Recently AV Strategies provided audiovisual support and multimedia production services for Matt O’Donnell at Tantalus Productions. Matt’s client, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, holds an annual awards program for top producing Real Estate Agents. This high-end event is a highlight for real estate agents from all over Metro Vancouver. With a new theme each year, Matt turned to AVS to help create the multimedia components designed to leverage the theme. This year’s event had a Las Vegas theme so all of the décor, graphics and opening video were created to bring the theme to life. AVS produced a high energy opening video to set the stage and then developed a PowerPoint template and motion graphic elements to enhance the overall theme of the evening. The event which took place in the Vancouver Convention Centre, West Ballrooms BCD included dual 13.5’ x 24’ screens plus a centre screen in the shape of the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. We created a mask for the centre screen so we could project an animated logo and award category graphics for each of the awards.
Under the direction of Matt O’Donnell at Tantalus Productions, AV Strategies developed the event logo and graphic design for the multimedia as well as the event program and other print materials. Once the initial design was complete, we storyboarded the Opening video which established the theme and got the attention of the audience right from the start. We also created the PowerPoint template so Matt could add the content including awards categories, and names & photos of each winner. This collaborative approach enabled us to focus on creating a dynamic design without spending a significant amount of time adding the specific show content.
Do they own the things they say? Many small companies claim to be a full service AV company but upon visiting their warehouse it can become clear that they only own a small portion of the equipment required to execute your show. While it is common for companies to cross-rent some gear, if the majority of the equipment is rented from another company then the chances of the technicians not being familiar with the gear can lead to delays in setup, missing components, equipment that is not functioning properly, etc.
Do they offer full service or do you have to find your own lighting company?
Some AV companies will help design an event with floor plans technical drawings etc. Others expect the client to provide all that.
Do they have long term clients? Who are they? Clients that provide credible reference.
One location may be fine if you are doing a single event but how will your AV supplier support you in other cities. Do they have a service strategy to provide national support?
Often AV companies budget for what they have been asked for but they are many other things you may not have considered such as speaker timers, comfort monitors, back up computers, enough wireless mics, etc. Some companies don’t include these on their original quote and then ding the client later for add-ons.
Are they able to offer other services such as webcasting, content creation, event apps. It is common to bring in a webcasting company, for instance, but it a much more seamless process if your AV provider can offer that service, providing the y have the expertise to execute it properly. Again, it is important to see a portfolio of shows and to ask, “what components of this show did you do”, and get a reference from that client to verify. Often, the most impressive elements you see in a picture of a show are the set and the lighting and often the AV company had nothing to do with those components of the show. If you are looking for a turnkey AV provider, ask the right questions.
Managing the AV at a large conference with multiple breakout rooms can be challenging for any AV company. Often, breakout rooms are an afterthought and are not given the proper focus that they should. The event team is focused on the plenary sessions and making sure that the main room goes well, but the attendees spend as much, or more time in breakouts as they do in the plenary.
The breakout experience can have a huge impact on the attendee experience and an even bigger impact on the presenter experience. Your reputation as an event planner or conference organizer relies on presenters being comfortable and that they have been given what they asked for and what they need. Often breakouts are set up without the proper equipment, or any technical support.
At AVS we have an electronic form that is completed by the presenters who will be using the breakout rooms and they fill in exactly what they need. We then vet those requests to ensure we are providing everything that may be needed. We think about wireless mics, flip charts, projection, sound system, etc. Inexperienced presenters may think they don’t need a sound system but once the room is full of people it becomes obvious that it is hard for attendees near the back to hear. They may also think their video can be heard from the tiny speaker in a projector whereas in-reality, a proper sound system is required.
Having technical support available is also very important. How many times do presenters show up in a meeting room to find a projector and a VGA cable and nothing else? Presenters don’t always travel with the adapters they need to connect their computer, nor do they necessarily have the knowledge to connect their device to a projector. These days there are numerous types of proprietary connections and connection adapters. It is important to have adequate technical staff to help presenters get connected. If you have 10 rooms and one technician, then the chances are many of those presentations will experience a delayed start. A good rule of thumb, is to have one tech for every 3-4 breakout rooms.
The success of managing multiple breakout rooms comes down to good planning. Make sure you have the right info from presenters; do they need a projector, are they relying on having an internet connection, what is their level of expertise, do they have their own clicker and laser pointer, will your AV company have those things on-hand if presenters don’t bring them? As conference organizers, pay attention to the details of your breakout room requirements and choose an AV supplier that is going to support them properly. You shouldn’t have to be chasing down the in-house AV tech who is on another floor setting up equipment for another client. Dedicate the resources necessary and you won’t have 15-20 minutes of panic every time the sessions start.
