If you were around last week, you may remember catching wind of a certain webinar with a certain president of an AV production company and if you happened to have missed this certain webinar, you are in luck; we have compiled a list of the 8 main points mentioned in the webinar with Will Curran, President of Endless Entertainment, focusing on providing listeners with insight on how to avoid some of the worst mistakes one could experience when planning for AV production. We are all on the same team here in the events industry and your AV company should be there to help make your event the best it can possibly be! With that said, here’s how you can prepare for working with the AV company to make the most of your event:

8 tips to avoid AV production disasters:

1. Understanding the quote process

It is always about winning the bid, some companies will do anything to get the contract for the event even if that means fibbing or skimping on the quote; things to watch out for:

  • Be aware that companies that will often times oversell equipment and then change it or substitute it for lower quality at the same price (bill for a 48 channel digital console when only 4 wireless mics are being used, and actually send out a 6 channel mixer)
  • You get what you pay for! If a quote seems extremely low in comparison to the majority of other bids, chances are something is going on. It is not uncommon for companies to build a quote with unsafe or low-end gear to drop the price of the bid.
  • All the bells and whistles of an event are fun and can really wow an audience but can rack up the cost of a show. AV companies will often times leave out add-ons that they know your event could benefit from, just to bring the initial cost down for the bid, then add it on later in the show if it becomes a necessity.
  • Labor is one of those things that can be one of the largest costs on a show, depending on the size, but is absolutely necessary for a safe and timely setup. Be wary of quotes that have a low dollar amount for labor in comparison to other quotes!
  • When a venue has a preferred provider, it is likely the cost will be higher for you because of back-end deals and kick-backs to the venue for referrals.

2. Details in the planning process

  • Be prepared with accurate site diagrams, CAD drawings from the AV company, layouts, and/or measurements from walkthroughs (throw distance for projectors, ceiling height for structures, etc.).
  • Double check with the production company to be sure you have the venue scheduled for the adequate amount of time for the production team to load in and load out; some companies will charge more for rushed setup and strike, especially if there are highly technical components to your specific event. Rule of Thumb: it is always preferred to schedule load in for the day before the event and one day after the event for load out, in the right circumstances.

3. Communicating changes

  • Keeping constant communication with the AV team is absolutely vital to a smooth event. If you have a needed change, it is always better to notify the production team in advance despite “annoying” or “bugging” them rather than on-site when the event is happening.
  • If talent is provided at the event, allow a direct line of contact between the production team and the performers; the less middle-people, the better.
  • Whenever there is a hiccup, have the production team explain the problem and solution in a way you can understand; no technical jargon that no-one but the production team can understand. This occurs more than you would think to help cover up a mistake and transfer blame to this highly-technical piece of equipment rather than making it seem like the AV team is at fault.

4. AV team involvement

  • You know those highly-classified meetings event planners have exclusively with their staff when planning an event? Invite the AV team to them! In most cases, production people are considered professionals in their field and know a heck of a lot more about AV than any one on an event planning team does. They can help make your vision for the event become a reality, if you give them a chance!
  • This can also help sort out any confusion and costly mistakes on the day of the event if you communicate your vision with the production team from early on.

5. Venue negotiation

  • Venues can be sneaky and can cause a much larger headache for you than the entire event! Communicate all of the fine print and details to avoid racking up charges; for example: adequate power, rigging, babysitting fees for leaving the equipment at the venue overnight, freight elevator fees.

6. Planning for power

  • One of the most prevalent issues production teams experience when putting on events is not having the adequate power for production equipment; this is what we, the AV guys, have nightmares about before an event. Cross-reference the quote with the venue to get an estimate for power and to provide necessary power distributors.
  • Ask for a specific type of power (Edison vs. 3-phase) so the production team and venue can be on the same page.
  • Do not be afraid to negotiate with the venue about power fees, often-times it can be thrown in for free.

7. Video and image content (the most common disaster)

  • Consult with the AV team before deciding on any sort of image and video content, they know what will be best for the event!
  • Test all video formats prior to the show starting.
  • If an image or video is only available online, find out if there will be Wi-Fi available at the venue. If not, do your best to have an offline source available.

8. Humanitarian efforts; avoid neglecting the AV team

  • Like anyone in the event industry, the AV team members are people, too! This means: we eat, get tired, need water, and love to hear when we are doing a good job! The least you can do is be aware of their limits; providing food (however small it may seem) is not a necessity but is always appreciated!
  • Technicians have names and do not go by “AV guy,” it is hard because as event planners, our minds are all over the place and trying to remember names on top of everything is asking an awful lot, but it is always noticed when you try your best!
  • Take-aways are small tokens of appreciation that everyone loves! Our office is covered with posters, goodies, and little take-aways from past events we have worked. If you have any leftover swag, I can assure you that the AV team is interested.

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Austin Walker

Author Austin Walker

Austin is a man of many words, as expressed in the many blog posts he has thus published at Endless. What may not be evident about Austin, as seen from the readers' perspective, is that he is more-than-likely dancing, rather "busting a move," while working. And that, he takes all the pleasure in.

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