Author: Drew Menard

4 Tips to Choose the Right Stage for Your Event

Number One

Stage Location and View Angles

Audience perspective on focal point
Centre of Attention

You have chosen the perfect venue for your event! Now you need to decide on the location of your focal point, or centre of attention. In this case, your centre of attention is a performance. Ideally, the performers will be situated on a stage, and so the stage should be located in a distraction-free space. Avoid high traffic areas, such as entrances, bathrooms, or kitchens. This can distract from the focal point of your event and take the attention away from your audience.

 

In turn, your audiences experience should be effortless. If you have lunch/dinner entertainment with tables set up in the room, try to leave the seat with its back to the stage empty. In truth, one less guest at the table is better than one unhappy guest because they had to keep turning to see the stage. On the other hand, should the stage be set up for a background band or DJ to create ambience, a more inconspicuous area of the room is more suitable. The band or DJ may not like it, but it’s not about them, it is about the guest experience!

Number Two

Stage Dimensions

Staging size is just as important as the position. You don’t want an 8-piece band on a 3m x 2m stage – they are musicians not contortionists!

Here are some starting points to choose the right size:

Small

A small stage area could be all you need if you are only having one performer/speaker at a time. A 2m x 2m or 2m x 3m may be enough if they are using the stage for a presentation or demonstration. Remember, just because the stage is small does not mean you do not need steps.

Medium

A medium size stage, say a 5m x 4m or 6m x 4m or 6m x 3m, is perfect if you have multiple people performing. For example; a four-piece band, or a panel discussion with a table of up to six to eight guests. Similarly, medium stages would also suit a bridal table for a wedding, although you may want to consider a white finish.

Large

Large stages are perfect for bigger or even smaller events where a big band is performing, like an orchestra or a choir. In turn, the best solution for a dance performance where you have multiple performers on stage at any given time, similarly to outdoor concerts or indoor theatre performances. Over the years I have found that many schools prefer large stages like 12m x 10m. They want to be able to have one class at a time on stage, and large stages make for easier transitions from one class performance to another. For these stage sizes, don’t forget to consider two sets of steps. Large stages demand attention, and create an impressive focus for even solo performances. DJs or those big comedian egos utilise large stages for flamboyance and effect!

Number Three

Wheelchair Access, Steps and Safety

From time to time you will be required to supply a ramp for wheelchair access. Consequently, there are strict guidelines on the angle ratio, length vs height and minimum width. To start, these are Australian standards, other countries may have different regulations. In Australia the maximum gradient of a ramp, with a length greater than 1900mm, is to be no greater than 1:14. For example, if your stage is 400mm high, the ramp needs to be at least 5.6m long.

Don’t forget about the steps, as per the ramps, there are minimum requirements as per Australian standards. You can find all documentation on SaiGlobal website https://www.saiglobal.com/.

Another thing to consider is a landing area and handrail requirements. Your staging suppliers will be aware of all the regulations and will be able to make sure all is done as per Australian standards.

Make sure that your stage company supplier has all the certifications, engineering and licenses to build the stage you want, the last thing you want at your event is something like what happened at the USA Indiana state fair, check out this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_State_Fair_stage_collapse.

Number Four

Stage Shape and Colour

Audience perspective on ground level
White Catwalk

The shape of your stage will largely depend on the entertainment you plan to have. Should you have a speaker front and centre, a wider rather than a deeper stage would work better. Alternatively, for a band you may consider a deeper stage to be able to fit the full ensemble. For fashion shows, you may think about a “catwalk” – more or less like an inverted ‘T’. Commonly catwalks are raised for the models and the crowd is seated on the sides and at the front. For creativity sake, perhaps consider doing it the opposite way. The models walk at ground height and raise all the crowd seating “theatre” style. This would make your event even more memorable and break convention!

Indicative of breaking convention, I have experienced many non-conventional settings. On the top of fountains, at water level inside a swimming pool, on sandy beaches, and moving trams just to mention few! Additionally, something different could also be a round stage or 360* viewing. The most famous round stage set up I can re-call is a video of the King “Elvis” in 1974 when he performed for a small crowd. If you considering something like this, make sure you speak to your AV supplier. They will have to come up with a solution to cover the 360* audience.

