High quality live streams for musicians, artists and businesses are being produced in Taree and shared online as a way to connect with the community during coronavirus restrictions.
Hamish McDonald is the owner and operator of Pluto Entertainment and said as someone who has worked in and around the music and performance industry for nearly 20 years, it was not an option to sit by and watch it limp by during this time.
A quick re-purpose of a creative space into a broadcast quality studio meant he and his team were capable of delivering the live streams.
"It's been really successful so far," he said.
Hamish also owns and operates the Aurora Show FX production company, Paradyme Studios recording studio and is involved in producing video content with Scott McAdam and Andy Saunders under the banner of Scandish Films.
Pluto Entertainment is the newest addition to the family and the culmination of many of Hamish's passions.
"I have always loved the entertainment and music industry and while most of us have no trouble getting to live events there are some who do not find it as easy.
"At its heart, Pluto is about bringing all the joy and excitement of live events to disabled people and giving them a space that is unique, versatile, and accessible no matter who they are.
"When COVID-19 turned the world upside down, our business literally disappeared before our eyes.
"Instead of recoil and hide with the fear that we all have for the future and what it holds, we decided to look for what we could do to not only stay mentally positive but what we could be offering to the community in this time of uncertainty. "
Being the owner and operator (from construction to production), Hamish works like any other business owner: "I do basically everything and anything that needs doing each day."
He also has a talented team working with him to make things happen.
"There is no way on earth I would be able to achieve anything without the amazing group of people that are Pluto Entertainment.
"Jordan Terry, Braidy Chick, Abbey Sheather-Welsh and Sarah Ritchie are the team of skilled young people who bring my crazy ideas to life.
"They are an incredible group of people who have worked together for years and I am so proud of them all.
"Their commitment to their work is something that is beyond words and I value each and every one of them. They are the reason we can do great things."
The aim with the live streams was to create something of the best possible quality.
When COVID-19 turned the world upside down, our business literally disappeared before our eyes.Hamish McDonald
"The biggest challenge in the beginning has surprisingly been finding artists who want to use our space," said Hamish.
"We are offering the venue and our services absolutely free and have still had a really hard time getting people to come and share their music with the world."
All of the artists they have worked with have been over the moon with the outcome.
"At the heart of every musician is a desire to connect with people. When we take away the venues where people perform, we remove that ability to connect, which is beyond important.
"We want to make that connection again by using these live streams to reach not only normal audiences but completely new ones. The entire community is suffering right now, and we want to help in whatever way we can."
Hamish said to find a space that is safe for people to perform and connect with their followers was important right now.
"The audiences have loved being able to see their favorite acts and also see some new stuff they may not have come across in normal life.
"We are also getting amazing feedback about just how good our streams look and sound at home on people's devices and this makes us smile.
"We always want to make sure we exceed expectations and we believe we are doing just that."
Hamish said the people they meet along the way are the best thing about what they do.
"We are excited to continue to bring a high class product and work with as many amazing, passionate musos as possible."
Pluto Entertainment has featured many talented locals already, including Jim Bird, Mum Says Rock, Jake Davey and Hudson Rose, Andy Saunders, Pam Hata, Grace Callahan, Keanu Jai, The Trapps and a big line-up of events for Reconciliation Week.
"We've also hosted some awesome artists who have travelled from as far as the south coast to use our venue, like 19-Twenty, Elias Bartholomew, Harriett Kelly and JJ Yee.
"We have also had the privilege of helping the local One Life Church every Sunday by streaming their church services live, seeing as they had also been affected by the COVID restrictions."
We are also getting amazing feedback about just how good our streams look and sound at home on people's devices and this makes us smile.Hamish McDonald
The Taree-based setup for Pluto Entertainment (which is separate to Hamish's recording studio) is a permanent installation of a stage, full PA system and lighting, as well as projection, gaming and video facilities.
"While we have strict COVID policies in place to have no audience members present, it also has the capacity for small audiences and a bar/cafe setup - we are looking forward to more exciting potential uses of the space when life returns to normal."
Hamish comes with a background in writing, filming, directing and producing both on his own and as part of Scandish Films.
"My experience with video includes TV commercials, music videos and feature length films - entirely created right here in the Manning Valley."
Upcoming Pluto Entertainment events can be found at its Facebook page and website.
"We are very proud what we do and we hope that our passion and drive continues to shine through on everything we produce," said Hamish.
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