No matter how big your vision for staging, lighting and production is, budget rules all. Here are ideas on questions to ask, new technologies to incorporate and tips for getting the best bang for different levels of your buck.
Stretching Small Budgets
> Put as much money as you can into content creation, whether it be video messaging, custom graphics or general branding. Allocate less money into staging because content is the most important element of an event. It makes your organization look more polished if everything is branded. Pre-produced videos, branded speaker templates and iPhone-compatible materials will help your small budget go a long way, and they can have life afterward on social media or other platforms.
> Consider a countdown video before the event begins. It builds anticipation to get the audience excited.
> Ask your AV company if it can showcase Twitter feeds on screens to keep people engaged and promoting the event.
> Live streaming is a wonderful new capability. For Church of the Nazarene General Assembly and Convention, we live streamed speeches to more than 40 countries with simultaneous translation in seven languages. Not everyone can travel, but members want to hear what’s going on or participate in any worship service.
> Stimulating visuals can be as simple as a prayer shawl wall we designed and diagrammed for United Methodist Women Assembly 2014 at Kentucky International Convention Center. It ended up being a cumulative display built during the conference and added to by members.
Maximizing Bigger Budgets
> Install LED panels where you can display a lot of graphic content on the screens and create many images together or program them to look like one image.
> Projection mapping allows you to cast images on many different surfaces. For instance, NBA’s Atlanta Hawks have shown cool graphics on the court during home games using projectors. With the right budget and right venue, you can easily do something similar. At the Ohio State University freshman orientation in Columbus’ Nationwide Arena, we did a “get to know the city” display for 7,000 students. We showed them the town by projecting locations, bus routes and how to get around on the floor.
> When it comes to pyrotechnics and special effects, a little goes a long way. Pyrotechnics are not only diverse in appearance but in size as well. You have to make sure the venue allows it, and then get the right permits. Confetti from kabuki drops and sound effects also make a nice spectacle.
> These are highly technical terms, but check to see if the AV team has Sony CineAlta and DSLR HD acquisition or Avid Nitris DX HD post-production capability that can produce video in high-definition. When you’re acquiring footage from someone or shooting original video for a meeting, they should be able to format it in HD for maximum effect.
> Instead of succumbing to death by PowerPoint, you can tell a story to a large audience with animation and video—and it lives on longer. Animation and graphics can be branded specifically for your event.
> Above all, get the production company involved early. With Church of the Nazarene in Indiana Convention Center, we were there 18 months in advance to talk about stage design and setup. If a production team is on-site at the beginning, they may see unique opportunities in the space that might not cost much but are still powerful. If you wait, you will miss those opportunities.