Corporate Events Behind the Scenes
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!
– THE WIZARD OF OZ
You may recall the pivotal scene in the classical movie “The Wizard of Oz”, where Toto, Dorothy’s dog, pulls back the curtain, exposing the true identity of the mighty Wizard. The revelation shatters the illusion of a formidable, magical being, exposing a mere mortal operating a set of controls. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” the Wizard yells in vain.
This moment serves as a powerful metaphor for corporate events. Things are not always as they seem! It’s important to note that unlike the Wizard, who hid behind a façade, the production team operates transparently and collaboratively. They work hand-in-hand with other event professionals, aligning their efforts to create a cohesive and memorable experience.
So, while the team orchestrating your corporate event may not profess to be the Great and Powerful Oz, their unwavering dedication and expertise bring forth a mesmerizing spectacle that unfolds seamlessly on stage and screen. Behind the scenes, this dynamic group of technical professionals is working tirelessly, conjuring the very magic that captivates your audience.
Let’s pull back the curtain on the essential roles these individuals play!
Having a strong technical director is vital to the success of your event! This the person in the superhero cape with “T.D.” proudly displayed on their chest. Well, not really, but you get the idea! This is a special individual – a talented, experienced taskmaster that is unfazed during crisis – the ultimate detail-oriented T-crosser and i-dotter! They are involved very early in the event planning process – even as early as the site visit – helping with stage design, stage renderings, technical specifications, and labor/equipment requirements.
They oversee all equipment load-in/load-out, ensure technical setups are executed as specified, and troubleshoot any issues that arise.
During the event, the T.D. oversees the various technical aspects of the event, serving as the ultimate authority on all technical decisions. They are the calm among the chaos, coordinating with audio engineers, lighting designers, visual technicians, and the production team to ensure all elements are working harmoniously.
They make critical decisions in real-time to ensure a flawless event experience. Their expertise and quick thinking are instrumental in handling any technical challenges that may occur, troubleshooting any technical hiccups along the way – turning them quickly into distant memories.
Audio engineers, the event’s masterful sound artisans, are the epitome of coolness in their domain. They’re like modern-day wizards, conjuring up magical sounds from their mixing boards and mysterious machines. Armed with an arsenal of cables that could rival a spaghetti factory, these brave souls fearlessly navigate the treacherous seas of decibels and frequencies.
Operating the sound systems, they ensure crystal-clear audio throughout the venue. From setting up microphones for presenters, to mixing the sound for optimal quality, audio engineers ensure that every word, sound effect and musical note is heard with precision. They meticulously tweak knobs and sliders, adjusting levels with infinitely more precision than your 8-year-old sibling playing “Operation” – all while sporting a messy bedhead that somehow just “works” for them.
Don’t be fooled by their calm demeanor, though. Beneath that cool exterior lies a passionate, skilled audio ninja that can detect and remedy the sound of a pin drop during recording.
The lighting techs are artisans of illumination, weaving a tapestry of light on stage and throughout the venue. They are armed with an assortment of high-tech gadgetry that would make even James Bond jealous!
In support of the technical director and producer’s plan, they create visually stunning environments that enhance the overall mood and impact of the event. By using a combination of stage lighting, spotlights, and special effects, they add depth, drama, and focus to key elements and presenters, captivating the audience’s attention. The lighting techs are the masters of manipulating light, bringing life and ambiance to the stage; painting the room with hues and shades like an artist on a canvas!
These visual masterminds orchestrate the video and multimedia aspects of a corporate event. They coordinate with camera operators, ensuring that live feeds or recorded footage are captured and displayed effectively. Weaving their magic behind the scenes and ensuring that every pixel is in its perfect place, their expertise in all things multimedia turns an ordinary event into a visually mesmerizing spectacle, making sure the audience remains engaged and captivated!
They operate video mixing consoles and video switching systems as they run, record, and play back the live production video broadcast. The video engineers also color-match and shade cameras and route video signals to record bays, projection, and numerous other mediums.
The next time you plan a corporate event and marvel at the stunning visuals unfolding before your eyes, take a moment to appreciate the video engineers who helped pull it all together. They’re the unsung heroes of the virtual world, making sure you’re always looking your best, even on those days when you’re wearing pajama bottoms during a digital event.
