InfoComm Roundtable: How Do We Become Content Creators?

The AV industry has provided experiences since the beginning, but there’s a next level component that has surfaced: how do we make these experiences exceptional?

That precise question was posed by InfoComm’s Duffy Wilbert at the association’s recent roundtable in the Philadelphia area. He proceeded to delve into a presentation about what exactly makes experiences exceptional, and how the AV community can create them.

InfoComm has been producing whitepapers and other resources geared toward educating the industry about this exceptional experience; like this video. In another video shown at the roundtable, representatives of some common use cases were interviewed about what makes these experiences. There were some interesting sound bites:

“It’s not about how many projectors are being used, it’s about ‘what am I feeling?’”

“If you can get someone in awe of what you’re doing, you’re 90 percent there.”

“It’s that wonderful ‘wow’ feeling you have after seeing a really amazing film or experiencing a giant waterfall. It’s a breathless experience.”

Can you imagine making your customers feel like they do at a giant waterfall? The idea really shouldn’t be so far fetched.

“Create” was the key word—more specifically, content creation. While Wilbert provided a really specific framework for working toward exceptional experiences, it was the emphasis on content creation that seemed to have the three dozen-plus attendees most engaged.

Wilbert asked point blank, “how much should the AV industry be involved in content?” He noted how the industry has been getting more involved in graphic design and how the shift from analog to digital and HD to 4K has been ushering this along. Moving beyond the space that we are traditionally involved in is essential, as is being a lot more involved in the content side.

Here’s one last sound bite I found compelling: “If you don’t understand the content, you can’t design the display.”

There sure has been a lot of that in the industry from what I’ve seen—the classic ‘hang and bang’ of course—and that’s not what makes the skills, expertise, and services that AV professionals offer indispensable, which they’re certainly capable of being. The industry could increasingly go the way of commoditization if services like content creation are not embraced. But it is an evolution for most people.

During the lively Q&A that transpired, some of the comments offered up included how the biggest challenge the AV industry has is content, and that content is not in our DNA, for many of us at least. Manipulating content has been more customary for many, versus creating the content.

But maybe this is changing, one commentator added, “I think it is becoming part of our DNA. Content is almost as important as the experience.” Content is much more dynamic, he continued, and people have an expectation for it now.

One participant from IMS Technology Services in Garnet Valley, PA chimed in that the firm has launched a content creation department, something that developed organically as a result of demand, and that it has taken off in a big way.

The roundtable concluded with individual break out groups designing mock exceptional experiences, based on parameters Wilbert outlined. Each group was engaged with the process and came up with some very thoughtful ideas.

The next InfoComm Roundtable is coming to New York City, on April 23, co-located with Stampede’s Big Book of AV tour stop. Find more info here.

InfoComm Board Director Julian Phillips, of Whitlock, summed up the content perspective most eloquently: “The same content around in the days of Socrates is the same content today. It’s in our heads. What’s changing is the medium…and how it’s being distributed. We have a role to play.”

Lindsey M. Adler

Lindsey M. Adler is an audiovisual storyteller based in New York.