Innovative Event Services, based in Charleston SC, is an event production company that specializes in corporate event production, but has also diversified into large scale weddings, parties and permanent installations. The company was founded by Thomas Smith, who draws on his theatrical design experience to blend inspiration and creativity with practicality and function. IES takes an unconventional approach toward employees. Instead of a typical structure of fulltime staff, everyone is an independent contractor. According to the company, this allows the hiring not only the most skilled technicians, but the ones that are best suited for each job. Smith says this promotes openness towards new ideas and innovations in technology.
We caught up with Smith to discuss an event for the Actors Models and Talent for Christ (AMTC), a multi-day convention held twice a year at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FL, that features singers, dancers, actors, and models from across the US.
LD: Why did AMTC choose your company to run this show?
Thomas Smith: I have been working with AMTC since 1997 and have been the show director/producer since 2002. With a tight time schedule and demanding audience of family and world renowned judges, the audio visual elements are of utmost importance. There is no time for equipment failure and extremely high quality is expected.
LD: What were the main requirements for this event?
TS: This event used multiple rooms, concurrently, each with its own audio visual requirements. The main ballroom was 46,000sq-ft. and had multiple functions that changed throughout each day. The room functioned as a space for seminars, modeling competitions, the talent show of the top 40 singers, dancers, and standup comedians, and finally, the grand awards banquet. The audiovisual system for the event had to be able to handle I-Mag, power point presentations and video presentations.
LD: What challenges did you face to produce this event?
TS: The largest challenge with this space is the sheer size of the room, coupled with the numerous changes and reconfigurations of the space over the course of the event.
To meet these challenges, we used projection screens on each side of the stage. To achieve the video projection during the event, we also used two Christie Digital 10K video-projectors, four Sony HD cameras, one Grass Valley camera switcher, and Analog Way Eikos LE and Quattro Vue FX. We had the sound system set up in zones so we could adjust to the specific needs of the day.
LD: Talk about the products you used.
TS: I have used and installed numerous Analog Way products over the years, including the Quattro Vue FX, most of the Octo-Series, and one of my favorites is the EventiX. The Quattro Vue FX is on almost all of my shows as a backup machine. It is great to have a cost effective scaler/switcher that can take almost any signal in and cleanly give you what you need back out and has preview, freeze, and multiple still store capabilities… this particular show required a variety of inputs and outputs. The Eikos LE was the primary switcher/scaler for the event. It was used in mixer mode with two frames stored for theme graphics, and the main out was going to the two projection screens. The preview out was going to a LCD and the video out went SDI to a hard drive recorder, and at one point, we switched over to composite for the live webcast.
The Eikos LE features a mosaic preview which was very helpful when wanting to get an overview of all inputs. The sources included three desktop computers with VGA, one laptop with VGA, one Playback Pro via DVI, one DVD via component, and three HD/SDI cameras routed through a Grass Valley SDI switcher via the SDI input of the Eikos LE.
We had been using up to four or five switchers in years prior to accomplish what the Eikos LE did by itself, with ease.
LD: How did the products help you solve problems during the show?
TS: In years prior to this event, we had to use multiple switcher/scalers to route the various signal types. This presented a huge problem with keeping the video in sync with the live action. Other switchers would introduce a very noticeable latency, and by using the Eikos LE, this was completely solved. Another great attribute of the Eikos LE is the ability to easily switch between an SDI output for recording and a composite one for a webcast. It was also much easier and cleaner setup. In addition to the obvious benefits, the system is simple enough that I did not have to keep a dedicated video engineer at the tech table at all times. When we went into seminars, the audio or lighting tech could easily punch up a logo or power point presentation, saving the client a large amount of money…I was so impressed with the Eikos LE that I changed out the unit specified for use on a show the following week. That event was a high profile corporate event with two days of live satellite feed between France and the US. We used the Eikos LE and the Quattro Vue FX to switch between three laptops, one playback pro, two Sony DXC D-55 SDI cameras, two Vaddio remote cameras via component signal, and the SDI satellite feed. We had signals routing to six projection screens, a LCD monitor, a preview monitor, and the SDI send back to the satellite truck. The Eikos LE gave us the ability to route signals in a variety of different ways with ease.
LD: What advantages do you see in the integration of presentation technologies on the rental and staging market?
TS: The general public is becoming more and more aware of the technology available to them and virtually all of my events incorporate some sort of high end video. As audiences become more educated about the products, we will be pushed to further expand what we as producers and designers can offer to them.
6 Martin Professional MAC 500
5 Mega-Lite Axis LED
7 Mega-Lite NE Color Panels
20 Mega-Lite Arcs
10 Mega-Lite NE Color Pars
18 PAR 64
6 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal
1 Leprecon Dimmer Rack
14 CM ½ ton Motors
20 James Thomas Engineering 12” Box Truss