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Of all the hot trends in 2017 in the events world, the rise in interactive events and technology topped the charts for being the most talked about. We’ve known for some time that social media and quality content can help to make stand-out events, which will remain with attendees for longer than a standard offering. Kelly Vickers, director of Meet Cambridge, spoke to AV expert Benjamin Rampillon, from Murray Edwards College, to find out more about his role and his thoughts on the future of AV at events.
At Murray Edwards College in Cambridge, meetings, conferences and events are regularly filmed and recorded, both for the College and external clients in the cutting-edge Buckingham House Lecture Theatre. Unusually, it also has a dedicated and fully-qualified AV technician, Benjamin Rampillon.
What changes have you seen in AV tech?
Almost every single social media channel now has a video offering and we expect to see an increase in demand for live streaming events in the future. Although streaming or video-conferencing are useful tools in their own ways, we believe that there is true, tangible value in being able to meet face-to-face at a live event; whilst live streaming can complement and enhance an event, it doesn’t provide delegates with the opportunities to network and collaborate in the way that being there in person does.
What’s going to be big?
Event apps for phones and smart watches are prevalent and we are looking at developing at a concierge app, which could enhance the client’s event app giving guests information about the College alongside information about the event they’re attending. This could really enrich the delegate experience beyond the meeting itself, making the entire visit more memorable.
Virtual reality is a hot topic at the moment as it allows organisations to immerse their delegates in a situation or environment. Technologists are developing taste, touch and smell VR: total sensory immersion, which could have a huge impact on events for the food and beverage industry.
In a similar vein, 3D holograms are becoming more conceivable as an event tool. Various deceased musicians such as Tupac and Michael Jackson have performed concerts by hologram. In Japan, their answer to Amazon Echo contains an interactive holographic character who can recognise your face and voice. In May 2017, Science Daily reported that researchers are paving the way towards integration of 3D holography into electronics like smart phones. You don’t need much imagination to think of all the ways events and conferences are likely to exploit this exciting technical advance!
How many events do you help with AV support on?
We run between 70 and 100 external events each year at Murray Edwards College and I’d say 95% of them require AV assistance. I am also responsible for equipment for all internal College events, which covers everything from the student garden party to College business meetings.
How are events benefiting from advances in AV?
We are doing more and more medical events, where camera quality is really important, so we have invested in the latest projection technology to ensure the presentations, photographs and charts are shown with absolute clarity.
What is your average day like?
There is no average day! One minute I can be taking care of an event for a well-known multi-national company and the next discussing tech requirements for a staff meeting or College event. No day is the same, which is one of the things I love about the industry.
What’s been the most memorable event?
I worked with curator Eliza Gluckmann on an event which included the Guerrilla Girls, an activist feminist art collective. As well as managing the presentation equipment, I also captured their whole presentation using our state-of-the-art camera. The women famously wear gorilla masks when in public so it was visually unusual and their presentation was fascinating.
What is the benefit of having an expert?
For any event, no matter the experience of the client or presenter, it is vital that they receive an exemplary AV service and problems are efficiently and professionally managed.
A venue technician will work with the equipment you are using each day so they know it inside out, making it easier to deal with any problems that do arise through a fix or swift replacement.
We also offer event filming and editing on site, something I haven’t seen at many other venues in the city. Editing can be quite time-consuming, so keeping it on site means the final film gets to the organiser quicker.
What do people forget about AV?
Our clients don’t always realise how long it takes to edit raw footage into a finished film. Some people expect footage immediately after an event but it can take up to a couple of days for it to be professionally edited. There is also a budget requirement for this time, which can be forgotten.
If clients are using a lot of technology, it can be of real benefit to all parties for everyone to meet prior to the event. Then we can really understand what they require and what their pressure-points are. This is often very reassuring for the organiser meaning less on-the-day anxiety.