LCS, Inc. Keeps the Runway Rockin’ for Conejo Valley’s National Charity League!

Sunday, March 19th – The Conejo Valley Chapter of National Charity League, Inc. presented its annual fashion show and fundraiser “Modelette” and Let’s Create Something, Inc. helped set the stage. With music on que, elaborate lighting displays, LED screens and wireless communication systems, today’s fashion shows exemplify true theatrical events. Designers demand audio visual technology that underscores their style and makes a statement. For the twelfth consecutive year, Let’s Create Something, Inc. provided exclusive Audio Visual Support for WNCL’s fashion show. At LCS, Inc., we know the fashion show is all about the theme and we produce expertly directed AV Technology to help establish that theme.

MUSIC IS FASHION’S BEST FRIEND

Music provides a background and context for the fashion show. It sets the mood and underscores the designer’s statement. The right music paired with the perfect outfit transforms the model. She becomes a dancer or a character in a play. Spectators watch mesmerized as she struts to the beat down the catwalk with a certain boldness in her eye. Every year, LCS’s Joe “Klevin” Scott creates a custom playlist of current pop songs for Modelette. Klevin’s fun, energizing mixes set the models in motion and encourage audience engagement. Fashion is everywhere and music is its constant companion.

LIGHTING CREATES GLAMOUR

Spectacular lighting influences the mood as much as music. The two go hand in hand. Red, deep blue and purple lights create drama while bright colors create a fun and free feeling. Strong, deep colors set against powerful music sets the stage for dramatic ensembles and powerful entries while bright, light colors set against cheerful music sets the stage for light, airy ensembles and exciting surprises.

Call LCS, Inc. before your next fashion show and we will help you make it a true theatrical event!

Tips for making the most out of your Event Technology Budget

With the average event budget allocating 15% to 20% for audio visual technology, how can event professionals make the most return on investment?  Randy Clark

Randy Clark, President of Let’s Create Something, Inc., offers a few insights.


Meeting Professionals International (MPI) reports 18 million events and meetings were organized in the U.S. in 2016 producing $280 billion in spending. The Event Industry contributes $115 billion to the national GDP.  Yet, whether it’s a corporate conference or a music concert, new and increased cost factors challenge meeting planners and organizers to come up with ways to creatively stretch their budgets.

MPI’s Industry Outlook reports increasingly high expectations among attendees for more innovative and tech-rich events. While, “More than ever, they [event planners] are doing more with less, and there is a focus on ROI,” says Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights, the Atlanta-area research firm that conducts the survey.

(source: Meeting Professionals International)

When it comes to money, don’t be shy!

Share your event schematics with your Event Tech Specialist early in the planning phase and ask for suggestions where your budget is best utilized. A focused conversation about budget restraints gives vendors a clearer picture of your event’s specific priorities and, in some cases, a simple adjustment in equipment can lower your bottom line.

“When our customer is working with a tight budget, we always come up with a solution. We work closely with our clients because our goal is to ensure return business and referrals.”Randy Clark, President of Let's Create Something, Inc.
Shop around… Look outside the box.

While it may seem easier or more efficient to use in-house tech services, not every conference needs the same PA System, not every party needs an audio mixer.

As you evaluate event technology bids, make sure you compare apples to apples.Randy Clark, President of Let's Create Something, Inc.

One of outsourcing’s greatest benefits is vendors provide a larger equipment selection. Vendors have a larger range of options and tailor their services to your event.

Look for AV Specialists who truly value your business.

While you may choose your AV Tech Specialist for his or her expertise, the best AV equipment vendors provide excellent customer service, as well. In most cases, your Event Tech Specialist is a small business owner and return business is the cornerstone to small business success.

Also, consider the non-tangibles. Is the chemistry good with your Event Tech Specialist? Will this AV vendor have your best interest in mind? These are all items on our punch list when we scout and build events.” There is nothing like a happy customer and we value the satisfaction of our clients above all.Randy Clark, President of Let's Create Something, Inc.

