Live events are in a constant state of evolution. All the basic show elements, such as audio, video, LED, and lighting systems have improved over the years, allowing higher quality and efficiencies for any type of event. On top of that, there’s always a new range of bells and whistles coming out that can be applied to events to provide the audience with that “never seen before” experience. The audiences of today’s digital era are more exposed to immersive and interactive technology than ever before, and the bar has been raised in terms of expectations. As a result, many event producers are eager to show the audience something new and different, using the latest technology available. When thinking about whether to embrace the newest technology on the market, an important question needs to be asked before taking that leap: What’s your risk tolerance?
When meeting with clients, one of the most common questions I get asked about our inventory is, “what’s new and exciting?” Today we have choices such as immersive 4K video and virtual reality, high resolution LED tiles that can be arranged in so many shapes, sizes and curves, then there’s interactive technology, portable technology, throwable technology – the options are endless! The latest and greatest gadgets can be very tempting and offer the potential to create unique experiences on events, but I try to always educate clients that great reward comes with greater risks. Technology in general can be a risky business, and there are usually systems in place to mitigate risks for the critical show elements, such as primary and backup projectors. But, if introducing a technology in a live show environment that has never been used before, there’s going to be an even greater risk factor.
When embarking on doing anything new that comes with a degree of risk, there’s a mix of emotions. There’s that sense of excitement and eagerness of trying something for the first time, usually balanced by feelings such as nervousness, stress, and even fear. Remember riding a bike for the first time? Overcoming those anxious feelings of what might happen was well worth the elation of mastering how to ride solo. The same rules apply for using new technology on your show. The uncertainty of the outcome may cause that rapid heart rate and rise in blood pressure until the big reveal, but the payoff comes with the adrenalin rush of creating that industry first, ah-hah moment for the audience.
Should you decide to take the leap and implement a new technology element on your event, it’s critical to do your homework, to make sure the plan is as bulletproof as possible when it comes to show time. Asking a few simple questions, and taking some extra planning steps can go a long way to mitigate your risk factor, such as the following:
Is it worth it? Ask yourself if using this technology makes sense. Does it enhance the theme and message of the event, or will it be a distraction? Using technology just because it’s new and cool might not be the best reason to add the extra risk to your event if it does nothing to help in delivering the message across to the audience.
See a demonstration! Double down on making sure you really want to use this technology. Sometimes what you are sold may sound great in theory, but the vision in your mind can be quite different than the reality. Seeing is believing, and your staging provider should be able to provide a live demonstration before you commit to using any new technology on your event.
Set expectations. Make sure the client understands what they are getting with any new technology, how it will impact the overall message and audience, as well as the risks involved along with the potential results.
Ask about points of failure. Be sure you understand any limitations before deciding how to use any new technology in your show. It is critical to understand if something doesn’t go as planned how it will impact the rest of the show.
Live environment test: Depending on how high the risk factor is, it may be well worth it to do a test of the equipment within the actual environment, if possible, or under mock conditions that mimic the live show environment. This type of test would occur early in the planning process, to allow time for any adjustments that may be needed in the configuration.
Keep a “Plan B” handy. If you’re setting out to create an “industry first” experience on your event, there is always a chance that it might not work out during the testing phase. Have a backup plan in case that new technology doesn’t work out as it was intended. The goal is to work out any technical issues well before getting to show site, and have something to fall back on should a problem arise.
Ensure adequate load-in/prep time. When using a new technology, you want to be sure you don’t rush the load-in within the actual environment. Make sure there is enough time allocated to set-up, testing, and rehearsing all elements of the show. If the load-in time is short, it might not be the event to try something new.
In the live events industry, there is nothing more exciting than creating amazing shows with visual stimuli that push the limits of technology. We love to take a new and original vision that is only dreamt in the mind of the producer, and work to bring it to reality for the audience. Without these new experiences, events would become stale. Embracing new technology through smart decision making and proper planning can immerse the audience in the message of the event. Do your homework, and sometimes taking that risk can be well worth the reward.
Les Goldberg founded LMG, LLC, a national provider of video, audio, lighting and LED support in 1984 with a small loan from a relative. He also acts as CEO of Entertainment Technology Partners, LLC, the parent company of a collection of exceptional brands within the live event and entertainment technology services industry. He recently published the book, “Don’t Take No for An Answer, Anything is Possible,” available on Amazon and iBooks. For more information, visit www.lmg.net and www.lesgoldberg.com.