Enjoy the Process!

At the end of the day, if you imagine it, your professional stage builder will be able to build it…. the only constraint I can see is budget!!!!

Enjoy your event, love what you do, and always make sure whatever you do, you do it safely!

For more staging options and free advice, contact the team at RTR Productions. Our staging and rigging experts are here to help. Alternatively, visit www.rtrproductions.com.au to learn more about RTR production services, including lighting and audio-visual equipment.

Event Planners Guide to Audio Coverage

AUDIO COVERAGE

So, you have an event coming up and have not anticipated such an audience! Will you be heard over that many people? The chances are unlikely. So, what should be considered to make sure you are not drowned out? You guessed it; you will need an audio system and some speakers for sufficient audio coverage. Where do you start?!

THE BASICS

Firstly, you will need to think about what your basic requirements are. There are a few main questions that we need to consider when thinking about audio coverage:

  • How big is the audience?
    • Think of the space. Is it a stadium, or a lecture hall?
    • Are they standing, seated in chairs, or on the ground?
  • How broad-spectrum is the program media?
    • Meaning; is it just voice (presenters or lecturers), or are there background music, video stings that need to have an impact, or is there full-on music being played live?
  • What is the focal point, and where is it?
    • A band or theatrical performance front of stage, or a lecturer requiring full room coverage?

 

AUDIENCE SIZE

Audience Capacity and Audio Coverage
It is always best to account for a larger rather than a smaller audience when planning your audio coverage.

This is the most common dilemma event planners struggle with during the planning stages of the event. You should always account for large capacity attendance – especially when considering your audio coverage needs. If you do not there may be patches of the audience that will not be able to hear anything at all. However, if you over-estimate, you could potentially create a sparse and impersonal atmosphere for your attendees. Of course over-estimating could also unnecessarily blow your budget!

Try to be realistic. This will not only help your audio provider design a correctly proportioned speaker system for your event, but it will help convey the content of your event and create the emotive and energetic atmosphere you desired.

 

PROGRAM MEDIA

Program media is simply the source of the audio, or what is producing the sound. Is it a voice? Do you have a presenter or singer that is standing still or roaming? Is it music? Do you have a band as your main feature, or is your music for background purposes?  Are there any instrumentals or DJs? Do you have any sound effects? These are all factors that help us decide what speakers to use.

For example, if you are hosting an Annual General Meeting and the evening’s festivities consist of a small number of presenters along with light background music during dinner, then as you can guess we probably do not require any large thumping subwoofers. In these circumstances we will use small to medium-sized speakers or arrays. Simply speaking, with regards to audio coverage, corporate events tend to be held at roughly one volume level as there are not large audio dynamics during the event.

But if there is a concert element, or big audio or video rolls, we will need those subs to add impact and get people up and out of their seats.  We will also need to look at medium to large speaker systems to account for the higher sound pressure levels and cater for the shifting dynamic range.

 

FOCAL POINT

Almost every event will have a focal point, or ‘centre of attention’. This could be a presenter, a stage for a musical performer, a large LED video wall, or any combination of these. The question that needs to be answered from the outset is “does this (or these) visual focal points need to be reinforced by the audio system?”  Or put it another way: how important is it that the audience experiences the sound in conjunction with the perspective of the main visual feature?

Centre of Attention
The focal point is also know as the ‘centre of attention’ at any event.

For example, when listening to someone discuss their company’s performance or lecture on a new educational process, the main importance is that each of the audience members hear each and every word.  If the sound isn’t perceived as coming from the visual focus, it doesn’t distract from the overall effect of the event.  Whether or not each listener hears everything at the exact same level and timbre is not critical. Understanding the words said is critical.

On the contrary, musical or theatrical performances rely on conveying emotion.  This necessitates that the sounds and visuals emanate from the same source. You can imagine, as an audience member, it would be very off-putting to have the sound coming from directly above, or even worse – behind you – while trying to focus on the action on stage. Instead, we would design the sound system to reinforce that all sound is emanating from this nucleus.

