Most people have a pretty basic understanding of event production; you need speakers, lights, screens, etc. But how many speakers? What kind of lights? What kind of screens? And what if you want to stream? Or have a spotlight follow your presenter? Or control the music in multiple rooms? Getting into specifics starts to raise a lot of questions, and most people turn to audio/visual (AV) companies to help answer them.
In this article we’re going back to the basics—the ABCs of AV, if you will—to better understand what AV companies even do, anyway. Not all AV companies offer the same services, and understanding exactly what different companies have to offer will help you pick the right one as a partner when producing your next event.
AV companies create, deliver, and manage audio and visual content for live events. If you’re producing a conference, concert, exhibition, fundraiser, gala, etc., you’ll want to work with an AV company to make sure that attendees can see and hear everything. There are a wide variety of services that fall under the “AV” umbrella, some of the most important being:
- Basic equipment rental, setup, and operation (this can include anything from speakers and microphones to cameras, staging, and lighting)
- Live event production (you’ll usually want trained, experienced staff on hand to operate equipment and troubleshoot problems)
- Video production (like creating invitational, promotional, or highlight videos. You can read more about the types of video we typically produce for clients here)
Some AV companies will also offer pre-production services, like:
- Content creation (some companies will help you create video assets, digital signage, program elements, and more)
- Scripting and storyboarding (your scripts and presentations may need to be fine-tuned with technological limitations in mind)
- Event planning (AV companies produce a lot of events, and often know what makes for the most effective run of show)
In addition to the technical aspects of AV production, some companies also focus on creating a uniquely immersive and engaging experience for attendees, coming up with creative ways of using technology to accomplish your event goals. In all, there’s a pretty wide range of services offered by different AV companies. So how do you distinguish between them? How do you find the right company for your event?
FINDING THE RIGHT COMPANY FOR YOUR EVENT
One of the most important things to note is that you don’t have to use your venue’s in-house AV company. Many venues will push you to use their preferred provider, but they’re often more expensive and less flexible than outside organizations. So do some shopping around, and (as you do) think about these questions:
- What’s their experience with your type of event? Look for an AV company that has experience providing services for events like yours. Ask for their portfolio and references from previous clients. Ensure that they have the expertise and knowledge necessary to handle the specific technical challenges of your event.
- What kind of equipment do they offer? Not everyone needs a 50-foot LED wall and professional stage lighting, but you still want to make sure that the organization you’re partnering with can meet your event’s needs. (You’ll also want to make sure that their equipment is well-maintained and up-to-date. Outdated or faulty equipment can lead to technical issues during the event and compromise the quality of the experience.)
- Are they flexible? Look for an AV company that can provide flexible solutions based on your event’s unique requirements. They should be willing to work with you to create a tailored plan that meets your needs and fits within your budget.
- What kind of support do they offer? Will a project manager be on-site during your event? Will they have the staff needed to troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise? You want to work with a team that will be proactive and accessible the night of your event.
- How thorough is their communication? Your AV company should have clear and open communication with you throughout the planning process (and during the event). They should provide regular updates and ensure that any changes or problems are communicated to you as quickly as possible. They should also meet with you afterwards for an event debrief, especially if your event is recurring.
- How competitive is their pricing? Request a detailed quote from the AV company that covers all the services you require. Make sure that the quote is transparent and includes all of the necessary equipment, setup, operation, and technical support. Compare the pricing with other AV companies to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal.
Ultimately, it’s important to choose an AV company that has the necessary experience, expertise and equipment. It’s important that they’re flexible, supportive, effective communicators, and that their services fit within your budget. Taking the time to choose the right AV company can make a world of difference in your event experience.
At Utopia, we’ll work with you to thoroughly understand your goals and help you create a truly unforgettable experience. Our mission is to be your lifelong event partner. Set up a discovery call with us here to see if our services are right for you!