Category Archives: Audio Visual

What You Should Know Before Using an In-House AV Provider

Once you’ve inked a contract to rent a venue for your event, your next thought is probably choosing the vendors that will provide services at your event. Sometimes the venue has requirements, such as, they must handle the catering.

Many times, the venue will also offer to provide your audio-visual and lighting services. Unlike the catering staff, who are likely employees of the venue, the AV provider is most commonly a contractor of the venue who they recommend to their clients. (Sometimes this is not the case, and the venue does have employees who handle AV needs)

Pros and Cons of using in-house AV

Is it a problem that your venue provides AV services for your event? Not necessarily, but consider all the aspects. Here are the details:

Hotels and even some wedding venues say that it is more convenient for you to use their in-house AV team. After all, they work at the venue regularly and they (might) keep their equipment there. In case of last-minute changes to your event, the house can just grab more gear from their closet. You have one contract for the space, food/beverage, and audio-visual. Maybe there is a required penalty you have to pay if you don’t use their AV provider.

Many times, the in-house AV provider has a commission agreement with the venue. This means they pay a percentage of your AV contract total back to the venue. If you don’t mind spending extra money then this is not a concern. But if you want to reduce your AV budget, a local lighting company can usually provide better service at a better price.

These venues might neglect to tell you that the in-house AV vendor is almost certainly paying a large commission back to the venue, charged directly to you. The venue will likely forget to mention that the “on-site equipment” has indeed been onsite for 25 years and is outdated and unreliable. And there will be no mention that the “dedicated technician” for support during your event will have to service all of the rooms at the venue. Just when you need help connecting your laptop at the start of your presentation, the technician might be fixing the sound in another room, and will come over to you when available.

Quality AV Services are Key

The lighting and AV play a key role in having a perfect event or wedding. If nobody can hear the bridal party speeches because the sound was bad, all your guests will remember. Imagine if the projector breaks and nobody can see the presentation. Your audience’s key takeaway will be that your event was poorly planned. You can see that the selection of an AV company dedicated to ensuring your event runs smoothly is critical.

At The Lighting & Sound Co, we believe that service before and during your event is the most important aspect of our relationship with you. We work with you to determine a lighting and AV scope that fits your specific needs. We don’t provide cookie-cutter equipment that is barely related to your event vision. Our skilled technicians are dedicated only to your event when onsite. If you call your account manager for help, the response will be “someone is coming to fix that issue.”

Generators and Temporary Power for Events and Concerts

Generators and Temporary Power for Events and Concerts

Electricity: without it, nothing could happen easily. Your event needs power for anything to work. Tent lighting, sound systems, catering equipment, phone chargers, fans/misters, point-of-sales, video screens- all need power. If the event is outdoors or otherwise in a temporary location, you need safe, reliable power distribution for all these items. Of course, this doesn’t mean running orange extension cords out of the window of a nearby building. Reliable power is required for your event to run smoothly. Temporary power enables your event to take place in any venue without concerns about power outages. Sometimes you are bringing in generators specifically because you have a power outage.

Generators

45 kva quiet run diesel generator is delivered to provide temporary power for an event in Richmond VA
A 45kw quiet run generator provides additional power for an event taking place at the Siegel Center in Richmond, VA

There are several reasons you might need a generator for your event. If your venue is in a field, under a tent, far from a building, or even in a building but electrical service is insufficient, a portable generator is the easiest way to supply your power needs. Common sizes run from 1-kw all the way up to 220-kw to supply even the largest concert or major event.

Quiet-Run Generators

A generator that sounds like a lawn mower might be distracting from your event. Ensure your power supplier uses only quiet run generators for event power. Small Honda units (aka putt-putts) are great for lighter needs and are fairly quiet. These can sit nearby wedding tents without bothering guests. However, as the generator gets larger (to supply greater power needs) it doesn’t need to get louder. Trailer-mounted units can supply larger power needs. Certain mega-silent units have extensive sound abatement treatments and are so quiet you can stand next to it and not know it is running.

A portable quiet-run generator and mobile stage are set up for an event
A mega-silent generator will not distract from the main event, even when placed nearby

Reliability and Runtime

Of course a generator provides no value at your event if it stops running. You want to ensure your guests have a seamless experience at your event. An electrical failure will certainly be noticed by all in attendance. To prevent this from happening, a professional power supplier will take many precautions. These include performing maintenance on schedule, monitoring performance telematics remotely, having a technician remain onsite, using two units in parallel or with transfer switch, refueling in advance of empty, and having additional equipment on standby ready to roll out 24 hours a day. A generator company dedicated to perfect events will offer to do all of these items. Some of these come with additional cost while some are included with standard rental price. Be sure to discuss your exact needs and requirements with your power supplier.

Most trailer-mount generators carry enough fuel on board to run constantly for a day or two without requiring refueling, and external fuel tanks are available to increase runtime.

Temporary Power Distribution

With a generator that can supply upwards of 100 amps, there needs to be a safe electrical system to distribute power where it is needed. Feeder cable runs from the generator to portable distribution panels. From there, single or multi circuit cables run from these panels to supply the electrical needs around a venue. There are many variations of panels and cable to suit every event’s unique needs. With a tented wedding, you might drop a spider box at the catering area and for the band. For a larger stage concert, a larger distro or dimmer racks will be placed on stage and socopex multicable ran to the stage lighting positions. For tradeshow booths, a 3-circuit cable with quad box outlets every 10 feet might be used.

