Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Using LED technology for your next event

I have just returned from a conference that we do annually, and each year it is pretty much along the same lines as the previous year. This year was different, this year we had an LED wall that sat on stage underneath the main screen and displayed the events logo sting, videos and static graphics. I haven’t seen this used too often in conferences and it got me thinking about the possible usages of LED screens.

Traditionally LED screens have been a standard rectangular shape but due to advancements in the technology LED screens now have virtually an endless array of possibilities due to the variety in products now available. As designers and architects pushed the concepts, manufacturers produced the solutions and now you can pretty much create any shape LED screen, allowing the creativity to be endless.

The easiest way to add another dimension from the standard square screen is to use concave or convex screens. These are especially popular when used outdoors and wrapped around a building, famous examples of this are Piccadilly Circus and Times Square. Special software has been developed to compensate for the curvatures so the projection material does not appear distorted when displayed.

The ability to curve LED screens and the use of software that compensates for this has led to highly creative examples, the new ABC TV studio in New York uses this feature to its maximum. They have used strips of LEDs that have been curved several times to create a wave effect that has been fixed and wrapped around the studio building.

So many new LED display products have led to bold experimenting and allowed designers to create environments that amaze audiences. There are now LED curtains, floors, tubes, blocks and flexible screens that can be created to any shape you can think off.

Take for instance the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony when the Olympic rings were pulled from the floor on the night sky, a truly incredible use of LED curtains.

Music concerts are increasingly using LED technology to create magnificent visual effects examples of this are U2’s 360 Tour and George Michael’s 25 Live Tour.

More recently The 2011 Eurovision Contest in Germany used a 60 metre wide and 18 metre high LED wall as the backdrop for the performances, had a LED floor for the stage as well as LED ramps up to the stage. The result was a truly impactful atmosphere and visual spectacular.

And if you thought that was a large screen, the world’s largest LED screen is in China and part of a shopping mall. Measuring 250×30 meters it’s nearly the same size as a football pitch. Not only that, it’s also hanging 80 meters above the ground!

Of course these are extravagant uses of LED technology and are probably not appropriate for most conferences. But it shows you the possibilities. There are some creative examples that are much more in line with what conference organizers may use.  You can create a LED screen that is branded to your product or company for example Coca-Cola have a can in Times Square that displays videos continuously. These could be displayed next to the main screen on stage or even in the entrance to the venue to add a wow factor to your event.

Another way to add creative LED technology to your conference is to use LED screens within your set design. You can use multiple screens and project a single piece of material over them, adding depth and visual dimension to your design. Even adding a single LED screen to run animation underneath the main screen adds another level of interactivity to your event.

LED solutions help to create a completely new level of visual interactivity, with the possibilities and creativity really is as far as you can push it.

If you want to achieve something different at your next event and LED technology might be the answer feel free to contact us.

On site piece of mind

Here at Bearfoot Graphics we have been providing graphic operators for live events for nearly 15 years now. With a wealth of knowledge, creativity and experience behind us, we really have seen it all on site! From the power going down due to a toaster being plugged in to full on arguments between delegates we know how to keep a cool head and deal with pretty much anything.

Our services onsite include providing powerful high end graphics laptops capable of out putting HD images for even the widest of super wide screen displays. All our laptops are maintained to the highest standards and updated regularly with the latest software.

For added piece of mind, all our operators and equipment are fully insured for all onsite work both in the UK and worldwide.

We use the latest fully licensed software in our studio and on all our onsite laptops, including PowerPoint 2010, Keynote 09 and the entire Adobe CS5 Suite (including Photoshop. Illustrator, Premiere and After Effects), and of course we are proficient in earlier versions.

Having worked at all kinds of events, including conferences of all natures, Gala dinners and award shows, exhibitions and road shows, we understand the technical side of any event very well and integrate ourselves smoothly into any situation.

We understand that for an event to be successful everyone needs to pull together, we are team players and regularly work with sound engineers, AV technicians, production managers and producers making sure we provide exactly what the client wants.

Regularly working with CEO’s and MD’s from some of the world’s leading companies we are used to high pressure situations and tight timelines, always remaining calm and working with a smile on our face.
We can work in any kind of graphics operator role, whether it is running a PowerPoint deck by cue light, working with speakers and an autocue operator to cue a script and follow a speech live, or working with a script writer and producer to create slides from scratch.

On all our events we bring our creativity with us, all our operators are fully fledged graphic designers as well as presentation experts.

This means where appropriate and necessary we will add our creative input. Working with your clients during rehearsals to design and generate slide content, helping them to communicate their messages better and transform their presentations to ensure the graphic content is the best it can be.

Chivas Brothers sponsorship of FilmAid International at Cannes 2011

This was a project we worked with our client Brand-Rapport very closely with. Their client Chivas Brothers, were attending the Cannes Film Festival 2011 and wanted to produce a branded cheque that was to be presented to Film Aid International at the festival as part of their sponsorship.

Below is the video of that presentation, with the cheque being handed over.

Chivas Regal and FilmAid International Launch... by multivu

10 New features of PowerPoint 2010

Here at Bearfoot Graphics we have been using PowerPoint 2010 for quite a while now for all our speaker support and live events projects.

