Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 12, 2021

The face behind the technology of virtual mock trials

Kellie McClure is a complex director for Encore, an event technology provider. She handled the live and virtual components of the Chattanooga Bar Association’s annual meeting in February. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

Things appeared to go smoothly during the Chattanooga Bar Association’s annual meeting in February, a live and virtual hybrid of the organization’s yearly soiree. But there was more to the technically seamless occasion than met the eye or ear.

As a few dozen lawyers and judges ambled into a walled off portion of the John Portman Ballroom at The Westin Chattanooga before the meeting, executive director Lynda Hood’s laptop was doing double duty, playing music attorney and pianist Christian Lanier had composed and recorded for the event and displaying a slideshow of working-from-home photos on a large screen.

During the meeting, attendees were treated to house sound and even a live video of the Hon. Curtis Collier’s acceptance speech after he received the Jac Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award in his chambers in the federal court building.

More members watched the event through Zoom. These virtual participants enjoyed video and audio captured and broadcast by Hood’s laptop.

To everyone who attended in person and online, there was nary a hiccup to be seen or heard.

Also invisible to attendees was the wizard behind the curtain – Kellie McClure.

McClure is a complex director for Encore, a global event technology provider with a branch serving the greater Chattanooga area. As the staff member assigned to The Westin, she cast a spell of knowledge and experience on Hood’s laptop and other equipment to ensure everyone saw and heard everything.

Contrary to how things appeared, McClure says she did encounter a few glitches before the meeting began.

“It took a few minutes to get the microphone to pick up the audio and send it to not only the room but also Lynda’s laptop, and then another few minutes to stream the audio without feedback,” she says.

“It’s like math. Two plus two equals four every day of the week, and the setup I did for the bar association works every day of the week. But if something isn’t turned on – it could be a single switch in the machine – then nothing works.”

Good thing for McClure, then, that she enjoys problem-solving.

“This might be a bit of the mental masochist in me, but I like the challenge,” she admits. “I enjoy people looking at me and saying, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with this,’ and then I fix it.”

To the technologically deficient, listening to McClure explain her set up for the CBA meeting is akin to hearing Harry Potter cast his magic in the popular films: To untrained ear, it sounds like gibberish. In a nutshell, she morphed Hood’s laptop into the ESPN broadcast production truck at Monday Night Football.

This isn’t all the wizardry McClure can perform; in addition to using garden variety computers to capture and broadcast an event, she and her co-workers at Encore can beef up the presentation with high-grade cameras and audio equipment, stage lights and set decorations to give virtual, live and hybrid events a touch of sophistication.

“We can go big. If you want an LED wall, I can get you an LED wall,” she boasts. “Do you want two cameras? Do you want a wide shot and a close-up? We can get you to network-level quality.”

McClure says she’s also mastered Encore’s Chime platform, which allows her and her digital services team to host an entire conference online, complete with an agenda, meeting rooms and note-taking tools. After the conference, the complete event will be available for viewing online.

Just be sure to call McClure about hosting your firm event, CLE or seminar well in advance.

“Hybrid and virtual events are not as daunting as people think,” she says. “They can be done really well with enough planning and forethought.”

McClure learned her craft in high school and college and through internships that put her on the ground with the Speed network, the NFL and CBS.

Taking to her field like a duck to water, McClure initially wanted to travel overseas and produce documentaries, but her college internships turned her on to both the daunting challenges and the immediate gratification of live events.

“I liked working on short films and documentaries, but that process drags on and on and on; you can always write another scene, or reshoot a scene because you don’t care for the lighting. But with a live event, you set it up, and you’d better be ready to go, and then it happens and it’s done.”

McClure moved to Chattanooga in 2013 when the company for which she was working contracted with EPB to teach schools how to produce their own video content and stream it on the internet.

She then did a stint producing commercials for News Channel 9. McClure says her most rewarding contribution to the station was filming and editing the family stories for Siskin Children’s Institute StarNight fundraisers in 2018 and 2019.

“Telling the story of what those families had gone through and how Siskin had helped them was really fulfilling,” she recalls.

“I love creating content. We have our sports heroes and celebrities, but their stories aren’t told without people like me. Nobody knew Tiger Woods was amazing until his dad filmed him and then sent the video to a TV station. I like being the conduit that passes people’s stories to others.”

McClure also serves as the complex director for The Chattanoogan Hotel and Hotel Indigo, although she says she and her teammates can tackle any event anytime, anywhere.

McClure will also meet people in their office and walk them through how to stream a simple affair. The only downside to this is McClure won’t be there when it happens, metaphorical wand in hand, ready to cast her magic.