Budget always is a concern when planning an event. Planners try to get the most bang for the buck by spending money on elements that wow the audience, like flowers, table linens, and décor. Audiovisual and lighting are seemingly less important to the event planner, until cutting corners causes unforgettable problems at the event. With careful advance preparation and a close working relationship with an audiovisual production team, event planners can use budget dollars wisely for the audiovisual services that make the most sense.
Match audio to the event
Choose an audio system that matches the size and type of event. In some cases, the house sound system may suffice and cost less, for example, for an all-speech event for a group of less than 50 participants. Once an event includes panel presentations and presenters who remain stationary, consider a podium and wired microphone for best sound delivery at a reasonable price. Use wired microphones when feasible as they are less expensive, more dependable, and less prone to interference than wireless. Ask your audiovisual team to recommend the best type of speakers for your event; some speakers are most effective for smaller venues and groups while others are appropriate for large groups.
Work with your audiovisual provider to choose the most effective audio system that also requires the least manpower. Advances in speakers, specifically line arrays and powered speaker systems, offer better sound quality and reduced set-up time, at a lower cost. The sound system that we recommended for the Thirteen/WNET Celebration of Teaching and Learning 2007 at Pier 94 in New York City needed to both project sound within the presentation areas and prevent sound from bleeding from stage to stage and into the exhibit area. It saved the clients money by reducing the equipment required to cover the space, as well as in labor costs associated with setting up and tearing down the equipment.
Consider technologically advanced equipment
Video equipment is becoming more advanced at breakneck speed. While the cost of cameras continues to drop, the most advanced equipment generally is the most expensive. Plasma screens likewise are becoming less expensive for their size, although larger screens carry a high price tag. Don’t let rental cost scare you. Your audiovisual consultant can work with you to select the best combination of newest and newer technology projectors, plasmas, and screens for your event. In the end, your total cost may be lower with equipment that is more advanced and more powerful but requires less set-up time and personnel.
Request digital recording equipment like Mini DV or DVCAM for video and Flash/MP3 recorders for audio. Digital recording is more versatile and offers the flexibility of uploading files directly onto your computers, using files for pod casts and web conferences, and editing efficiently.
Go for GOBOs
GOBOs (GOes Before Optics) are tin or glass stencils that fit into lighting fixtures and allow light to pass through to create a light image. A GOBO can cost as little as $50 for a stock image, can be used over and over, and is more versatile and cost effective than a poster or banner. Tin GOBOs project one color, while glass GOBOs offer a range of projection colors. The industry uses GOBOs to maximize visibility of sponsor logos at trade shows and to decorate walls with images. At the Westchester Arts Council Flying Colors Gala event, Stortz Lighting used GOBOS to project clouds onto the wall to fit the sky theme. Even without GOBOs, lighting can create a mood with graphic shapes on floors and ceilings, as we did at the 6th Annual Jazz Foundation of America “A Great Night in Harlem” event.
Lighting — maximal impact, minimal budget
Compared to video, flowers, and entertainment, lighting is inexpensive. Lighting can do a lot to change the perspective and mood of a room on a fairly small budget. Colored uplighting on a stage adds color and flair. On the ceiling, colored lights can create a mood of gaiety, mystery, romance, or drama. The right set-up puts presenters in the best light for projection onto screens and plasmas.
The planner for the 6th Annual Jazz Foundation of America “A Great Night in Harlem” event had a very small budget for lighting. Our team recommended a versatile lighting layout that created different moods for each part of the program. Not only did the planner save money by using less equipment and fewer technicians, the dramatic lighting design enabled her to cut back on tent decorations.
Advance planning is critical
Regardless of the type and size of your event, involving an audiovisual company from the start is essential. Audiovisual professionals with the appropriate experience and expertise can help you select equipment and services that deliver maximal impact, add “wow” factor to your event, and stay within your budget limits.