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Are you planning a big conference and need to record the event? Is your boss saying things to you like “We need to capture the keynote speaker”, “We need to stream the event live” or, “We need to put the video on our website later”? Here is a guide to what questions you will need answered to contract the right types of companies.
Ask the following questions of the event planner, your corporate company contact or whomever is planning the event with you. The answers to these questions will allow you to pin point the right vendor, more likely vendors, for your company conference or event.
• Will there be a live audience? If the answer is yes, you will need an A/V (Audio Video) company. If the answer is no, you will just need to contact a video production company to capture the event. What is the difference between an A/V company and a video production company? Traditionally an A/V company will set up and maintain projectors, screens, speakers and microphones so that the audience can see and hear the speaker’s presentations but not record the event for later viewing. A video crew or production company will have professional cameras to record the speakers/ presenters.
• Do you need to capture video of the presenters during the conference for the audience? If the answer is yes, than you will need to get the A/V company in touch with the video production company so that they can coordinate video and audio feeds.
• Do the presenters have power point slides, video and any type of multi-media presentations? Hopefully the answer is yes, otherwise your attendees are going to be sleeping in their seats. You will need to relay this information to you’re A/V company.
• Do you need to record the presentations for live webstreaming? If the answer is yes, than you will need to contract a webstreaming company. What is a webstreaming company? This company takes the video feed from the video production company and encodes it for live viewing or VOD (video on demand). There are many webstreaming solutions. Most solutions package the video with power point presentations. They can also add things like polling and other interactive features. Potential firewall and bandwith issues will need to be resolved as well as installing the nessisary client. If you are going to stream live in one location, such as intranet in a corporate headquarters, getting around the company firewall, installing the proper clients and knowing the bandwidth are essential. The webstreamers will need to be in touch with your IT team months in advance to work out the live streaming details. If your viewing audience is spread over the U.S. or world, there are other details for the webstreamers to consider.
• Do you need to upload the event on a website or company intranet? If the answer is yes, you will need to add editing to the budget. The video production company or a post-production facility will take the original footage, add titles, graphics, edit the video into segments and compress the video. Get the production company in touch with your web team before the shoot. They should relay the proper deliverable. Your deliverable will be the compressed file types and media your web team can handle. For example: .mov, .flv or .mp4 on a FTP site or hard drive etc.
Organize the division of labor. Depending on how vendors are set up they will handle all or only part of what you need. Most often there will be 3 distinct companies that will work together (A/V company, video production company and webstreaming Company).
Read through your contracts. Once you have selected your vendors they will send you contracts. I know it sounds elementary, but you’d be surprised how many people schedule these types of events without reading the vendors’ contracts first. Watch out for day rates (number of hours on site) this includes set up and tear down and travel to and from the venue. Go over the schedule of the conference, discuss what needs to be captured and when the vendors can eat and take breaks etc. Keep your eye on the budget. Ask the vendors to include overtime in their budgets if applicable once they look at your schedule. Also ask your vendors to include site surveys, incidentals, travel costs and per diems. If your meeting is taking place at a union venue, you will need union vendors. Unions have special rules…when they take breaks, when they show up, who sets up the equipment. The person in charge of the location or the company that you are contracting with should walk you through these stipulations.
Planning Logistics, give your vendors all the details. A call sheet is the best way to get yourself and your vendors organized.
• Call Time and Wrap Time. A call time is the time the vendors show up before the event. Find out how much time each vendor needs to set up their gear before the event and liaison with the venue. An A/V company will set up one or more days in advance. The production company will show up hours before the event. The webstreamers will show up several days or weeks before to do a site survey, then four hours before the event. Wrap time is the time it takes to tear down gear, load it into the trucks and leave the venue.
• Load In and Out. The location will usually have instructions about how they like vendors to enter/ exit the building. Give these instructions to your vendors well in advance. You will save yourself precious time before the event and lots of phone calls from your vendors who are stuck outside.
• Insurance. The location may require that you or your vendors obtain special insurance; discuss that with the venue in advance.
• Contact On Site. If you will not be onsite, give your vendors contact information for a key person who will be able to answer questions at the event as they arise.
Get people talking. More than likely you’ll need to get friendly with co-workers in other departments. If your event is off site, become best friends with the people in charge of the venue. You know yourself best. Where you feel comfortable relay information. If you are unsure about a process, get the appropriate people talking to each other. Experienced vendors will know what questions to ask to execute their piece of the production puzzle as well as who they need to speak too.
Breathe! I guarantee that you will be bogged down by the details. Here is a checklist that will be helpful. Hang in there. Even seasoned professionals get confused. Rely on your vendors to get you through; open discussions of details will save you in the end. Bottom line, if you don’t find your vendors helpful move on to someone who is whiling to explain the process at the level you are comfortable with.