The Path To Live Events Pt 2
A multi-part series on the return of in-person events.
Written by: Gianna Kreider, CTUS Project Manager
Did you miss part 1 of this series? Read it here.
Back to Basics:
To say “it’s been a year” is an understatement. 2020 was a gut punch to the live events industry. And let’s all be honest, for most of us, it has been more than a year since we were part of a truly live event. Here is a quick refresher on things we all need to think about when getting ready to go back to work.
Let us start from the top. Large shows will most likely require some sort of rigging. The majority of venues have an exclusive for the labor and hardware that hangs everything to ensure that someone who is familiar with the building is liable. Make sure to discuss who provides the labor, the motors, and the truss for the event so you can prepare for what needs to be provided. Inquiring about a pre-rig also never hurts. If there is an affordable way to get a head start on your load in, it will save you hours and dollars. Just be aware that if your event requires more than 15 points, you might want to hire a production rigger to supervise the pre-rig. No one wants to walk in and see their booth hung 90 degrees off. Trust me, it is not pleasant.
If an event takes place and no one can hear it, did it really take place? One of the most important things to consider is how well your audience will be able to hear what you are presenting. Small speakers on stands are a great option in a small ballroom. Larger events may require full speaker stacks, amps, and subwoofers. If speaker stacks are hung, make sure to consider how this could affect sight lines for attendees. Microphone type is another crucial element. Presenters will most likely require a lavalier mic that can be clipped to their clothing.
Are you happy with the look provided by venue lights or are you hoping for something more dramatic for your event? In smaller ballrooms, it helps to set up a few static lights to highlight the presenter in the front of the room. This can be accomplished with a ground supported lighting tree. For larger venues, hanging lights off of a rigged truss is the best option. Static lighting is great if you are doing keynotes, seminars or fireside chats. Moving lights will add a dramatic element to the production and are great for dynamic presentations or live entertainment. If the session will be streamed, make sure to account for the extra lighting that will be needed to provide a camera-ready look.
Projection vs. LED:
The first thing to think about is what am I hoping to accomplish with video? Are you only presenting graphics? If so, projection may be your best budget friendly option, especially when working in small ballrooms. It can also be a great option for relay screens used to reach attendees farther away in a large room. A few things to consider when deciding to use projection is you will need unimpeded space between the projector and the screen, and you will need to reduce ambient light as much as possible. LED walls are fast becoming the popular option for larger live events and hybrid events. LED is roughly 20% more expensive than projection but can offer a brighter, clearer image. LED offers more freedom and flexibility as they can be built in many different configurations.
How many people will need to talk to each other during the event? Will you need several private department channels? Wired or wireless? All important questions that need to be asked before getting onsite. The option for Unity Comm that can be used on a laptop or phone has also become readily available and eliminates large equipment needs.
This is a new element to live shows but one that is here to stay. While we patiently await travel to be safer and more available, the way to reach a wide audience is to add a streaming component to your event. We have talked ad nauseum about virtual elements last year so I will only mention things to watch for onsite. Make sure to check with your venue about internet connection speeds, plan for high quality cameras, and make sure you arrange for a device that fits your streaming needs.
Always check with the venue to see what kind of labor exclusives you will have to contend with. Some venues employ unions and have a strict set of guidelines on overtime rules. Having this information up front allows for a more accurate budget. It also dictates how many technicians can be hired by the client or production company and whether they can physically work or just supervise the venue provided staff. Be aware that some venues or unions may require a certified covid compliance officer onsite.
Miscellaneous venue questions to consider:
- Power: How much is available, and will it support all AV needs?
- Dock space: Can a semi be accommodated, will you need a forklift to unload your gear, is an elevator needed to get the gear to the ballroom?
- Fire code: Do seating expectations fall within the venue guidelines.
- Lifts: Will a scissor or boom lift be needed for any work? Will the venue provide?
- Storage: Will I have a place to store empty cases, or will they need to be removed from site?
- Catering: What options are available for crew or attendees?
There is a pent-up demand for getting back into the ballroom so the more prepared we can be the better. Let us get back out there, be ready and crush it.
Did you miss part 1 of this series? Read it here.