AV’s Digital Future: Five Trends To Watch in Live Event Staging

in Features

RSN member Video West designed these flown scenic flats, then used them for video-mapped projections for a multi-dimensional effect.Donald Guzauckas is president of the Rental and Staging Network (RSN), a nationwide network of 21 geographically diverse rental and staging companies committed to continual improvements in their business operations and profitability. Here, Guzauckas articulates five trends that the members have discussed recently about live event production and, in particular, digital AV. Evidence for all of these trends could be found at the NAB and InfoComm shows earlier this year.

1. Digital Signage for Meetings

Digital signage is common in corporations and seen in retail, and clients see the value in it as an effective means to communicate with attendees at live events, such as corporate events, meetings, conventions and trade shows. Digital signage is a powerful tool that is easily updated, allowing minute-by-minute wireless changes to information to keep attendees informed. It is also possible to make changes to all digital signage displays from one central location. An additional advantage? It’s possible to lower costs and show your interest in sustainable solutions by employing a mode of communication that reduces your reliance on traditional print communication.

2. Migration to Digital Signal Flow (DVI, HD-SDI, Cat5, Fiber)

Attempting to carry analog wire from venue to venue has been a challenge – it’s expensive, it’s heavy and it’s extremely bulky. The migration to digital is a natural outflow of changes to equipment; many manufacturers are producing equipment that no longer has any analog connections. Digital can drive a signal further, faster and it is much more cost effective than analog. Although we won’t see analog completely phased out any time soon, looking forward, some of the leading staging companies are focusing on all-digital solutions to meet client needs.

3. More 4K Resolution Video Now Being Developed and Introduced

When the transfer to high-definition video initially occurred, the signal was carried over analog wire before converting to digital. Now everyone is looking at ways to transport higher bandwidth over the existing infrastructure. The cost of 1080 cameras is coming down; the same is expected to occur with 2K and, ultimately, 4K will follow suit. Technology is accelerating rapidly in the 4K arena and content carrying systems and displays will become less cost prohibitive and more mainstream in the very near future. While 4K is still somewhat elusive because it is so specialized, RSN members see 4K resolution video becoming a required premium product within the next 18 months and a standard offering within three years.

4. Cross-over to New Product Lines

A generation ago (which is really only several years ago), staging an event required interaction and purchases of products and equipment from multiple manufacturers and vendors that were highly specialized in each of their fields — one vendor for sound products, another one for lighting components, and still another for projection equipment. Not any longer. In order to remain competitive in today’s environment, staging product and equipment manufacturers are expanding and diversifying their product mix, and rental and staging companies need to be aware of and adapt to this growing trend. For instance, vendors previously associated with supplying cinema cameras might now also be selling direct view monitors as well. Such product diversification will put some vendors in new competition with other vendors, and the implications of this for rental and staging companies are still uncertain.

5. Increased Mainstream Usage

Many of the more specialized services that were previously available only to those with big budgets and deep pockets are becoming more mainstream. An exciting new technology is video projection mapping, which is a projection technique that uses different types of surfaces, including buildings, to project and incorporate a dynamic video display. RSN members predict that digital mapping will become more a part of “main street meetings” than ever before. Another key development to watch over the next six months is the ongoing evolution of non-linear, 2D and 3D real-time editing, playback and control software, which is very user-friendly, creative and flexible. What’s most impressive about this technology is that it enables the use of 3D in real time, which is extremely important in our line of work. Similarly, LED lighting is becoming more diverse and affordable with new products being launched in the market.

A Look at the Future

In attempting to tie these trends together in a cohesive manner, customers are looking to work with a staging company that has a solid vision for the future – one that is completely in sync with current and emerging technology that has the “wow” factor that gets a client noticed. More and more, customers are looking for that special unique “something” that provides additional value for them at an event and attracts those in attendance to them.

RSN members are able to utilize these trends with their clients to promote better and more cost-effective uses of technology. Using best practices and the latest technological advancements, RSN members demonstrate their commitment and passion to provide the customers with a superior staging experience.

More information about the Rental Staging Network (RSN) can be found on the group’s website, www.rentalandstaging.net.