In the concert hall, a professional symphony orchestra is on stage, but the atmosphere feels very different from a typical classical music concert. On the two walls on either side of the hall hang the four colored banners of each Hogwarts House. In the seats sit a happy audience donning robes and carrying wands. Behind the stage, a large projector screen plays the entire Harry Potter movie. But as the screen showed the first-year Hogwarts students on boats rowing toward the castle, the timeless classic, Hedwig's Theme, composed by the great John Williams, fills the space not through speakers but straight from the instruments of a live symphony orchestra!
This new mode of entertainment that combines "movie viewing" with "live musical concert" is termed "film concert." In addition to the Harry Potter Film Concert series, award-winning movies with moving scores such as Elf, The Da Vinci Code, Gladiator, The Godfather (and many more) each have their own concerts. These film concerts go on regular tours around the globe to treat their fans to a stimulating, in-person concert experience. The driving force behind these film concerts is none other than the production company CineConcerts.
Founded in 2013, CineConcerts is the industry leader despite having a full-time staff of only four people. CineConcerts has worked with almost all the major film studios, having managed thousands of performances (more than 300 performances a year) in 48 countries, engaging more than 3 million people by the end of 2022.
Overall, CineConcerts is a conduit between the studios as a licensee and the concert presenters (venue, orchestra, or third-party promoter), kind of like a project manager. Each performance is like a project, from film licensing, creating a program, contacting the local partners, orchestra and conductor, generating schedules, reviewing various materials, checking ticket sales, while also protecting the IP and brand. Basically, CineConcerts must track and stay on top of everything as well as provide oversight and assistance to ensure a flawless performance and consumer experience.
CineConcerts puts more emphasis on the quality control aspect of the concert, which is reflected in the details of not only projection, but the performance itself. Some of the other companies, when they run these projects, have a very hands-off approach and simply just ship files to presenters and that’s it. For CineConcerts, however, they aim to "put on a flawless and great show." They check whether the presenters are promoting the right way or using suitable marketing materials; During the concert, they check whether the screen and the projection equipment are appropriate to ensure that the audience has the perfect concert experience.
With so few people on its staff, how does CineConcerts oversee much detail for such a large number of performances? They created a project tracking system customized for the CinceConcerts team using Ragic.
“We track literally every single thing that goes into every performance, no matter how small,” says CineConcerts. "We manage all of these shows throughout the world at the same time, and we wouldn't be able to do it without a very robust tracking solution."
"Pretty much our business wouldn't exist in the form that it does now without the tracking capabilities of Ragic," they added.
CineConcerts began using Ragic in 2017. Before then, the team used Google Sheets to manage their project information. The collaborative, cloud-based nature of Google Sheets allowed every team member to stay updated on the latest progress. However, as they tracked more details and accumulated more data, performance issues began to plague them.
With as many as 1000 rows of data (with several dozen columns, conditional formatting, and drop-down lists), it looked like Google Sheets was struggling. A simple action such as opening the sheet to look through the data would cause choppiness and even hang the browser. It "got too cumbersome," and a more advanced tool was required to deal with the diverse and complex project items that CineConcerts had to handle.
When the team was looking for a replacement tool, they set out to find one that fills the following needs:
"It was inspiring when we discovered Ragic because it fits perfectly with what we need to do," said CineConcerts. They adopted Ragic, and everything went smoothly.
How did they discover Ragic? According to CineConcerts, they simply turned the above needs into keywords and searched for them on Google. Voila! "We wish we could have a better story about how it was discovered. But really, it was just a simple Google search for what we needed, and it came up. That's awesome."
The team also previously used another database tool, Quickbase. But compared to Ragic, it was more expensive and less user-friendly for people unfamiliar with information technology.
"Coming from Excel, Ragic just was a natural mental progression for us, whereas going to QuickBase seems like we would have to take a class to learn how to use it, just to know how to use basic functions on it," said CineConcerts.
How does an entertainment production company handling many projects like CineConcerts use Ragic for high-efficiency project management and tracking? Here we talk about their experience in terms of four aspects:
CineConcerts records all the internal communications in Ragic. On the main tracking sheet, all the essential information is listed by performance: venue, symphony orchestra, conductor, presenter, performance date, third-party partners, and so on.
Presenters, venues, and orchestras are created on separate, independent sheets. The main performance tracking sheet links these sheets and loads relevant information to reduce the time spent entering redundant information.
*for illustrative purposes only, not a representation of the database.
The meetings, contracts, scheduling, review of marketing materials, venue decorations before the performances, tracking sales, and calculating profit after the shows are also data entered in different sheets, which are linked to the main tracking sheet by using Ragic's "multiple versions" or "reference subtables" functions.
