Stage One

The Virtual Factory Acceptance Test

We are no strangers to the Factory Acceptance Test, or ‘FAT’ is it more commonly known. Whilst these events can be reasonably intense (after all, this is usually the first time a client has seen their show elements working together) they have the benefit of giving us a wide range of detailed feedback that otherwise we would only get when we arrive on site.

The main objective of the FAT is for clients to see their projects in development and hopefully, sign off on the operation, finishes, aesthetic and overall alignment with the creative storyboard and renders. Of course a FAT can’t be entirely representative of show conditions, but we try where we can to get as close as possible.

Often, clients will have travelled some distance to come and sign off on the FAT. Generally, the caravan will include a Technical Director, a Creative Director, sometimes a Choreographer, at least one Producer and often someone whose job it is to look after cash and contracts. That’s a lot of people. And this generally results in a sizeable travel budget and a hefty carbon footprint.

It gives us and our clients a huge degree of reassurance when a FAT has been successfully completed. The collective sigh of relief can often be heard for miles.

So, how have things changed in the context of COVID-19? Well, the need for acceptance testing hasn’t gone away. But the appetite for travel is much reduced. And so recently our clients have taken to live-streaming their FAT to stakeholders to watch from the comfort of their home office, wherever in the world that might be.

And so the livestream has levelled up. No longer a dimly lit subject with choppy audio filmed on an iPhone. More recently we’ve had all manner of elaborate multi-angle camera equipment, decent lighting and even an anchor providing great continuity across the whole broadcast. There’s even an opportunity for online Q&A for the audience who is able to submit questions to the team here in Tockwith.

So I suspect we might have glimpsed the future. The FAT hasn’t gone away, but it’s matured into something that we never knew we needed until we’d seen how useful it could be. A lean fat perhaps.

These remain strange times. But if we can reel-in small victories from this sea of uncertainty, then we’re definitely making progress.