As this is an intangible synergy, creating your focal point can be quite a time-consuming and costly process. It has to encompass distinct considerations to your audience size, and type of program media as stated above. We must put big enough and an appropriate number of speakers adjacent to this point, ensuring the extra speakers that we need to distribute throughout the listening area are not obtrusive. They should reinforce – not distract you from – the audio source. This can involve extra zones, extra processing, extra amplification, and most of all, extra labour.

 

EXPECTATION VS REALITY

After all this information is communicated to your audio provider, the discussion about concept expectation versus prospective costs can begin. This will depend on several factors. We need to understand how many speakers and amplifiers are needed, where they need to be located, and if it is physically possible, safe, and cost-effective to install. We need to have calculated how long it will take to install and remove the system, and how many crew members it will take to do so. There is a lot more to it than putting a speaker on a stand and plugging it in.

We have often heard event planners say, “the best speaker is an invisible one”.  And technology is getting pretty amazing.  (That’s why we enjoy doing what we do!)  But even with the modern-day sound systems getting more and more accurate, we are yet to find an invisible one! But we are happy to do whatever is to meet your ideal atmosphere and balance that with your budgetary constraints.

As an event planner, you do not need to create solutions for all these described situations. That is what we are here for. Nevertheless, the more information you can arm us with, the sooner we can find the right answer for you, and the closer you become to having an event of a lifetime.

Once again, be realistic when planning your event and listen carefully to your audio providers recommendations when discussing your audio coverage strategy.

Contact the professionals for a consultation on your next event here: http://www.rtrproductions.com.au/contact.

Audio Design for a Corporate Function

Audio for corporate functions can be simple.  It can also be complex.  Audio design for a corporate function should be much more than whacking up a couple of powered boxes and plugging a lectern in.  But unfortunately, that is often the approach AV companies make because it has been okay once.  Sound serves many purposes in a corporate function.  So it is appropriate to spend time on the design and make sure that you are delivering the audio that your client is expecting at their corporate function.

 

Purpose

Audio can serve a number of purposes at a corporate function.  It is the background music playing when the attendees enter and leave.  Sometimes, it is the soundtrack to video packages that might be introducing a new product.  Then it comprises of the big effect of a reveal.  And most importantly it can serve to reinforce the human voice.  And most specifically, it is the sound of the speaking human voice.  Not singing.

 

The first step in the audio design for corporate functions is to look at where the audience will be located.  Will they be seated?  Are they going to be standing around high bar tables and listening to a Sales Manager’s quick congratulations before getting into the fun part of an event?  Could they be moving around a venue or multiple venues, and will you need to keep them engaged and excited for an extended period?

Q and A
The focus of the presentation part of a corporate function

Voice in a Corporate Function

 

Audio design can either reinforce or take away from the attention of the event.  If there is one speaker presenting at a time, it might be fine to have the sound of the speaker’s voice coming at the patrons from the front, top, and sides of the audience area.  But if you have two speakers interacting, or a panel discussion, it is most appropriate to make the audio reinforce the centre of attention, and appear to have the panellists as the actual audio source.

When focusing on two people having a conversation, and the sound comes from a different location, it is offputting.  This is the intelligibility of the conversation.  Audio consultants will spend great amounts of time on the Speech Transmission Index of a specific room (http://www.embeddedacoustics.com/index.php/speech-transmission-index/9-intro/sti).  This is why the direction the delay speakers are pointing, as well as their delay calibration,  is of vital importance.  Delay speakers should subtly reinforce the main arrays, not be obvious in and of themselves.

Frequency Range

To further complicate it, the human voice uses a different part of its range when speaking as compared to singing (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155173/).  When speaking, the intensity is much more consistent and the frequency range is much more constrained.  When singing, a performer will have a greater dynamic range. Then they may modulate the sound of their voice to express emotion or content.

