On Tour Events were lucky enough to recently take care of all technical and audio visual aspects of an exclusive gala dinner on behalf of a prestigious client in Kent. We really enjoyed this particular brief because we designed the whole technical event production from scratch.
So before we go into the specific details of each aspect we oversaw, it might be useful to give you a little bit of background to the event requirements.
Beautiful Setting for a Gala Dinner to Remember
Although we are precluded from telling you too much about the event, what we can divulge is the broad strokes of what we were asked to provide. The brief was simple. This event was to be attended by 400 leading individuals of a specific industry to raise money and awareness for charities that many of the companies represented were associated with.
The event would start with an initial drinks reception before a hosting a three-course silver service dinner. After dining, there was to be an auction to raise money for the charities in question, before rounding off the evening with a performance from a popular and extremely talented local band.
The client was refreshing simple with their brief to us. In short, they told us that they wanted us to design, assemble, and run all technical event production services, from the lighting and sound equipment, right through to to the LED screens and stage set up.
We paid a visit to the site to assess what would be possible, and the setting blew us away. Nestled deep in the Kent countryside, the venue had ample space to work with and didn't have any of the usual challenges surrounding the placement of stages, lighting fixtures and trusses that we have becomes so accustomed to.
The only slight issue we had to contend with was the large exposed wooden beams that ran the length of the venue at roughly 20-metre intervals. But in the end, we came up with a neat solution for our lighting requirements (more on that later!).
As mentioned, the evening began with a drinks reception in the foyer of this beautiful and exclusive venue. While our energies were predominantly focused on the main hall, the event organiser did request our help with this aspect too. We began by erecting a truss that ran along the width of one of the room's walls, and we then rigged them with moving head lights that gently beamed warm and bright colours across the room.
For an added touch of class, for two of the lights at equidistant points along the rigging set up, we placed gobos of the logos of the three respective charities that were involved in the evening. Once again, these were overlaid on the remaining moving head fixtures, which projected the logos in their respective brand colours right across the ceiling, walls, and floor.
Next, to further set the right tone we had a four d&b audiotechnik PA speakers set up, with one in each corner playing gentle but uplifting background music to get everyone in the mood for the evening's activities. It was brilliant to see happy smiling faces and clinking glasses of Prosecco in what felt like the entrance foyer to a prestigious awards evening.
Main Hall – Stage
As we mentioned earlier, we almost had a carte blanche brief concerning the design of the most stunning event production from the ground up. When it came to the centrepiece of the event, the stage, we did have a little direction. We were told that the stage had to be more akin to a glitzy awards show that a "boring and unassuming" conference stage. Not to argue the point that we could create engaging and beautiful conference stages with the client, we got to work designing a set worthy of the occasion.
Knowing the measurements from our site visit, we used our 3D-rendering software to create a variety of stage options for the event organiser who eventually settled on a stage that had a so-called "trapezium" footprint. This custom-designed stage had a smaller width at the back that it did at the front, which maximised space within the alcove allocated for the stage in the main hall.
The frontage of the stage was complemented by a four-tier staircase that ran the length of the front of the main stage. We also deliberately left enough space at the back of the stage to hide all of the live musical equipment which wasn't going to be in use until later in the evening. The stage was then decorated with an "arc" truss creating a dome effect, with a less noticeable horizontal truss placed strategically along the back of the stage.
Main Hall – Set Design
One the stage had been decided upon, it would time to take care of the small matter of set design. The first item that was required was a lectern for the presenter of the auction. The local TV presenter hired for the event would need a place to store their notes and keep a running order prominently displayed.
We placed the lectern left of centre (from the audience's perspective) to accommodate the enormous 7m x 4m LED screen we were supplying to the event. Each auction item had its own introductory video, and so the screen was a vital focal point for the evening. The screen was supported by a small truss structure, which was covered up by the black stage drapes which ran across the entirety of the stage backdrop.
The screen was flanked on either side by suspended a few banks of LED video wall panels, which, together with the lights, helped to create a stunning visual display in between segments and provided a stunning backdrop for the live band.
Once of all the above was in place, it was time to take care of the sound and lighting requirements.
Main Hall – Sound Equipment
The sound requirements for the initial drinks reception were obviously quite light. However, that was all change when we approached the sound arrangements for the main event. The first step we took was to set up two banks of d&b audiotechnik line array PA speakers which were suspended from the arc truss toward the front of the stage.
We then installed stage monitors and amps at strategic points across the stage in preparation of the live band closing out the evening. We mic'd up crucial instruments such as the drums and saxophone, whereas our amp setup handled the guitars. Finally, we set up the microphone (and stand) for the presenter. We went with a wireless microphone system even though the majority of the presentation was done at the podium since the presenter was likely to move away from the lectern at times to congratulate auction winners or pass over the mic to the event organisers to say a few words.
Everything was then connected up to the MIDAS M32 digital mixing desk for our sound engineers to balance everything correctly. Before the event kicked off, we also performed a sound check with both the local TV presenter and the live band, to make sure there weren't any issues before the real thing. Fortunately, our sound engineers are the best in the business, and there's wasn't anything amiss.
Main Hall – Lighting Equipment
We started the lighting process with rigging up the lighting equipment to the truss positioned at the back of the stage. We went with an array of PAR cans and moving heads to wash the stage in a range of different colours. Next, we rigged up the arc truss with a variety of lasers to set off the lights positioned behind them. Of course, we positioned a couple of hazers to make sure the fixtures were shown in their best light (pardon the pun!).
The real challenge we faced was figuring out where to put the crucial stage-facing spotlights, PAR cans and Fresnel lights. Any truss built in front of the stage would ruin the majesty of the high-ceilinged great hall with its impressive wooden beams. But we had an ingenious solution, rather than trying to tiptoe around the issue and build a truss that would be as unassuming as possible, we decided to work with the structure of the hall instead.
Our plan of attack was to build a truss that would effectively mimic one of the majestic wooden beams. We took all of the measurements and returned with a ground supported truss that ran horizontally precisely parallel with the other wooden beams. We then covered the metal structure in a dark wrap that closely resembled the dark colour of the oak beams leaving the truss to "hide in plain sight."
The event organiser was thrilled with this workaround, and initially didn't even notice what we had done (until we starting rigging the lights of course).
Main Hall – Event Production
Once everything was set up for the event, it was time for our engineers and technicians to oversee the production of the occasion itself. We handled all aspects, such as creative and dazzling light shows, visual effects on the LED video walls, queuing up and playing the footage on the big screen when required, and producing and mixing the live band that closed the evening out, to name but a few of the tasks necessary across the four-plus hours of the event.
Everything went according to plan, and the event host was thrilled with how the evening had gone. By the end of the evening, thousands had been raised for worthy local charities and guests were leaving the venue with a smile from ear to ear.
Audio Visual and Event Production Disassembly
Of course, all of that setup and assembly has to come down and be carefully packed away for use again at the next event. The client had deliberately set aside the following morning for this to take place, so we arrived early with our lorries to begin taking down everything we had worked so hard on during the previous couple of days.
We take great care in leaving a venue in precisely the same condition as we found it, and this was no different. Upon loading up the last few items, the client met us to thank us for all of our hard work, and once again stated what a success the event had been.
Of course, like all businesses, part of our motivation is to profit from our work. But there is simply nothing more satisfying than having a client that is over the moon with the hire and event production services we've provided. Going above and beyond for our clients is what genuinely gets us out of bed in the morning.
We would also like to take this opportunity to say a quick thank you to our fantastic team too. Just as is the case with any company, our employees are our greatest asset. We had over 30 staff members working on the design, build, installation, production, and disassembly for this project, and it would never have gone as smoothly without their sterling efforts.
Talk to On Tour Events About Your Upcoming Gala Dinner
If you're interested in a full suite audio visual hire package in Kent, London, or any location within the UK for that matter, don't hesitate to contact us to discuss your event. As you can see, we handle all aspects of technical event production, making organising your event much less of a hassle.
We can provide all manner of staging, set design, sound, lighting, LED screens, and all remaining elements of event production for one set price. With just one contact to communicate with, you can relax in the knowledge that over half of your event hire requirements are already taken care of.
So whether you need AV hire in Kent, or full event production services anywhere in the UK, we can help. We look forward to hearing about your plans!
On Tour Events: Technical Audio Visual Event Services London OFFICE & WAREHOUSE: +PHONE: 020 8058 0093 +MONDAY - FRIDAY 08:00 - 20:00 +EMAIL: INFO@ONTOUREVENTS.CO.UK +POST: Office 108 Belgrove House Belgrove Street, London, WC1H8AA +FACEBOOK.COM/EVENTPRODUCTIONHIRE +TWITTER.COM/ONTOUREVENTS +INSTAGRAM.COM/ONTOUREVENTS