BMG 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 is a challenge for every project, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.