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Your Live Production Checklist

Mar 6, 2019

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When it comes to live production, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each project is different, each client has different needs, and each venue is unique. The common denominator are the resources and tools needed for a live production. While the technical requirements differ from show to show, the components and planning required to produce a live production remain consistent. We’ve put together a live production checklist to help keep your show on track.

Production Crew

As the saying goes, people are your most important asset. Booking labor is one of the first steps of the live production process. Contractor availability can be limited, especially during high profile events, so tackle your production crewing early. Provide as many details as possible up front – schedules, location, equipment being used, etc. The more info your crew has in advance, the less questions they’ll have on show day.

Venue

This may seem like an obvious one, but make sure your venue is locked in before you start finalizing your technical plans. Knowing your venue’s physical location and any known limitations is important as it can impact many other components of your show. Does the venue have shore power, or do you need a generator? Can your venue accommodate parking for a mobile unit, or will space limitations require that you bring in a flight pack? These seemingly small details can impact what technical resources you need to fulfill your client obligations.

Production Equipment

Equipment requirements vary from project to project and are driven by many factors, including location and budget. Some multi-camera productions can be tackled with a flight pack, others require a production truck or a studio environment. Once your venue is locked in, you can begin mapping out your technical resources based on the needs of your client and the parameters of your venue. It’s important to focus on what you need to for your live broadcast, but don’t forget about external audiences as well – there may be a need for a FOH setup or monitoring if there’s a live audience.

Power

You’re either powering your gear from existing circuits within a venue, or from a generator. If you’re getting house power, make sure you have access to enough amps for your production gear (and factor in some head room, too). Try and find out which outlets are on the same circuit, so you can evenly distribute power without overloading anything. And find out who has access to the electrical closet in case a circuit gets tripped. This is a small, but easily overlooked detail. If you’re bringing in a genny, make sure to have a refueling plan. You’ll need to make sure your generator is in an easily accessible area in the event you need to refuel at any point.

Lighting & Staging

Your lighting and staging needs will largely be driven by the scope of the project and by the location. If you’re in a controlled environment, like a studio or a theatre, much of this infrastructure may already be in place and require small supplementation. If you’re building something from scratch, you’ll need to source lighting and staging from outside partners and factor this into your technical setup and strike plans.

Connectivity & Transmissions

Next on our live production checklist: transmissions. Generally speaking, you have 3 transmission options for a live production: fiber, internet, or satellite. The transmission path you choose will depend on what’s available to you at your venue, and where your production is being distributed. Fiber is a reliable option, but may only be feasible if there’s an existing circuit at your venue, or one nearby. Having to run a new fiber circuit can be cost prohibitive and there is often a long lead-time. An internet connection may be the best option, but this depends on where your program is being distributed. If going with an IP route, it’s important that you have a dedicated circuit and that you have an appropriate amount of bandwidth. Lastly, satellite transmission may be a fit, but keep in mind that you will have to plan for parking a satellite truck and that your satellite truck will need a clear line-of-sight in order to transmit.

Logistics

Booking a great venue and sourcing top-of-the-line production gear is only 1 piece of the puzzle – a production can quickly get derailed if you don’t plan in advance and think through all the moving parts. Build a production schedule that gives you more than enough time to accomplish everything. Stagger your load-ins based on what needs to be setup first. Build in redundancies, contingencies, and plan B’s whenever possible. Think through every possible scenario, and have a plan for whatever comes your way.

There is a lot of planning that goes into a live production. Hopefully our live production checklist has given you some guidance. If you’re in need of support, we’re happy to help. Contact us any time to get started.

No Comments
  • 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!