Unique venues may well arouse the interest of delegates for a forthcoming conference and could offer creative opportunities by incorporating the venue’s sui generis into the theme or message relevant to your purpose of your event. Unfortunately, those very same virtues can also create a host of audio visual challenges.
Detailed site visits and inspections well ahead of the event are essential and plans need to include all aspects of the event under consideration. Site inspections are the key to any event but even more so with unique venues. No one involved wants any surprises.
By definition a unique venue is hard to categorise so it will require create solutions. A unique venue can range from a historic building, a beach on a lake, a field, an airport runway to the roof of a high building.
The availability of mains power is often the first major concern as it may not only be required for the AV equipment, expert analysis of the event’s total requirements need to be made with a good safety margin built into the calculations. Also, are there enough circuits available so that any grounding issues can be resolved? A common grounding issue is when audio and lighting systems share the same electrical circuit. Everything can look and sound great until the lighting dimmers are adjusted and then a loud audio buzz ruins the ambiance. If power is an issue can temporary sources be brought on site? If you are bringing in a generator will it be large enough to handle the demand? Will it be quite enough to not disrupt the event?
Delivering intelligible audio is almost always a challenge at a unique venue. How many delegates will attend and where will they be? The sound system needs to be designed and configured to reach everyone.
Many historic buildings have wonderful grand foyers in which to hold an event for example the Natural History Museum, Often this means that there are very high ceilings and the walls, floors and ceilings are made of hard material (granite/marble). This means sound waves are not absorbed by the building so instead they bounce off the walls as reverberations. Too much reverb and the sound becomes unintelligible. In this situation many small speakers need to be position as close as possible to the delegates so they move the air to a minimum. Large speakers stacked at the side of the stage will send out strong sound waves that will bounce back and forth around the room distorting the sound reproduction as it goes. So, many smaller speakers producing lower levels of sound will help to control the sound waves.
Wind is always a variable at an outdoor event. A test on a calm evening will not give you the sound you need if a 60 kilometer gust starts blowing across the venue. Be prepared with more power than you think you will need. Wind also interferes with microphone performance so they should all be fitted with windshields, even though these fitted correctly may not be sufficient depending on the strength and direction of the wind.
Video projection bring other challenges all of their own, It is often said that projection screens and monitors do not work well in daylight, it is better assumed that they do not work at all, that is why large LED screens have become so popular. Also assume that projection screens and monitors, including Plasma and Led flat screens also do not work in marquees, let alone daylight, unless of course the marquees have been discreetly and sympathetically lined with a blackout material.
Infrared technology does not work in daylight, if you are looking at using simultaneous interpretation for an outdoor daytime event then FM translation would be required. The same infrared issue can affect other wireless equipment such as monitor remotes, wireless laptop control of PowerPoint type presentations.
The unique venue can deliver a memorable event but you do need to plan and consider all the possible “what ifs” to ensure everything goes according to plan.