This is made even more complex when comparing different types of music.  Folk singers don’t modulate their voices nearly as much as a jazz singer, or an opera singer would.  So in audio design for a corporate function, it is important to EQ a system paying attention to the speaking voice.  This is the ‘phone voice’ range.  It can be correlated to how the human ear perceives sound, dBA weighting (https://www.cirrusresearch.co.uk/library/documents/ebooks/noise-measurement-terminology-guide.pdf).

This can be further contrasted to the frequency range of the orchestra.

Singer vs. Orchestra in a Corporate Function
The frequency range of a singer compared to that of an orchestra

Music in a Corporate Function

This same approach to the voice can be utilized with music.  But with a simpler application.

 

Background music is fine to be the same level throughout the listening area.  But part of the corporate function can be for the attendees to communicate with each other, ie networking or mingling.  EQ should be changed to not compete with the sound of the spoken voice when it is.

Then…what do you do with a band in a corporate function.  We have three possible approaches to this question of audio design:

  • Strictly background
    • This is a live group that is there to supply a live band that is not the focus.
    • Approach like background music
  • Dancefloor band
    • This is normally an after-dinner party act.
    • You want the dancefloor to be loud enough that people can get up and dance (often embarrassingly). But people not on the dancefloor need to be able to converse without yelling.
  • Concert act
    • This is approached like a concert, and you will normally need to adhere to an act’s technical rider.
    • When they are on, all focus is on the band.

 

Hopefully, this will help you in laying out your speaker setup, delay zones and system matrix.

 

Our Client Relationship Ethos

Since working at RTR Productions, my love for the industry has grown. This is not only due to the excitement of the events we work on, but it is also down to the client relationships we have built in the process. Teamwork is an irreplaceable aspect to a business that functions well, and at RTR it certainly speaks volumes about the work we do with our clients. Forming relationships from the ground up is so important, and ensures that we meet client anticipations to a high standard.

Getting to know you!

Any conversation should begin with optimism. We are here to help make the clients vision a reality. Let’s get excited! What are the clients expectations? What is the clients inspiration?  How does the clients want guests to feel? Not only does this give me valuable information about the event itself, it gives me an insight to the client as a person. Every event we produce, we make sure the foundation is strong with the client we are collaborating with. Let’s meet for a coffee and chat!

Now that I know a little about the client and the direction of the event, an understanding is met and trust is built. This will aid any questions about the production, and how we can help resolve it. I always make sure to get the details of the event confirmed by the client; this is to ensure any information I transfer to a quote is reliable. With the basic groundwork in place, any questionable aspects of the project can be worked out together with the clients needs in the forefront of the solution.

We find discussing an event face to face more beneficial to production standards, and creates a better bond between ourselves and the client.

The sticky bit…

Of course, there’s always the sticky bit of every event! What is the budget? The last thing we want is the client to feel uncomfortable when discussing the monetary side of a job. If the client has a budget, and we establish this at the start, we are able to then provide viable options for the event that will still give the client a successful outcome! We do not want anyone feeling deflated or unable to accomplish what they set out to do. We can build an effective plan together so the client has an effective event experience!

Events

Once the equipment leaves our warehouse and is installed, it does not mean our job is done! Keeping the lines of communication open is paramount to ensuring the event goes smoothly. Every job that we do is a continuous conversation, and every bit of feedback is constructive to ensure we execute our role exceptionally. At RTR we don’t just keep promises, we deliver them 😊

Anna Mullan

Client Relationship Extraordinaire

Since working at RTR Productions, my love for the industry has grown. This is not only due to the excitement of the events we work on, but it is also down to the client relationships we have built in the process. Teamwork is an irreplaceable aspect to a business that functions well, and at RTR it certainly speaks volumes about the work we do with our clients. Forming relationships from the ground up is so important, and ensures that we meet client anticipations to a high standard.

Getting to know you!

Any conversation should begin with optimism. We are here to help make the clients vision a reality. Let’s get excited! What are the clients expectations? What is the clients inspiration?  How does the clients want guests to feel? Not only does this give me valuable information about the event itself, it gives me an insight to the client as a person. Every event we produce, we make sure the foundation is strong with the client we are collaborating with. Let’s meet for a coffee and chat!

