Managing Your Light and AV Installation: A How-To Guide5 min read

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When you’re preparing for a production, managing your light and audio/video (AV) installation is usually a big undertaking. Not only do you need the right fixtures in the proper places, but you also have to tackle cable management, labeling, controllers, and much more.

Luckily, managing your light and AV installation doesn’t have to be challenging. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here is a quick how-to guide that can help you tackle it.

How to Manage Your Light and AV Installation

1. Start Early

planning out event on paper

Many people treat their AV and lighting as an afterthought, not working about the installations until the production preparations are well underway. The issue is, by using this approach, there may be fixtures, furnishings, or other items that have already been put in place or purchased, which isn’t always ideal.

Instead, you want to start your light and AV installation planning earlier in the process. That way, it can be part of the project from the beginning, ensuring that all decisions factor in your perfect setup instead of potentially harming the end result.

2. Know Your Goals

confetti at large outdoor event

Before you start working on your AV and light installation, you need to understand your goals. Usually, the quickest way to do this is to ask yourself some key questions.

For example, how long the installation has to last? That is a big part of the equation. You’ll use different techniques for a short run than a permanent setup, so getting this worked out before you begin is essential.

Similarly, does your light and AV installation need to support several purposes? Are you preparing for a single production, or does the facility support a range of events, making a more versatile setup a must?

Spend a good amount of time really drilling into your goals. That way, you can move in the right direction from the beginning.

3. Get to Know the Space

conference center with glass walls and ceiling

Every event space is unique, usually featuring quirks you don’t find everywhere else. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your space, creating a reasonable plan is surprisingly challenging. Without enough information, you’ll have to rely on assumptions, and that usually isn’t a good thing.

Begin by examining what’s already available in the room, as you may be able to make use of what’s there. Additionally, identify the locations of key items, including wall outlets, support posts, or architectural features that need navigating.

Consider how the space will be used as well. Are participants going to be stationary, remaining in a set seating area, or will they be mingling through the room as events are underway? By looking at how attendees will or won’t flow through the room, you can adjust your approach accordingly.

4. Create an AV and Lighting Layout

Once you’ve gathered crucial information about the project, it’s time for an AV and lighting layout plan. That lets you identify optimal places for equipment, outline how cabling needs to be run, and identify the tools you’ll need to bring everything together.

If you’re using a lighting and AV contractor, work with them during this planning phase. Also, start the process as soon as possible. By picking a contractor early, you increase your odds of getting your top choice. Plus, no one has to rush, and that leads to better results.

If you want to tackle this part yourself – and you have the proper expertise – consider using lighting design software. It can help you determine where everything needs to be, ensuring you have a solid plan for installation day.

5. Get Stakeholder Buy-In

Even if you think your AV and lighting installation layout plan is spectacular, you want to get buy-in from key stakeholders before you begin. Exactly who you’ll want to approach varies depending on the production.

If you’re working with an outside customer, they need to be part of the equation. If you’re a key person in a production, then speaking with the director or other decision-makers is a must.

Ultimately, your goal is to make sure that everyone thinks your plan is the way to go. That way, there are fewer surprises on installation day.

6. Go Area-by-Area

If you’re doing an AV and lighting installation, it may seem like beginning with one or the other, putting it up through the whole space, and then tackling the other is the way to go. However, that isn’t always the case.

If you want to make fixture and cable management easier, going area-by-area – tackling lighting and AV simultaneously in each section – can be the way to go. It lets you identify potential issues in each zone as you work, making it easier to adapt on the fly. Additionally, you can organize cables that are using similar runs as you go, keeping the entire installation as clean as possible.

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