Flawless delivery of live events starts with a technical site visit (part 1)

When considering corporate live events, like awards nights, conferences and company days, it’s the sounds, sights, presentations and overall experience for the attendees that takes centre stage. But for businesses like TechPro, the big picture starts with the small details.

And the small details start with a technical site visit, which follows once the live event agency team has selected the venue based on its fit-for-purpose, location, delegate flow, catering, refreshment spaces and bedrooms, etc.

We recognise that for the delegates attending these are all really important factors, but often the technical aspects of a venue can be overlooked, ignored or misunderstood. And that’s where we come in, with years of experience working with venues of every size and complexity.

This article is not designed to criticise anyone in the event management process; we are all specialists in our fields, working together to achieve the absolute best possible outcome for the end-client.

Over the next few hundred words we hope to offer an insight into why we insist on a pre-event site visit, with observations compiled from our collective experiences.

More to capacity than meets the eye

It’s important to remember that venue capacity charts rarely include production setups. They typically indicate capacities on a wall to wall basis, with no allowance for any technical equipment that might be required.

A set and stage has a footprint whether front or rear projection is utilised, with more for rear projection and video walls.

Additionally, lighting, relay screens and audio support stands also take up space, as do crew front-of-house control desks and camera positions etc.

TechPro use scale CAD plans from the venue if they are available or we draft our own accurate plans from measurements taken during the site visit.

If the plans are provided by the venue, we check them carefully to verify they are accurate and up-to-date, taking account of any refurbishments or alterations and any other possible anomalies.

In our world size does matter

Event spaces are three dimensional and are subject to change. Whilst it’s easy to count the number of tables or chairs that can fit on the floor, what about the ceiling height? Is it consistent? Are there recesses or projections at varying heights and are there rated ‘useable’ hanging points available?

I ask, because the ceiling height is the biggest factor in determining your overall screen width for graphics and video presentations. Simply, the larger the ceiling height, the larger the screen.

Unfortunately, information from venue websites can be misleading, with quoted maximum heights not taking account of low hanging light fixtures that can obscure sight lines for important visual content.

Or, it may be that there are recesses in the ceiling that are higher in sections where room divides sit, or there could be arched, apex or domed roof spaces, all of which vary greatly in height.

Refurbishments are undertaken all the time in venues, with extensions, new fixtures, thicker carpet and new false walls all possibly coming as a surprise when compared to the original plans.

You could even be working from a CAD plan that was used when the building was being built, which believe it or not, will still require verification, as changes during construction often happen without the plans being updated!

Without verification during our site visits, set panels may not fit, intended screen sizes may not work or projection lines could be obscured. It’s a lot to consider to ensure the event delivers the impact the client is expecting.

That’s it for this blog, but in part two, we’ll look at the considerations around power supplies, access to the site for all our equipment and the problems of working with the busiest venues.

But in the meantime, if you have a venue selected and need to organise the video, sound and lighting for a live event, we’re happy to offer the benefit of our years of experience undertaking technical site visits, so please get in touch today.

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