King A/V Update 1/22: Clients and Venues Feature, Uplighting, Pipe and Drape

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King A/V Update 1/22: Clients and Venues Feature, Uplighting, Pipe and Drape

Happy snow days, folks.

As King Audio Visual gets moving through 2015, we want to share with you what's new and what we'd love to work on in the new year

Clients and Venues Page  

We're happy to announce that we've added a page to showcase some of our favorite clients and venues.  I know there's plenty we missed, and it'll always be growing, so if you've worked with us in the past, please shoot us a message, and we'll get you set up with a page.  And if you haven't worked with us, send us one too.  We'd love to talk to you.

The list has no sort of order to it.  It'll just be updated and rotated as it grows.  Hopefully it sends some traffic to all our friends out there.

LED Uplighting and Pipe and Drape

2014 saw a huge increase in our clients' demand for accents to improve the atmosphere of their events.  We heard their voices and finally purchased plenty of pipe and drape and LED uplights to meet their needs.  We've always worked with uplights and pipe and drape, but our quantities were limited, which drove costs up a bit.   Now that we've upgrade our stock, we don't cross-rent anymore and can give even better prices and options for your next events.

Moving into DC and Northern Virginia

If you need anything in the MD area, we've always had you covered, but with a good year in 2014, we've expanded our team and expanded our reach.  We're now working more events in the DC and Northern Virginia areas than ever before.  If you have any events in DC or Northern Virginia, shoot us a message for a quote or give us a call if you need assistance planning your event.

Thanks again!

----
Matthew King
King Audio Visual
410-465-7600
matthewking@kingaudiovisual.com

 

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2014 Year in Review:  Good Days Behind Us and Great Days Ahead

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2014 Year in Review: Good Days Behind Us and Great Days Ahead

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thanks for helping King Audio Visual have a great year of growth with great new event and venue partnerships.  Thanks to you, we've been expanding our warehouse space and getting plenty of new equipment, as well as finding some uses for our rarely used stock.

2014 Highlights:

1) 8' x 24' Fast-fold Screen

Yea, it's pretty wide.  We've had this screen in stock for forever, but it's barely ever been used in the years we've had it.  So we convinced US First to give it a try for one of their qualifying rounds at River Hill High School.  Using three projectors and a little magic, we set up two HD cameras (one for each of the competition areas, and scoreboard all on one screen.

It worked out pretty great.

2) Pixilated NYE Party

This was a fun one.  Working with our friends over at Pixilated Photobooth, we helped set the mood for the evening.  With a few gobos, lots of uplighting, and some magic lighting for the DJ, the house went crazy at Geppi's Entertainment Museum.

Pixilated had three of their beuatiful, custom photoboots set up and got everyone ready to party.

Once the house filled up, the dancing got everyone going the whole way through their long hall-way.  Our uplights took a beating from all the folks, but they stood up to the deluge of moving feet.   

3)  Paul Rabil Foundation Fundraiser @ 1840s Ballroom

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We were already looking forward to this one, but our tech's eyes lit up when he saw Maryland Live! Casino bringing in the tables. 

The Paul Rabil Foundation let their guests bet their money away or donate via silent auction.  The Maryland Live! Casino tables were LED lit to match up with the blue uplights we put in.

Altogether, a swanky, lovely event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Third Party A/V Production vs In-House Providers: Cost, Commitment, and Quality

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Third Party A/V Production vs In-House Providers: Cost, Commitment, and Quality

photo credit: Eric B. Walker via photopin

Recently, I lost a bid on a large event that I was excited to have the chance to produce.  It was one of those events where I absolutely knew we were the right fit for a great, new client.  I lost it because a certain hotel, which I will not name, had the client sign a contract that stated they would be charged exorbitant fees if they brought in a third party production company for their audio visual needs.  Sadly, they didn't try to fight the clause, but I'm very happy to say that I'm hopeful they'll come our way when they do the event again next year.  

I want to take this as an opportunity to inform and remind everyone that your venue of choice should not monopolize your options for the production of your event, whether it's your catering choices or audio visual production.  

If there's a clause in your contract that prohibits the use of third party audio visual companies, contest it.  At the very least, you'll be able to use your quotes from those third parties to negotiate with your venue.  There's a steep learning curve to handle when trying to navigate the politics and the business of working with a new venue.  Most hotels and conventions center have in-house audio visual providers or, at the very least, a preferred lender that somehow provides the hotel with a cut of their profits.  Thus, many venues are incentivized to build their contracts in way that strong-arms you into using their in-house services before disclosing the costs and quality of their offerings.  If you assure yourself the freedom to choose from a third party company, you can judge the third party and the hotel's offerings on a level playing field.  Most of the time, the third party will win out where it matters: Cost, Commitment, and Quality.

