Different types of events call for different types of setups for rental and staging AV installations.
Every new space has a unique setup, making every installation a new experience. However, there are a few challenges with every rental and staging job, no matter what the event may be.
Ensuring Signal Strength
This is one of the most important things to ensure is working properly since nothing will work without a strong signal. I will always make sure that my signal is not compromised due to environmental variables relating directly to placement of signaling devices.
You need to take the equipment being used into consideration. If there’s a visual presentation, are you using a projector or a display? If it’s the latter, are you using a single display or multiple screens? Finally, how many streams of content do you need to support and how far do they need to reach?
Proper Speaker Placement
A crisp, clear audio signal goes hand-in-hand with the visual stimulus at an event. Feedback is loud and quick, and can have a very detrimental effect on the overall experience for attendees. The best way to negate any negative effect with the audio signal is to test out the wired or wireless audio system by walking the environment and noting where the presenter’s will be standing.
When doing so, make sure the speakers’ sound is intelligible through the handheld, ear-mount, headset, or lavalier microphone(s) being used. If it’s a handheld, you should know that everyone likely won’t hold the microphone exactly where it needs to be held for the best audio pick-up. If possible, you should (briefly) educate the presenter on how to properly hold and position the mic when using it for audio support.
You also need to be testing to see if there are any dead zones in the seating area and ensure the dispersion cones of sound cover the space equally. Audio 101 states that when supporting live sound the main speakers should project out toward (or down toward) the audience. Positioning the main speakers is of paramount importance as this will directly affect the intelligibility of the presentation and will directly relate to the professionalism of the speaker. If speaker placement isn’t taken into consideration, part of the audience has a good chance of missing content being spoken about.
You may often find yourself working an event on a property that is staffed by union workers. Every venue has its own crew of people that know the building well – this not only ensures a safe and efficient production, but it also ensures that the right people are performing the right tasks. That team usually goes in and sets up structural supports and takes care of the power supply distribution as that is required by licensed professionals.
Unionization can hinder the process of expediting setup since a union team is most likely very regimented with routines. Sometimes, it takes a little bit of work to get that team on the same page however, they are the experts on site and integrators need to understand that the union members complete a very specified job with repeatable results.
Choosing the Right Devices
Choosing the right products for an event is always important, but it must be even more carefully considered when using wireless devices. You can run cabling to whatever you need to do for any size event, but you have to figure out many different wireless devices are needed to attain the functionality you desire. Will the presentation be interactive with the supportive video displays/screens? Will the AV support need to be real-time or is latency expected and accounted for? These are real-world issues that need to be dealt with when utilizing wireless signaling devices.
All of the above need to be considered when planning an event since they’re important for money savings, safety, and efficiency of setup and breakdown. It all comes down to choosing the right products for the job. Wired AV equipment, wireless AV solutions, and a hybrid of both are all options to consider.
When considering a hybrid of wired and wireless, as mentioned previously you must keep latency in mind when planning. Latency comes into play when a signal becomes encoded and then decoded. Although dealing with milliseconds, signals arriving at different points in time can wreak havoc on the professionalism of a presentation. The integrator needs to know at what rating is a given device’s latency. What will that effect have on the audio or video witnessed by the crowd? Will they hear a “stadium” effect, or worse, will that affect video if it is mimicking what is on the lecturer’s stage. Seeing or hearing two different timings for a live event can become fatiguing very quick.
What’s Next for Rental and Staging
Over the next few years, in an effort to save time and money, I can see companies developing complete solutions instead of the one-off wireless audio and video systems that are currently on the market. I can also see hybrid solutions coming out that can account for the latency issues in the system itself, so you can use a few hard wires and a wireless output at once. As an industry, we will need to figure out how to get wired & wireless signal propagation to work in harmony. The result will be faster uptime for the user.
I also see 4K becoming the standard in the next 2-3 years. However, the wireless devices will have to be more robust to accommodate the extra power and bandwidth needed to deliver 4K. It will force the devices to become better, more complete products.
What’s your peerSPECTIVE on the rental and staging space? Let me know in the comments below!