Why Site Surveys are Invaluable for Corporate Events – Part 2

Why Site Surveys are Invaluable for Corporate Events – Part 2

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By: Ben MacKinney, Audio Services Manager – Alford Media

Dozens of considerations go into an effective site survey. From determining the time and labor required for the load-in and load-out to crafting the best audio and visual environment possible, each component has a direct impact on a live event’s performance. Alford takes pride in conducting thorough surveys and creating strong plans that result in success for our clients and an organized, orderly approach for our partners.

In part one of “Why Site Surveys are Invaluable for Corporate Events”, we looked at the many pieces of planning the load-in and load-out as well as the many elements that must be considered inside the rooms where the event will be held. Here’s a look at more of what goes into a strong site survey.

Site Survey - Show Site Setup

The work put into site surveys yields powerful results.

“Dozens of considerations go into an effective site survey.”

Connecting with the venue

Creating a relationship with key individuals and teams, as well as understanding any rules, limitations or other conditions imposed by the venue can mean the difference between efficiency and chaos in the days leading up to the event. Alford’s site surveyors get in touch with and gather contact information from a number of different parties. They include, but aren’t limited to, the facility’s main point of contact, any house riggers and similar staff, the house audio-visual company and the security team.

The site survey also offers an opportunity to clarify any requirements to use third-party or in-house employees, contract obligations like using unionized staff, insurance concerns, permitting and much more.

A visit to the venue ahead of the event is the best time to obtain precise measurements, photographs and miscellaneous notes about the facility. The more information that the team has in general, the better the strategy developed will be. Photos are especially useful for sound design, as they give more information than dimensions alone.

Site Surveys - Show Photo

Effective site surveys pay off when the event starts.

The technical necessities

Getting into the technical details is critical for lighting, audio and visual to be at their best when the show starts. Take power supply as an example: Facilities have a number of different approaches to power, and the one they choose can have a major impact on the performance of systems. Audio equipment needs to operate on separate transformers with separate disconnects. Otherwise, complications with the lighting system may cause a persistent buzz in the audio system. Other power considerations include determining the location of hookups and how much cabling is needed, so the crew arrives prepared.

Rigging and point load considerations are especially important in light of the limited amount of weight supported by some points. The height to point needs to be determined, as does the existence of any elements that lower the effective height of the ceiling, like chandeliers and other elements. Both of these play a role in successful sound design. This is another area where computer-assisted design programs play a major role, painting a complete picture throughout the process and informing staff members working on the project.

Confidently understanding the dimensions of the building is key in the accurate deployment of delay speakers and supplemental video screens, ensuring the entire audience can see and hear all information communicated at the same time.

Existing systems and their specifications have to be understood to keep the gear list for an event efficient and organized. Some facilities have systems that don’t require any additional gear, while others will need more speakers and other equipment to offer the best sound possible.

Wireless frequencies are among the most complicated elements at a venue. Depending on where the event is located, there may be so many frequencies in use nearby that a third-party expert needs to be brought in to address. Understanding the lay of the land in regard to frequencies for both internal communications and the audio heard by guests leads to significantly more positive results.

Acoustics also have to be accounted for and a workaround often has to be developed to make the audio sound as good as possible. Difficult acoustics can never be fully fixed without changes to the building itself, but there are many different tactics for improving audio above the baseline. The site survey gives Alford’s crews the information they need to do exactly that.

Site surveys take an especially large number of variables, situations, and conditions into account to ensure effective planning and execution. With that information in hand, a corporate event is in a substantially stronger position for success.

Related: Top 7 Technical Challenges When Planning an Event

Alford Media