 

Transforming your Live Event with Audio Visual Technology

Westlake Village, CA – March 10, 2017

Whether the focus is Brand-Building, Community Awareness, Client-Building or Social Networking, live events and meetings foster relationships, learning and knowledge sharing. Face-to-face connections remain the most effective way to convert leads by offering potential clients or customers the opportunity to experience the look, feel and personality of your brand. Incorporating audio visual elements to events add a component of non-spoken communication as lighting and sound can support a brand identity or set the mood in a room. Great event planners know having the right Audio Visual technicians on-hand makes the difference between an event that sizzles or one that fizzles.

Cost factors involved with incorporating AV technology often cause event planners to cut corners.  With today’s technology, anyone with a smart phone may feel they have all they need to incorporate sound or, at least, some elements of recording and projection.  While this may seem like a logical way to avoid unnecessary expenses, top event planners know the all too expensive cost of a failed mic or projector. Professional AV technicians arrive on-site, with all the experience and gear necessary.

Skilled AV technicians know how to transform a designer’s concepts into real experiences. They consistently communicate with event designers from the planning stage to post production and, most importantly, throughout the actual event.  Professional, experienced technicians provide the backbone to any event, large or small, handling every detail including lighting and sound management, projection, camera operation and live-webcasting to video and recording.  They plan for room size and equipment installation requirements ensuring every element of the production connects with the senses of every person in attendance. This expertise only comes with on-the-job experience and a passion for staying abreast of the latest trends and technology.

Top 4 Trade Show Technology Mistakes

 

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – July 16, 2015
Most marketing professionals, business owners and industry experts have attended at least one trade show or industry event.  The goal of those presenting at these events is to show how and why they are leaders in their industry.  It is crucial to put your best foot forward at these events and show your target audience what you can do for them and their business.  One way to show this is to have the latest in technology and innovation working for you.  Be sure to take the steps to avoid costly technology mistakes at your next event.

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Top 4 Trade Show Technology Mistakes

1) Not Using Any Technology At All

When promoting your business print will only get you so far.  While it is important to have a take away flyer and a nice banner with your name on it, that will hardly set you apart from the booth next to you with 3 – 70′ monitors with custom videos on screen and a couple speakers with a microphone.  Even if your work truly is the best, it is important to look at least as good as the person next to you to attract the potential customer so they allow you to show them how and why you’re the best!

2) Using Outdated Technology

Everyone has that old laptop or tablet lying around.  Yes it works and it may be practical for daily use, however it doesn’t set you about from anyone else in your industry.  If you bring your outdated equipment to display how you are at the best, your potential customers may assume that you undervalue your work.  If you have the latest in equipment and technology, it shows that you value your company and are willing to invest in the latest and greatest.  Don’t have the latest in equipment? That’s okay, rent it! At LCS you can rent laptops, plasma screens and more!

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3) Not Engaging Your Customer

You can use all the technology in the world, but if you’re not using it properly or optimizing it to accomplish your goals you are probably wasting your money.  If you’re running a slideshow of images on the screen and only using the laptop to run the slideshow, you’re not doing much to engage your customers.  It is important to have as many elements as you can reasonably manage to attract the widest audience possible.  Try having a custom video running while scrolling through examples of your work on an iPad, that way you can be engaging multiple customers at the same time.

4) Going Too Big (Or Too Small!)

Your set up should match the message you are trying to convey to your audience.  If you have a staff of 3 then it probably doesn’t make sense to have 4 iPads and 2 laptops.  If you are advertising your exceptional personal service, it is important to make sure that you do not go over the top with your visuals.  The same applies in reverse.  If you are trying to set your business apart as a leader in the tech industry, it is important to have a large presence with multiple displays and the latest in technology and content.  Make sure the scope of your display accurately conveys YOUR message to YOUR audience.

