring the same level of spectacle and grandeur that E3 attendees were at an E3 face-to-face at the Los Angeles Convention Center."
E3 Timelapse and stage construction images
The heart of the show
With the show’s partners reserved and the stage set, the focus is on the E3 2021 broadcast control room, where the sausage is made. This is where teams of talented producers and live broadcasters ensure that the whole event runs smoothly. "The months and months of work finally reach a focused point of execution," Shaughnessy said. "All contracts, content, specific technical issues and more, everything must be perfectly organized with triple redundancy and managed by uniquely assigned professionals, such as the Enterprise Bridge."
Shaughnessy says "it takes an army" to make a broadcast as giant as E3 2021, but the show was in safe hands thanks to the talent on board the ship. “We are very fortunate to have the best equipment in broadcast production to help us run at the level the industry deserves,” Talbert said.
Talbert "brings his best Picard" as he directs the live event to steer the ship toward success. "I've had the pleasure of working on some great shows, but E3 has a very special place in my heart since I've attended and worked at E3 all my career and I've been a fan of receiving EGM magazines since I was a child," said Talbert.
In the end, all of these complex moving parts came together to deliver a star-studded event that viewers will remember for months and years to come. What was your favorite moment at E3 2021? Let us know in the comments below.