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Our Top 6 Live Event Production Challenges

Apr 14, 2017

Broadcast Management Group has been fortunate to have worked at some pretty big events.

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Broadcast Management Group has been fortunate to have worked at some pretty big events. We’ve produced live shows with IMDb during the Oscars, Mashable during SXSW, truTV during Comic-Con, Yahoo during Fashion Week, and Amazon during Sundance. While each of these projects were different in their own special way, working in a crowded environment with a lot of additional outside production often presents the same challenges. Here’s a list of our top 6 live event production challenges.

Parking

Parking is a challenge for live event, but when you add road-closures and permitting to the mix, it’s especially difficult. Parking availability (or lack thereof) impacts not only when, where and how we load in equipment, but also where our crew parks or where deliveries can be made. 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 of the event. We always come up with a list of nearby garages and a plan A, B and C for load-in and deliveries.

Storage

Storage is so easy to overlook even though it’s something that always comes up. You might have the perfect plan for load-in, setup and cable runs, but you still need somewhere to store empty road cases. Spoiler alert: you’ll never have enough space. We’ve hidden cases under stages, used empty crates as seats in the control room, and re-loaded empty boxes back into our truck to keep them out of the way. Make sure you speak to the venue about storage options.

Permitting

Different events have different rules and regulations for anything and everything. Did you know you need a permit to use a jib at SXSW? Do your due diligence and assume that everything you do requires a permit. Talk to the event organizers and give them a run-through of your plans. Ask questions. Confirm and re-confirm. All it takes is one angry event organizer to shut down your production because you didn’t file something appropriately.

Personnel

For cost purposes, we try to book local crews as often as possible. But when you’re working a big event – especially in a smaller market – it can be difficult to find local crews during a high-demand period.  If you have the luxury of a long lead time, crewing shouldn’t be a heavy lift, but if you’re dealing with a tight production window, make sure you have a plan for traveling out of town guests.

Transmissions

A high-traffic event means high-demand for bandwidth. For large events, our primary transmission preference 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 an option, a dedicated internet circuit will suffice. The key to any transmission path is to get it booked and tested as early as possible. And if IP is your desired transmission path, make sure you have a dedicated connection. The last thing you want is your live stream to be sharing the same bandwidth as the house WiFi network.

Travel

Our final live event production challenge is parking. Like most of the items listed above, booking early is the key. Travel accommodations are no exception. A last-minute flight isn’t going to be cheap – or available – and it’s almost guaranteed that all local hotels will be booked. Personally, we like to book AirBnb’s instead of hotels. They give you a comfortable place to crash and generally a few free parking spaces.

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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!