This way, the team can get an overview of all the company's projects on one main tracking sheet. At the same time, they can see the different aspects by switching to other sheets.
Ragic's search and filter functions can also vastly improve efficiency. CineConcerts favors the full-text search function in the top search bar because of its speed and simplicity. Meanwhile, to allow the brand manager to check data from different perspectives rapidly (e.g., next month's performances, scheduled but not yet promoted performances, etc.), different shared views have also been set up for the sheets.
*for illustrative purposes only, not a representation of the database.
CineConcerts also makes use of Ragic's calendar sync function to sync all of the performances to his calendar. When they need to view the information from the calendar interface, anyone can search for keywords directly in their calendar software.
CineConcerts used Ragic to create four or five web forms for their external partners to provide information such as performance dates and promotion schedules for a particular performance. These sheets are linked to the main tracking sheet we mentioned earlier. Once the external partners have filled out the forms and uploaded the files, the data goes directly into the database, into predefined fields to fill out the details of the project.
If all this data were passed through email, it would require sending, replying, and double-checking, not to mention the time and effort that would have to go into organizing the data and typing it into the tracking system. The web forms have a pre-specified format, vastly cutting down on the communication efforts as well as the back-and-forths.
The web forms also make the review of marketing and venue decorating material more efficient. All the partners have to do is to fill out the forms and attach the file, and the CineConcerts brand manager can mark reply on the application forms to notify them. Through the linking and reference subtable functions in Ragic, these application data can be easily added to the main tracking sheets.
Sometimes, CineConcerts also needs to provide information to external partners. That is where Ragic's export function makes everything go smoothly. For example, for each concert, there's usually a list of VIPs who receive complimentary tickets. This information is always kept in Ragic. When the need arises to provide a guest list for a particular show, all they have to do is run a filter and export the data as PDF before sending it to their partners.
External Users + Multiple Versions
Recently, CineConcerts has also tried to directly add their partners as external users to their Ragic database, then use the multiple version function to produce a simplified tracking sheet for each performance to the external users. (Access rights to sheets used by internal staff is not given to the external users). This way, the information the external partners see is always up-to-date, while CinceConcerts has fine control over what they can or cannot see.
Over the past two years, the pandemic put a stop to nearly all major physical events across the globe. It is one change in the world that CineConcerts has felt deeply firsthand: after organizing over 300 performances annually, everything came to a screeching halt in March 2020. In these two years dominated by COVID-19, CineConcerts only put on a handful of shows in the Asia Pacific region at the end of 2020 and early 2021.
Although nearly all projects were put on hold, the things they needed to track did not just vanish. Instead, there was a shift in focus: CinceConerts went from tracking promotional material, show times, and ticket sales to the status of show postponements: When would the local presenter decide to postpone as the pandemic began to wreak havoc in certain regions? Once postponement has been determined, there remained the questions about when the new date would be decided.
Before the pandemic, the tracking sheet tracked mostly concerts "about to begin" or "ongoing." Few, if any, were canceled or postponed. Tracking the show status after the postponement was never the focus. It all changed in the pandemic era. Luckily, Ragic is built to be flexible and responsive. CineConcerts began adjusting their sheets right away, adding pandemic-related fields such as tracking notes and schedules. It took merely a week to turn the sheets into a new system for the pandemic era.
Now, as the pandemic is finally subsiding and global partners are figuring out better pandemic prevention measures for venues, performances have returned. Accordingly, CinceConcerts' tracking system has responded to the current state of affairs.
They are preparing to push out several new services, such as concert merchandise, a digital content service called CineConcerts +PLUS, and other projects aimed at emerging fields, such as VR and Web3. These new workflows may correspond to new information management demands or new sheets, and Ragic's highly flexible nature surely would keep up with changes.
For example, CineConcerts did not have to scramble to find a new system for concert merchandise. Instead, they took the familiar interface in Ragic to create sheets for product and inventory management.
According to CineConcerts, all of their workflows have been templatized. The internal website lists all the sheets, and clicking on the link will take you to all the related information, plain and simple. When "staying in sync" is done simply through sheets without phone calls, emails, or meetings clogging up time, that frees everyone to concentrate their time on the important things that actually need face-to-face discussions.
They like that Ragic allows for quick control and adjustment of the design. Even before the pandemic forced significant changes, people in the office would always be thinking about whether the tracking system could be better or run more smoothly with specific modifications.
Internally, the company is constantly optimizing their workflows. “Each week,” says CineConcerts, “we are doing little tweaks and occasionally we are adding completely new things into our system. It takes us a lot of time, but that’s the fun part.”