 

It is important to always plan and be prepared when presenting your company to potential clients.  It is very easy to recognize an ill-prepared presenter and may reflect poorly on your company.  By consulting with professionals when organizing your display you can be assured that you will be putting your best foot forward.  Let a company like LCS help you to show your business in the best light.  Invest in the future of your business and your clients will see what sets you apart.

Independent AV Professionals or In-House Support?

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – June 31, 2015
Most seasoned event planners know that there are definite positive and negatives in deciding whether to use a venue’s in-house A/V company and equipment or work with an independent A/V company.  Sometime a venue requires you to use their in-house team, which further limits your options and may even have you considering a change of location.  This decision could greatly affect your event, whether that means changing venues or re-organizing the flow of the event itself based on the capabilities of the team chosen.

In-House A/V
Positives

ballroomOne of the biggest plusses of using the in-house A/V team at a venue it that it is “their” venue.  They (should) know the structure, layout, size and capabilities of this venue better than any outside team you could bring in.  They should know where every electrical outlet is, whether you will need additional power, how high the ceilings are, how bright/dim the lights can be and much much more.

Another positive in using the in-house A/V is that their equipment and staff are on site.  If their equipment inventory is large enough, they should have back-ups of all essential pieces, so if there is a problem during your event the fix should be quick and easy.  This also applies to staff, because the staff is familiar with the venue, they know how long it will take to put together their equipment and in what configuration.

Negatives

One of the negatives of using the in-house A/V team is that they do not have to have competitive pricing.  If you are limited to one option, and one option only they essentially have a monopoly on their service at that location.  This means that if you have no other venue options, you will be forced to pay whatever their quote is.
*There are sometimes ways to work around this, call if you would like recommendations of how to best work with an in-house team

Another negative in using the in-house team is that you are limited to the equipment they have in their inventory.  Some may rent from outside companies when the need arrises, however many will use the “good enough” approach, if that sound system was good enough for the last event, it will be good enough for yours too.

Independent A/V Professionals
Positives

Vera_Project_12One of the greatest positives of working with an independent company for A/V support for your event is flexibility.  Independent A/V professionals are able to bring in support specific to your needs.  If you need amazing audio they will bring in the “audio guy” – And if you need something specific they do not carry, they are typically more than willing to go out, find it and bring it to your event.  Independent A/V professionals also will be at your venue specifically for you.  They will now have to spit their time at one location between your program and the one running in the conference room down the hall.

Independent A/V professionals do most of their work based off competitive pricing.  We know that our clients are shopping around, so if our quote is 25-50% more than our competition we will probably not get the job.  For this reason, it is in our best interest to price our services appropriate of the market.

Another benefit of working with an independent A/V company is that if you have worked with them before, you know their services, their staff and their capabilities.  You trust them and their services, which means that there will be less stress when it comes to planning and preparation for your event.  Also, in having a personal relationship with your A/V team you can feel comfortable calling them at any time to discuss changes or concerns.

Negatives

The main negative of working with an independent A/V company is that if they do not understand the location you could run into problems.  If you event was planned last minute, or if for some reason your outside A/V team was not able to do a site survey of your event space, there is a chance that they are not fully prepared for your needs.  If they have not been given the opportunity to understand the venue, from the heights of the ceiling to their power capabilities, there is a chance that something will be overlooked.

In conclusion, there are a number of reasons to use either an in-house or independent A/V team.  It varies greatly on whether you already have a relationship with a company or if you are flexible with the venue.  If you have excellent contract negotiation skills, that may also be a determining factor in your choice.  Either way, it is very important to know what you want, have a team you trust and do your research beforehand.

Four Costly Production Assumptions (and How to Avoid Them!)


WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – June 16, 2015
It’s a known fact of life
.. We learn from our mistakes. (or at least we should!) You burn yourself when you’re a kid and learn not to play too close to fire, you assume that you can jump from the trampoline to the pool and break your arm and realize you aren’t invincible… These life lessons continue as we get older and no one knows these better than event producers and others involved in the events industry.  One must learn quickly to have a plan B, C, and even D if everything is going to run smoothly.

