The industry’s peak organisers and suppliers discuss AV demands in 2019.


Clair May, Storm Events

Storm operate in the gap between pure AV provider and agency. We are finding there is a greater move towards cost cutting and client liaising direct with us.

We find the layers that exist when an agency is involved are often superfluous, cost more and therefore are not appropriate for our clients.

We have been web casting and VC’ing for years and enjoy pushing technology and possibilities. If a request comes in saying ‘We’ve not done this before is it possible’ we get very excited.

Companies are less willing to move all staff to one location and are therefore driving video conferencing.

Last month Storm supported a 17 location VC using an online platform. This was a first for the bank and proved highly successful.

Technology is not about the latest gadget – which does tend to be expensive. Good technology should allow you to be creative with what is possible and that is why expert technicians are invaluable.

We are always asking for something that doesn’t exist and mostly these are ridiculous and anything that is logically not invented yet doesn’t exist. Mostly its unicorns and juggling monkeys that will do it for free in a LED costume.

Ed Jackson, tour sound application engineer, Harman

The best place to put a sound source is in a position that is equidistant from every member of the audience at the same time, but this would mean that we would have to use hundreds of speakers that could hover above the audience.

In the real world of sound engineering, we have to go for the less exciting option of pointing sets of speakers at the audience…generally from the stage end. Availability of stage rigging, budget and time are big factors in system design. So much so that the actual sound quality is sometimes a secondary consideration.

With all of these limitations, you need a speaker system that you can be confident can give an even sound quality to the whole audience easily and quickly. This is where I have been very lucky to see the development of the JBL VTX A8 and A12 (although I’d love to be able to say that we are working on hovering speakers).

For speed in set up, the rigging system is so easy and quick that even my production manager can do it, and it comes down so quickly that we can have the PA down and the crew going home before they realise it. For consistent sound quality covering the audience, the product management team have developed an obsession with even horizontal coverage, and this is where a little science comes in.

Most speakers sound different when you stand in front of them (on axis) than when you stand off to the side of them (off axis). Generally speakers are measured to sound good in the “on axis” position and sound a bit worse in the “off axis” position.

As an audience member, or a FOH engineer, it’s actually very rare that you are standing in front of the speakers, most of the time you are in the centre(ish) of two speakers, in the off axis where most speakers actually sound a bit worse.

The JBL VTX A8 and A12 have been designed so that they sound great both off and on axis, meaning that the whole audience gets an even quality of sound. Because this has been done by some very clever physical design with in the cabinet itself, rather than relying on digital programming, it means that the system is quick and easy to set up and can give a great sound to the whole audience straight away.

One of the great bits about our horizontal coverage is that it behaves consistently across low frequencies as well as high frequencies (all the way down to 300Hz for people that know about that sort of thing). With this even behaviour it means that subtle stereo effects across keyboards and guitars that you wouldn’t normally notice in a live environment, all of a sudden start adding depth and texture to the sound.

Every engineer that I have worked with on the A Series has picked up on this and commented on how it has given their mix an extra quality that they would only really hear in the studio.

Peter Jones, Anna Valley

Our main investment this year has been the new headquarters, which for us is about building a place where we can bring all the prep and pre-production together.

The increasing sophistication of tech means we have to nail the prep and pre-production. We will be investing heavily over the next 6-12 months, mainly in huge slabs of LED.  High res is in heavy demand.

The demand has come from corporate markets doing arenas in large shows. They want huge screens that look fantastic. They want the very best screens. We buy a lot of LED from Unilumin, which are engineered just to the right performance, weight, cost and complexity.

The challenge with VR and AR is bringing it to a large-scale audience. It’s usually a small number of users and a headset.

We build a lot of immersive environments with video all around you, plastering every surface with video. We’re also building a VR cage. Overlaying content, touchscreens, gesture tracking and having a smart server backend can get impressive results.

Several technological iterations have come to a great level now: computer power can now allow us to model 3d worlds, unleashing new creative potential.

Meanwhile, LED is lighter, more flexible, and higher resolution, allowing us to build amazing canvasses. The power of projectors too is phenomenal. We can over power ambient light, and lens technology allows us to place them tucked out of the way.