Event apps have gained in popularity over the past few years. Event planners are using mobile apps to automate and modernize many functions that have traditionally been done in a manual, paper-based way. Numerous developers and start-ups have launched mobile event apps and they are growing and improving at a rapid pace. The industry is now maturing and even though there are many players, the leaders are rising to the top.
In a world where “going green” is a major consideration for companies large and small, the event app makes a lot of sense. The biggest advantages of using an event app are to reduce paper and waste and to provide more timely information. Printed programs and signage can change multiple times and are often outdated before they are printed. Apps are also replacing most forms of written communications for delegates and attendees. We are also in a world where immediate, up-to-date information is expected to be available at a touch of a button so event planners are jumping onboard.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways a mobile event app can modernize your next event starting with registration. Apps aren’t intended to replace registration software but most are able to pull information from the reg software into the event app. This way all the attendees can be listed on the app and shared with other attendees. This is perfect for networking and figuring out who’s who in an organization. You can even upload a picture of every attendee or let the attendees do that themselves by customizing their own profile and adding additional contact info, a personal bio, and other pertinent information.
The most important document any attendee needs is the event agenda…where to go and when. The mobile app enables planners to keep the agenda completely up-to-date at all times and it goes a step further. It can show attendees exactly what room to go to and bring up a venue floor plan to guide attendees to the right place.
What if you make a change at the last minute? Say you have to move breakfast from one room to another. You can send out a push notification directly to the mobile device of every attendee, alerting delegates of the change. Want to see the bio of a keynote speaker? Go to the agenda and click on the name of the presenter and their bio can come up directly on your phone. Maybe you want to do that in reverse. Maybe there is a keynote presentation you don’t want to miss. Click on the presenter’s bio and the app will tell you exactly where and when they are speaking. Take it a step further by creating your own personal agenda. Every attendee can select the sessions they want to see and put them in their own personalized agenda that sends them notifications when their selected agenda items are about to start.
The features and applications are endless and for the most part, limited only by your imagination. There is live polling, analytics, a city guide, a place to download pertinent event documents, social media integration, photo gallery, the list goes on. You can even have a scrolling list of event sponsor ads to help monetize the cost.
Many app developers require companies to make a large investment to license their own custom app for enterprise use while other developers license container apps to resellers who can then personalize and brand the app for their specific end clients.
AV Strategies has partnered with QuickMobile, one of the industry’s leading Event App developers. As a licensed partner of QuickMobile, we can create and deliver customized QuickMobile event applications. Our app provides cutting edge experiences for attendees by providing valuable, meaningful, and timely event information and delivers a richer event experience for attendees while providing detailed analytics and insights for event planners.
We can do all of this in a way that conforms to your company brand including your logo, colours, and company graphics. Clients can choose which features they want to use and which ones are not required. AV Strategies then builds out your own personalize app that meets your exact requirements. And because we are a licensed reseller there is no need for our clients to purchase their own enterprise license. We have done that for you and can in-turn, provide our clients with their own personalized event app.
With a simple download from either iTunes or Google Play, attendees can enjoy all of the features we have mentioned. The app also allows organizers to deliver videos and text welcome message, send out important event updates, and more. You can even use it to start promoting the event and grow engagement in the weeks leading up to the start of your meeting. The app is supported on all Apple and Android devices and on any other devices through a mobile web version. To find out more about our event app solution visit our website or download our info sheet with pricing.
St. Lawrence Market is a piece of Toronto history. Since 1903 the Market has been a culinary focal point in the city. Earlier this month, AV Strategies partnered with Rob Laughlin of 6degrees to help execute audiovisual and production services for the sold-out, “Evening at the Market” event, where merchants came together to showcase some of their best and most extravagant culinary delights.
The City of Toronto engaged 6degrees and our AVS team to literally roll out the red carpet by installing 500 square feet of red carpet to welcome the 2,000 guests. We also lit the front façade of the building with animated colour logos and a wash of moving coloured light patterns.
Inside, we provided audio and lighting for the DJ, jazz band, and aerial performers who were suspended from the ceiling on silks and large hoops. We also installed 5, very large, decorative chandeliers and a zoned PA system to deliver audio throughout both levels of the venue.
Our AVS Toronto team of, Antoine Lebrun, Majd Arkilo, and branch manager, Adam Hughes were amongst the crew on hand to ensure the event ran smoothly. We are extremely proud to have been involved in this very successful event at one of Toronto’s most iconic venues.