1. Assume that the last person to do the job did it correctly

CablesThis applies to event planners, producers and definitely audio visual technicians.  We are often called into a location that has some of it’s own audio visual equipment and we simply add to it with our own.  We then network it all together for a seamless event.  The problem arises when the A/V team does not properly do it’s research regarding the in-house equipment and simply reads over a list of needed equipment in preparing the order.  Many pieces of equipment simply are not compatible (like Macs vs PCs in the “old days”) and some others simply need the correct cabling.
This also applies to simpler aspects of the event such as confirming that the volume of the speakers are turned down before they are plugged in, the ratio of the projector to screen is correct for what is being presented and the wireless microphone has fresh batteries!

2. Assume there is enough equipment/space for the job

As with the previous assumption, it is common to get a call from a planner at a venue telling you exactly what they need. “We need a projector, no screen, a cable for a laptop, and a technician to set up and run everything“.  This frequent request can be very dangerous to your reputation if you do not already know what the venue has and what is expected of your technician.  If the event begins and the venue only supplied 2 speakers for a 300 person conference, everyone in the back of the room is going to be looking to your technician to resolve the issue when they can’t hear the presenter.  If you investigate beforehand the type of event, location, number of attendees and in house equipment, you can suggest to the planners ways to fix these issues BEFORE they arise.Behind the Scenes Tech

A few weeks ago we received a call for a projector and screen for a private meeting space in a restaurant.  The call was last minute, so we did not have time to check out the space beforehand to determine the proper size screen needed.  Because we have years of experience and all of our guys have “learned the hard way” in one way or another, our tech knew to bring 2 different screens to adjust for the size of the room.. Sure enough, the larger screen that he was planning on using was too big and he had to swap out for the smaller screen on location.

3. Assuming any guy with production experience is right for the job

confusedTo explain how we work, I often compare us to a general contractor.  If you want someone to install some drywall and expand your closet they can probably do it all.  The same is true for us, if you want a couple projectors, speakers and microphones any of our technicians can “do it all”.  However, if you want to do a complete remodel of your bathroom, the contractor will probably do most of the work, but call in a plumber when the major pipe work needs to be done.  If you call in the painter to repair the pipes, you’re probably going to have some major plumbing issues!  Again, the same is true for us.  If you need the projection/audio set up AND an LED video wall, we will call in the “video wall guy” along with our general technicians.  We’re not going to call our our lead audio technician to set up the video wall.  We know our strengths which means we also know when we need specific additional support for bigger or unique productions!

A few months ago I was on a job supporting the production team in the tech booth at an event.  The producer had called in some technicians with dozens of years of production experience who were supposed to create an amazing technical experience.  The problem was, all of their experience was working with a certain set of equipment and we had provided some different,  very specific equipment for a very unique job.  Even with three guys with 15+ years each of experience it took them hours to figure out how to set up and run the specific equipment because they were not properly trained and experienced with it. 

4. Assuming you can achieve any concept on the client’s budget

Everyone in the event world (and most people out of it) know that for every event or production there is a budget.  Sometimes the budget is flexible to meet the concept and other times the concept is flexible to meet the budget.  An event production team tends to run into problems when neither the budget nor the concept is flexible in the eyes of the client.  This is when producers tend to start cutting corners with their vendors.  Some cost cutting changes won’t have a major effect on the overall experience of the event – chicken instead of fish, simple cotton tablecloths and smaller floral arrangements.  Other changes can majorly affect the ambiance, such as one projection screen instead of two or half the number of speakers.  A great rule of thumb is to never promise the client something BEFORE you know the entire scope of the event.

There are a great deal of variables when planning an event and it all starts with having a great plan and a great team to execute that plan.  Analyzing the good and the bad after each event will always help you be more prepared for the next time, and the more you do this, the fewer problems you will have.  In conclusion – trust your team, learn from your mistakes, and always have a back-up plan up your sleeve!

