Checking off site inspection concerns

A site inspection is a critical part of event planning and audiovisual design. Armed with pen, paper and a digital camera, you are prepared for your site inspection.

Taking pictures of the room is important. Pictures do not replace floor plan diagrams but augment the floor plan information. The pictures help the audiovisual design department conceptualize room space and acoustic traits of the meeting space.

Pictures are especially important when making changes to the room set up while not on-site. For example: the floor plans may not show where the ceiling bulkheads are so a 12-foot by 16-foot rear projection screen can’t be simply moved 10 feet because the bulkhead is now in the way!

A good floor plan is also essential. Have a copy of the venue’s floor plans when doing a site inspection. These are often provided with the proposed banquet layout for your event. You will want to add information to the supplied diagrams. If necessary, do this on a separate piece of paper. Take digital photos of any problematic areas (electrical outlets, bulkheads, chandeliers, emergency exits, lighting etc.)  Measurements are always useful.

The AV provider will take this information and do a complete master CAD design of the room covering all aspects of the event; banquet setup, staging and audiovisual design.

Other check list questions include both general logistical and specific AV issues.

General questions

  • Is the room large enough (or too large) for the event? Think about the number of delegates, seating style, stage size and placement, projection screen and projector placement, walkways, AV tech table, simultaneous interpretation booth, camera stages (image magnification), food and beverage serving.
  • What AV is included with the room rental: stage, podiums, microphones, screens, and flipcharts?
  • What are the venue’s security arrangements?
  • Set up and dismantle time?
  • Exclusive use of the room? Nothing is more frustrating and costly to find out that you have to set up and dismantle your staging several times.
  • Storage for extra equipment and road cases?
  • Size and availability of the loading dock?
  • Are there obstructions such as pillars, chandeliers or other elements such as large windows (test window covering effectiveness)?

AV Questions

  • What is the quality of the in-house sound system and are there patch fees to use it?
  • Ceiling height will determine the largest screen that the room can accommodate. If front projection is planned, how close can the screen be set in front of a wall?  If possible, provide a measurement from floor to ceiling.
  • Are there restrictions for flying projectors, screens and lighting from the ceiling and who can perform the work and at what cost?
  • Where is the room lighting controlled from and is there a remote control unit available?
    Where is the electrical panel and what is the cost for hook up and use? This is critical if using theatrical style lighting. Try to take a picture of the electrical panel.
  • Are high speed internet connections available for webcasting and videoconferencing?

Chris Germain, Inland AV Edmonton General Manager will address audiovisual considerations that are important to event planners. As a branch manager, Chris brings a unique AV perspective from his experience in permanent systems design and integration, and rental applications.

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