By Brandon Parrish
Outdoor venues provide a variety of fun challenges to overcome. Back in biblical times, all you needed was a lake and a sturdy boat to get your message to the masses. In our modern era, we have complicated things a bit more, so there are a few more elements to bear in mind when planning your outdoor service.
Planning Is Paramount
Setting up a terrific outdoor sound system is not something one can do on the fly. You must know your space well and do your best to plan ahead for contingencies. A sound plan thrown together last minute often results in a number of complications, including but not limited to awful feedback, malfunctioning equipment, and an overall distracting experience for the audience.
Your technical team should be present at the outset when planning your outdoor event so they can help foresee any possible complications and contribute ideas and solutions. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where the sound team finds out about an event last minute and has to scramble to gather the proper equipment.
Your first order of business should be determining some key factors:
- Will there be a stage?
- How big is the performance area?
- What does vehicle access look like?
- Will a suitable and safety-certified power supply be provided close to the performance area?
- What kind of limitations are there in regard to running cables?
- Are there safety and security protocols in place?
Write It Down
Keeping an equipment rider and technical schedule is crucial to running a tight event. It will efficiently utilize your manpower, especially if you’re running on the generosity of volunteers. Following a precise technical schedule will leverage your time effectively. Having a detailed checklist of equipment will ensure you’re not missing anything the day of the event.
When you have a concise schedule that everyone can see and follow, no one is left in the dark or scrambling. Keep in mind that if you’re used to running sound indoors, expect that everything in an outdoor setting will likely take double the time in regards to setup and equipment checks.
Plan for Weather
Aside from making sure the sound coverage is great, you’ll also want to make sure your equipment is protected. Wet weather is not the only thing to take into consideration. Direct heat on sensitive equipment should also be a consideration. If you’re going to be at the venue for an extended period of time, you run the risk of overheating the equipment or ruining LCD screens.
You may need to provide suitable cover in the form of pop-up tents or other such shades. Tarps are also a good idea to bring along, especially if excessive dust could be a factor. Also, be sure you have a contingency plan in place in case weather makes the event non-feasible.
Ensure a Solid Wireless Connection
Running cables across any space has its drawbacks. That’s doubly true for an outdoor venue. Try to cut down the number of cables you need as much as you can. That requires utilizing a wireless system. There are a number of excellent wireless systems out there to choose from.
Check Your Power Supply
Make sure that whoever is organizing your event has a plan to provide you with a dedicated power source exclusively for the sound system. You can do an estimated calculation of your power consumption by doubling the rig output power plus the rated power consumption of your peripheral gear.
This will give the organizers an idea of the type of power supply they will need to provide whether it’s a permanently installed system or they’re planning to run from a generator.
This information is courtesy of Springtree Media Group, a collective of individuals who want to add value to our world…who just happen to run an AV company, www.springtree.net.