The 3 Pillars of Live Production Planning

Mar 4, 2020

Every live production project is unique.

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Every live production project is unique. This is something that we’ve spewed ad nauseam over the years. Mainly because it’s true, partly because it sounds catchy. Regardless of the specifics behind your production, there are 3 pillars of live production planning that we focus on: financial, technical, and return-on-investment. Let’s take a deeper look.


Every live production project has a budget. Some clients have bigger budgets than others, but we’ve yet to work with a client that hands over a blank check. We understand that there’s a ceiling to what you can spend and that’s something we take very seriously. As your production partner, it’s our job to come up with technical solutions that achieve your goals, but don’t break the bank. We start all of our client engagements by asking what the budget parameters are for the project. Some clients are reluctant to disclose their budget guidelines, but this has such a huge impact on the project that it’s crucial to iron this out up-front. Scheduling, labor, technical resources, and travel are just some of the areas that are budget driven. Understanding your production budget is hugely important for live production planning as it drives what technology and resources we bring to the table and serves as our roadmap for planning your event. We need to manage overages, make cuts where appropriate, and keep you informed of any additional expenses or scope changes that have budget implications.


Once we have an understanding of your budget, we begin to dig into the technical components of your show. And to do that, we need to understand all the moving pieces. This can include everything from the venue itself, to the overall structure of your program. We also need to pin down things like show graphics, record needs, and playback capabilities. All of these details will help us to determine what gear and technology is needed to successfully execute your production. And knowing what your budget is (as outlined above), we’ll be able to rule out certain technology that may be cost prohibitive. The technical components of your show are primarily driven by the overall program format, but can also be impacted by your venue. For example: if your preference is to bring in a mobile unit, but there’s nowhere to park it, then we’ll have to look for different technical solutions. Understanding all of your needs, documenting any possible limitations with your venue, and knowing your budget parameters are all key in locking in the technical resources for your project.


Our 3rd pillar of live production planning is return-on-investment. Why are you producing this program? What is your end goal? If you’re producing a town hall, your goal might be to educate your audience – and viewers – on a specific topic or issue. If you’re producing a live red carpet, then your goal may be to generate buzz about an upcoming film release. Understanding your ideal ROI is a critical step towards a successful production. If your goals are clearly outlined at the beginning of our engagement, then we can make sure to factor those goals into our approach. For example, if your main goal is to produce a live program that’s “engaging”, then we can look for technical tools to help integrate social content, or allow for interactivity between remote locations. Understanding how you would deem the project a success will help us get you there. If your project is tied to sponsorship, then there may be certain obligations that need to be factored into your program. Alternatively, if your sponsor views the project as a success, they may be more inclined to provide funding (and perhaps more of it) for future projects.

There you have it. The 3 pillars of live production planning. While every project is different, and our approach to each project varies, budget, technology and ROI are key considerations to everything we produce for our clients. Check out our live production services page for more info on what we can offer, or contact us to discuss your next project project.

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  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2018-03-07 21:55:41

    We're glad you found this to be useful, Margaux. Let us know if there's anything we can help with.

  • Margaux Ford Reply
    2018-03-07 05:57:06

    I appreciate the tips on hiring a production staffing company to have more time to focus on the creative aspects of the project. Hiring a production crew is a tedious task, and can take up much of your time. We're currently working on a huge production, and I'll share this article with my boss so he'll consider on delegating the recruitment to a staffing company. I like that you mentioned that staffing company can ensure to have the right team onboard for the project. Thanks!

  • Robert McWilliams Reply
    2017-10-31 19:05:18

    Todd:I have an ad agency in addition to our production company. We put one of our clients on OTT two months ago up in Nevada. Seems to be working!Thanks again for the work earlier this month.Rob

  • Nicole Rohde Reply
    2017-05-27 22:28:45

    Hey Andrew, Any word as to whether or not the Jokers will be back for Comic Con this year? Please let me know. Thanks!!!

  • Aaron Estabrook Reply
    2017-02-23 16:26:57

    I'll be tuning in for sure!

  • David Patton Reply
    2015-01-16 13:16:02

    Interesting blog post Andrew. For those who are nearly ready to cut the cord, but still want access to key channels such as ESPN, I'd recommend checking out Dish Network's new service, Sling TV. It provides access to a handful of channels for $20/month.https://gigaom.com/2015/01/15/sling-tv-details-price-devices-networks-resolution-bandwidth/

  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2015-01-13 14:44:19

    Go for it! I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive about pulling the plug at first, but honestly, the transition away from DirecTV has been seamless. The only missing link is live sports, but there are a few work arounds depending on what sports you watch. Good luck!

  • Gregory Hart Reply
    2015-01-13 06:35:00

    While I am part of the 55 year old demographic that still has TV boxes and does TV viewing, I do my viewing using DVRs and networked PCs playing video files from an in-home server. I too have noticed that I view a handful of shows on a regular basis and have found various other sources for these shows. And now it has gotten to the point to where I am seriously considering ending my very long relationship with DirecTV and going streaming. Working in the TV industry also helped to open eyes to this as well. This transition from "old" TV is coming and the networks (Les Moonves, I am looking at you!) had better plan for it.

  • Gary Reply
    2013-08-08 09:44:39

    You've left out a HUGE part of this story by not mentioning Howard Stern's effect on the Sharknado buzz! #siris-ly

  • Marybeth Harrison Reply
    2013-08-07 14:46:29

    I can almost hear the theme song from Jaws as I read your post!