When we made the upgrade from 2003 to 2007 we were instantly impressed and glad at the jump PowerPoint seemed to have made especially with the animation and quick formatting options.
But it’s taken a while for us to see the benefits of the leap from 2007 to 2010. But the more we’ve used and worked with it the more we’ve discovered.

Most of our favourite features are based on time saving and working efficiently allowing us to spend more time on the creativity within a presentation. So here’s a rundown of our favourite features of 2010.

1. Animation Painter
A great tool to use when you’ve applied a complicated piece of animation to a single object. You can now copy and paste the animation you have applied to one object straight to another.

2. Video Editor
We’re often provided with video clips when we’re creating presentations, many times they need some trimming to show only what the presenter wants.
The easy to use Trim feature allows you to trim down any unwanted footage. You can use a timeline or actual time codes to make very precise edits. Again PowerPoint has installed some nice video editing adjustments to lighten, darken or brighten footage.  Be aware though if you make an edit within 2010 it will not appear if you back save you presentation to 2007 or 2003.

3. Create a video of you presentation
Once we’ve created a presentation we’re often asked to find a way of handing out these presentations out without allowing them to be manipulated.
PowerPoint has now enabled the feature to output the presentation as a video. It has options that allow you to control the size of the video and timings for each slide, encoding the video to suit your playback is also a simple process. It produces a WMV format video which can be emailed and the end user doesn’t even need PowerPoint to view the presentation.

4. Automatic ribbons toolbars
Automatic ribbon toolbars are the tabs that appear when you click on a chart, shape, text, image or video that have all the effects and features associated with the object all in one place ready to utilise.  The ribbon is also fully customisable meaning you can edit existing ones or create brand new ones with all your favourite commands on.

5. Transitions
The slide transitions and overall animations have been improved greatly, not only have they improved the existing ones so they are a lot smoother, they have incorporated some new fresh ones as well. The layout on the transition ribbon is a lot easier to work with, with a transition effect window and then an effect options drop down to control the transition even more.

6. Sections
Working in the live events industry being able to section your whole presentation is a great tool. You can expand and collapse the sections very easily to help you see the presentation more clearly, you can section an individual presentation into the most important headings, or if you have multiple speakers you can section the whole file into those speakers allowing you to easily find a certain slide or speaker.

7. Cropped tool, mask feature
The crop tool has always be a favourite of ours in PowerPoint, but the added ability of allowing you to see what you are cropping as you crop is really helpful in making precise crops. You can now also crop and then move the image within the crop, allowing even more editing flexibility.

8. Effect preview
The effect preview feature saves a lot of time when working on a large presentation.  We use it a lot for previewing animation and transitions. The preview effect has been applied to all the design features within PowerPoint though, so you can see the style applied just by holding the mouse over it rather than keep applying each one to see if that’s the desired option. It allows you to switch between styles instantly rather than creating two versions and comparing.

9. Screen shot
Another very handy little tool that allows you to take a screen shot and instantly import it into your PowerPoint slide as an image which you can then crop and add effects to as you wish. This is useful if you’re trying to show an image from the internet or a programme on your computer.

10. Smart guides
Smart guides are found in the grid and guides toolbox, they automatically show up on your slide to show you where the object you have aligns with other objects on the slide allowing you to easily arrange objects without using the align tools.

The benefits of using a guest speaker

I have just returned from my first big conference of the year in which a guest speaker was used, I have heard this speaker a few times before so knew he was going to work with this audience and really benefit them.
Having been to many events where there have been guest speakers I have seen the full range of audience responses to a guest speaker.  Some can lift an audience to new heights of motivation and set them up for the rest of the day or week; others can completely miss the point of the event and send the audience off into never never land.

On the whole I like guest speakers, I think there are real benefits to using them, but get it wrong with a guest speaker it can have a serious impact on the audience for the remainder of the conference or even worse be the their lasting impression of the event.

Having a motivational talk can really help your employees, especially in these tough times. They can really boost the morale and create an overall feeling of job satisfaction. The one thing that I find all motivational speakers have is a positive outlook; they always look on the bright side of life and show you the silver lining. Even when the most awful or calamitous situations befall them – motivational speakers have an ability to show that by overcoming these obstacles it’s possible to make it through anything.  A good motivational speaker will always be a phenomenal story teller.

Guest speakers can work for several reasons, firstly they provide variety. Conferences can be lengthy occasions at the best of times and delegates easily become jaded with reliving the past year.  A guest speaker provides a revitalizing change of scenery and subject.  A guest speaker shouldn’t be used simply to fill; their message and delivery should always be relevant to your overall theme.

A guest speaker can deliver a wealth of information and education your delegates may not find within their daily working lives. You can be confident they will provide an expert opinion on their topic. Their expertise is power, they will be 100% clear on their subject matter and the audience will trust without hesitation the information they receive. This trust enables and promotes discussion within the workforce long after your delegates have returned to work.

In summary I think if you’ve got a great theme for your conference, a guest speaker that represents this theme and will support it with knowledge, stories and charisma will be a real benefit to your audience and will leave them with a lasting impression of the event that they will take forward into the next year.