Tech Talk: Getting the Most for Your AV Dollars
Learn how to deal with tight AV budgets while still putting on a great event.by Warren K. Kong | Published in December 2008 tech talk | technology | Departments
Q: How can I get the most for my A/V dollar while still having a great event?
A: Too often when budgets are cut and belts are tightened, we write off the things we don’t understand. When used properly, however, A/V is one of those items that can make up for budget cuts in other areas — reducing your costs and making your event look great.
First, keep in mind that even if your room has a pre-existing A/V setup, you shouldn’t assume all of your event needs will be met. This type of setup is often focused on the needs of the business meeting and most likely does not take into account any of your needs. A brief conversation with the production company prior to your event can do wonders.
And by “prior,” I don’t mean the day before your event. Get the production company involved early in the planning stages.
In this situation, even the smallest of budgets can go very far for your event. With the infrastructure already in place, you will just be paying for the few additions that are specific to your event.
Secondly: cheap materials and good lighting — two items that make a small budget look like a million bucks. Custom décor and set pieces can be constructed out of Styrofoam, cardboard or foamcore — all inexpensive materials. Combine this with some proper lighting, and you can make fine wine from sour grapes.
For example, in the event pictured above, I designed a Mexican-style Inca. This mysterious and lavish set towers high and is covered in foliage, vines and ancient artifacts. The massive 20-foot-tall scene stretches over 100 feet long. The giant rock walls and temple are created out of inexpensive Styrofoam blocks. Once dressed out with some off-the-shelf décor pieces and foliage, the ancient temple comes alive. The lighting creates moods that take the audience members through an archeological dig, mist-filled mornings and hair-raising chases. The talents of the set decorators, painters and lighting designer have created a million dollar room on a shoestring budget.
As budgets tighten and events downsize, we’re all looking to maximize our dollar. It may seem easy to go to the lowest bidder, but remember, you get what you pay for. Focus on key elements at your events that will offer you the best value. This way, instead of doing big things poorly, you’ll do small things great — and that adds up to a successful event.
Have audio, video, lighting or scenic questions for our Tech Talker? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.