An astonishingly accurate yet comical reflection on the Service of AV.
AV 24/7 defines itself as an Audio-Visual supplier, a supplier that provides goods and services in the areas of AV and Event Production. It sounds straight forward, yes we provide AV equipment in terms of our products along with delivery, installation and operation of equipment in terms of services. But as with any sound supplier (and we certainly aspire to tick that box), there is almost always a lot more going on in the exchange of business than what is present in the paper work.
This month we came across a fantastic article written by Joel Rollins at Ravepubs.com. Joel provides an astonishingly accurate yet comical reflection on the often overlooked additions of service our AV crew provide. If you're in the Audio Visual industry we're confident you will be able to relate to a few of the points below. And if you're not, you may be enlightened and potentially humbled by the length our AV industry providers go to service their clients, and more often than not at no extra charge.
Stagers have been providing a broader definition of "service" for many years, one that includes trucks, truss and trust (and lots and lots of coffee). People have always been able to rent or lease equipment and software from many sources, lots of them not even within what we consider our industry. But I have a deep-seated belief that "service" in our business goes a lot deeper than that, in that we also have to make sure that things go well, that the presentation itself is actually a successful one.
So I have decided to broaden our definition of "AV as a Service" by adding a number of the other terms that the S could stand for, but which have always been part of the definition to stagers:
How many of you have noticed that when the AV crew arrives on site, they become responsible for EVERYTHING technical? From helping get the social media department online to figuring out the CFO's new camcorder for him or her, we essentially have to take over responsibility for more than the show. We pretty much have to take on responsibility for everything that is powered with a battery and almost everything that draws wall current.
Many times, I have sat in preshow meetings trying to be patient while answering questions like "I can see why we need two screens, but do we really need two projectors?" or having to explain why the giant balloon centrepieces were going to create an issue for the IMAG cameras.
By default, our crew is going to see many of the client's secrets. We are going to see new products days before they are introduced to the public and find out about breakthroughs in many industries before they happen. I have always wondered why AV companies were not more frequently investigated for insider trading, but I have always appreciated the fact that the client had to trust us to see this kind of information.
The stories of coolness under fire in our industry are what our legends are made of. When I first started in the business, Terry Friesenborg taught me that the first rule of staging was "act naturally and keep moving." People in our industry constantly fix errors in other people's work, on-the-fly, and manage to make the show look smooth. We run speaker support for one presenter, while trying to fix the broken computer of the next presenter. I have even seen an AV technician stand-in during rehearsals for a paid presenter who had had a heart attack offstage. The show goes on.