January 9, 2015

Event Production Safety Considerations

When planning an event it is important to keep in mind the safety of your production staff, volunteers and of course your attendees. Here are seven safety considerations for producing your next event .

1. Power considerations

It is crucial to ensure that all equipment is properly grounded and in good condition.  Equipment should be tested frequently and visually examined for loose connections, exposed wiring or casing damage before connecting to secure power.

2. Tripping hazards

Cables should be tucked along walls, under cable mats or taped down to surfaces.  Stand legs need to be positioned outside of heavy traffic areas or properly marked with reflective or glow in the dark tape if they are in busy areas.

3. Rigging considerations

If you have a rigger working in your space they need to be certified and competent.  Riggers are trained to have their tools and items connected by safety cable to the structures they are working on and around.  Your attendees and other staff should not be working directly below a rigger and they should be wearing safety helmets if they are in the vicinity of potential falling objects.

4. Lifting

This is the most common form of injury in event production.  Lifting with the legs, asking for help and getting your body as close to the object you are lifting are all necessary preventative measures.  Clients and staff should not be ashamed to ask for help with larger or heavier objects and staff should not be asked to rush load in and load outs.  Steel toed boots are highly recommended to prevent objects from injuring toes.

5. Weather

Wind gusts can knock over speakers, blow away tents and take out materials hanging from truss potentially causing injury to your guests.  The production company should know how much wind shear the banners and other objects are able to withstand.  All production equipment should be rated for outdoor use or be located in secure weather resistant areas.  Power cables should be run in dry locations and have the proper safety rating for an outdoor environment.

6. Hearing Considerations

Your audio technician should be considerate of your hearing but the responsibility ultimately lies on the individual to not expose themselves to high sound pressure levels for even short duration’s of time.  Hearing loss can occur with sudden bursts of high sound pressure levels or by long term exposure to levels as low as 85dB. Always keep a pair of ear plugs handy for yourself, and consider having some available to your guests.

7. Emergency planning

Should an emergency arise your event production team should have a plan in place which includes:

  • Alerting the public.
  • Getting attendees and staff out of immediate danger.
  • Helping the disabled to safety.
  • Alerting emergency crews if necessary.
  • Attending to the wounded until emergency staff arrive.

These are just a few of the many important safety considerations for an event.  Do you have a safety plan in place?  What are some of the considerations we may have overlooked?

December 27, 2014

Event Production – 6 tips for planning and execution

Event Production at MacEwan Hall Ballroom

Organizing your event production can be a daunting experience. Here are six steps to make sure you get the best results from your production team.

1 – Know your attendees.

What do your attendees expect? If they are not avid tweeters, do they really need a social media wall? What type of music do they listen to? What  is their age bracket?

Knowing your audience will help you to focus on the important aspects of your production.

2 – Have a clear understanding as to what type of event you are planning to host.

You should have a clear vision of your event so that you can effectively describe your needs to the event production technicians. A competent technician will be able to translate your description into a fluid technical plan.

If your vision is unclear the quoting process will be more tedious and you could be left with ineffective lighting design, sound reinforcement or video projection.

3 – Set a realistic budget.

Setting a budget can be difficult if you are new to the event production industry, so be sure to gather quotes from multiple sources. By comparing quotes from multiple suppliers, you will be able to discover more precisely what is required from each vendor.

Stay within your budget and know what parts of your vision you are willing to sacrifice should you have too.

Beware of the hidden costs that the vendors may not provide in your initial quotes. Ask the venue’s event services staff if they charge for things like  power outlets, genie lifts and parking.

4 – Work within your wheelhouse.

Hire professionals to take care of the details that you have little knowledge of.  You may not be a sound engineer or a lighting technician, so hire a great audio and lighting production team (ahem) that you can count on to get the job done right.

This way you can be focused on your guest’s experience and let professionals in each corresponding field deal with minor details and troubleshooting.

5 – Use a master itinerary.

An itinerary is the single most important object in your binder, as it will help you manage your entire event.  Be sure to leave buffer room in between scheduled items on the day of so that you will not run behind due to circumstances out of your control.

Your event itinerary should include details such as, the time you can access the loading dock, when the slideshow will run and when the band will come back on stage for their second set.

6 – Go with the flow.

If on the day of for some reason your itinerary is not matching up with what is happening in real time, have no fear.  Go with the flow, inform your guests of on the fly of schedule changes and keep your cool.   If you convey a confident attitude your guests will likely be none the wiser that there are any troubles behind the scene.

March 28, 2014

A sound tech’s dozen…

A recent event had us working with 12 wireless microphones.

While the event went smoothly — both of us were given roses at the end of the night — we figured this would be a great opportunity to discuss how we handled the receivers, and how we managed the channels accordingly.

We were working with…

• five single-channel receivers of the same model,
• four double-channel receivers,
• three organizers alternating microphones,
• and nine youth performers.

As you’ll notice in the top photo, each microphone had been taped and labelled – each with their channel on the mixing board (in circles), and some with their channel on their respective receiver (in squares). Labelling made it much easier to communicate with the performers and organizers to more easily diagnose which microphones required batteries, were being exchanged, or called for managing. We were careful to jot down the circled numbers for each performer or speaker as they picked up their microphone.

We’d also ran the receivers into the mixing board in order of receiver model. By running each receiver of the same model side-by-side into the mixing board, we could find which settings worked best for which receiver, and then adjust the following channels using the same model receiver to its precedent setting.

We’d also noted which microphones were being transferred or used by organizers, allowing us to mute the unused channels more easily. We’d also used headphones to identify which channels were being used through the Pre-Fader Levels — another great way to identify which speakers were using which microphones.

(Pro-tip: keeping a stack of a dozen batteries right next to the mixing board can be reassuring.)

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