SXSW is one of the top festivals in the US each year. With the convergence of film, music and tech, South By has something to offer for everyone. Brands and media companies often use SXSW as an opportunity to showcase new technology or upcoming releases, which is why SXSW is an ideal event for live production. But producing live programming from Austin isn’t easy. Here’s a look at the top 4 live production challenges at SXSW.
1. Lack of Parking
Parking at SXSW is a bit of a nightmare, which not only effects load-in logistics, but also impacts where your production crews can park. Road closures, permitting restrictions and an influx of cars make it especially difficult to find space for a vehicle. Getting a sense of which roads are closed, what permits or permission is required, and exactly how much flexibility you have when bending rules is important to establish well in advance. We always come up with a list of nearby garages and a plan A, B and C for load-ins and deliveries.
2. Availability of Live Production Transmissions
Cellular and bandwidth demands are at a premium during South By. More demand can mean more strain on your connections, which means it’s important to plan for a primary and redundant transmission option. Our top choice for all our live production projects is always fiber; however, that’s often limited and requires a long lead time if the circuit needs to be constructed. Assuming fiber isn’t available, a dedicated internet circuit will suffice. The key is to lock in your internet orders as early as possible and to make sure that your connection is dedicated – you don’t want to be sharing bandwidth with other activations (especially if you’re live streaming). And make sure you have contact info for the in-house network engineer or ISP. It’s important to know who to call if you’re not getting the right signal strength.
3. Access to Live Production Resources
Not surprisingly, production resources are in high demand during SXSW. This means everything from equipment to personnel can be tough to find. It’s important to book your equipment and crew as early as possible. When securing rentals, plan some level of redundancy in the event you need to accommodate last minute client requests – finding additional gear locally may not be an option. We like to build a list of local rental houses and equipment shops prior to the show so we know who to call if we need to source something quickly.
4. Lack of Travel Options
As with everything else on this list, booking early is the key. Travel accommodations are no different as Austin can fill up fast. We usually look to book AirBnb’s instead of hotels. They give you a comfortable place to crash and generally come with a few free parking spaces, which can come in handy.