Cost: Where Is Your Money Going?

Anyone who has ever paid more to rent a projector from a hotel than it would have cost to buy two at Best Buy understands that the price of an event can get jacked up enormously when using in-house A/V.  The $400 a hotel charges for the daily use of one projector has the spoils normally split with $200 going to their in-house A/V company and $200 to the hotel.  (Maybe with a percentage to going to one or two other parties.) 

What does that $400 get you?  Probably an out-of-date projector that doesn't even meet the lowest standards of most production companies.  Third party A/V providers have to constantly update their equipment or get left in the dust by competitors.  Our company, King Audio Visual, rents top-of-the-line projectors out starting at $100 for a daily rental of a 3000 lumens projector.  That same $400 will get you a very nice, 6500 lumens HD projector for the day.  

Commitment: Where Are Their Priorities?

Hotels and convention centers are enormous establishments with a billion moving parts.  To them, a single event brings in money, but it's only one event among many, many clients.  Even with an attentive sales team, there are many aspects of your event that can get overlooked for the sake of the different priorities a large venue deals with on any give day.  If you use an external audio visual provider or production company, you become the top priority immediately.  Now, the equipment available to you isn't limited to the equipment owned by the venue, and you can customize your event however you see fit.  

Many of our clients have been with for many years, and we can mold our offerings to any venue they choose.  For the Maryland Society of Accountants, we provide numerous webinars every year at multiple venues across the entire state.  You may develop that sort of relationship with some venues but you'll still be limited by their offerings.

Quality: When Was The Last Time...

Above, I mentioned being wary of spending too much on out-of-date equipment that often doesn't get updated by venues.  Really, you just don't want to pay to use out-of-date, unkempt equipment, ever.  Audio visual technologies change rapidly and many venues don't have the staff or know-how to keep up with or afford changes.  While most consumers have already switched over to High-Definition-everything and many third party A/V providers are eagerly moving onto 4K quality displays cameras, I still see hotels using 1500 Lumens XGA projectors.  Your HD video isn't going to look so hot on that.  Do yourself a favor and get more information on the equipment available from your provider or venue.  Then, do a quick Google search and see whether or not it's up to snuff with current trends.  It won't be hard for you to figure out who is providing you with the best quality equipment after that.

Read The Fine Print

More than anything I've mentioned above, read your contracts and, if something looks fishy, ask about it.  If it is fishy, negotiate.  Below, you'll find a clause that you should add to all of your contracts, even if you decide to use in-house providers.  Trust me, it's a life-saver.

Buyer will not accept or agree to any proposal or contract containing conditions, terms, or clauses which unreasonably restrict our choice of third party suppliers for our event(s) at any meeting facility, whether such conditions are expressly stated in the proposal or contract, or whether they are contained in the general operating policies of the facility, be they published or unpublished.
Furthermore, Buyer will not accept or agree to any fees, surcharges, or penalties of any type charged by a meeting facility that are in any way based on or tied to our choice of third party suppliers, whether such fees are expressly stated in the proposal or contract, or whether they are contained in the general operating policies of the facility, be they published or unpublished.
This “Buyer’s rights regarding third party suppliers” clause shall be appended to all contracts that are executed by Buyer, and if it is determined that this clause is in conflict with any other clause, portion of any contract, or any general operating policy of the facility, then this “Buyer’s rights regarding third party suppliers” clause shall be deemed to take precedence over the other item(s) with which it is determined to be in conflict, unless specifically agreed otherwise.

 

Matthew King is the Director of Sales and Marketing at King Audio Visual and runs the new A/V and Events Services blog, Technically A/V.  He grew up in the audio visual industry  and has over 10 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry as a chef, event planner, audio visual technician, and operations manager.

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Should Your Next Event Include a Live, Streaming Option?

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Should Your Next Event Include a Live, Streaming Option?

Anyone who uses Skype or Google Hangouts is familiar with how simple it is to send live video. But is it suitable as a primary focus for your next event?  And if so, how do you incorporate it into your routine?

