The Who’s Who in Your On-site AV Production Team
I am sure many of you will be left bemused when you first arrive on-site and are surrounded with flight cases, staging, cables, various forms of AV equipment and a multitude of different technicians busily working away, and quite frankly, we don’t blame you! Hopefully this post will help you to familiarise yourself with the “what’s what” and the “who’s who” of life on-site.
Needless to say, the specific event requirement will be the dictating factor of how large the production team will be. For instance, a small half-day conference will have much fewer team members than a large Awards Ceremony or multi-day Conference. You will still receive the same high standards of customer service, just with a smaller/larger team, depending on event type.
So basing our ‘typical’ team on a medium to large production to go through as many of the key expert technicians as you will probably encounter…here goes!
Project Manager/Floor Manager/Show-caller
Your Project Manager will be with you from the very start; guiding you through all the ins and outs of kit lists, quotes and set visuals, making sure you have exactly what you want and bringing the latest technology to your event.
On-site, they will oversee the team, being your main point of contact during the build up of the event and the live day(s) themselves. They will often double their roles on-site to become Floor Managers (there are other terms too) – basically, they are in overall charge and will show-call the live event as it happens, liaising with all the stage manager and technical team through head-sets to cue the lights, camera, action! The technical team will be based at a ‘control desk’ which will be situated within the venue room so the team can have a good overall view of the stage.
As Show-caller, they will be ever alert for any unexpected, ad-hoc things which can often happen during a live event and keep the team informed.
They will be hands on during all rehearsals with key cast members (host/presenters/sponsors etc) to show them the ropes, when to come on and what to do and what will appear on the screens when they are on stage. The level of depth the rehearsal goes into depends on the event type.
They will look after your cast members, show them the green room (or backstage holding pen in some cases!) and run through all key timings and important cues. During the live event itself, they will be in charge of the backstage area (if there is one!) and may well have an assistant to help cue people onto stage at the right time – liaising with the Show-caller via the head-sets.
If your event is less complicated or there is no possible back stage area, then you may find the easiest solution is to have these key cast members walk onto stage directly from the audience.
Situated at the ‘control desk’, these guys are in charge of what actually goes on the screens; be it live camera, video or graphics content (awards, conference or other presentations).
They are also very active during the show-calling as they instruct the camera operators to get a close up, or wide angle of the on stage goings on as well as cuing the graphics operator for the ‘next slide’ in the presentation and also cuing any video (finalist video clip, for instance).
The Vision Mixer and the Show-caller will most likely be the most vocal over the headset communication during the live show as they work from their cues on the script.
Sometimes events can be content heavy so it’s important that a dedicated technician controls this aspect; literally pressing the button to progress with the awards/conference. Often this technician comes from the graphics team who actually created the content as they will be familiar with the script and running order and makes life easier for all – they will be liaising with the Vision Mixer and Show-caller during the live event.
Present during the set up of the event so they can focus all the lights, programme the lights to music for stage walk-ons (as presenters walk on stage, or winners/sponsors, depending on event type) and during other key moments, and ensuring all high profile branding is well lit for good exposure. The lighting designer will turn operator during the event as they control the lighting desk with their pre-programmed effects.
A job which keeps evolving, the sound technician will set up all the speakers in the room to ensure best sound reproduction, using other members of the team to test microphones while they set the levels.
During the live event itself, they are constantly monitoring sound levels to avoid any dips or loud bursts as everyone speaks at different levels: they will react accordingly to each person on stage to give them the best projection level for the audience.
Likewise with any music which is played during the event, this will all be set to an optimum level so guests don’t fall off their chairs with fright with any loud bass!
Camera work at events can come in various forms. Most common is to have live camera relay and event capturing.
Both require cameramen to be in charge of the equipment as they zoom in and out to get close ups/wide angle shots of those on stage which are then projected onto the screens (controlled by the Vision Mixer).
These guys are the most visible of the crew as they are actually in or by the side of the audience (venue layout depending) as they need good sight lines to capture clean images of those on stage; often set on mini-stages to give them height above people’s heads.
For the cameramen roaming around capturing a ‘fly on the wall’ aspect of the event, they dip and dive through guests so they can film the ‘buzz’ of the event which will be used in your post event edit.
Follow Spot Operators
Like the cameramen, these guys are visible and will be used to light winner walk-ons or presenter walk-ons from the audience.
Set Builders/General Technicians
Not all the crew will stay for the live event so when you first arrive on-site you may very well see a large team as they install and set up everything in time for rehearsals.
These extra crew who make up the numbers include set builders/carpenters (who oversee the set up of the actual stage design and do the final finishes), general technicians who help set up the control desk (where your operating team are based) and assistants to all the above mentioned team members to ensure that all cabling, AV equipment, projection, screens are in place, focussed and ready for action.
So, in a nut shell and without wanting to detail a possible army of technicians and producers who may well be involved with your particular event, we believe these are the ‘typical’ key players that will be around on-site.
This team will ensure your event happens and to very high standards; they will look after you and all the principle cast. Get to know them and build a trustworthy relationship with them and it will make the live event plain sailing.
This is a guest post by Jo Moor. She has 15 years experience in the events industry and currently works at Vision Events (UK) who are an event production company producing top end corporate and bespoke events for prominent and influential clients throughout the UK and Europe.
Submit your guest post here.