Equally important is getting an estimate of the electrical loads so the proper size of equipment can be used. In addition, a qualified technician should specify the distribution equipment so that there is no risk of overload.

Cable Ramps (Crossovers)

Generators provide power for a special event. Cords cross a roadway inside cable ramps protected from vehicle traffic
Cable Ramps (cable crossovers) provide protection where vehicles or pedestrians must cross power cables and allow generators to be located out of the way

A concern with temporary power is that there will be a lot of wires. It’s usually not feasible to hide the wires inside walls or under surfaces. The best power suppliers will take care to run cables out of the way or overhead as much as possible. However, there are many times cases where wires have to cross a walkway. In these cases it is imperative that you use cable ramps to protect attendees and equipment. You might also hear these called yellow jackets or cable crossovers. Additionally, some styles can accommodate the weight of heavy vehicles so you can run cables across a roadway. If heavy foot traffic or accessibility is a concern, you can use ADA cable ramps with very minor slope.

Electrical Consultation

There are a number of considerations when ensuring your event wont shut down due to lack of power. Fortunately, at The Lighting & Sound Co, we have years of experience supplying power for events of all size. We have handled power needs for hundreds of concerts, food truck rodeos, tradeshows, campgrounds, tented events, weddings and other unusual setups. And we know that sometimes you need a generator immediately to resolve a power outage. We can help on an emergency basis with rapid response. We work exclusively with our friends at Temp-Power Generator Rentals to get only top-of-the-line equipment anywhere, anytime it is needed.

Get in touch with us and assure a perfect event by leaving power distribution to the professionals. Give us a call at 804-893-5066 or send an email to events@lightingandsoundco.com and we will do what it takes to power your event.

6 Common Event AV Mistakes to Avoid

At The Lighting & Sound Company, we have been involved with thousands of events. While most events result in positive experiences for all, there is often opportunity to make the event even better. We see some missed opportunities for improvement frequently enough. Here are six of the most common Event AV Mistakes we see. Take note and use these tips to improve your next event!

Bad Sound

Effective sound reinforcement can make or break your event. Nothing will leave your attendees with a bad feeling about the event more than not being able to hear a presenter speak or performer sing. There are many aspects that contribute to good event sound. Microphone choice, speaker placement, venue construction, weather, and distance can all have impacts on the ability of attendees to hear. Perhaps some part of the event layout prevents your av supplier from placing a speaker or mic in an ideal location. Or, the proper speakers to provide good sound comes with a price that is problematic for your budget. A quality AV company will know the right sound system to use in a venue. Sometimes the cost may seem expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. Cheap sound systems will frequently fail to cover the venue adequately or blare feedback while your presenter has to shout to be heard in the front row.

Coordinate the Powerpoint layouts

If your event will involve video screens displaying powerpoint presentations, ask your AV company about the screen size. Modern screens and projectors will have an aspect ratio of 16:10, while older screens are 4:3. (If your av company only has 4:3 screens, this is an indicator of outdated equipment!) When creating your presentation, configure the powerpoint layout to match the screen at your event. This avoids any lost space or black bars on the sides of the screen.

Waiting to hire your AV company

Bringing in your audio-visual vendor as early as possible always has a positive impact on your event. An experienced production company will be able to point out venue challenges, suggest efficient event layout, observe power availability, verify equipment access, and related items. It is much easier to plan for any of these items or make changes long before the event, instead of the week of the event when custom items cannot be ordered or layouts cannot be adjusted. The AV vendor is one of the first to arrive for an event and is onsite for the full duration, so they have a wealth of knowledge to make recommendations that improve the event experience.

No rehearsal

You might think that since your AV company has brought the best equipment and talented technicians, nothing can go wrong during your event. While this will likely be the case, you do not want to be using a wireless mic or seeing your presentation on stage under the lights for the first time in front of your audience. Having a rehearsal allows you to get familiar with all the event technology. You can know exactly what to expect during the real event.

Using your own laptop

Using equipment you already own often seems like a great way to save some money when planning an event. Indeed, using your own laptop can be acceptable for small breakout room presentations that can be informal. However, for a full general session with many attendees and VIPs, it can be very risky to try to run the presentation from your own computer. You don’t want to be advancing the slides when suddenly your iMessage pops up a chat you’d rather keep private or the computer slows to a crawl because Windows started running updates. A professional av company will have specific presentation laptops ready to go, with all updates completed, all notifications minimized, and no unnecessary programs that could slow down the computer

Plan the load in and load out time

If you have several vendors providing services at your event, they will most likely all need to deliver materials to the jobsite. Some locations have physical limits on simultaneous access. Perhaps there is a narrow driveway, single loading dock, or small freight elevator. Or maybe the venue is doing renovations that restrict loading zones. This could present a problem if all of your vendors arrive at the same time. Frequently your AV company will need to do aerial lift work. This can be challenging if tables or drape have already been setup. Plan for separate load in/out times for all of your vendors so they don’t conflict. Also ensure that one vendor’s equipment setup will not prevent a later setup from occurring.

All in all, you will want to partner with an experienced event audio-visual production company to handle the technical aspects of your event. Let your av company’s offer tips to improve the flow of your event. Looking for a good team to work with? Give a call to The Lighting & Sound Company at 804-893-5066 and ensure a perfect event!