Operating in harmony with the production team and show caller, the playback operator plays a crucial role during your event backstage. They are the masters of timing, the so-called “DJs of the event world”, gathering and preparing necessary content for the event such as pre-recorded videos, music tracks, graphics, animations, presentations, and other media elements. They organize and label the content in a way that allows for easy and quick access during the event, as they are following the show flow with the show caller to execute the playback of various media elements at precisely the right time.
The key responsibilities and tasks of a playback operator include equipment setup and configuration, content preparation and organization, cueing and timing, technical troubleshooting, collaboration and communication, rehearsals, and show execution. Their expertise and attention to detail contribute to the success and smooth execution of the performance behind the scenes.
The stage manager is the event’s cat herder. They help with the flow of the event backstage, ensuring smooth changeovers between speakers, performances, and presentations. As the show script is being narrated by the show caller, the stage manager follows the details of the show flow and agenda, working closely with speakers and ensuring they are present, prepared and cued correctly. They manage the setup of stage props and set changes to ensure seamless transitions.
Once your presenter is ready to go onstage, brace yourself, as it wouldn’t be unexpected to see the stage manager holding a napkin under your presenter’s chin, demanding them to “Spit it out!” if they catch them gum chewing before sending them onstage – while swiftly removing the presenter’s lanyard with the finesse of a seasoned a pickpocket.
You may notice the on-site production team, situated at the front of the house, at a table facing the main stage (although sometimes they can be seated backstage). Who are these individuals, and what is their role?
Front of House Technical Crew
The crew stationed at or in close proximity to the production desk encompasses a diverse range of skilled professionals, including lighting technicians, camera operators, and possibly language translators. Together, they form an integral part of the production team, contributing their expertise to create and memorialize a seamless and captivating event.
Core Production Team – Executives, Producer, Show Caller, Show Runner
The core production team’s responsibilities fall into three primary groups:
ON-SITE EVENT MANAGEMENT
These three categories require a substantial amount of effort and work, making them quite demanding and challenging. A strong, experienced and skilled production team is invaluable!
The Producer/Project Manager
This is the focal point of pre-show planning. The producer/project manager conquers chaos and delivers results, managing the overall planning of the production to ensure its success. They are responsible for the event’s creative direction, planning, and execution. Working with the event’s stakeholders, the producer develops the event’s design and strategy, ensures it stays within budget, allocates the appropriate resources needed and negotiates contracts with vendors and suppliers. They assemble and manage the production team, provide creative direction, ensure consistent and effective communication and resolve any challenges that arise while planning the event.
During the event, the producer supervises the implementation of the event’s plan and meticulously manages all on-site details. They make critical decisions, manage unexpected issues, and ensure that all aspects of the event run smoothly. They serve as the point of contact for the client, stakeholders, and the various production team and support staff. They provide direction and handle any last-minute changes or issues and ensure that the event runs flawlessly. They act as the go-to person for troubleshooting, decision-making, and maintaining overall event coordination.
After the event, the producer assesses its success, gathers feedback, and conducts a post-event analysis. They identify areas of improvement, evaluate the event’s impact, and prepare notes and recommendations for future events.
You can usually guess who the show caller is during the event – this is the person wearing a headset, laser focused and absorbed in his or her work, and having 3 important conversations at once, all while sipping coffee and complimenting you on your shoes. The show caller plays a critical role in orchestrating the various elements of a live production, ensuring that everything runs smoothly, on cue, and according to the producer’s vision. Following all details required by the show flow and script, the show caller is the “conductor” of this orchestra we call corporate events, communicating with all production and crew members. They require excellent organizational skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure to deliver a successful and well-coordinated show.
During the event, the show runner assists in fulfilling the needs of the production team, and most commonly includes running errands under the direction of the producer. They work as a general assistant, for the production team or client, and they may assist with miscellaneous special projects before, during or after the event.
Overall, the production team’s expertise lies in their ability to bring together various moving parts, create a cohesive experience, and deliver a memorable event that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations.
Next time you plan or attend a corporate event, pause for a moment to appreciate the behind-the-scenes efforts of these talented individuals, whose collective work creates a memorable and immersive experience for all attendees. Each role is integral to the overall success of the event. Raise your coffee cup to the event planners, the producers, the technicians, and all the extraordinary individuals who put their heart and soul into crafting an exceptional corporate experience.