AOO Events has become a leader in live show production, due to its extensive experience in the field. The key to success for any live show is to properly plan out all the elements. Direct communication between departments is also paramount to the success of the live show. As most event professionals know, things can change very quickly during a live show and it is important to learn the basics to prevent mistakes or problems that could bring the show to a complete standstill. We recently talked with our CEO David Merrell on outlining his top tips for live show production.
- Site Visits Are Everything: Solely looking at the schematics of a location and images on a website is never enough. Explicit knowledge comes when you set foot in the location. Producers are able to gauge how difficult (or easy for that matter) the load in and out will be. Producers also become familiarized with the rules of the house, including whether it is mandatory to use in-house AV, if it is a Union house, and the do’s and don’ts of the venue. It’s also imperative to document the logistics of the site by capturing photos and videos. These will prove valuable tools to take back to your team so that everyone can wrap their head around the upcoming event.
- Have a Game Plan: Do your best not to walk into an event blind. It is important to spend the proper time going over all the details more than once. This should be done with the key players on your team. Your team’s varying prospective will help everyone to see the show from all angles. Once you have thoroughly reviewed all the elements, the necessary backup plan(s) will become much clearer. The game plan also includes the formulation of a production timeline for load in and out. Additional show timelines should exist for the show staff, as they work on a completely different schedule from the event production staff.
- Building your assets: In addition to production and show timelines, scripts should be started two to three weeks out. There will always be at least four to five versions of the script, depending on the complexity of the show and the number of chiefs that need to weigh in. Producers will need extra time to not only write, but build the consensus on the spoken word. “About two weeks before the show is when scripts should be written for anything that is spoken word, so producers can coordinate how acts will be introduced on stage,” says Merrell. Another tip; the Keynote or PowerPoint presentation (depending on whether you are using a Mac or PC) should be checked and double checked for formatting functionality, and whether the screen and projector will be so 4:3 ratio or 16:9 ratio. There is nothing worse than blank space projected onto the screen. Event producers should go through the presentation several times to confirm timing and animation. The number of inputs necessary for all potential assets to be presented on the screen also include the number of live camera positions, other potential video assets, and of course the backup logo or event slide for those rare moments when you have to substitute any of those feeds. Also remember to verify that the video switcher will be quick to bounce between all of the video assets. Again, there is nothing worse than a blank screen.
- Communication is key: It is one thing to create timelines and all the necessary assets to pull off a live show. It is another thing entirely to share them with your team. Sometimes we forget that while it may be clear in our heads, it won’t be in every else’s until you have gone through it with them. It is not enough to simply send them the timelines and assets. It is equally important to go through the timeline ad nauseam. Clear communication during the show is much easier with clear-com headsets. All show professionals that have input and timing responsibilities throughout the show must be in complete communication with the “show caller” and “stage managers.”
- No Rehearsal? No Show: Show producers should facilitate at least two rehearsals before show time. A meeting between the show director, stage manager, lighting designer, and sound designer is referred to as the Paper Tech. The Paper Tech is important, as it is the first time all the key personnel running the show are sitting down together to understand what needs to be accomplished. This is where adjustments can be made as you read through of the script and the running show time-line. A full technical run through on the day of the event allows the staff to get a rhythm with each other and the equipment they are working with. Both are important if you are going to work out any of the unforeseen glitches of a live show.
It is important to keep in mind that each live show will have its own unique traits. Always lead with professionalism in order to reap the rewards of a successful production.
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Featured image courtesy of Lucero Photography