Once upon a time, the only people who could afford the exorbitant teleconferencing systems were CEO of major companies and organizations.  And the only people they could broadcast to were others in similarly high-profile jobs.  Then, the cloud happened.  Streaming became either free or pretty much free.  Apps such as AnyMeeting, GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect will allow you to connect up to 200 people to a full presentation, including a video stream, Powerpoint, audience polling and participation, and more.  Platforms like Livestream and professional Youtube Channels can help you develop an HD video channel to broadcast your brands and ideas.  Even those expensive teleconferencing systems have lost their mysticism.  You can connect your video stream to Bluejeans or a similar cloud transcoding systems and broadcast to Cisco or any of the other major conference systems.

Now that we have all these options -- and even better, that we can afford these options -- what do we do with them?  Well, that's not always as clear.  Right now, many of these streaming services and very good, even spectacular at their niche, but none suffice as the best option.  And sometimes, a streaming option might not be suitable for an event at all.  

I'll talk about some possibilities in a second, but first, here are some questions to keep in mind while considering a live, steaming option for your next event:

  • Is your event sold out?
  • What kind of quality video would you like?
  • Do you want a two-way interaction or just a broadcast?
  • Is your audience tech-savvy?
  • Does the presentation contain sensitive information?  
  • Does your presentation rely heavily on props and objects hard to catch on camera?  
  • Do you have an audience base that is incredibly busy?
  • Will it open up a dialogue that would normally be closed to your guests?
  • Are you going to record the event anyway?
  • Does your venue have enough broadband to support the stream?
  • Will your presenters embrace the platform? 

When A Sold Out Event Means More People Can Attend

Picture this:  One of the best event possibilities happens.  You book an event that sells out instantaneously.  You've planned for this, but demand is even higher than you could have imagined and there's a whole host of people who want to experience the event.  I'm sure your speakers would love to share their messages with more eyes and ear.  And there's probably no chance of booking more days at your venue.  Why not set up a Livestream or Youtube Channel to share the event with the masses who can't get on-site?  Certain platforms will even allow for sponsors and advertising, so depending on demand, you might even be able to bring in more guests as well as making a bit more coin on the side. 

Planning for something on this scale isn't that hard anymore, either.  All you need is a pretty basic video and audio recording computer setup and strong broadband, or if you're planning on using it again, you can invest in a Livestream Broadcaster or other dedicated streaming device to reduce the hassle even more.  Of course, you can always hire a videographer or production company to handle some of this for you, but if you really want to incorporate it, I recommend getting to know how it works. 

The Classic: Two-way Conferencing and Remote Presentations

Travel often isn't possible for everyone, even if they want to be an active participant in a meeting or event.  The ability to connect with colleagues over vast distances has been one of the primary drivers in turning live video streaming towards practical applications.  Nowadays, the solutions for two-way conferencing are numerous and wonderful.  

Personally, I've turned most of my clients over to AnyMeeting for larger groups and Fuze for smaller groups.  Both have free options. Both have great interfaces.  And, on both, you can share pretty much everything over any type of screen: computer, phone or tablet.  For better quality, you can use a video camera with a capture device for the main presenter and a moderator can mute audience questions until the time comes.  With practice, I know organizations who use remote presentations to provide their members with education credits for answering polls through their apps while watching the presenter from the comfort of their own office.

For a multitude of options and extreme flexibility (along with a hike in cost), Abode Connect and WebEx have options that can do all of the above and track viewer interactions, while integrating more complex aspects of their suites.

(Notable mention: Citrix GoToMeeting)

For Posterity: A Video Record

Everyone always says they wish they had a recording of that great lecture or meeting to share with their friends.  Why not add it to your streaming options?  You'll have a camera running and all of the options above include recording possibilities along with their live streaming platforms.  

The product you get from a stream may be closer to what you want than just a normal video recording anyway.  Some platforms save the recordings with the presentation files and video already in sync.  No hours of editing or outside companies needed.

In Conclusion: Why Not?

As you can see, the options are out there and they get better and more numerous with every day.  I definitely endorse getting to know these platforms at the very least.   It may not be right for your next event, but it definitely has its part to play in the events business and you should probably know what you're talking about.

 

 

Matthew King is the Director of Sales and Marketing at King Audio Visual and runs the new A/V and Events Services blog, Technically A/V.  He grew up in the audio visual industry  and has over 10 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry as a chef, event planner, audio visual technician, and operations manager.

