Audio-visual is an essential element of successful events. But quality sound and lighting isn’t enough to impress audiences anymore. A/V has become as much of a showpiece as food, flowers or big-name speakers. And just like those elements, you get what you pay for, making it worth the investment to go all in. A/V supports the theme and message of an event; it determines how your message is conveyed and infl uences the audience’s energy. Whether you know exactly what you want or not, audio-visual experts have solutions that will take events from good enough to exceptional. We asked a handful of local pros for their insights on A/V trends, new technology, and ways to make events visually and audibly stunning.
Livestreaming unites audiences in disparate locations and facilitates interaction. “We spend a lot of money on delivering these events and bringing our organizations together, and if we’re not capitalizing on having them all in the room, we’re really missing out,” says Jack DeVries, director of sales and marketing at Showcore.
“You can have one emcee on the stage in Ballroom A and another emcee on the stage in Ballroom B and it could feel to the audience like they’re right there together,” says EideCom CEO Charles Eide, who screened the livestream of the Pope’s arrival in Krakow, Poland, to a giant screen in an arena for an audience of 20,000 people.
Livestreaming can also be used in fundraising scenarios; fundraisers can stream to a live fundraising page, encouraging donors to give right then and there. It can also be synced with social media to see Facebook posts and tweets from or about the event in real time.
LED’s appeal is in its versatility—screens can create video walls, tiles, backdrops, banners, or any number of configurations that you can’t make with a traditional 16-foot-by-9-foot projection screen. “You can really play around with this product and use the same product in different ways, which is an easy way to change up the environment from event to event,” DeVries says.
LED lighting reduces the power requirement and the amount of heat coming off the lighting elements. It’s a greener product because of its longer lifespan; you don’t have to constantly change out the bulbs. “LED is typically also much more powerful than standard projection systems. It’s a lot brighter. It really casts a much larger spell on the ocular senses. It stands out and pops and comes at you full force,” DeVries says.
AVEX usually uses 100 percent LED, which results in 20-40 percent less electricity used compared to an incandescent system. “The events industry, I think, has a little bit of a problem with waste,” says Tim McVean, director of sales and marketing at AVEX. “People are trying to find ways to reuse items, and the audio-visual industry needs to follow that trend as well. What can we do to reduce our footprint? The first and most obvious way to do that is with an LED lighting system.”
Projector mapping turns inanimate objects into works of art. “What it allows you to do is to take a three-dimensional object and act like it’s a screen so you can bring it to life,” explains Josh Reitan, owner of AV For You. “Whatever the surface is becomes your canvas.”
Reitan has seen this technology used on buildings and to project decals onto white cars at car shows. One of his clients, a bride, recently requested it at her themed wedding. “We will be blending large format projectors to make one wall a living forest. We will also be projector-mapping the cake with custom video to bring it to life. The enchanted feel will be brought home with projected stars on the ceiling and water effect lights throughout the space,” Reitan says.
Laser Light Sources
A standard projector is a lamp-based product, and that lamp will typically need to be swapped out every 1,500 hours. Laser light sources, in contrast, can last up to 20,000 hours, a huge difference in longevity and sustainability if an organization is purchasing them. Laser light surfaces also have a wider range. “Lamps can kind of change angles a little bit, but there’s a certain point where you’re going to be in danger of ruining that machine,” explains DeVries. “Whereas with a laser product, we’re going to be able to tilt these things in any different direction: upside down, sideways, vertically, pointing to the ground.”
Right now, the industry standard resolution for video systems is Full HD 1080P, but that won’t be the case for long. McVean predicts that within a few years, 4K will be in high demand. It’s quadruple the resolution of HD and ideal for clients with large audiences or those who want to incorporate detailed content, fine photography, virtual reality or other immersive experiences into their events. But before that can happen, elements like projectors, cameras, laptops, and cables will have to adapt to a higher data load. “I’m sure at industry trade shows this year there’s going to be a whole bunch of 4K stuff out. It’s all going to be super expensive,” McVean says. “A couple companies might buy some; they’ll be the early adopters. They’ll get a couple of their customers who are interested in it and they will sort of pave the way.”