Staging Worth Its SALT

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Wall Street Innovators Meet Global Leaders at the Annual SALT Conference in Las Vegas

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Vision Matrix Productions assisted in the 2010 SALT conference held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV.

Vision Matrix Productions brought Wall Street to the strip in Las Vegas at the annual Sky- Bridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference this year at the Bellagio. The SALT conference was launched in 2009 by SkyBridge Capital as a means of bringing investment industry and global leaders together in a stimulating and productive environment. After a successful launch in 2009, expectations were strong for the 2010 event, which would accommodate three times the number of attendees as the previous show and feature such high-profile speakers as Michael Milken, Mitt Romney, and former president Bill Clinton.

For this year’s event, the Vision Matrix team of Joshua and Tami Lesser was tasked with creating an environment conducive to the business needs of “the Wall Street crowd” while still maintaining the excitement of this event and imparting the glamour of Las Vegas. This was no simple “meet and greet”: The Lessers needed to create an event where high-level, strategic business decisions could be made and global partnerships could be forged.

From the outset, the client gave the Lessers and their team, including Vision Matrix technical director Thom Mathis, nearly limitless creative freedom — a challenge and opportunity that the team relished. SkyBridge knew they needed an elegant, business-savvy environment: a space where VIPs from the world of global finance could meet one-on-one as well as interact and learn from their peers in the general session. They knew they wanted sophistication and panache and wanted both integrated with their business goals, but they left it up to the Vision Matrix team to translate these needs into the show design. As Tami Lesser explains, “We knew from the start that their priorities were to showcase the information presented by the guest speakers and to create an environment that encouraged networking. How we realized those goals was up to us and our creative team.”

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Vision Matrix used a Barco ScreenPro II HD with a Barco MatrixPro HDSDI and RGBHV routers for the general session, and for sound a QSC WideLine line array system was provided by Pulse Staging.

Sites and Sounds
The event encompassed nearly a dozen locations within the Bellagio and multiple simultaneous events. In addition to the general session, the team managed 16 breakouts, a VIP keynote luncheon, and, finally, a posh pool party with a “high-roller” feel. The centerpiece of the conference was the “SkyBridge Lounge,” a unique space designed especially for Sky- Bridge that integrated semi-private meeting spaces, banks of technology stations, key partner exhibits, an espresso bar, a custom Barnes & Noble bookstore, and even a live CNBC broadcast studio.

In assessing the technology to best meet the client’s needs across all the demands of the show, flexibility and reliability were key considerations. The team started with choosing the Barco ScreenPro II HD with a Barco MatrixPro HDSDI and RGBHV routers for the general session. “We knew that the ScreenPro would provide the reliability and flexibility to allow us to handle any last-minute content changes,” Mathis explains. “Because of the graphics-intensive nature of this show, we chose Panasonic 10K SXGA+ projectors; we knew this show needed their high resolution and high-contrast output to allow us to show the graphics at their best. This, combined with the ScreenPro HD, gave us a fantastic look and the ability rental& to react on the fly to changes.”

In designing the audio system, the extremely wide chevron-style classroom seating presented the biggest technical challenge. The solution was to use a customized QSC WideLine line array system provided by Pulse Staging. “We were very impressed by the performance of the cabinet. Our initial design had all sorts of supplemental PA to fill the room. We quickly realized that, by using WideLines, we could eliminate the need for the additional outfills in the original design. It was the right decision: the WideLines looked great, covered very well, and installed quickly and easily,” says Mathis.

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The SALT conference featured speakers such as Bill Clinton and encompassed about a dozen locations and breakouts that ran simultaneously throughout the Bellagio hotel.

Record Time
Beyond the demands of the show on-site, the client needed a super-fast turnaround of session recordings. The recordings were then to be used in a promotional piece, necessitating expedience without sacrificing quality. The Aja KiPro was the perfect answer. “There wasn’t time to digitize the media and still make our deadlines,” Joshua Lesser states. “The KiPros saved us a huge amount of time, saved the client money in editing time, and gave us content suitable for use in the final promotional piece as well.”

The flexibility that was built into the technical design proved to be prescient. In a last-moment turn, the attendee count rose dramatically: initially designed for 800, the attendance rose to 1600 just days before the event “With such rapid changes in attendee counts, the capabilities of the systems were stretched to the limits,” says Lesser. “The flexibility built into the system proved invaluable,” adds Mathis.

The conference was a huge success by any measure. The response this year was tremendous, as the ever-rising attendee count attests. The primary challenge of the show, in Vision Matrix’s view, was to seamlessly translate the client’s business needs into technological and design solutions, and the team exceeded their own expectation in meeting this challenge. In the end, attendees were able to connect with global contacts, learn about trends and issues in the industry, and have the good time for which Las Vegas is famous. SALT was a great example of business needs being answered with technological solutions. “We were able to interpret these broad stroke concepts and create an experience that they will remember,” says Lesser, “but just wait until next year.”

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