Now that I know a little about the client and the direction of the event, an understanding is met and trust is built. This will aid any questions about the production, and how we can help resolve it. I always make sure to get the details of the event confirmed by the client; this is to ensure any information I transfer to a quote is reliable. With the basic groundwork in place, any questionable aspects of the project can be worked out together with the clients needs in the forefront of the solution.

We find discussing an event face to face more beneficial to production standards, and creates a better bond between ourselves and the client.

The sticky bit…

Of course, there’s always the sticky bit of every event! What is the budget? The last thing we want is the client to feel uncomfortable when discussing the monetary side of a job. If the client has a budget, and we establish this at the start, we are able to then provide viable options for the event that will still give the client a successful outcome! We do not want anyone feeling deflated or unable to accomplish what they set out to do. We can build an effective plan together so the client has an effective event experience!

Events

Once the equipment leaves our warehouse and is installed, it does not mean our job is done! Keeping the lines of communication open is paramount to ensuring the event goes smoothly. Every job that we do is a continuous conversation, and every bit of feedback is constructive to ensure we execute our role exceptionally. At RTR we don’t just keep promises, we deliver them 😊

Anna Mullan

Client Relationship Extraordinaire

Site visit for designing event production!

This blog outlines some key aspects that you should consider when doing a site visit for your next event. Choosing the right venue or site for your upcoming event is one of the most crucial steps of any event.

We are involved in event production and mostly liaise with organisers when the site has been confirmed. Most organizers are unaware of the venue constraints until we start looking into the production requirements.

Choosing a venue with a high number of constraints can easily blow out any production budget, we also acknowledge that nobody likes to go over budget!
If you wish to stay within the budget allowance, I outline some basic technical elements that you should consider on your next site visit.

Technical considerations during a site visit –

Power

Without sufficient power, there isn’t a suitable production! The term sufficient is dependent on the scale of your event, smaller events can possibly get by with few 240V circuits, medium to large events will require 3phase power and sometimes multiple 3phase outlets.

It is normal to hire generators for events; however, you can reduce the running costs of an event if a portion of the power (if not all) is provided by the venue/site itself.

 

Loading area’s and parking

One of the biggest drivers of cost to any production is labour.

If you put on your ‘Bump-In/out’ hat (crew’s POV) for this, you will quickly realise, the easier the access to the event area the less time it is to get the equipment from the truck to the event area. The closer the loading zone to the space, the shorter the distance.

Essentially as an event organiser, you can save big on labour costs when you think like this during the site visit.
Also consider obstacles such as stairs, lifts, no dedicated loading zones, and no car parking.

 

Production design vs Venue constraints 

This is a common challenge in galleries but it is definitely not limited to just galleries. Most AV aspects can be tweaked to suit the site, when we consider projection, there is very little wiggle room. There are set parameters to work within, if the space has not considered the guidelines during the planning stages.  It is unlikely that you will achieve the desired outcome.

These parameters are dependent on many variables and are based on your event requirements. If there is an element of projection in your event, general things to consider should be –

  1. Competing light in the room
  2. Distance (from the projector to screen)
  3. Projection size (size of the image)

 

Off course there are many other things your production company will need to consider once the production requirements have been locked down. However, considering the above during initial planning stages can leave you pretty close to your desired outcome and with some spare pocket change, they will end up being fairly deep pockets too!

I hope this post helps you get better prepared for the next site visit!
If you need further assistance feel free to call RTR Productions! We can provide technical advice, production design, audio production, staging designs, and temporary structures/Rigs services.

Before I end this blog, below are some general things event planners often forget to clarify upfront.

General considerations during a site visit –

  1. Venue operating times
    • Make sure the production company bump-in/out during the allocated times.
  2. Request for site floor plans
    • Forward this to your production company at the very start, helps us quote for things accurately.
  3. Storage areas
    • We need a place to store our road cases.
  4. Essential tools for your next site visit.
    •  Get yourself a laser tape. That’s what we used to measure up the very uneven floor at Fed Square, check out this link to see the structure    http://www.rtrproductions.com.au/pop-up-structures-for-events you can buy one here quite cheaply
    • https://www.totaltools.com.au/109223-leica-disto-d2-100m-laser-distance-measurer-lg837031
    • Leica D2 in action during our site visit for designing an event production .

