What can make or break an offsite at San Diego Comic-Con? Internet.
It’s not something the average attendee really considers — just how do all of these outdoors, offsite activations during San Diego Comic-Con function so well, and often with technology that’s required to perform at high levels?
We recently spoke with Webpass, a local ISP in San Diego that provides internet services to some of the biggest SDCC offsites, including last year’s The History Channel’s Viking’s offsite, and The Courtyard Marriott.
Because the majority of offsites at Comic-Con happen outdoors, in areas that are not hardwired for nearby internet connection, Webpass brings temporary internet connectivity directly to the offsites.
They use a mesh network of microwave radios around downtown San Diego, that already provides service to over 80 residential and commercial buildings in the area, that provides built-in redundancy and fault tolerance
“We are able to pull a signal anywhere from 10Mbps to 1GB off of any point on the network,” Jennifer Bennett, Public Relations & Social Media Strategist at Webpass, told us. “That allows us to do temporary service anywhere within line of site of any point on the network. “
During events like Comic-Con, for each client, they come out to the physical location to set up the radio.
“When we do a set-up we find a location at the event site, could be on top of the temporary trailer for the client or a nearby mast, pole,” Bennett said, “that has a direct line of site to point on the network. We then physically set up the radio to that location either on a skid held down with construction blocks or mounted on a nearby mast. That set up involves a technician on each end lining it up while communicating with one of our network administrators who is monitoring the connection. The signal is a focused high speed connection, about 5″ in diameter, not a broadcast signal like a cell tower or satellite.”
The entire process takes as little as an hour or two to set-up, and then the magic of the offsite can begin.
For instance, The History Channel’s Vikings offsite experience last year utilized a giant screen, to transport attendees into the world of Vikings. A team of professional makeup artists on site added scars and blood spatter to attendees, who then stepped up to the screen and a boat to be inserted into a 30-second trailer for the series.
“They had a monster flat screen up, at least one story high, with shows and actors and everything,” Bennett said. “The FX channel’s makeup tent was really neat too. It was set up for people to get their zombie on and immediately have their pics and stuff uploaded to their social media.”
Webpass will be back again this year, helping out some of the same returning offsites, as well as several new ones.
“With all the talk about Comic-Con potentially moving to other cities, we are excited to help provide an amazing experience for our clients at their locations and for their end users. Comic-Con is a very bandwidth intensive event and the high-speed connectivity that Webpass can provide is part of the infrastructure that will help keep the event here,” Bennett said.
You can find more information about Webpass on their site.
Here’s a closer look at the technology from the Vikings offsite last year: