‘Tis the Season: 7 Things to Consider for Outdoor Events
By Sarah Ashenhurst and Dan Wilson
Spring is in the air, April showers have brought May flowers, and people are embracing the option of an outdoor event. With outdoor events come some additional considerations. Weather being the primary concern: It’s unpredictable. The sun can be a blessing and a curse, and sometimes there are things you just can’t control, but with a few extra precautions and safety nets your outdoor event can be a truly rewarding experience for both you and your attendees.
Here are 7 things to consider to ensure your outdoor event is a success and that your audio visual is on point.
- Conducting your site inspection at the same time of year as your event
Outdoor spaces change with the seasons, obvious things like trees coming into bloom or natural snow drifts can shape the way your audience engages with a space. Also, the condition of the ground and surrounding elements can change drastically from month to month. Soft ground in the Spring can mean your stage may sit on an unstable foundation, and frozen patches in the winter can create hazards for your audience. Want to be ahead of the curve? Consider using a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and take to the skies! These remote-controlled drones are equipped with a camera and can help capture the true 3D detailed layout, and the look and feel of the space to better help the planning process. Contact FMAV to learn more
- Have a traffic plan
Your site is going to see a lot of traffic before, during, and after the event. Think about the routes people and vehicles will take to get in, out, and around your event. When planning your load-in, assign a dedicated path for all vehicles to limit the damage to the grounds and keep these routes away from pedestrian routes. Dedicated parking spots ensure that all crew have easy access to the site and that the grounds remain easy to navigate. Create and share maps of these routes with all of your partners in advance so they can plan deliveries accordingly.
- Be aware of the elements
Weather can play a much bigger factor in your event than just providing the sun or making it rain. Even on what most consider the best of days, with the sun shining and a warm breeze, your event is still at the mercy of Mother Nature. Gusting wind can muffle a presenter’s speech and bright sunshine could compromise video projections (rest assured that FMAV has solutions to safeguard against this). Of course, the weather doesn’t just affect the event itself. Poor weather during load-in can put your setup schedule behind and create challenges for your suppliers and partners, so be sure to budget in some extra time. Having a “bad weather plan” for your event, and sharing it with your audience in advance can help contribute to a successful event. Use an App like Suntracker and weather alerts App to keep you ahead of unfavorable conditions.
- Ambient noise (wind, traffic, etc.)
The weather isn’t the only part of being outdoors that can overpower your event. “Ambient noises caused from nearby traffic can make it incredibly difficult for your audience to hear anything that your presenters / performers are saying,” says Andrew Sykes, Account Manager, FMAV Halifax. Andrew’s team manages outdoor events year-round including New Year’s Eve Celebrations and suggests that when designing your site be sure to consider where other disruptions might come from and where large groups of people might gather as these areas will need sound reinforcement. Some of the most common areas and features that create ambient noise on site are:
- Parking lots
- Main entrance gates
- Food service areas
- Stage power areas
- Backstage areas
- Nearby roads and highways
- Large bodies of water (waves are surprisingly loud)
It’s easy to underestimate the power requirements of an outdoor event. Things like stages, sound systems, video, lighting, and even food vendors are big power draws. Attendee amenities like mobile charging stations are a great way to provide that extra level of service for your guests and provide an effective hub for meeting up – and centralize power outlets. Engaging your audio visual and power supply partners early in the event design process ensures that these infrastructure elements can be tailored to your event goals and requirements. They’ll have the answers when it comes to municipal by-laws and safety code requirements.
- LED vs Projection
Not only are LEDs sustainable pieces of technology, they can be very powerful. If you are putting on a daytime event, an LED video wall is ideal. As projection can be washed out by ambient light, LED video panels are a whole new story. They are bright enough to cut through the sunlight while showing sharp content. LED video walls come in a number of different resolutions, so think about the application you are using it for before making your final selection. The higher the resolution you need (e.g. for video playback) the smaller the size of LED you will need. So for a video you would want a 5mm LED but for large text displays like a scoreboard you can use a 7mm display.
We all know communication is key. When timing is everything, you want to be connected with your event team and all of your supplier teams. Walkie-talkies or walkie-talkie apps (if your site has reliable data) can be a godsend. Whether it’s to send a cue in your program or to advise of any delays.
If you would like to discuss or learn more about how FMAV can help with your outdoor events please contact us or complete the following form and we’ll get in touch with you.