 

5 Steps to Prevent Microphone Feedback

 

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – June 3, 2015
If
 you have never attended an event and been forced to experience feedback from the presenter’s microphone, consider yourself lucky.  I attended an event yesterday where the speaker had to change the entire flow of his presentation mid-way through due to terrible feedback.  In addition to his inability to move around, he was faced with another dilemma.  The AV techs (thankfully not ours) had placed only 2 speakers in the front of a room with a conference set up that was more than 20 rows deep, this means that the back row could barely hear him.  If he turned up the front speakers to compensate, he was going to deafen himself and the front rows.  Even this problem was worsened by the continual feedback.

What is microphone feedback:
In laymen’s terms, microphone feedback (from a small to medium sized speaker/PA system) is typically characterized by a loud screeching sound whenever a live microphone is moved in a particular proximity to the speakers. It is typically caused when a speaker is able to pick up a signal from a microphone, takes in that sound and causes a loop where the signal runs from the microphone to the speaker and back to the microphone again.

Here are 5 useful tips for helping prevent microphone feedback at your next event! (Without using a mixer or other audio control device)

1. Place the microphone behind the main speakers and in front of the monitors

Feedback LoopIf the microphones are directly in front of the speakers your odds of having feedback increase greatly.  To help with this, place the speakers closer to the audience so that the presenter is most likely to be standing behind them.  If the presenter is behind the speakers, then the odds of them picking up the frequency of the microphone greatly decreases.  The problem can also occur when the presenter is off to the sides of the speakers, so beware of this as well in your positioning.

2.  Speak (or sing) close to the microphone

MicrophoneBy holding the microphone close to your mouth (without touching it) you will get the most natural volume, which means that the sound will not need to be as high and will naturally help prevent feedback.  If the microphone only has to “focus” on your voice it is more likely to only pick up your voice and you will get the clearest audio quality.  Also, make sure to hold the microphone by its stem, do not cup the metal (or foam) cage around the device.  This can also contribute to a higher potential for feedback.

3. If you’re not using it, Switch It Off!

A live microphone not in use is just WAITING for some kind of sound or frequency to pick up.. And if it’s not in use you’re likely not going to like whatever it is going to pick up.  If you have multiple microphones in use for an event, make sure only one is on at a time unless there is a dialogue happening.  If the host introduces the presenter and they have separate microphones, turn off the host’s the moment he or she is finished!

4. Analyze and treat the room accordingly

Feedback LoopPicture the walls of your venue as mirrors, if they are hard walls then they are bouncing the sound back in whichever direction the speakers are pointed.  This means that you should have speakers angling toward your audience and away from the walls whenever possible.  Also, the “softer” the walls are, the less the sound will bounce around and it will be less likely that the frequencies will cross back into the speakers and cause feedback.  If sound is very important, foam walls, carpeted barriers and pipe and drape are always good potential options for dampening the sound and preventing frequency feedback.

5. Allow yourself time for a professional to analyze the room

Speaker vs. MicrophoneMany companies will send a tech expert to walk your venue with you well before your event so that you can plan the logistics and set up for your venue.  This will allow you to know what type of equipment and set up you need before you even arrive at the venue day-of.  Also, make sure you know how long your tech needs to set-up day of and confirm that the venue will allow you to have the space beforehand.  With ample time to set up for an event, the proper equipment and enough time for testing, issues like feedback can be almost entirely avoided.

 

As with most things these days you may be able to do it yourself if you watch a few YouTube videos and read a couple blogs, however these tips alone may not fix all of your feedback issues.  If you are working with a very difficult set up or venue, you may need to involve a mixer or other audio control device, which most often means you will need a professional to control it.  If you have a simple enough event, you just became a HERO and can now save your audience’s ears from unnecessary damage because you are now an audio semi-professional!