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  • Writer's pictureTerri Walters

Testing 1.2.3

I have worked on a multitude of events where, at least initially, the technology does not match the expectations, and where the build, testing and rehearsal on the event don’t receive the time and adequate weight due them. Most times, crews and staff struggle through these events, but not without a lot of sweat, angst, lack of sleep and unfortunately, overtime.

I understand a lot of the reasons behind it. Space, especially in metro areas, is very expensive. It’s also booked tightly, so when you decide to launch your event, there’s not a lot of “big holes” in the schedule to grab. Also, renting the equipment and paying staff and a crew for more than the day of the event adds to the cost. People continue to underestimate the amount of time it takes to install and test, a sensitive, computer- based system, and the amount of pressure there is to get it all right, the first, and only time.

Every event requires Appropriate Production. This means that your ideas and expectations are matched by the type of technology, and personnel needed to successfully execute it. It also means thought has been given to the build and test.

I’ve seen company officers brought in the second the screens are hot, practice for hours, and then expect crews to perfectly execute on one of the 20 or so renditions they heard. I’ve been asked to “click through the slides” the minute the graphics ops sits in their chair, and I’ve been asked to “simply walk through the newly-exported elements and show us what the event is going to look like” before I’ve had a chance to create, let alone distribute and practice, a viable Technical Run-of-Show.

I have never met a technician who thinks failure is an option. Crews work day and night to ensure flawless execution. Each person works as an individual to get their piece perfect, but then, they must all work as a team to execute the whole, and that takes time. When there is adequate time, a production is like a symphony, with each individual playing his or her part, creating a fully-integrated masterpiece.

Like NASA tests rocket launches, adequate time needs to be allotted to build and test your newly-built, often-times glitchy, production system. Think about this: Before your event came into that space, there was nothing. Nothing but space and an idea. Now, there’s a full-on television production studio and Broadway-level theater here. There is miles of cable, truckloads of electronics, many, many individuals involved and focused toward liftoff.

How did you get to this point? Well, over the past weeks or months, you had people design, create and build a support system for your event. That’s what you paid a good amount of money for! And if you and your show designers and technical folks did their jobs correctly, then the technology should match up with the needs and expectations of the show. This requires ongoing communication between the clients, who have the ideas, and the technical gurus who actually build the production rig, and execute. Without this communication of expectations, things will either be under spec’ed (which means things won’t execute the way you envisioned them) or way over spec’ed, which means you are paying for more than you need, and creating possible unnecessary complications.

BUT, like NASA, Boeing doesn’t design the aircraft, build it, and then fill it with people before it’s performed multiple tests and practiced with it.

Now, think about allotting one day to build and integrate a similarly-complex, computer-based technical system from scratch. Challenging. Not impossible, because, with planning and foresight, I’ve seen it happen. Now, think about NOT having adequate time to test this system and rehearse, and the chaos that will ensure from both technical glitches, and human error; error not born from inexperience, but born from lack of time to prepare, integrate, test and rehearse.

It is important to know, as a CEO, a Marketing Officer, a presenter, or as an event manager or producer, you must take into consideration that adequate time for building and testing must occur, and, that rehearsal is not just for those on stage, but for those supporting those on stage as well.

Appropriate production, and adequate time to build, test and rehearse help to ensure flawless execution.

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