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How I Learned About Event Production From Working in a Kitchen

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How I Learned About Event Production From Working in a Kitchen

 

My father started King Audio Visual ten years before I was born.  I was a toddler playing with microphones, overhead projectors, and hanging out in a cluttered office with a bunch of technicians.  I assisted with events in conventions centers and massive hotels in the Baltimore DC metro region before I had really even learned why such large aggregations of people were a boon to the companies who used our services. Some talents and techniques of the trade surely rubbed off on me while I grew up surrounded by those more experienced event professionals, but I didn't really understand many of the major aspects of what makes an event tick until after I started washing dishes and shucking oysters for a paycheck.    

A chef and an event professional both work on the broader spectrum of the hospitality industry.  We all serve at the whims of guests, and we're there to put a smile on their faces. However, the tensions felt in the events industry are normally sequestered to the run-up to event days rather than non-stop as in the kitchen.  For me, those fast-paced, breakneck encounters at core of the kitchen experience have helped build integrity and a forward-moving, positive attitude in my approach to the stresses of event production. Here are a few lessons I learned.  

Always Have Your Mise en Place -- Planning

The humble dishwashers, the efficient prep cooks, the soldierly line cooks, and the master chefs.  They don't just "wing it" when dinner service comes around.  They plan, and when the time comes, the kitchen brigade has every tool it needs to succeed.  A kitchen doesn't operate without its mise en place.  Those couple bites you take out of your table's appetizer can only happen because of many hours of multiple people planning and preparing for diners to arrive.  The chef designed your dish's master plan, carefully decided on it preparation, sourced its ingredients from local farms, trained the prep cooks and line cooks on execution.    

When diners arrive, the execution of every dish that gets sent out relies on line cooks having their mise en place, or all the pieces "put in place."  After many, many hours of preparation and work from a whole crew of individuals, every ingredient and tool is within an arms reach, sorted, and ready to be used. 

The key to a successful event isn't just a good, general idea of what's going to happen.  It's not even in simply planning out the needs of an event.  Success is a culmination of planning, expertise, organization, and grit.   Audio visual technicians, for example live by the same type of mise en place.  We set levels beforehand, diagram the flow of media, test, retest, and test again.   Before that event starts, we have all the things we need.  And then we have a backup of everything we might need should everything go wrong.

A Silent Kitchen is Never Good Thing -- Communication

Food would never make it to the dining room without the constant flow of kitchen lingo -- often a mixture of languages, humor, commands, cursing, and acknowledgement.  Every chef knows that when their kitchen goes silent, something is wrong or about to go horribly wrong.  Miscommunication from one person can bring down the entire line and grind a kitchen to a halt.  

We all know about communication leading up to the event.  Communication during the planning process is normally pretty smooth.  When event begins, though, that's where communication truly gets tested. Here are a few basics of the kitchen that heavily influence how I approach communicating during my events:

  • Answer with clear statements.  "Yes." "No."  "I don't know."  Don't dodge someone's questions or requests.  Don't try to over-explain something.  All are sign that you don't know what you're doing or you don't want to be doing it, and all lead away from the answer they are looking for
  • If you notice a problem, don't hide it. Be proactive in finding a solution or finding someone with a solution.  Mistakes happen.  Your client might not like that, but they definitely won't like a mistake that surprises them when you already knew about it.  Own your mistakes and find a way to make it work and not happen again.  
  • Write everything down.  Events and kitchens both run off of lists. Prep lists, set lists, orders, menus, whatever.  Even the best of the best can forget.  Writing it down is a proven way to bolster your memory even if you don't look at the list again.
  • Have a sense of humor.  Smiling is an incredibly important form of expression. It helps ease tensions, makes time fly, and builds relationships.
  • There's always knowledge and experience you can offer to someone else and something that you can learn from them.  Ask for help and offer help.   

The Seasonal Menu -- There's Always Something New to Learn

As soon as you perfect your technique for that beautiful pea shoot risotto, pea shoots are out of season. It's time for a change. Move on. Stay positive. And get comfortable with whatever your chef throws your way.  

In some ways, it's even more fast-paced in the events industry.  We get a day or maybe two with most events.  Venues change. Staff changes. Presenters change. The whims of our clients change.  Some events throw curveballs on a minute by minute basis. If you hesitate to accept the change, something will go wrong.  If you embrace the flux of events and learn from it, you'll grow rapidly in how you approach your entire business.  

Weed-whackers -- Pushing Through

Every good cook knows what it's like to be "in the weeds," feeling so far behind that you'll never get out of it.  It can happen on even the best nights.  "Weed-whackers" are the people who embrace the challenge and help pull the line back from the brink of meltdown. Cooks experience the need to push through on a daily basis.

