Top Five Best AV Practices for events

Tricaster, hyperdeck, and clearcomm
Tricaster, hyperdeck, Image Pro, and clearcomm

Big events need a lot of preparation and planning. It seems as though there isn’t a linear correlation either. The more complex a show, the exponentially more complex the planning required. Many events need their own projection mapping, live streaming, twitter walls, and live music as well. This is all in addition to the intense preparations related to catering, decor, venue negotiations, talent management, and wrangling volunteers. From the event planner’s perspective, the AV is the last thing anyone wants to watch closely and manage. During the event, if the AV didn’t work, everyone notices and it reduces the professionalism of the event.

To eliminate the chance of AV failures and keep them off your back during the show, here is a list of the top five best practices to keep in mind.

Hire a Company that has time to talk to you.
There are plenty of large AV rental providers in the San Francisco Bay area alone. Once a company gets too large to provide adequate customer service, you are at risk of miscommunicating expectations. Find a sales representative that can explain the technology and shares your vision of the result.

Avoid Same Day setups at all cost.

Setting up for these events is sometimes possible the morning of a big show, but it is a huge risk. Periodically, parts don’t work as expected and people need more time to get it running properly. The added pressure of an impending curtain call is only going to encourage bigger mistakes and stressed labor. Invest in renting a venue for at least one extra day and use that time build, test, rehearse, and tweak. Everyone will be happier.

Hire referrals.
Find out who did the AV for that event you attended when it worked really well. In a funny way, it is easier to remember the AV that screwed up than the AV that worked flawlessly. Truly talented and skilled technicians are known in the AV circles and it is much better to keep everyone in the family, instead of pit companies against each other in a price war.

Collect graphical assets and logos in advance.
After initial estimates and negotiations have concluded, the project managers of your chosen AV company will already be planning the event. If you can give them files and examples of your company’s logo, lower thirds, intro videos, theme song, all in advance, then the company will know how to include them throughout the production and will be able to respond with any changes or needs much earlier. This means your graphics team and the AV companies are working together earlier and providing the optimal assets.

Trust the AV company’s chosen gear provider.
I’ve been on too many shows where a mix and match of AV companies for different parts are thrown into the pot together and expected to work smoothly. Audio and video equipment, while somewhat standardized, has a great deal of diversity in quality, age, and ability. Some companies have dedicated their gear to one gear company like Blackmagic. Other’s have been using the same audio gear for 15 years. They certainly can work with your camera team or your projectionist, but there will be a lot more time spent on set figuring out how to adapt signals, and adjust workflows. If you know you will need 10 large monitors, just tell the AV company about it immediately, and let them handle sourcing and setting them up. This will avoid inefficiently delegating crew to tasks that weren’t anticipated.

With this list, you may be amazed how smooth the AV will run. Coming from the AV side myself, I know it is a big compliment when a customer says “I didn’t even have to think about you.” Ultimately that is what we are striving for. We don’t want anyone to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

PageLines