Many people don’t understand resolution and how it affects image quality and file size. Often I have needed a logo or photograph for a client’s project and they have downloaded or grabbed it from the Web. While high-resolution images can be found on the Web, grabbing an image directly from a Website usually results in capturing a low-res image that is unusable for other applications. Let’s talk about resolution and how to know the resolution of a given image.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image. Resolution is represented by the width and height of the image as well as the total number of pixels. For example, an image that is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high (1920×1080) contains 2,073,600 pixels (or 2.1 Megapixels). Megapixels is usually how a camera’s resolution is measured while images that we work with on our computer are usually referred to by the pixel width and height. Your computer screen is set at a particular resolution. The larger the screen, the larger you likely have your screen resolution set. Many screens today have a native resolution of 1920×1080, which is the same resolution of an HD television. Now, if your monitor is set to 1920×1080 and you open up an image that is 640X480, it will only fill up a part of your screen. If you scale the image to fit your screen it will start to lose quality because you are stretching the pixels. If you open up an image that is 2400×1350 then the image will be larger than your screen size and you would have to scale it down to fit.
There is one other measure we should talk about. That is the dpi or dots per inch. DPI is much less important than resolution. The main things to know about dpi is that if an image is going to be shown on-screen like in a PowerPoint presentation or on a Website then your image doesn’t need to be any larger than 72 dpi. Images that you intend to print should have a dpi of 300 or greater. If you are making changes to a photograph that you intend to print then you will need to ensure your image is set to 300 dpi in your photo editing software. An image set to 300 dpi makes the file size much larger so if your image is for use on-screen then reduce the dpi to 72 and the file size will be significantly smaller.
I have found that many people who are not familiar with using image editing programs don’t know how to tell the resolution of an image. Many people will ask what file size an image needs to be to be usable in a PowerPoint presentation. The reason why the file size in not a good indication of image quality is because an image that is 1920×1080 and 72 dpi will have a much smaller file size than the same size image at 300 dpi. Likewise, a 1920×1080 tiff could have a file size that is 10 times larger than 1920×1080 jpeg. The best way to tell the size of an image is to open it in Windows Photo Viewer or Windows Live Photo Gallery and right-click on the image and select [Properties]. The Info Panel will show the pixel size and dpi of the image. On a Mac you can view the image in Preview and select [Show Inspector] from the Tools menu.
I hope this blog series has helped you to understand the various image file formats and how resolution affects image quality. Many articles on the subject can be found online for those who want to read more detail on the subject.
In my last blog post, I explained the difference between Vector and Raster images. This post is dedicated to explaining the most common file formats and how they are used and why to choose one format over another. Basically, all image formats are different ways of compressing an image so that the file size of the image is manageable. The trick is to compress the image so that it’s file size is low while retaining as much quality of the original image as possible.
There are two types of image compression; “lossy” and “lossless”. Lossless compression discards no information so it looks for efficient ways to represent an image without making compromises in its accuracy. Lossy compression formats accept some degradation in the image in order to achieve smaller file size. While the number of compression formats seems endless, some formats you may be familiar with are JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, BMP, or RAW. Here are some of the attributes of the most common formats:
TIFF – Tagged Image File Format (.tif)
JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group (.jpg .jpeg)
GIF – Graphic Interchange Format (.gif)
PNG – Portable Network Graphic (.png)
Do you know the difference between a jpeg, png, tiff, or a bitmap? Many people struggle to understand the differences between these file formats and which is best for their application. With so many image formats and resolutions, the topic is too much information to cover in just one blog post. Therefore, I am dedicating the next few posts to providing a basic understanding of the most common image formats, the difference between raster and vector images, and an overview of acceptable resolutions.
In this first of the three-part series, I will explain the difference between raster and vector graphics.
Vector images are graphics that are not resolution dependent. That means you can expand or blow-up a vector graphic to any size and it will retain it’s sharp edges and crisp appearance because the program uses the mathematical coordinates of each shape to redraw it whenever its size is changed. This is particularly important with logos and graphic shapes. Vector graphics are created in programs like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, and InDesign. The most common request that a graphics developer will have for their client is for a “.eps” version of their logo. EPS is short for Encapsulated Postscript. Many business professionals have a .eps version of their logo but are often unable to open it because they don’t have a program like Photoshop or one of the other vector based programs mentioned above. A little-known secret is that you can view a .eps file in the latest versions of PowerPoint and Keynote. Neither of these programs will open a .eps file but when a presentation is open you can choose to insert a photo and then select the .eps file you want to view.
