1. What are the latest trends in AV for events?
There is an increasing demand for higher quality content and equally high-spec screens to display them on. Companies also like sort of technologies that allow greater interaction between themselves and their customers, such as 3D and iPads (see below)
2. What new products have launched this year (please describe what their functions are)?
iPads are proving to be very popular. We initially purchased 10 in May, but due to demand from clients we decided to invest in more units. We now have 45 iPads, both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi- + 3G versions. There functions are pretty much what you want them to be as they are very versatile.
3. How can organisers look to ultilise these products for their events? Please provide examples of how they might be used.
The iPad benefits our various clients, whether they are venues, design agencies or event organisers, as it’s an innovative and interactive product. There’s no one practical application for this technology. It can be used in many ways, from data collection to games and quizzes. Our DBpixelhouse division, which specialises in the provision of state-of-the-art 2D and 3D graphics, animation and interactive content, can design iPad apps for use by clients at specific shows depending on their needs and what they wish to achieve, such as entertainment or distribution of corporate information.
4. Please give a real example of how this technology has been used successfully at an event (including client name, venue etc if possible).
(NB I’m unable to reveal details about the event or client)
For a recent event we designed an app that allowed the end client’s customers to view various information, documents and studies on the iPad. The app also allowed customers to email selected items to themselves. This was a bespoke app specifically for that show and the end-client was very happy with it.
5. Are there any downfalls to these products?
The only real downfall I can think of is that you can’t leave them lying around unattended as someone may just walk off with them.
6. What impact has 3D technology had on events?
3D technology does offer a certain ‘wow’ factor. We had a great response when we designed and installed a 3D holographic projection theatre at the Farnborough and Paris air shows, which was used to play a virtual presentation of the client’s latest aircraft engine complete with a holographic male presenter ‘standing’ at the side of the stage. Some companies are spending a lot of money on 3D and it’s quite a big thing in the live events environment, however, the application of 3D technology is still in the infancy stage and it’s only really being used by those with the biggest budgets due to the cost of creating the content.
7. Similarly, what impact has virtual technology had on events?
Again, virtual technology does look impressive and will certainly grab attention, but as with 3D, the technology is still a little too expensive for many clients. It will take time for the technology to mature and become more accessible.
8. How are clients reacting to these technologies?
There has been a positive reaction from clients and there’s a demand for it. Our design agency clients will always be interested in hearing about the newest technologies on the market. They will come to us with an idea, or creative brief, and we’ll assess if it’s feasible from a technology point of view. In terms of the end clients, it does tend to be the bigger companies that will invest in 3D and virtual technology for their event.
9. What advice would you give to someone looking to introduce 3D content or virtual technology into their event?
Our DBpixelhouse division creates content, like 3D animation and graphics so this advice comes from experience – the content has to be correctly designed AND displayed in order to achieve the maximum impact.
Successfully designed content must be clear and concise, memorable, relevant and targeted to the event’s audience. Then, once the design is complete, the right sort of display system has to be utilised. If displaying complex 3D graphics, you’d have high spec screens to show it on. Conversely, if your content only requires a standard screen then use a standard screen. There’s no need to spend your budget on an expensive high-end display system. A responsible AV company will always advise the use of the appropriate display system for individual needs, not the most expensive or hi-tech.
10. How can organisers stay abreast of the ever-developing event technology solutions?
Organisers have access to an incredible amount of advanced event technology, which has the potential to turn an ordinary event into an extraordinary one. But it’s a mistake to think that any event will be an automatic success simply by using the latest and most dynamic technology available. From an AV point of view, I’ve always advised clients that it’s not the technology you use, but how it is used that is crucial in complementing particular needs and requirements.
The first thing organisers should do is partner with a supplier that can be trusted to recommend the right event technology solutions. Organisers shouldn’t have to stay abreast of the technology available. That’s the supplier’s job. It’s my firm opinion that by being upfront and honest with customers about which technology they should use helps develop a degree of trust between the supplier and organiser. That way, organisers have complete confidence that the systems being recommended are the best for their particular needs.
11. Do you think AV often plays second fiddle to other event requirements? Why?
It depends on the event and the event organiser. Some organisers may look to reduce costs by cutting down on the AV offering as it can be seen as a luxury. However, progressive organisers recognise that we live in a digital age and people want to go to events and see AV technology being used in an effective and intelligent way. The correct use of AV technology can also help reduce costs. For example, our ecoXpress system benefits exhibitors as it removes the need for printed brochures and corporate material at events. Therefore, exhibitors don’t have to spend money on the production, transportation and storage of printed material. Instead, ecoXpress allows for the electronic distribution of information.
12. Where would you say it came in the pecking order (i.e. along with catering, venue hire, entertainment etc)? What does this mean for you?
It’s difficult to describe in general terms what the pecking order would be as it depends on the individual event. Some events by their nature may require more live entertainment and interaction than AV technology. I think a successful event is based on getting the right balance of things like technology, content, entertainment etc.
13. Why is it important for organisers to invest time and money in AV? Please give examples of past events to illustrate your point.
When used correctly AV provides a visually stunning addition to an event, as it helps grab attention, allow interaction with potential customer and ensure that all important ‘wow’ factor, which separates ordinary events from extraordinary ones.
14. Are costs still a problem for your clients? In what way is the recession still playing a part?
The current economic climate does mean that the industry is facing a tough time, but as a supplier, it’s our responsibility to continue to service clients with the best AV solutions whatever their budget. We provide bespoke solutions, so a client can give us a general brief about what they want and what budget they have in mind and we’ll come up with an AV solution to fit that brief.
15. What new products can we expect to see coming into the marketplace over the next few months/year?
Interactivity is the buzz word in the industry, so I expect to see more products that allow greater interaction between companies and their customers. In terms of playback systems (such as PCs) because content is becoming very media rich more powers computers and more sophisticated graphic cards will be required.
16. What will the Olympics mean for the AV industry?
From a DB point of view, we’d love to be involved with the type of contracts that involve kitting out the likes of media centres with IT and AV systems, as well as providing internet and telecommunications systems to temporary venues, just like we recently did at 2010 Farnborough International Airshow.
17. Do you anticipate there being a huge shortfall in kit?
While there will be other events and shows taking place in the run up to, and during, the Olympics I’m sure companies supplying AV will be able to source enough equipment to meet the demand.
18. What preparations are you making?
None at the moment
19. Is there any business you have won for 2012 that you can tell us about?
Not won any business
20. Do you think LOCOG is leaving it too late to put out hardware tenders?
Not really. There’s still just under two years to go.
21. What does the long-term future hold for event AV?
In terms of rental, there will always be a demand of event AV as renting equipment makes sense for event organisers. Firstly, it immediately reduces an organiser’s costs since it’s far cheaper to, for example, rent 20 screens than it is to buy them. Secondly, by hiring, organisers gain the expertise of the AV company which will advise about the best products to hire for their particular needs. Finally, technology is continuously evolving so by hiring organisers do not have to make the investment of regularly upgrading equipment each time new specifications are introduced.
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