The production process

In order to stay ahead of the curve and with the need to always offer clients more than they think possible, event production companies are pushing the boundaries when it comes to producing  and staging events.

“One thing we have to ensure is that we are always at the forefront of new equipment and techniques to the market place,” says Head of Production at Ashfield Meetings and Events, Stuart Brown. “In reality we have to be ahead of the technological trends to make sure we can adopt all new technology into the meeting environment successfully and that we have pressure tested this in advance of delivery.

Ashfield Meetings and Events is seeing two current buying habits with some clients continuing to enhance their production activity year-on-year and wanting to create bigger, more engaging events that demonstrate their brands and the development of their business. While other clients are looking to get more from less technology. “They are looking for the same effect they’ve received previously, but using simpler techniques,” says Brown.

A trend to smaller, more focused educational meetings and having the appropriate production is something that Ashfield says is prevalent in the healthcare sector. “The commonalities from both approaches is that the focus is on ensuring the techniques and equipment adopted best meet the business objectives, align with the meeting formats and deliver an effective return on investment,” says Brown.

 Alistair Watson, Marketing Director of London-based events agency The Halo Group, says today’s customers are looking for more personal experiences and something they can take home with them as a lasting memory or shared experience. “Festival organisers and brands alike have recognised this and the result is a new focus on delivering more diverse and engaging experiences,” he says.

For Watson, delivering sophisticated immersive experiences will need to feature more audience interactivity. “This will be driven by the aim of increasing the connection with the audience and developing deeper connections with products and brands.”

One trend currently making waves in the event production process is the emergence of projection mapping. This technique uses specialised software to project images and videos on to irregular shaped surfaces or spaces such as buildings.

Ashfield is currently using this technique on a regular basis, and Brown says “within our pharmaceutical events we have recently used the technology to project the journey of molecules around the anatomy of the human body; this technique allowed the presenter to tell a story in a very visual medium”.

Swindon-based Corporate Events has also noted the growing trend towards the ‘digitisation’ of events and now views its stage sets as blank digital canvases on which to project more immersive moving content. As well as being more engaging, the agency highlights a sustainability benefit too, as blank canvas building blocks of the set design can be reused in different configurations for future productions or at other legs of a roadshow.

Corporate Events is now using this thinking in the way that it presents ideas to clients – producing mini models of the stage design and projecting the proposed look and feel of shows onto these mini canvases so clients can see exactly how their final event will look.

 “There’s a real drive to cut carbon emissions and reuse materials [in event production],” says Corporate Events’ MD, Andy Ashley. “This is why we’re increasingly recommending projection technology which is becoming cheaper, and can replace signage. It is more attractive and dynamic, too.

“Whole stage sets can also benefit from projection instead of cardboard cutouts. These eye-catching displays help make corporate branding and messaging more impactful,” Ashley adds.

Russell Allen, founder of Berkshire-based Crescendo, however, says the agency is seeing a move away from showy production towards more simplistic, authentic propositions. “Companies are asking themselves whether the latest 3D laser display really delivers the right impact, compared to investing in the perfect script, presentation and messaging.

“There is a trend for low key, but not necessarily low budget, sets as people remain sensitive to perception. Good event production is about providing the right context for an event,” he adds.

Sourcing for events

Before any of these trends can be realised in the production of an event, sourcing the most appropriate company is a must. Rachel Rolfe, Head of Creative at Fisher Productions, says writing a comprehensive brief is imperative when looking for a company to work with.

According to Rolfe, a good brief should contain some background information on the client; the brand personality; and how they want their target audience to perceive them.

“Next set up a detailed event format and think about the aims of event,” she adds.

Most importantly, says Rolfe, is indicating the budget. “It’s not realistic to ask for a battleship if you only have enough money for a rowing boat and it means time and money is wasted going all out with the event design when it would be better spent designing something more realistic.”

The other imperative, she says, is to really look at who you are asking to produce and deliver the event. “You wouldn’t ask a rowing boat carpenter to build your battleship, so ask questions about their experience and capabilities and whether or not they have these in-house.

“No company does absolutely everything, but my advice would be to choose a lead company who offer the majority of elements in-house and give them the remit to pull the whole thing together and co-ordinate the event as a whole.

“The margin for error will be less,” Rolfe says, “and the budget won’t suffer the consequence of agency fees.”

This was first published in the April issue of CN. Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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