Raster images, sometimes known as bitmaps, are different from vector images in that their resolution is finite. Photographs are a good example of raster images, which have a set resolution. Resolution is represented by pixels so if a photograph is 2500 pixels wide then once you increase its size beyond 2500 pixels, you will start to see a loss in quality.
Pictures found on the Web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster images made up of pixels. The larger the image, the more disk space the image file will take up. For example, a 640 x 480 image contains 307,200 pixels, while a 3072 x 2048 contains 6,291,456 pixels. Since raster graphics need to store so much information, developers have created image compression algorithms that reduce these file sizes. JPEG and GIF are the common compression formats but there are several other types of image compression formats that I will discuss in the next blog post.
A brand is much more than a logo. A corporate brand is how customers, the public, media, suppliers or any other group perceives a company. It is your company’s personality. A company’s brand is a result of many things. Sure, the company logo, brand colours, font, and tagline are important but it also includes how you answer the phone, how you conduct business, how you respond to the public or to the media during a crisis, the music people hear when they are on hold, the way you communicate, the photographs you use, the style of your company promotions. The list goes on and they all form “the brand”.
With so much effort put into developing a positive and consistent brand, it is natural for companies to want to protect their brand and ensure it is used properly. After all, it is not just the advertising department or agency that is developing branded content. There are so many groups who are using your brand from, employees, marketing agencies, media outlets, and other organizations, not to mention anyone who is active on social media.
Because so many groups have an influence on your brand it is important to develop strong guidelines to ensure the brand is used properly. As graphics, multimedia, and video producers, we are often responsible for creating content that utilizes a company’s logo, text, tagline or colours. To use them properly we rely on easy to read guidelines that help us understand the brand and serve as a useful tool to become stewards of the brand.
All too often we see brand guidelines that are a list of don’ts or can’ts rather than a helpful guide. Brand guidelines are often focused strictly on how to use the logo, fonts, and colours in print documents and they don’t address the requirements of video and multimedia.
Groups within organizations who are responsible for ensuring the brand is used properly and consistently can become seen as the ‘brand police’ rather than a helpful resource. We have actually dealt with companies that have asked us NOT to use their logo because they didn’t want to face the brand police. That seems a bit overboard and counterproductive.
The other side of that coin is when we see a company that has no brand standards and no controls and their brand is so diluted that it is hard to know how it should be used.
Having been in the situation many times with a variety of companies of all sizes I would say to any organization that they should develop strategies and guidelines around their brand. They should have consistency. Their employees should have a consistent email signature and use a consistent logo. These are all good things and they should be documented in a way that is easy to share and most importantly, easy to follow. Think beyond the printed document. Multimedia and video are important communications tools and have their own unique requirements and challenges when providing a consistent brand message. Engage marketing companies and production companies in a positive way to build brand advocates rather than agencies who avoid contact with the brand police.
Fireworks Marketing Group and their sister company Loungeworks are one of Vancouver’s premier event producers and a trusted partner of AV Strategies. We have provided audiovisual and production support to Fireworks on many shows in support of their largest customers.
This past year, Fireworks has conceptualized and designed some innovative event treatments for their clients that incorporate the use of ‘Transformit™ fabric architecture. Transformit™ structures are large stretched fabric architectural shapes that are lightweight, easily transported, easy to rig, and offer extremely cost effective solutions for stage sets, space definition, and decor. The fabric is stretched over an aluminum frame in a variety of shapes and provides the perfect surface for lighting and video projection.
As a Canadian dealer for Transformit™, Loungeworks has incorporated these structures into a variety of show designs and interior spaces. Fireworks/Loungeworks has engaged us to provide the audiovisual solution to many of their events that include projecting graphics, imagery, and video onto these free-flowing surfaces.
Last year Destination BC was looking for a fresh new approach for their annual update to British Columbia’s tourism industry. They turned to Fireworks Marketing Group to create a stunning stage design that used Transformit™ as a way to deliver an immersive experience intended to communicate, augment and accentuate Destination BC’s message and brand.
In partnership with Fireworks, we developed all of the multimedia graphics and formatted Destination BC’s scenic imagery to project onto the Transformit™ surfaces. We incorporated a Mac with a triple head video card fed to our Christie 15K projectors through our Christie Spyder video processor. The result was a stunning and unique look that created a high level of audience engagement.
We are proud to have been asked by Fireworks Marketing Group to be a part of this exciting project.