RTR specialty rigging g at Dulux Colour Awards

Creative Ways to Build

The 8th of May saw a creatively spectacular event put on by The Valentina Group Agency at the National Gallery of Victoria.  RTR Production assisted with the production for the first time this year.  Custom and specialty rigging is a cornerstone of the services that RTR provides to its clients.

RTR specialty rigging
Adnate’s beautiful portrait hanging from RTR’s custom double arch

Amazing and immersive events that always surpass any of the attendees’ expectations are what The Valentina Group Agency is known for.  This year’s Dulux Colour Awards at NGV’s Great Hall were even bigger.  This was in thanks to amazing event design and a HUGE mural by famed Australian muralist Adnate painted onsite.

 

The NGV Production department and The Valentina Group asked RTR Productions to provide specialty rigging that would form a giant easel.  Adnate specialises in very large-form fine art portraits carried out as murals on the sides of buildings.  He actually has created the tallest mural in the Southern Hemisphere on the Wellington Street flats in Collingwood, Victoria.  For the Dulux Colour Awards, he created a 7.6m x 4.8m portrait live during the actual award presentation.

 

RTR Provides Specialty Rigging for Artwork

RTR Productions used Euro Truss 300mm box truss to create a double truss arch to support the massive painting.  Their riggers put together a 9m tall structure, with additional bracing. Then, this structure framed a custom aluminium tube grid, which in turn held the giant painting.  The experienced riggers than mounted individual panels to become a composite structure.  Adnate actually had to paint from a scissor lift to reach the whole painting it was so large.

 

One of the most amazing feats of the evening was that the NGV’s Great Hall was open to the public until noon that day.  The crew unpacked the entire structure and built it in just a few hours.  This had to happen to allow time to rig the individual panels on the custom grid.  RTR chose to paint this custom grid Dulux Duramax Gloss Hot Lips red to match the design of the event. Giant red velvet drapes framed the event space and a very creative custom stage as well.

The Valentina Group’s Marisa Sabljak said:

“To have that structure up so quickly and to have it look so spectacular was an incredible feat. The client and the artist were extremely happy with the finished product.”

Check out some more of Adnate’s amazing work here:  https://www.adnate.com.au/

AFL Event hits the mark!

The AFL Season has begun!  And RTR Productions are happy to have been part of the North Melbourne Football Club’s jumper presentation.  This AFL event is a big part of the sporting calendar.   

March 6th saw a large number of the North Melbourne faithful on hand to witness the new players of the 2019 Kangaroos get their first NMFC jumpers.  RTR was chosen to supply audio, lighting, vision, and additional rigging to the Melbourne Pavilion to assist delivering the evening to North Melbourne’s AFL members. The Kangaroos’ Events team wanted to wow their membership with their new team members.  So RTR’s creative staff came up with a bespoke design that would complement the industrial aesthetic of the Pavilion.

The Plan

There were two parts to the evening.  The first part of the evening was an acoustic performance in a side area, while club members came in and got situated.  There was also a media wall as members entered and some external activations. Then the evening proper began with much enthusiasm in the main area of the venue.  

Production-wise, a large truss arch was erected at the rear of the stage to rig the large projection screen from.  The events team wanted to deliver their creative content in a projection that fit along with what was happening on stage, rather than take over.  Additional lighting was set on truss uprights across the stage as well as under the industrial roof trusses. The PA system was set up around the room to work in with the many columns in the building and not visually impair on the event.  This AFL event was all about the players, and the production was there to support that point.

North Melbourne Greats

The end result was an evening with impact:  One that members felt included in, rather than just presented to; and came across great in all the social media photos and streaming videos.

Another great sports event with RTR Productions.

https://www.nmfc.com.au/video/2019-03-07/jumper-presentations-season-launch-2019

NMFC Season Launch
The Season has begun!

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