At large and small events, there's a palpable tension that can be felt once it starts.  Even when it's going well, the line between success and failure is thin.  Being able to push through, keep calm and communicative, and -- more important than all else -- keep everything moving even when mistakes happen is the sign of a professional.  

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4 Ways Planners Can Use Event A/V Technicians as a Resource

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4 Ways Planners Can Use Event A/V Technicians as a Resource

...in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most magnificent of all castles, and my lady the best of all possible baronesses.
— Voltaire

Veteran event planners are a laser-focused category of human beings.  A vision of perfection drives them to plan for every aspect of an event and push everyone involved forward. That vision is why businesses and individuals hire them to manage our most important days.  Product releases.  Weddings.  Press conferences. Conventions.

In the flurry of planning an event, groups and planners often overlook the expertise of event technicians.  These technicians handle everything from A/V to staging to lighting to audience interactions.  Planners need to know that techs should be a golden resource before the event as well as during.  Often, the technicians are hired mostly to push through the event in a short time from testing equipment on-site to operating the event and breaking down  We all know, though, that planning ahead trumps all else when it comes to an event.  Here are some ways to include your technicians in planning your event.  

Share every piece of information you can.

Videos. Powerpoints. Photos. Music. Contact information. Schedules.  I repeat, share every piece of information you can.  This way, you never rely on a single copy of anything!

Some events are planned and set in stone, but for the most part, both large and small events start as an idea, form into a general plan, move through vendor contracts and venue bookings, and then become more solid as time moves on.  The audio visual experience is just a sliver of all that, and often, many changes happen without being shared by everyone involved.

Communication is the biggest asset for both the planner and technician.  Think about CC'ing the technician or A/V company in the planning process.  If you don't want us to chime in, we won't, but a paper (or email) trail helps to inform us about what changes and why.

Personally, I offer my email and phone number to event planners to give to their presenters and performers.  Some planners would rather not pass it on, but  it's a show of good faith that we want you to succeed.  For larger events, I offer to set up a group DriveBox, or OneDrive account, so that everyone involved has access to as much info as possible.

Ask them questions about the event venue and similar events they've produced.

Most of our technicians operate audio visual experiences at diverse venues regularly.  It may be your first time at venue or it might be a yearly event, but some technicians might operate out of that space on a daily basis.  Involving them more in the planning process taps into a perspective that can help you make an event more than just another notch in the board.  

Ask us what we think of your ideas.  Ask us if we have any of our own that might work.  Ask us about our favorite event we've produced at that venue.  This kind of knowledge is the power to exceed expectations.

Similarly, A/V techs love playing with new toys and new setups.  If you want something a little bit different at a new venue, it's possible with a little bit of planning.  Event apps? Audience polling?  Livestreaming?  Let them know if you want something that's a little bit different.    

Introduce everyone involved and run them through the itinerary.

Things can get crazy on the day of an event.  A planner might not be within reach and someone might need to mic'd or otherwise prepared for the event.  Something as simple as making sure the technician has been introduced to a performer or presenter before they go on can make a huge amount of difference.

For the days of an event, have a proper written itinerary with the names and info of all presenters and participants and their presentation time-frames noting the equipment they'll be using. Distribute copies for the technicians and everyone who needs to be involved.  Then, run them through the itinerary and introduce them to everyone involved.

Make sure everyone knows that "Early is on time."

We really do want to help you with any and all last-minute changes.  Sometimes we can't.

Last-minute changes are just a part of the events industry.  Thinking on our feet, having a truck/room full of back-up equipment, and knowing alternate solutions is pretty much the reason event technicians keep their jobs.  If an event has already begun, there're only so many things a technician can do without interrupting the event.

Chances are, the technician has been there for at least a couple hours before anyone else. Use that time to discuss changes and offer up their expertise to your presenters and performers.

Really, this is all to say that we realize we're all in the hospitality business.  All event professionals are employed at the whims of their clients and their clients' guests.  If planners and techs work together, a single day turns into an eventful memory.  

 

 

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Matthew King is the Director of Sales and Marketing at King Audio Visual and runs the new A/V and Events Services blog, Technically A/V.  Previously, he grew up in the audio visual industry  and has over 10 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry as a chef, event planner, audio visual technician, and operations manager.

photo credit: Daniel E Lee via photopin cc


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