Tech Talk: How to Tell if the House A/V Works for Your Event
I’m looking at a venue that has an existing A/V setup. How can I determine if it’s going to work for my event?by Warren K. Kong | Published in June 2009 audio visual | lighting | tech | tech talk | video | Departments
Q: I’m looking at a venue that has an existing A/V setup. How can I determine if it’s going to work for my event?
A: As companies look for ways to stretch budgets, a venue with an existing A/V and lighting system may look enticing. Many venues are set up for events and meetings, so check with the staff to see how many they do and how they would handle one like yours.
If they haven’t done any events or only a few recently, keep these tips in mind.
At a venue with an ongoing show, such as a dinner theater or playhouse, your event will take second place from a technical standpoint. It may seem like a thousand lights are hanging in the ceiling, but each has been pre-determined to perform a specific task — chances are, one unrelated to your event. In theater, certain colors and patterns are often used to create dramatic or exotic looks, so the lights may not work for corporate affairs.
Take moving (intelligent) lights, for example. While we see them on our events with multiple patterns and lots of colors, the venue may have used them for years to perform very specific tasks. So what does that mean? Well, very likely, the colors have been changed to complement the existing show colors, and patterns are limited to those selected for the show. If you’re lucky, the venue maybe nice enough to refocus a few lights to suit your needs, but always have your lighting designer determine what lights need to be refocused. The venue staff may not be used to doing these types of events, so they may not understand your event’s technical needs. When I’ve done similar events, I’ve supplemented the existing system with extra lighting. I’ve been able to drop the cost of lighting significantly that way, though less than you might think.
Will the sound work?
When determining audio needs, remember that every microphone, DVD player and computer will probably need to be brought in. And chances are, the venue will not have enough available audio channels in their system for you to add them in.
For example, I recently had the privilege of bringing an event into a Cirque du Soleil venue. Though it was top-notch and had over 160 various inputs into their audio system, I still needed to bring in 30 additional channels of microphones, video players and audio replay units. In a situation like this, it’s not as simple as disconnecting one of their items and connecting yours. The audio has been meticulously tuned to get the best performance for that specific item in that specific space, so asking them to change it for your one-day event isn’t an option. The best and simplest solution in this case was to bring in an additional audio console, which allowed for all the additional channels I needed without disturbing their setup.
What about video?
Video is probably the easiest of all for determining whether the venue can meet your needs. Hold yourself to the same standards as you would on any other event. Ensure that all seats in the house have a good view of the screen(s). If possible, look at the screens when small text is displayed to assess whether you’ll need to supplement the video. Consult your technical director with any questions.
The main thing to keep in mind when bringing your event into a venue with an existing show is to respect that show. Work with their staff to reduce the amount of impact your event has on their venue. When your event is gone, they’ll still be there.