When producing live events with a focus on achieving the maximum impact, the strategy should be more than a list of tasks leading you from “lights up/curtains open” to “lights down/curtains close” or a maze of equipment and wiring diagrams. A mindset of flawless production is essential, and with a crew that is synchronized, it becomes a culture of success. The staging crew must work as a team, anticipating the more complex transitions – from one presenter to the next, after video playback and even those revolving around walk-on and walk-off music. This will make the event seamless. Without proper direction, it’s hard for a presenter to make a natural transition when they are on stage. When a video playback stops, it’s key for the presenter to keep the event flowing – a video’s music ending and volume can provide that transition.
Predicting the potential shortcomings of budget, venue and equipment constraints is a reality shared by the most seasoned professionals on the live event talent roster. The end result of understanding your constraints can be broken down into a short list, and knowing those handful of metrics and planning for them is what sets seasoned crews apart.
- First, let’s address budget. It is imperative to understand that budgets might fall short of the ideal equipment and crew necessary to easily accomplish a flawless show. Accept this as fact and plan for it in pre-production. This will leave you plenty of leeway when discussing technical options with your team, while providing ample evidence to support the essentials of success. It’s the difference between reactive and proactive production. The best way to ensure success is to budget for rehearsal time to go over the most important transitions – there can be 10 to 50 of these during an event. You should also check your budget to see if you can accommodate rigging the audio and lighting from the ceiling. This will fill the room with even sound, and the higher the lighting the less light in the presenters’ eyes.
- Secondly, know the essential purpose for holding the live event. Whether it is to entertain, inform, unveil or award, the approach to realizing the vision is varied. Understanding the intention will guide you in structuring an event that highlights where needed and saves cost in all possible places. Openness during the design phase will garner trust from clients and crews alike, and it is often the deciding factor in repeat business and a recurring customer relationship. Knowing the purpose can dictate the equipment list – do you need spotlights, handheld mics, props, video playback or projection? You don’t want to find out there is a live band performing the day of the event.
- Next, understand your room capabilities and seating layout. Stage lights that allow a properly lit stage are essential, but never allow the stage wash to bleed onto your audience, blinding the front rows. Also, avoid washing out any screens present with stage wash – this is why we use shutters and barn doors. Proper light fixture placement is vital, including decorative lights and moving fixtures. These should draw the audience to your show’s focal point rather than distract and detract.
Speaker quantity and placement can be a battle when room design is imperfect. The target is vocal intelligibility for the presenter. Whether it’s a business presentation, musical stage production or rock concert, vocals can create a cornucopia of issues when not addressed properly. Where speakers are set is the easiest way to combat on-stage feedback, using software or a well-trained ear can assist in identifying problem frequencies. These frequencies will vary from room to room, set to set, microphone to speaker. Enough speakers in the correct locations can eliminate feedback and provide solid intelligibility throughout the room. Use subwoofers whenever there are important video or musical cues. This adds impact and drama, but never send microphones used on stage through the subwoofer without a crossover.
I hope this helps in planning your next live event.
Article by Ken Liljegren, owner and president of Spectrum Video & Film. Spectrum Video & Film is a professional video production company in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona specializing in corporate, commercial and online social media videos, as well as projection, lighting and sound. To find out more about how we can help with your next video or event, visit us at spectrumvideoandfilm.com.