I was asked to join the production team as Technical Producer for this 40,000 square foot booth for two primary reasons.
- They wanted me to manage all aspects of the technical production because in previous years there had been several Technical Directors involved, each managing a portion of the production, however there had never been a person overseeing the entire project as a single point of contact for suppliers, clients, venue, labor and exhibit partners.
- They wanted to have a more streamlined design process rather than having one supplier work on rigging design, one on lighting design, one on AV design, etc. My design experience in all of these facets of production would make the process much more efficient and cohesive.
The planning for this project began about 14 months before load-in. The overall design would be similar to the previous show (this show is only held every 4 years) with a large theater in the center surrounded by the machines (gigantic mining equipment). They also wanted to add a second theater that would focus on secondary subject matter. Fortunately, much of the exhibit design was completed early on so my focus would be on lighting, rigging and AV system design for the two theaters as well as a third LED screen used for visuals only.
The first step was to spend time with the Lighting Designer understanding his vision for lighting the space and coming up with a rigging plan that would meet not only his needs, but those of the AV and scenic teams. Then I had to interface with our lead production rigger and the venue to understand what was possible in the space.
The rig would be big. we used over 2,000 feet of truss, more than 400 moving lights and another 250 conventional lighting fixtures.
The next step was to design both theaters. Each theater would have a show that played every thirty minutes with a presenter that would interact with the video. We had to design the theater specs to include not only the audio, video and lighting, but also the automated systems that would run the show production. This was a great learning experience because I had never automated a show to this degree.
We also had various monitors (including a slim bezel monitor wall) throughout the booth to tell the story of each piece of equipment.
The expo world is very different from the corporate meeting and events world. When doing a corporate meeting in a ballroom, we are the only show there and everyone working in that space is there to help us build and execute our event. In the large expo environment you must remember that there are many other exhibitors that are relying on the same services that you are (electrical services, freight services, etc.) so this can be challenging and frustrating unless you align yourself with the right people.
This show was a huge learning experience for me. I spent most of my time on site trying to understand how things work in this environment while getting my designs up and running. There were plenty of hurdles along the way, but the event was an amazing success.
In fact, I was back with the same client 6 months later doing it all over again for their other large expo displaying construction equipment. This time we had two 20,000 square foot booths (one inside and one outside).